Three months later and we STILL love it! The simplicity of living life this way is more than either one of us could have expected. I’ve learned a lot so far and, I imagine, there’s still quite a bit that neither one of us don’t know. But that’s okay, we’ll learn as we go and savor the experiences together.
Early on when we decided to put our plan into motion and we started selling our belongings, I thought for sure that I would wind up missing something that I had parted with. The funny thing is, I don’t miss anything at all! I don’t miss the hours spent cleaning a 2,800 square foot home with three bedroom and 2-1/2 bathrooms, my three closets that were jam packed with clothing, or the knick-knacks and the numerous candles that adorned our house. I realized when I paired down everything that I had that I didn’t need all of the extra stuff. I am quite content living in our 40’ motor coach sharing a 6’ closet with my husband. I enjoy the 30-minutes a week that it takes me to clean the inside of the coach (less time if I decide not to scrub the kitchen & bathroom floor).
Are there challenges living life in a motor coach? A few, but nothing that can’t be dealt with, such as organizing cupboards so we can access what we need without having to haul everything out; using the campground laundromat instead of installing a washer/dryer in our coach (takes up too much space); not being able to buy in bulk; or conducting European grocery shopping trips on a mostly every other-day basis.
The benefits, however, outweigh any challenges that may exist. There’s the benefit of being able to travel anywhere that you want to in the U.S. or Canada on a moment’s notice; new scenery outside of your windows on a daily basis; making new friends with people from all over the world where ever you go; watching the stars at night beside the campfire while having a cocktail (or two) with your best friend; and, most importantly, having once in a lifetime experiences on a daily basis. We have also found that our cost of living has dramatically decreased.
In February of 2014 we put our house on the market as a test, as we weren’t sure with the current market if it would even sell. It was one of those moments where we went, “if it sells, then it’s meant to be, if not, then we know.” Apparently it was meant to be as we had a contract on our house within a month of it being on the market and a closing date of May 29. Now that we had a contract on our house, it was time to start seriously looking for a motorhome. We drove to Indianapolis on March 15 and, once again, went through every coach on their lot to determine what we wanted since their inventory had changed since September. We narrowed down the field to two Class A motor coaches that would fit our needs. After talking with the sales agent we zeroed in the one that we wanted; a 40’ 2005 Holiday Rambler Scepter with extremely low mileage and had been garage kept, which meant that it was in awesome condition. We put a deposit on it and scheduled to take it for a test drive the following weekend. Dave fell in love with the way that it handled and we closed on it the week after that.
House sold, check. Motor home purchased, check. Now we needed to start selling our belongings. Dave began by listing our furniture on Craigslist and things started selling quickly. It was a bit unnerving coming home from work every day and finding less furniture in it then when you left that morning. I jokingly made the comment that I was going to phone the police and tell them that we had been robbed as the interior landscape of the house was constantly changing. Other household items started finding their way on to Craigslist as well, and then began the never ending yard sales EVERY WEEKEND for two months. (If any of our former neighbors are reading this, sorry about the inconvenience, but it helped us to achieve our goal.) We decided that the community yard sale in our neighborhood would be the last yard sale that we would hold, as we would only have two weeks until we closed on the house. Anything left over after that would either be donated or given away.
Up until this point, everything had been falling into place, but I think both of us wondered when the shoe was going to drop and we would hit a snag. The snag hit five days before closing on our house as we found out that our motor coach was not ready to be picked up. We had originally intended to pick the motor coach up on the 24th of May, which would give us those five days to move our meager belongings into the motor coach and fine tune what we would actually need. Having never lived in a motor coach before, we weren’t sure exactly what we would need or what would actually fit (size wise) into the storage units. This way, having the coach beforehand, would give us the luxury of figuring all of this out.
When we purchased the motor home, part of the buying experience through a dealer was that their technicians would go through the coach “with a fine tooth comb” to identify any issues and have them repaired before we took possession. Great, that worked for us, as we wanted to be assured that we were living in a motor coach that was safe and road worthy. Apparently there was an issue with the auto leveling system that had been identified shortly after we purchased the coach that we were notified about. We were assured that it would be corrected and we would be able to pick up our coach on the date identified, as that would give the technician plenty of time to correct the issue. Well, that didn’t happen as expected. It is our belief that the technician assigned to fix the issue turned it into a science experiment that went awry. Because of his “error” we were faced with becoming homeless and had to rent a storage facility for a lot of our belongings. Once we secured storage, we then had to find an apartment that we could rent for a short period of time and that would allow cats, which was no easy feat. We found an apartment the day we closed on our home and moved into the apartment three days later. The RV’s dealership corporate headquarters paid the entire months’ rent as a goodwill gesture for our inconvenience. (Disclaimer: The angst and stress experienced over this ordeal cannot be articulated in civilized manner, so will end the matter here. We would like to thank our friends and family for the emotional and verbal venting that we extolled on them during this time.)
We were finally able to pick up our motor coach on the afternoon of June 5th. After a final inspection of the unit, making sure that everything worked properly, Dave drove our coach from the dealership to our campground lot at Lake Monroe Village in Bloomington, Indiana. Our intent at that time was to park the coach at the campground and leisurely move our belongings into the unit during the month of June. I, however, wanted out of the rental unit as quickly as possible as I didn’t like it and the cats hated it. Dave, bless his heart, didn’t try to dissuade me otherwise and, together, we kicked butt and moved our possessions into the coach. We spent our first night in the coach on Saturday, June 7th and quickly fell in love with it.
During the last few years, Dave and I had casually talked about how nice it would be to just pick up and move to where ever we longed to go, leaving behind work and the never ending list of household upkeep, and hitting the open road in an RV. At that time, however, we were reluctant to make such a life change without further research, and of course, reluctant to part with some of our belongings; so we put the thought out of our heads.
Prior to the summer of 2013 we began to talk more and more about moving and so we began a journey of researching various scenarios as to what we thought we might want to do. Did we want to move back east to New Jersey or one of the eastern states to be closer to family? Perhaps move to one of the south eastern states where we could escape the brutality of the winter months, yet still be close enough to family? What states had the best taxes associated with it? Should we buy or rent? And, most importantly, did we really want to continue to live in a climate that had that horrible four letter word (snow) associated with it? So many questions and yet we were coming up with so few answers. At one point, we even thought about moving to one of the U.S. Virgin Islands or Central America. The only problem with that, though, is that we would be too far from our families. That’s when the thought crept back into our minds about selling our home, buying an RV, and traveling the U.S. state by state so we could decide where we might want to settle down and spend our golden years.
Now, with a new direction in mind, our research journey took on a life of its own. We researched for hours on end the various type of recreational vehicles, narrowing our field down to either a fifth wheel or a Class A motorhome. The more research that we did, the more we became convinced that we wanted to go with a Class A motorhome as it offered us the storage that we would need, as well as the quality and comfort that we were looking for. Researching though is one thing, so the next step was to actually visit some RV dealerships and see what the differences were between the two, talk to various people, and see if we were on the right track with our thoughts.
We began our quest in earnest in September of 2013 and visited RV dealerships in Indianapolis and Richmond, comparing every fifth wheel and Class A motorhome on their lots to see what we liked and what we didn’t (38’ or larger?), what we could live with and what we couldn’t live without (dishwasher and washer/dryer?). The greatest part about this exercise was that Dave and I found out that we were on the same page about a number of things, so that made sifting through all of the information that much easier for both of us.
Returning to our 2,800 square foot home, we looked at everything that we had accumulated in our 27 years of marriage and went through the process of writing down what we could live without and needed to get rid of, since we would be effectively living in less than 300 square feet of space should we decide to carry through with our plan. We would need to put our house on the market and all of our furniture would need to be sold. Knick-knacks, books, albums, clothing, wall art, computers, stereo equipment, guitars, amplifiers, speakers, tools, TV’s, exercise equipment; it all had to go. Were we truly ready for this, could we actually give up the creature comforts that made our house a home?
We contemplated these thoughts during the winter months while we still continued to do research on recreational vehicles, tow-dollies, campgrounds (state parks have a limit size on the length of an RV), and since we would have our two feline fur-babies with us (Alvin and Waddles), we needed to make sure that they would fit comfortably in our plan as we were not about to abandon them. Dave even got his CDL and drove a city bus to get experience driving a 40’, 50,000 pound vehicle, in preparation for our future.
Welcome to our humble abode, which is a 40′ Holiday Rambler Scepter motor coach that is our full-time residence. Our friend, Linda, christened our house on wheels as “The Queen Mary.”