I’ve been a minimalist since 2011, which is exactly as long as I’ve lived in an RV. That year, my husband and I got rid of our 3-bedroom house and 90% of our stuff so we could live the RV lifestyle. But our minimalism has evolved a lot since then.
Our first RV was big, because my husband was worried that he would feel claustrophobic. But after a while, he agreed that we still had more space, and more stuff, than we needed. We still had less than most people we knew, though.
Since we both had permanent jobs nearby, we lived in RV parks long-term. So we kept the bigger RV and the stuff, and it was kind of like having a really affordable apartment in an expensive area.
In 2016, my husband quit his job and we set up my income so we could work remotely. We sold our only car as well as even more of our stuff. We hit the road full-time in our motorhome. Our cost of living was often even cheaper while traveling than it was when we stayed near San Francisco in an RV park.
My husband Ryan putting our bikes away after a ride. We were camped for free at a casino in northern California.
While we loved the flexibility of our motorhome, it was still too big. We found we were willing to trade stuff for experiences--the less stuff we have, the smaller our RV can be, and the more adventures we can have. So we decided to downsize some more.
Our RV (that we’re currently selling) is a 25-foot motorhome. Thanks to inspiring people like Chris, we installed solar. We can park just about anywhere and have been off-grid for over a year.
We can often fit into a single parking space, which means we don’t have to tow a second vehicle.
We were thinking about going even smaller - we wanted to build a van conversion. But then my mom needed to move in with us for health reasons, so we bought a bigger RV instead. She doesn’t drive and rarely leaves her neighborhood, so this will give her the opportunity to travel while having all the comforts of home.
We’re not really excited about having to get a bigger place, but it’s just what makes sense when you’re adding a third person to your living space. Plus we will have a separate car for the first time in over 2 years, and there will be some benefits to that.
Our latest rig - a 2-bedroom 5th wheel so my mom can stay with us.
While the rest of my friends and family deal with expensive mortgages or rent and are stressed about their jobs all the time, I’ve been able to remove a lot of those worries and save a bunch of money. I’m from the San Francisco bay area, and it would be impossible to buy a home for what we paid for any of our RVs. The lower cost of living meant we could save up a years’ worth of expenses, so this month I’m quitting my job and working on growing my business income!
Whether I think of myself as just an RVer, just a minimalist, or both, the one thing that remains constant is the flexibility it provides me. Being willing to live in a small space with fewer possessions has allowed me to focus on what’s most important to me--my family, travel, and earning income on my own terms.
If you’re thinking of either trying to live the RV lifestyle, or just downsizing, I highly recommend you find a way to do it. It makes life so much better when you have fewer things to take care of. Focus less on what you’re “giving up” when you sell or give away your stuff. Instead, concentrate on all the time, energy, money and experiences you can gain when you’re not babysitting your possessions or tied down by a particular location. Time and memories are priceless gifts worth more than anything you can buy.
Maya blogs about the minimalist lifestyle over at www.gradualminimalist.com