“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”

~Henry David Thoreau~


…seemed to be the premier question asked of us.   With an occasional “Have you lost your mind?” or “Your too young to retire!”  tossed in for good measure.    LOL

Really?  Too young to retire?  I must say, in terms of our calendar ages, one might think so.  As we start this journey at 49 and 52 years old respectively – we understand that it is certainly not the norm.   We understand even more so, that this lifestyle is not for everybody.   However, we firmly believe we are two people that it was designed for.

While we are in the lower percentile of fulltime RV’rs by age, we continue to meet many “Boomers” like us that have, or are in the process of breaking the ties of traditional home ownership and the drone of responsibilities that come with it.   Frankly, we were tired of racing to and from limited vacations then racing back home to start “normal life” all over again.   As we continue to age and experience family members and friends alike who worked right up until that fateful day – be it death or life changing illness – those folks who reaped few, if any, of the retirement benefits they worked so many years for – they all had “plans” too.  So that REALLY got us to discussing what we thought we wanted for our own golden years.

We both completed everything that defined responsible adults:  graduated high school and/or college, military service, got a job, bought houses,  settled down, raised families,  worked 30+yrs, paid our taxes, etc.  — and yet, here we sat, unfulfilled.  We knew we wanted the freedom to travel.

Up until the light bulb of the RV lifestyle went off, we were both sure, and actively researching, the purchase of another traditional home in one of our favorite areas of the country – the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, with North Carolina a close second.   We visited the area three previous times in our motorcycling adventures and loved it.    Loved the people, scenery and temperate climate.    But, another house meant curtailing, to some degree, our dreams of extensive travel.

So during our discussions about our own next steps, one of George’s cousins bought a big RV in 2010, loaded up the ‘fam, and took off to Alaska and all parts in between.  As George followed on facebook and repeated all of their journeys – he finally looked at me one day and said “I don’t suppose you would consider something like that?”  I’m not sure who was more shocked when the words “Hell yeah I would!” raced out of my mouth.  LOL

And so it began.   We didn’t want something else to pay on, and vacation in, but honestly consider living in one and simplifying our lives.   Luckily one of the first websites either of us came across {thanks Google} was the Escapees RV Club.  The name alone had us at hello:   That’s exactly what we had in mind – Escaping!   Another huge bonus to the Escapee group is that they are geared to the fulltime lifestyle.  You should check out their link in the sidebar just to see how very much they offer folks contemplating, or already out, enjoying this lifestyle.  We were hooked.  If we could swing it financially, we both knew this would allow us to do exactly what we wanted.  See all this country and more as well as stay and explore areas for months at a time.  We can go visit both our families and friends in various States, whenever we choose, for however long we want.  All of which would now include the luxury of having our home, our bed, and our stuff – right there with us.  Sounding better by the minute 🙂

We met a number of great folks at the Escapees Boot Camp who were ever ready with their personal knowledge, experiences, exit planning strategies, as well as budgetary information and how they do it.  There are several hundred SKPs {acronym for Escapee members}, some of which, even in their late 70s and 80s, who started their journey at our age.  We found that we weren’t too young to consider this at all!  Some are now enacting their exit strategies, coming off the road after 10-20yrs of exploring the country.  No one sugar coated anything.  It was all very enjoyable, frank discussions about embarking upon this lifestyle and we appreciated that a lot.  There was also one very common negative remark:  “we sure wish we had done this sooner.”

Next came the serious number crunching on our part.  Building spreadsheets of pensions, IRAs, health insurance options, personal savings, future social security and medicare involvement, and the potential opportunities to either make money on the road by workamping or to volunteer our time in State and National parks in exchange for our rent so-to-speak.  How our current every day expenses matched up against what other fulltimers spent living this way.  Most of the fulltimers we met will tell you, its not much different than living in a stix and brix.  Whatever you make, you’ll spend.  Easy enough.  But once we put the math to it we started seeing how doable this really was.

We estimated our annual living expenses will literally be cut in half, if not more, depending on our own spending habits.  Sure, there are some carryover expenses that remain like communications {internet & cellphone}, a similar policy to a standard homeowner’s called Fulltimer Coverage, vehicle inspections & registration and maintenance of our home on wheels and toad.  But its the bigger numbers that you become a slave to with residential home ownership that are decidedly lower.  Or it will be for us.  Now I will say, had we needed to finance an RV or our tow vehicle, we would not likely be doing this.  Who wants payments?!?   Once we get to the point of having several months of actual spending expenses under our belts we plan to share that info, as so many others before us have, on our blog.  We thought it was great that folks were so willing to share what it really cost them to do this.  The start up expenses are drastically different {assuming you have no camping gear whatsoever..lol} from person to person so while they are expenses, they are irrelevant for this discussion.

The most difficult decision we would make is what kind of RV would best serve our needs.  We did ourselves a huge favor and enrolled in the Escapee’s Boot Camp in Livingston, TX.  They offer this course for everyone, but it was a big step in our noobie understanding of all of the trials and tribulations, safety, legalities, etc. that we might face if we chose this retirement path.  We were both surprised and pleased that so many others we met commented on how smart we were to take this course before jumping in, buying a fancy rig, then realizing it was not going to work.  We came away with a ton of knowledge and a number of new friends.  It was also apparent, that most of the folks we met, considered living fulltime in anything less than 36′ long would be a challenge.  Not having any experience at owning or driving any RVs, we decided almost right away to Go Big or Go Home as they say.  Since we had already determined we would take one of the professional RV driving schools available, we didn’t see any reason not to start out with a 40’r.  The storage, driveability and day-to-day living space would be beneficial.  We took the advice of several Escapee members and purchased the RV Consumer Groups’ downloadable databases and began indepth research on various makes and models.  This was certainly an eye opener on how RVs are rated.  Fulltime, Snowbirds and Weekenders.  We also found lots of the RVs we previously thought were “cool” or “pretty” would not fit the bill whatsoever.  We finally narrowed our choices down to a mid-90s Bluebird Wanderlodge, a Foretravel U320, or a Newmar Mountain Aire.  As everyone knows now, we decided on the Bluebird.  It came equipped with everything we could think of that we needed.  It was big enough, it is definitely manufactured in a manner that provides the ultimate in safety and the only thing we found missing was us at the helm 🙂

One of our biggest adventures was the ridding of accumulated stuff in our house.  Its funny, but understandable, that people ask “Doesn’t it bother you getting rid of all your stuff?”  Uh .. no!  We could not wait to simplify that portion of our lives.  We already had a houseful of our own stuff, then my last parent passed away in 2009, and we inherited another 1700sq ft of stuff from their home as well.  We boxed up all the items and heirlooms that mattered to us and they will be safely stored away until we make other plans for some of it in the future.    Boy howdy what a liberating feeling to glance around the living room now and no longer see a thousand potential dust holders 😉

Back to my rambling thoughts on making this work financially on the road.  Its more about how we might defer some of our expenses than making lots of money.   Now that we are embarking upon our second full year of fulltiming, we have enacted our plan to give back to so many of the beautiful places we have visited, as well as the new ones we hope to explore by Workamping or Volunteering.   We both have a number of skills, and now campground management experience, to offer.  The opportunities abound that allow us an enormous range of places to stay and explore all the while helping the campground owner(s) or agency that might hire us.

We hope all our family and friends continue to follow along on our adventures!


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