There’s no simple way to explain how we came to the decision, except to look at our past and some of the main events that led up to the discovery of the idea. So, here goes.
First, in this family of ours, we have me (David), Diane, Megan, Molly, and our feline family member, Francie. I had a rather stable childhood with regards to moving and such, in that I lived in the same house from the time I was 5, till I left home and joined the Navy. During my Navy times though, lot’s of moving around. I got very good at it, and had few belongings that I needed to haul around. For Diane, she had just two different places she’d lived growing up and her parents lived in the second house for nearly 25 years. As a married couple, we’d only moved a couple times in the 10+ years we’d spent together. So, as a whole, we were not really what anyone would call “nomadic”. We’d spent very long periods in one place, and were quite used to that lifestyle. We loved our Southern California home, but not exactly the financials so much.
In May of 2010, I was offered a job with a new company, which is headquartered out of the Atlanta, GA area. In this role, I work from home using phones and Internet and then fly out to various locations in the US depending on where I’m needed. Conferences, customer visits, training, and meetings at HQ, are the typical reasons for my travel. Neither Diane or I had ever worked from home and the first few months were interesting as we worked to adjust. There were a few realizations along the way, with the biggest realization being the fact there wasn’t a need for our house to be near a particular building because my commute now never really left the house. This was when we really started considering options for our house and where we would live if we could choose anywhere. We found that there wasn’t any one place we really wanted to be permanently, other than the general Southern California area.
Then came September, and a work event in Vail, CO. My company has a 35′ Fleetwood Class A RV that they have had wrapped with company artwork and logo’s. They have used this RV for a couple years to haul people and equipment for events we call Roadshow’s. These are small conferences in hotel meeting rooms, where we invite current and potential customers to come in and see presentations and demo’s of our product. The RV is a comfortable platform for the team to ride in for these events, and the storage in the basement holds all the equipment. Sometimes, the RV is used for side excursions as well “since we’re in the area already and it’s the weekend”, and we have a fantastic group of understanding owners. This trip to Vail was planned to include such a side trip after the event, with a planned visit to Arches National Park in Moab, UT, and a 4X4 adventure in a rented Jeep. At the time, I had a well equipped Toyota FJ Cruiser and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to cruise Moab with my co-workers. I then arranged my travel so that I could be there with the FJ and hang out for the post-conference adventures.
The camping and fun we had at Arches was great. I talked to some of my coworkers about different elements of the RV, and how things had gone for Roadshows in the past, as I’d not been involved with any of them at this point. This is when my gears started turning. As it had turned out, one of the company owners had taken his family on the road in this RV and lived on the road for a couple months. Granted, they spent a lot of time in hotels, but they still basically lived out of the RV. And they had 5 kids. At the time of this event we had one that was in her Senior year of High School and headed to College, and just one other 8 year old at home. Gears were really turning but I was keeping any thoughts or ideas to myself at this point.
In October, we had a couple more company events. One at the HQ in Atlanta, and another at a conference in Orlando. Diane has some family in the Orlando area and we made arrangements for her and Molly to head to Florida first, then I left for Georgia, Megan stayed with grandparents till later when she came out for a post conference vacation. It was here in Florida when I was with Diane and Molly that I brought up the idea. I’d done a little bit of investigating, but only just enough to know that it wasn’t going to be impossible to do. If we wanted to, we could get an RV, move into it, and live “on the road”. My expectation was that Diane was not going to like it, cause she’s not a big camping type person and that would be the end of it. But, to my surprise, she actually like the idea. A lot even. I was a bit shocked, but please. She’s always keeping me on my toes. So, since we had a couple weekend days before the conference we decided to start looking at RV’s, and perused a few lots in the Orlando area. Neither of us had prior experience with RV’s, but we quickly came to some ideas on what we wanted in our RV and knew we could look further once back in California.
We discussed aspects of all the different layouts we saw in the various RV’s, as well as the differences in travel and living for 5th Wheel, Class A, Class C, etc. We wanted to be able to stay in one place for long-ish periods (like 2+ weeks at a time) and have a vehicle that was easy to get around in while we were parked. Preventing frequent stops while moving or hauling long distances was also desired. And, having a “personal space” for Molly was going to be important. These factors seemed to be the ones that had the most impact on the basic type of RV we would use, and it led us to a Class A and our Honda CRV as a “toad”. The RV we chose has a Bunk Bed setup, which was easily modified to be roomier for it’s single planned occupant, and provide some extra storage space. To save on the initial cost, we chose a gas powered Class A. Other “needs” had to do with our connectivity and entertainment, but we found that the RV type didn’t really have an impact on getting what we needed in these areas.
We spent the next 3-4 months getting financial stuff prepared, figured out how to deal with our house, and started prepping friends and family for our plans. In February and March, we made the move and bought an RV. We then spent April through October downsizing, taking practice runs, setting out a plan, and investigating where all we would and could stay, getting an OK from my employer, finding a mail-forwarding service, and trying to setup a basic plan. We went through many different “ideas” of what we were going to do. I’ve found the best plan is a flexible one. At different times during our transition, we had changes in feelings about the idea, but we all knew that it was going to be an adventure, and we didn’t have to do it forever if it turns out we hate it.
The whole process was fun, stressful, emotional in every sense, but we made it to the end of October, and moved into the RV on October 30th, 2011. Just a little over a year from the time the idea was presented and found to be worth a shot. Since then, we’ve traveled to and visited Tennessee, Indiana, Georgia, Texas, and back to California. We’ve driven through several states some of us had never been to before. Our current plan is to stay in the CA, NV, AZ area, or at least a days drive from our CA loved ones. Will we continue? We are not sure at this point. We’re in it till June, and as we get closer to that time we’ll re-evaluate and decide what to do from there. Even if we’re not full-time, we now have a great appreciation for the RV lifestyle, and will enjoy many future trips in the RV.
This blog entry is part of a writing project from… http://fulltimefamilies.com/group-writing-projects/