An Unconventional Retirement Plan

Retirement means different things to different people. For some it is timed around the final mortgage payment, for others it is a birthday on the calendar. Some head for a condo in a warmer climate, some even move to another country that will stretch limited retirement funds.

For us it means selling the house, getting rid of 99% of our stuff, loading the dogs and ourselves in a motorhome, and living on the road until we don’t want to do it anymore. Once we started telling people our plans, we got lots of questions.

How can you leave your home? Where will you live when you’re done camping? Won’t you miss your real bed/shower/washer/tv/home/everything you have in those old boxes????? What about family and friends? How will you celebrate the holidays?

Why would you do that?

We are fortunate to have a lot of support from our family and friends, but we’ve gotten all of these questions and more about our decision to RV full-time. Even some of the supporters have a hard time wrapping their head around not having a house to “come back to.”

Snowbirds have been around for a long time. My dad was a snowbird for years. My mom lived in Tucson and “dreaded” the increased traffic in the winter. Traveling for long stretches of time, and then “coming home” for at least a few months is not uncommon. It’s normal, mainstream, acceptable retiree behaviour. That’s not the only reason it’s not for us.

I don’t do well with “sameness”. Including childhood, the longest I lived in one place was eight years and that was just before I moved in with Bill a few years ago. Although I worked at the same organization for 26 years, I changed positions and locations at least every three years, and usually more often. My boys grew up expecting the furniture to be rearranged when they got home from school. Sometimes rooms changed purpose, with the dining and living rooms changing places, etc. I think they had an agreement with the neighbors to call them at school if a moving van showed up while they were gone. I would never……

Bill lived in the same place from 5th through 12th grade, but after that his address changed every five years or less. He may not thrive on change the way I do, but he is comfortable with it. He loves new places and new experiences.

Our sons don’t have a single “family home” with their names in the patio floor or old forts they built. They had those things in different homes while growing up, but they’re not at the house we live in now. Wonderful memories of holidays and growing up include the house we lived in at the time, but the house is the container, not the memory.

So when we leave this house, our memories of our time here will go with us. As they always have. We won’t leave our home. We will take our home with us – literally. The sense of freedom I get every time I say that is exhilarating! Not being tied down to a stationary piece of land with a house and yard filled with maintenance and upgrades and taxes and utilities and – you get it. We have no desire to continue any of that, and we may never return to this lifestyle. We have no exit plan. Hell, we’re still anxious to get through the entrance!

We are leaving our home. We will be living in our new home. The “real” bed and washer/dryer and tv(s) and kitchen are in our real home. The real shower is still questionable, and it is on the short list of things we expect to miss. Consistent high-speed Internet is on there too. It’s a short list. It’s much shorter than the list of things we know we won’t miss!

With all our moving came purging so we don’t have a huge amount of accumulated “stuff”. We do have stuff. In boxes. Important stuff that has survived all those multiple moves/purges. It has passed the “should I/we?” test before. It needs to go now. The few family art and furniture pieces are more difficult.

Originally there was a storage pod in our plans, but now we’re down to three antique trunks we will fill and keep at our son’s storage unit. That’s it. Everything else is either gone or going.

We have lots of mutual friends. We have some individual friends. They don’t live near us. Weird. True. Getting on the road will give us time with friends we seldom get to see now, and we are so looking forward to that. All but one of our sons live here in SoCal, but that can change at any time. For now we plan to return for some, but not all, holidays. With the exception of Thanksgiving (big dinner and football) and Christmas (tree, stockings, big dinner, football), we are not traditional holiday-celebrators. Last Easter morning we were at a breakfast buffet with a dozen friends from high school, and spent the day playing in the desert. Sounds about right for holidays in our new life.

When I try to think of a better way to spend “the rest of our life” I can’t come up with anything than RVing. In our travels through Napa and Lake Counties last Spring we saw beautiful mansion-sized homes sitting on acres of vineyards and oak trees, under clear blue skies. A man-made lake, deer, birds, no other people. Lovely and peaceful. We agreed that if we won the lottery tomorrow we wouldn’t settle for that place. It was just one place.

There was no red rock cavern, no wind-swept beach, no rugged snow covered mountains, no swamp, no prong-horn antelope, no historic village, no largest ball of yarn (have to). All those things are in our new front yard.

That’s why!

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  1. We’ll be hitting the road about 8 months after you. Everything you said, I could have said. Love your blog, btw, and hope to see you on the road one day!

  2. Danila Mansfield

    April 20, 2015 at 4:05 am

    Terrific! my husband and I have done the same, but more so! We’re not RV’ing, we’re world travelling, with 2 small bags each, and nothing in storage! It’s been working well for us since November 2013! Our blog is
    Thanks so much for sharing, and continue having fun!!

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