Steve and I were fortunate to have mostly stable jobs during our careers. Beginning at an early age, we’ve both been good savers and have tried to manage our financial affairs wisely throughout our lives. When we got married, we worked as a team to continue saving for an early retirement, not knowing at the time what we would actually do when we retire. While working, we lived well below our means (no new cars, minimal eating out at restaurants, reasonable vacations) during the first 10 years we were together. Anyone with financial discipline can do what we have done, if they start planning and saving early enough.
Once we decided to pursue this idea of living on the road full-time in an RV, we developed a detailed budget. We then continued working until we had saved enough to pay off all of our debts, and until we believed Steve’s pension could fund this lifestyle. We also accumulated a fairly large emergency fund, since some RV repairs can be very expensive. Finally, since the pension is not large enough to support us in a “normal” life in a permanent home, we made certain that our retirement accounts (401K and IRA plans) were funded to the point that we would be financially comfortable when we began withdrawing from them. Since we are in our early 50s, we had to adhere to our budget until reaching age 59.5, at which time we can start withdrawing those funds. In the meantime, one or both of us MAY work again. If so, it will be because we want to, not because we have to. That’s a big deal.
When the time came to begin our new lifestyle, we began the process of downsizing. We were able to sell our home in California, despite the turbulent housing market at that time. Within two months we managed to sell, donate, give away and trash almost all of our possessions. Due to limited space and weight constraints in the motor-home, we could not carry extra shoes, clothes, tools, etc. And we did not want to store any furniture or other replaceable items for several years. Downsizing and simplifying was a bit frightening at first, but it ended up being truly liberating. After all, it was just “stuff” we had accumulated during that period of our lives and it was time to move on. All of this to pursue a dream and begin a new nomadic lifestyle.
Our goal during our retirement is to travel and visit all of the 49 US states and a few provinces in Canada. We began our new life with excitement, tempered with a dose of anxiety. Now, 24 states and 6 Canadian provinces later, our measured decision has been rewarded with contentment and simple happiness. As wanderers, we are blessed to discover, enjoy and explore so many places we’ve never seen including Alaska. We have been in awe of the natural beauty surrounding us. The challenges we initially encountered were overcome. We think we’re ready to face just about anything down the road. We met a lot of new friends along the way, while staying connected with the old ones. The places we’ve been and the experiences we’ve had so far are memorable and inspiring.
Living on the road was also the beginning for us to live in close quarters almost 24/7. It was quite an adjustment initially, since we rarely saw each other during our working years due to opposing shift hours. But as we journeyed on, our relationship became stronger and better. For those of you planning to RV full time, make sure you actually like each other before proceeding!
This journey is about living our dream – simple, stress-free and moment-to-moment, as much as possible.
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