In Which We Get Rid of Almost Everything We Own So That We Can Move Into an RV!
Well, we are just two months away from the date when we take possession of our RV and start the next big adventure in our lives – living full-time in an RV, and traveling all over the North American continent! We have been in this process for several months, but it is accelerating rapidly now, and the excitement is starting to build. At the same time, we are working very hard, so as to downsize enough to be able to move from a large condo into a 31-foot Fifth Wheeler. As we do this, we are learning a whole lot about the transition process, so we wanted to share our insights in this post called How to Start off Your RV Living Life.
Downsizing, Downsizing, Downsizing …
Once you decide to move into an RV full-time, you are of course going go have to downsize. We have now been downsizing for months, and STILL we seem to have so much STUFF! But we are making rapid progress now. The key was that we started a long time ago, letting go of stuff gradually. We noticed that it was not at all painful, and that we even started to enjoy having less possessions cluttering up our space and our lives. For example, it became easier for me to find a shirt to wear, once I donated all the ones that don’t fit any more!
Once you start downsizing, you may be surprised to learn how little you miss all those things that seemed so essential. We certainly were. I can honestly say that I miss very few things. Probably the thing I miss most is my beloved leather recliner. I am already starting to scheme about getting one for the RV – but Maggie says I may have to settle for a camp-chair recliner!
Time to Get Moving!
After planning our RV life for many months, it still seemed very far away. Then, something happened that galvanized us into action. Due to certain circumstances, Maggie lost her job. We had been hoping this would happen after a takeover of her company, and were thrilled on the day it actually happened. Why? Well, because we had already decided that if it happened, she would take early retirement, and we would be free to start our RV life.
So on the day she was let go, we celebrated with champagne, and called the realtor over a glass of bubbly. Within eight hours our condo was listed for sale, and we were putting down the champagne glasses and picking up brooms! We cleaned madly for a day, and then the realtor’s photographer came. Within four days, we were having our first open house!
Then of course we started to panic about whether our condo would sell for the price we needed to finance our RV living plans. But it seems it was all meant to be, as we got a little more than our asking price within nine days!
That was a week ago, and as of today we only have two more weeks before we have to completely move out of our home. So, needless to say, the pace of downsizing has had to accelerate frantically. Basically we are selling almost everything of value for bargain basement prices on Craigslist, and taking numerous carloads of things to Goodwill. Right now there is a stream of people coming in and out of our condo, buying things. I am exhausting myself helping to get things to people’s vehicles. I am having brand new experiences, such as trying to flip glass tables sideways to get them out of doors!
And every day there is less in our condo. Our condo seems to change by the hour in a kind of deconstructing process! It’s the opposite of constantly acquiring things, and is really an interesting experience. Of course, it does have a down side – like the fact that we now have only one real chair left in our home, so we have had to set up camp chairs in our living room!
It feels a bit chaotic right now, with all the comings and goings, and boxes all over the place, but we are getting there. The video below shows some of the chaos, and some of what we are doing to prepare for living in our RV.
The photos below show some of the chaos. I am starting with a photo of our living room before we sold the condo, just to show that we used to be very tidy and organized people, with real furniture! Now everything is in such chaos, we are not even bothering to clear up the dog toys.
Why Not Store Our Stuff?
People keep asking why we don’t just store all our stuff. After all, we have some beautiful furniture and artwork. Well, as with all aspects of our RV living plans, we did a ton of research. We came across many people who had started off by storing their stuff, and then eventually realized they had spent thousands of dollars to unnecessarily store items they would never need again.
Plus, we both sincerely want to become freer of possessions and responsibilities. Keeping a condo-load of possessions in storage would just be another costly anchor restricting our freedom to just get out and enjoy our lives.
Here’s an Alternative Way to Own Stuff
We have a few sculptures and pieces of art that are too precious to part with, but we don’t want to store them. We have found a great compromise – finding friends who love individual pieces as much as we do, and asking them to enjoy the pieces for us while we are traveling. If we ever live in a conventional home again, we will retrieve them. If we don’t, we have the satisfaction of knowing that someone else is enjoying them, and loving them just as much as we do.
For example, I have this small but very heavy statue of a woman grinding corn. I bought it directly from the artist in Harare, Zimbabwe, many years ago. I have taken it with me around the world, displaying it proudly wherever I live. But it would make no sense to take it along in an RV, due to its weight, and the possibility it might break.
So I have asked my friend Olga, who seems to love my ZImbabwean woman as much as I do, to give her a home. Olga is delighted to have her, and I know she’s in a good home, where she will be loved and appreciated.
Giving Away Stuff to Special People
Of course, we have donated a lot of our no-longer-needed stuff to Goodwill. But we also had a lot of fun figuring out which of our friends might like some of the stuff we simply could not take with us. There were some items that just seemed to have someone’s name written on them.
Finding someone new to love something that we have previously loved has been a curiously enjoyable experience.
Preparing Your Kitchen for the Move to the RV
Maggie has a vision for the kitchen in our RV, and right now is busily stripping out the grocery cupboards and transferring the foodstuffs she wants to take along into plastic containers. I was quite bemused to see her packaging up things like flour and rice. Somehow, I had imagined we would need no food apart from plenty of meat to barbecue. Of course, after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized she is entirely right – we will need a more varied diet than that!
Maggie is using her beloved labeling machine to make labels for everything, so that we can enjoy an organized – if much smaller – kitchen.
We have had a few philosophical conversations along the lines of, “If we have not used any cocoa for two years, do we really need to carry it across the continent in our RV?” The answer of course is no, so the kitchen organizing project is another aspect of downsizing. Large amounts of food have gone into the compost.
Buy the Right Stuff for Your RV Living Transition
A lot of the stuff we have is not suitable for RV living. For example, our two dinner services would just be crazy – and very breakable and far too heavy – in an RV. But we don’t like the idea of dining on plastic dishes. So we did our research, and found that many RV full timers use Corelle crockery. It’s a kind of glass – but it is lighter and much harder to break than conventional crockery. So we bought a set of Corelle dishes with four place settings (in case of guests). It will stay carefully packed into its box until we move into our RV.
We have taken most of our other dishes off to Goodwill. Before we move out of the condo, all of it will be donated. And most of our kitchen cupboards are empty, or almost empty – we are making progress!
We love our morning cup of tea, but realized that our existing kettle will not work, as it is too large, draws too much power, and is made of glass! So we ordered this much smaller 0.5 liter Bonavita travel kettle, which only draws 400 watts.
We also needed to find a way for all of our spices to come with us. Again, research turned up this YouCopia 15002 Original SpiceStack Organizer, which will enable us to organize and easily access 18 spice bottles in a handy little plastic box. Below is Maggie organizing the spices into this container. We really like it. Since we got it we have used it when cooking, and it is way easier to find our spices than when they were in a closet! We realized we should have got one of these a long time ago …
Safe Storage for Knives in Our RV
We will need some of our knives for cooking, but taking along our large knife block would make no sense. Back to researching the experiences of other RVers, leading us to order a Camco 43583 RV Knife Safe from Amazon. This will provide a convenient and safe way to keep our knives handy on the inside of a cabinet door.
Media Storage for RV Living
We plan to spend a lot of time off-grid, and we want to make sure we have some entertainment when we cannot access the Internet. So we wanted to take some of our many DVDs and CDs along with us. But that would be a lot of space and weight.
So we got some Nylon CD/DVD Binders. I spent hours taking all of the media out of its packaging, arranging into it alphabetical order, and filing it into the binders. Now we have thousands of hours of media to take along with us, but it will take up minimal space. And I recycled huge piles of packaging!
Careful Planning for Starting our RV Living Life
Our timeline is very tight, because of course we have an end time and date when we have to hand vacant possession of our condo to the new owners. So we have a detailed To Do list, as well as a Calendar Countdown with key dates. Each evening we review what we have achieved, and add in anything extra we have forgotten. It’s hard work, but we have a goal, and we are getting there!
This is What We Have Learned about How to Start Off Our RV Living Life
#1: Do a lot of research. The Internet is full of useful blog posts and YouTube videos to help us out. See our post on the Top 3 RV YouTube Channels for learning about RV living.
We also went to RV shows, and attended seminars at those shows, and talked to a lot of people at them. That turned out to be amazingly useful, and made a huge impact on which RV we ultimately bought.
#2: Make a detailed plan, and try to stick to it as much as possible. But be prepared to change your plan several times, because every time we thought we finally, for example, had found the perfect RV, we later moved on to a different one as we learned more.
#3: Inevitably downsizing will be required. To make it easier, start downsizing as early as possible, so you can do it gradually. That way, you will not have the huge shock of having to part with most of your possessions all at once. You might even find the gradual process liberating, as we often did – although not always, as with the loss of the beloved recliner!
#4: Think outside the box. We came up with the idea of letting other people love our artwork while we are away. That idea could be applied to other items as well. And no doubt there are many other alternative ways to downsize that we have not thought of yet.
#5: Figure out what items you need to buy to make your life on the road more comfortable and organized, and start buying them.
Once we are out of our condo, we will spend four weeks with relatives, and then take a two-week vacation that we planned before all of this happened. When we return from that, we will pick up our RV and start our adventure. We will keep you posted!
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