Our Big Decision to Live the Tiny Life

It all began to get serious in the spring of 2014. Angie and I were taking a walk around our apartment complex, discussing our pending lease renewal. The very thought of being location-bound for another year was giving us both a massive headache; yet the alternatives were equally as unattractive. We didn’t want to move to another apartment. We absolutely didn’t want to buy a house. We wanted to be free. Our heart was in seeing and experiencing the world around us. And so it was decided that our home would go where our heart was; and we gave ourselves a year to put a plan together.

At first, we went back and forth on a lot of ideas. Tent camp across the US for a year. Live in a van. AirBNB. Work stays or volunteer vacations. You name it, we probably thought of it.

Then one afternoon I was on the phone with my mother. Jokingly I suggested that we might just buy a RV and live by the creek on her property when we weren’t traveling. A few days later, she called back to say that she’d considered my idea and thought it wouldn’t be half bad. At first I was shocked that she’d be okay with a RV in the yard. My mom is very particular about the yard. The shock soon turned to a host of other irrational fears and emotions. Did I really want to be a boomerang child, moving back home at the age of 42? Did I even want to go back to Tennessee? After all, I’d been gone for nearly a decade. I can’t say that I’m 100% resolved on my feelings yet, but after going home for a 3 ½ week visit, I’m more convinced than ever before that we’re doing the right thing.

It took more than 6 months of browsing and 3 months of hard looking to find a RV that we could call home. We looked on Craigslist, eBay, RV Trader, and in local lots from Fort Myers to Nashville. We even went to a RV show. The biggest debate we had with ourselves was whether to buy new or used. While a used camper fit more with our ideals, a new camper would likely have fewer problems to start out. The tires were new, the appliances would all work, and we’d be the first to sleep in the bed. But with new came the one thing we were trying to avoid – an obligation. We’d have to partially finance a new RV and we’d be obligated to earn a certain amount of income each month to cover that payment. In the end debt-freedom won out.

We found Scotty when we weren’t really looking. She was listed on Craigslist Nashville by an older couple who had owned and loved her for the past 11 years. From the pictures, we could tell that she was cluttered but sound; so we made an appointment to see her that same day. It was love at first sight. She was everything we had been looking for and then some. A week later, we handed over $3,000 in cash and towed her to my mom’s house in the rain. It was my first time to tow anything besides a U-Haul trailer.

Towing Scotty Home

Scotty’s previous owners left us lots of treasures – blankets, small appliances, hoses, leveling blocks, extension cords, a portable sewage tank, a stabilizing bar, and more. I estimate that we saved an extra $1,000 on things we would have had to buy if we’d gone with a new camper. As folks who love freebies, we were ecstatic every time we opened a drawer or cabinet and found something else we could use.

There’s still a bit of work to be done before we can travel with Scotty. She needs new tires and the wheel bearings need to be repacked. We need better wiring on our tow vehicle. The rest is just cosmetic – new curtains, shelf liner, clean the floors and upholstery. We may eventually remodel the interior but I think we need to live in her for a while before we know exactly how that should be done.

We chose a RV as our tiny residence for a lot of reasons. First, RVs are designed to travel and travel is our primary objective. We did toss around the idea of converting a shed into a tiny house but building costs, permits, and the amount of work required to add plumbing and electricity were more than we wanted to spend – at this time. RVs are self-contained. The plumbing and electrical systems are already in place and can be converted to greener options, like solar and/or a composting toilet. And unlike a tiny house, it’s easier to find a place to park a RV. We can live on rural property (provided there are no zoning restrictions), surf campgrounds all across the US, or even spend the night in a Walmart parking lot. The options are limited only by our finances and our imagination.

As I write this post, I’m waiting for someone from Craigslist to come pick up yet another piece of our Florida life that we’ve put up for sale. And it occurs to me. This whole idea is real. We’re actually going to do it.

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