The bug started when we got orders to Okinawa, Japan for three years. There was excitement in traveling to a distant country and experiencing a different culture. And we were not disappointed. We visited stunning beaches, toured ancient castle ruins, tried new foods, and basked in a culture completely foreign to all our previous experience.
Then we transferred to Monterey, CA, and met a family at church who were living on a small yacht in the marina. They chose a modest monthly loan payment and small marina fee rather than pay rent for the two years they were there for school. They would sail up and down the California coast on weekends and enjoy exploring the area. At the conclusion of the two years of school in Monterey, they sailed up the coast to their new assignment in Washington. Four people living on a tiny yacht and they loved it. Living in something so small and mobile had never occurred to us.
After moving to Oceanside, CA, we met another family who left for the Florida Keys for a year in an RV–with 6 kids. The thought of doing something similar started to simmer in the back of our minds. We loved to travel and visit new places. But it was difficult to travel far because of unique health concerns of two of the kids, requiring nearly constant access to a kitchen so we could make the special foods required by their condition. The thought of being able to take our kitchen along with us was very appealing. Maybe there was something to this RV thing. We started to read blogs and and joined Facebook groups about other families who live on the road in an RV and learned they are called “full-timers”. Why couldn’t we do the same someday?
Then an opportunity to change careers and make a living independent of location came up. At the same time, we had already started homeschooling the kids because of our concern with the schools and curriculum (that’s another post or two all of its own). Suddenly there was no job or school requirement binding us to a specific location. So we started to seriously consider the full-timer lifestyle. After renting a Class C and going to Death Valley for a week during Christmas break, we were hooked. We started making plans, adjusting finances, and looking at different RVs. We were going to make our dream a reality. We bought a 5th wheel and truck, sold a lot of our stuff, rented out our house, and by May 1, 2015, we started our journey planning to travel the U.S. for 12 months.
When people hear about what we’re doing, we get all kinds of reactions ranging from “I would never do that, how can you live in something so small with so many kids, it would drive me nuts!” or “How can you afford it?”, to “That’s a wonderful idea, you’re so lucky!”, and even “But what will you do for Internet!?” The best one and most frequent is “How are you going to get your mail?”
Our answer is, if we have the opportunity, how can we NOT do it? (Not to mention that it’s no more expensive, and possibly even less expensive, to live in a 5th wheel than a traditional house with a mortgage and utility bills).
I’ve always liked the last part of the poem by Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
So, we decided to “take the road less traveled by” and do our own thing. Rather than slaving away for a paycheck and dedicating energy to building someone else’s dream, we are using our working time and energy to fuel our own goals and business, while at the same time living together as a family in our small, but mobile, home so we can experience and enjoy each other and the world around us.
We feel that we should try to live life to the fullest and make the most of any opportunities that come up. So, when the opportunity to be full-timers came up, we just couldn’t not do it. Yes, it’s tight living in a small space with five people (plus two cats). Yes, we get annoyed with each other sometimes. But it is so worth these minor inconveniences in exchange for the experience of a lifetime.