Redefining home: Transitioning to fulltime sustainable RVing

February 9 2011 | Guest post by Katie
Photo by Katherine O'Brien Photography. Used with permission.
Photo by Katherine O'Brien Photography. Used with permission.

Long before we got married, I felt that home was anywhere as long as I was with my (now) husband. We've had the homes we grew up in, the homes where our parents are today, our homes of temporary community (at Burning Man and the regional burn, Playa Del Fuego, where we met). We live in the apartment that I rented over 8 years ago, but we've yet to feel the need to own a house despite its the next traditional step. I never expected to stay in the apartment so long, but I relished the freedom to be able to leave without the obligations of property ownership.

The urge to get up and go on a grand adventure never left, and now I feel that the reason I stayed this long was to meet – and marry – my adventure partner. Last year we changed our a dream to a goal, and as we wrap up wedding-related tasks, we are plotting and planning together.

We have our vague goals – to travel, to experience other regional burn events, to visit far away friends and family. And we have specific goals to guide us in how and why – we want to own an RV, convert it to more sustainable technologies (waste veggie oil, solar power, composting toilet), learn how to build fully sustainable housing and apply that knowledge to the RV. The plan is to live full-time in the RV for as long as we want and can afford, likely 1-2 years.

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Photo by Terry Bone. Used under Creative Commons license.
The hard part of planning is just starting. It's time to talk budgets and loans, determine what we want to buy, put plans in motion for ways to make money while being location-independent. But the more we plan, the more we realize this adventure is really possible for us. It will take time, and a lot of hard work, but there's no reason we can't do this!

The best advice we found was to set a launch date and stick to it – we aren't quite doing that yet, though we have made a concrete goal. We will buy an RV by August and take it to Burning Man this year. Ideally, we'd return to finish the transition to full-timing immediately, but until we figure out the financing and make a purchase, we accept that we may return to our full time work for a bit after that trip. It will be a harsh test run for the vehicle, and there may be modifications and renovations that should occur after the strain of living in the dust for a week. We hope to be departing in 2011, but will reassess the schedule once we purchase the RV.

Last weekend, we went to a local RV show to tour different models and types in person. It was exciting and overwhelming, but we ended up with a fairly clear idea of what would suit our needs. (We don't NEED a fireplace or huge flatscreen TV and kitchen on the outside of the RV, which is good as we can't quite afford those models!) As excited as I am to find our vehicle and renovate/redecorate to make it ours, it wasn't until my husband said this at the show that it really sunk in: We are buying our first home!

It's unconventional, it's not permanent, there's no 30 year mortgage because we don't expect to be in it for more than a couple of years, but it will be our home. And the best part is that it will go wherever we want to go. It's going to be fantastic!

  1. OMG! I want to do this so desperately bad. But the hubs isn't so much into the idea. But every time we go on road trips and we pass an RV, I let out an audible sigh and think, "one day…"

    • Ha! And this is why Offbeat Home is going to ruin my marriage: I love my house, but totally envision escaping to every RV or yurt or undergound house that crosses my path.

        • Ohh I love Westfalias! I spent years of my childhood living in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and driving around in one with my parents all over the lake superior region.

          • Yeah, when we bought our Westie last year I realized, "Ohhh. THIS is why people fantasize about Westies. Because they're FUCKING AWESOME."

  2. I can totally relate to what Katie's urge to have a grand adventure. My partner owns a condo, but I don't own anything – and my goal is to get the condo paid off so we can LEAVE!

  3. Ahhhh! I am so jealous. Every once and awhile I just think this will be the best idea! Especially since I've never been anywhere, really, I strive to see things! Good luck!

  4. Thanks everyone! I was wondering how people were reading this before the launch date 😀 I'm still working on our blog a bit more.

    We are really excited but it's a long path before we can hit the road, so thank you for your excitement – I can't wait to share the adventures with you!

    I've been following a lot of other nomads online, and even a married couple where the wife travels and the husband stays in one spot — so there are lots of options even if your partner doesn't want to go.

  5. So looking forward to following your story.

    We live on a boat although we don't travel to much at the moment thanks to pesky work its always nice to know the options there.

    Such an exciting time for you!

      • I've been trying but my internet connection is rubbish and lost the first lot of what i'd written. Will try again on my day off on Monday!

        I so love my little floaty home i'd love it to be on here.

  6. We have a tent trailer that we practically live in during the summer months. Its pretty old but had a stove top range that can unhook from the inside and hook onto a propane line on the outside of the trailer. This has been the awesomest ever because when it's cold we cook inside for extra heat and when it's warm we can keep the trailer cooler by cooking outside. This also gives you the chance to make and eat more meals outside!
    A year in the tent trailer would be sooooo much fun! You guys are going to have the best year ever!

  7. Wow. Me and the husband are currently looking at the same thing! We are wanting to roadtrip for a year and looking at affordable RVs that will be a cozy home for our little family. Great post!

  8. Ahhh! This is very cool and I really look forward to following your story.

    My partner and I recently realized that we had a pattern of being serial movers. We've lived in four different cities/towns and 7 different homes in the past 9 years together. We had a long talk about it and came to the conclusion that we are comfortable with identifying ourselves as nomads. We just secured a rental on a beautiful little cottage (town #5, rental #8) near the ocean in the state we are living, and even though we're only moving 30 minutes (this time), it feels like another world.

    I think our next move might be across the country after this or to a different country entirely. Everyone we know is long-term planning for settling down and we are happy now being able to say that the only certainty is that we probably won't stay in one place over the next 5 years. That feels right.

    Mobile-living is not off the table either, we both have been drawn to that as well!

    Good look on preparing for your adventure! I will be reading 🙂

  9. As sooo many others have said, this is also my dream! Ha! I would LOVE to own and RV and just be able to go where ever I wanted and travel.
    I hope we get to hear more of your story as you go along, it would be great to have first hand advice and ideas about the whole process!
    Good luck!

  10. The ONLY thing holding me back from doing this is figuring out how to make money while on the road w/o being a wage slave or doing medical studies. Any thoughts? Because this is a life changing step that is SOOOOO close to my near future! 🙂

    • Oh please do share with me any updates. I'm also looking to make a similar move in my life. My husband is retiring in April 2014, but we would need a PT income to complete our income cycle between his retirement monies and whatever I can bring to the table. I won't be retiring anytime soon still have another 20 year to wait. 🙁 Thank you for any information you can send my way.

  11. Maybe too personal but how do people afford this? Do u work while on the road? Only travel on weekends? Live on savings? I love the idea im just wondering how its so doable 🙂

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