I wanted to create a series of posts about the process of deciding to live in an RV, selecting the right one, preparing the RV, discarding excess belongings, and moving into the RV.
I started this website in part because I wanted to share my adventures on the road. Right now, I would like nothing more to already be on the road rather than in this preparation phase. I started thinking that sharing about the preparation phase may actually be really useful to anybody looking to transition into living in an RV full-time.
Here you can find an overview of the process and links to detailed posts about each aspect of this preparation phase.
Deciding to live in an RV
The first step was actually deciding that I wanted to live in an RV. I knew it was time for me to move out of my current house because I live in a small town and just don’t have the opportunities to do a lot of things here. I spent time considering all of my options: different cities I could move to, renting or buying, etc. My decision to move into an RV was reached both because I wasn’t ready to pick a new permanent location to live and because I’m really excited about several aspects of RVing like being able to travel around. My post 8 Reasons I want to live in an RV details my main reasons for deciding to move into an RV.
Finding support and information
When working on a big goal like this, things are a lot easier with the right community for support. I joined the Escapees RV forum at the advice of a friend. This has proven to be an excellent source of information and the knowledgeable folks have answered many questions that I’ve had. Browsing the threads has also answered questions that I didn’t yet even know that I had like providing information on how full-time RVers receive mail and the best states to establish a domicile. I also found a Yahoo Group dedicated to owners of Xplorer RVs by Frank Industries. Since Frank Industries is long out of business and there aren’t many vans like mine around, connecting with people with the same or similar models has proven immensely valuable. There are many forums and groups available that are specific to each RV manufacturer where information on the special quirks and features of those models are available.
Picking the right RV
The next step was to find the right RV. I spent months looking for the right RV. I researched a lot about all of the different types of RVs. I spent hours and hours looking through RV listings online and reading on RV forums. I looked at RVs off of Craig’s List and looked at dealerships in three different states. I was looking for something larger, but after all this, I ended up deciding to stick with my conversion van which I already owned. You can read about why I picked a Class B (van) RV.
I am glad I spent all of the time I did on picking the right RV even though I was so impatient at the time to just hit the road and I didn’t buy a new RV. Now, I am way more familiar with what is out there and I am satisfied that I’ve made the right choice. If I love the lifestyle, I may upgrade at some point and all that I learned in the process may yet be useful to me.
My strategy for doing everything
The very idea of moving into my RV, getting rid of most of my stuff and selling my house felt totally overwhelming. It’s a huge undertaking and there is so much that goes into it all. So, I decided to focus on one main thing each month until I got there. It was November when I stated making my plans and I knew I wanted to wait until the weather warmed up to actually move into my van. (Once I’m really on the road, I can just head someplace warm for the winter, but initially, I knew I had a lot to take care of around my house.)
December– start on discarding stuff I didn’t want to keep
January– focus on some major work projects (after all, none of my RV plans happen with everything else on hold)
February– work on some repairs on the van and a fixing up a few things to make it nicer
March– move into the van, start living in it close to home as I work out any little kinks and figure out what things I want to take in it
April– get a few repairs done to my house and list it for sale
May– relocate my cats (they’re going to live with family) and start taking a few short trips
Things after that get a little vague. A lot depends on how long it takes my house to sell and just how everything works out. By breaking down what I needed to get done it’s really helped me to focus on one part at a time and feel like it was more manageable. I still have a lot to get done and my time frames haven’t been perfect. For example, I made a great start getting rid of things in December, but it has been an on-going project and I still have more to do.
Discarding excess stuff
There isn’t much room in the van for extra stuff and I am downsizing from a three bedroom house with a garage and a shed. I have been in the process of getting rid of extra things and have a lot more to go. Basically, I need to get rid of 98% of my stuff. Here are some of my thoughts on discarding excess stuff and scanning documents and pictures. The biggest surprise while doing this is just how good it has felt to get rid of some of my stuff. I thought it would be harder, but in a lot of ways, it’s been a relief each time I donate another box to the thrift store.
Preparing the RV
There were some repairs and things that I wanted to get done to prepare the van before moving into it. These included things like doing something about the leak around the vent over the bed, having the windows tinted and finding a good way to attach my curtains. I tried to stick to the things that would have the biggest impact on my immediate quality of life in the van. I have a whole bunch of things that I think would be cool to do, but I am waiting on those. Many things can wait until I’m really living in the van and can see what I really need.
Moving into the RV
Emptying out the RV
I started with completely emptying out the van. I had more stuff in there than I would have even thought. Some of it was stuff that was actually from the previous owners. Some of it was stuff I bought after I first got the van. For example, my cute little miniature dish drainer that I bought since it looked like a cool thing to have, later realizing that there isn’t even any real place to set it up! Some of the stuff was actually stuff that I knew I wanted to keep in the van, but by taking everything out and putting back in only what I needed, I insured I didn’t keep anything just because it was already there. Space is at a premium and I want to be extremely careful with what I bring along. While my back storage compartment was completely empty, I also took the opportunity to remove the old, filthy carpet and replace it with rubber mats (4 rubber doormats bought at Wal-Mart for $2.80 a piece and cut to fit).
The fun part!
I was finally ready to start packing my stuff into my van and settling in. My first night in the van felt like such an accomplishment and the start to an amazing journey, even though I was still parked in my driveway. Even better was the second night in my RV when I headed out of town for one night out in nature. While I still have a lot more to get done, my first night really out in the van was amazing and really reminded me about the reasons why I’m doing this.