A week ago, my husband and I quit our jobs and moved into an RV.
After working our final day at the company that had employed us for the past year, we spent the weekend downsizing our one-bedroom apartment to fit into a 28 x 9 foot box.
It’s been an interesting week to say the least. And when I say interesting, I mean inspiring, freeing, unconventional, hopeful, exhilarating, scary, emotional, fun, scary, exciting, and all around crazy. Naturally, I mean this in the best possible way.
It’s exactly like I thought it would be, but better. I couldn’t have imagined what this level of freedom felt like while I was reporting into the office from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The fresh inspiration of each new day is hard to hold onto when five out of seven days of the week were essentially like the movie Groundhog Day on repeat.
So we did it. We made the move and left it all behind.
I’ve heard from more people than I can count, “I wish I could do that!”—just as I had said so many times in my life as I read stories of people living the RV or van life as I sat in my cramped apartment in downtown Long Beach.
Now here we are, one week in, and I thought I would share a real life view of what it’s like to make the adjustment from a socially-programmed, systematic life to a rogue, nomadic one on the road, because it all sounds romantic from the comfort of the living room sofa, but in truth, it’s not for everyone when it’s actually your life.
If a life on the road via RV or van sounds amazing to you, ask yourself these five questions first:
1. Do you adapt well to change or having a wrench thrown into your plans at any given moment?
If not, stop here! Like I said earlier, it all sounds great from the comfort of four walls, but flexibility and fluid adaptation in the face of challenges isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Even when you’re prepared for this, sh*t can happen!
For example, just today, I decided to have a shower and just as I lathered up with soap, the water ran out and I had to wait in the shower while my amazing husband got us hooked up to a water supply to fill our tank. I laughed about it, but only after taking a deep breath during which I reminded myself that I chose this.
2. Are you at all handy or mechanically-gifted?
I can promise you that unforeseen problems, complications, challenges, or mechanical issues will arise on the road. If you’re a meltdown, temper-tantrum type, this life may not be for you. You have to be able to get yourself out of a jam or think outside the box for solutions to issues that arise. If you aren’t handy or know someone who is, you’re going to spend a lot of money paying others to fix things.
We’ve already blown a fuse, melted an extension cord, had the brakes lock up and fry on the front discs, flooded the coach while filling up the water tank, got sprayed with the contents of our waste tank while trying to do a pump-out, and had our driver’s side mirror smashed off by a passing car.
3. Do you have the self-discipline to maintain some type of routine, structure, or period of productivity?
If you don’t, you might not do well out here. If you need someone to follow you around to make sure you were performing your responsibilities when you still had a system job, you may need to learn more about self-regulation before hitting the road.
A key element of living outside the box is taking the initiative to find novel ways of generating income. Sometimes this means getting creative—or even performing manual labor.
4. Are you willing to downsize a lot and only take the absolute necessities with you?
Space is a real commodity when you choose to live a life on the road. You’ll find that even though you may have thought you lived a minimalist lifestyle in an apartment, the definition of minimalism is very different in a van or RV.
You have to make some choices about what you really need to keep with you, and if you aren’t meticulous about putting things back in their place, you’ll quickly have a space that resembles the house of a hoarder. All things need a home, and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you don’t get in the habit of returning them after use.
5. Are you willing to give up your creature comforts?
Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty to enjoy on the road, but there are some things you’ll have to be able to do without. For example, we brought a ton of books, we have WiFi, and I still have my coffee each morning and our tea each afternoon and evening. Those are the luxuries we’ve chosen to maintain.
But there are no 20-minute showers when you’re living off a limited water tank. If you like space, cleanliness, privacy, you might want to rethink this. The limited storage space cuts down on how much food or how many supplies you can store at once, so you have to be selective and choose critically what you’re stocking up on.
If you prefer to have a wide variety of packaged goods and snacks on hand, you may be upset when your options are narrowed down. Can you forego a shower if you’re out in the woods and your non-potable water runs out?
These are tough questions. But the main takeaway I’d like to offer is that it’s worth it. What you sacrifice in material comforts, you gain tenfold in the way of emotional and physical freedom.
Are you willing to trade the material comforts for the freedom to go anywhere and do anything? Are you comfortable asking yourself these questions and being honest with yourself about the answers?
If so, this may be for you!
See you on the road.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Image: Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash
Editor: Callie Rushton