#1 We are in Yuma, Arizona renting space on a private lot next to a home. We are in the Foothills area of Yuma, and it is lovely right up against the Gila Mountain Range. Today, December 6th, the temperature is 72 degrees with a light breeze. AHH! Love it.
#2 One of our big projects this winter is helping our Mexican missionary friends. This family is separated by the border, meaning the husband lives in Mexico and the wife and children live in Yuma. On November 12th I was honored to help at the birth of their new baby boy.
#3 Brian is in the process of developing a new website business here in Yuma. It's called. www.YumaRVSpace.com and offers free information on places you can park your rig and enjoy the winter sunshine. Check it out.
Finally, like you, we are preparing for Christmas. Since our tiny space is limited, I dedicated a window to the holiday celebration. Here's a couple of pics! Got to keep things simple when living in an RV, that's for sure.
Here is an assortment of creative articles which take a peek at the weird and wonderful side of living life on the road. I wrote these in 2015 under the pen name Dee Montana. (why? It's a long story). Topics include:
Truth be told, I wrote over 100 articles for this company, and you can read them all here:
CLICK HERE There is something for everyone! From quirky to informative and back again.
In the fall of 2015, I began writing for another RV publication featuring in-depth articles that focus on Brian and I's real life "on the road" experiences. Here are just a few:
I have written about 40 other articles for this company that they are stocking up and releasing over time. It keeps me busy.
Work camping has a lot of definitions but basically you are doing a job in exchange for a place to park your rig. Your position may or may not include pay and it may or may not be long term. here are a few types of work camping jobs.
RV park management
Mobile home park management
Tourist store employee
National parks attendants
Concessionaires for events
We chose to discover RV park management on a 6 month contract. There are basically two seasons in the RV world. Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Spring/Summer is the easiest time to find a work camping position that includes a salary or an hourly wage. Fall/Winter is harder to find a pay related gigs unless you plan to be right in the heart of snowbird land.
In our case, we took a position that includes our space rent, utilities, laundry, store discount and an hourly wage as a package deal. We work 3 days on and 3 days off which allows us time to see the area and to work on my writing projects.
If you are looking for a work camping position be sure to shop around. Many of the work ads ask for a lot of hours in exchange for your space and utilities. Always make an effort to know what the true value is.
For instance, monthly space rental can run from $295 plus utilities to $1,500 plus utilities. If an ad asks the couple to each work 20 hours a week in exchange for your rent and the monthly equivalent is $295 you are getting a raw deal. If instead you are right on the beach and the rent is $1,500 a month you might think it is a great offer. Be sure to research the area and understand the offer.
If you are offered a package look at the total value. Work camping may supplement your income or it may replace a job but you won't get rich. You will however have the opportunity to live the lifestyle you dream of and you can't put a price tag on that!
Want to learn more about work camping? Here are a few links. Remember! Jan/Feb is the hiring time for Spring/Summer. Early summer is hiring for Fall/Winter. If you look for work in between these seasons you may find it difficult to land a job.
Check these out:http://www.work-for-rvers-and-campers.com
We spent the first afternoon and evening getting settled.
The following morning we started training for our first official "job" in years. (we have worked for ourselves for a really, really, long time.) We met Chuck and Pauline, our trainers and fellow work campers, at 8:45 am and began our leap into RV management.
My job consists of running the office and small store. I make reservations in person and on the phone. There is a lot of interaction with incoming, outgoing and monthly residence which keeps me hopping and the first day was crazy busy. (so I got thrown right in!)
Brian runs around the park in a golf cart and oversees the propane station (which is relatively busy since its winter) cleaning the grounds, helping residents and guiding people to and from their spots. He also helps me pick and choose the right location for each rig.
Our hours here will be from 9-6 (in the office) and then on call for the rest of the day. We work 3 days on and then 3 days off.
Training was intense. We got to know Chuck and Pauline plus a ton of monthly residents in a hurry. The owner, Sheila, was preparing to have hip replacement surgery (which happened yesterday) so it was important that we jumped in fast and made every effort to "GET IT." Fortunately, we are pretty quick and only had to train for 3 days, test out for 1 and then fall into our regular schedule.
So today, was our first day off and boy did we need it. It seems like we have been going and going since February 18th when we left Oregon. What a relief to spend the day "settling." I slept in, cleaned and helped Brian re-position the coach on our spot.
Brian got a bunch of stuff done including washing our car and his motorcycle, dumping and filling the tanks and going for a nice "exploratory" cycle ride. The weather was 62 today and all the snow finally melted.
It's good to feel grounded again.
I don't love fast paced travel. I find it incredibly stressful especially trying to find a place to park our 65 foot beast. I hate the random terror of wondering if and when we will be able to get out of a parking lot or campground.
Still, I like feeling free. So far, thumbs up on life in a tiny house!
Here's the story.
After spending 10 weeks in beautiful Dayton, Oregon (most WITHOUT a toilet) we were offered a chance to co-manage an RV Park for 6 months with a great 3 day on and 3 day off schedule. The location? Would you believe Wichita, Kansas...just 3 hours from where we started in November. The advantage of this position is multi-fold.
#1 We want to experience park management and see if this is a field we are interested in. As a full-timer there are many opportunities to work at a variety of parks around the nation. The Wichita job will give us a chance to see if we like the work.
I (Dawnya) will be running the office and Brian will be overseeing landscape and maintenance 4 days a week. In exchange for our work we will receive a compensation package including our space rent, wi-fi, cable, utilities, laundry and a wage.
#2 While driving back to Kansas wasn't our first choice, the flexible schedule in Wichita will allow us to travel back and forth to Washington, Kansas. As you may remember, we downsized 90% of our lives last fall but we still have 10% in storage. Our goal is to re-sort and sell anything we do not love!
#3 I am in the process of rebuilding an internet business. I am still doing a little tea education but I am spending most of my time writing books on topics like Prayer and travel. So, I am hoping with three days on and three days off I will still be able to focus on building a new vision online. (stay tuned!)
Once the decision was made and the contract signed, my body decided to immediately catch the first nasty cold to come by. I spent the week prior to our cross country drive in bed wheezing and sneezing with only 2 days to get ready for the big journey.
Unfortunately, most of the U.S. is covered in snow and in order to avoid the Rocky Mountains we drove THE LONG WAY ROUND. We added an extra 1,000 miles to our trip going down through Nevada and over through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and onto Oklahoma and finally Kansas. Quite the journey in 7 days!
And so, here we sit, in Miami, Oklahoma at the Newell Coach service center. In the morning we will have our final warranty work completed and then drive back to Washington, Kansas where it all started! What a 6 month journey.
Brian was heading to Hungary & Russia on a construction team. I was 16 and fulfilling my lifelong dream to go to England. My team was jokingly called "The Holiday Inn" team since everyone envisioned us living on luxurious canal boats, lazily gliding through the heart of England. Yet nothing could have been farther from the truth. (actually Brian was the one who ended up with the "cushy" travel experience.)
Our canal boats broke down from the moment we got on board. The boats were old and a bit smelly with ancient faulty wiring. Within a few days, we had no electricity, no running water and no toilets! It was a long month on the water. When I returned home 8 weeks later I could hardly believe how grateful I was for a bathtub, a washing machine and a real "water closet."
Fast forward 27 years. After 9 weeks of slogging back and forth to the public shower room day and night, we finally got our own toilet! I have never loved the sound of running water more!
I have to brag a bit on Brian. (cause he would act like it wasn't a big deal). Truth is, he spent 4 weeks, day and night researching where on earth we could get a toilet that work on our coach. He tried fixing the one we had. He tried retrofitting one we ordered. He sat with plumbers, called coach manufacturers and talked to every RV supply house he could find. Finally 4 weeks in he discovered that a particular unit designed for yachts would work within our coach without a ton of expensive retrofitting. We were thrilled.
Unfortunately, no one had the unit in stock. This "Master Flush" was special order and required a two week wait. Two weeks turned into three. Three weeks turned into four. Finally in desperation we agreed to drive to Seattle and redeem the unit to speed up the process. We drove for 12 hours to get this precious bundle and today it finally paid off.
Brian was able to do the wiring, the plumbing, the tile work and all adjustments. (did I mention that this is like the most complex toilet known to man?) He was amazing. He never gave up and today we rejoiced over a simple sound that most American's take for granted. It took only a moment for me to relive my experience in England all those years ago. I remembered my profound sense of gratitude for the simple things in life.
Although we are ready to explore another area we are still wanting to remain in the NW. Saturday we will begin exploring parks in other areas perhaps in the Portland/Vancouver, Washington area.
Unfortunately we will not be moving until we get the new toilet and you can bet we are excited. It's been 6 weeks since we had a in coach "flushy." We walk down to the RV Park's bathroom throughout the day and night. Oh the joy. Hoping to pick up our new toilet in Seattle in another week or two.
In the meantime, I have been bouncing from medical appointment to dental appointment to eye doctor. I am trying to get all my updates done while we are close to my primary medical center. Tomorrow I have my last appointment and I cannot wait.
Here are a few of my favorite places to get fresh ideas for updating your RV interior:
Now, with that said, here are a few changes I have recently made in our own coach. Beulah has some awesome, high end leather furniture. The problem is our cats. It didn't take long for us to realize our fur babies were going to kill the furniture if we didn't do something quick.
My answer? Soften the interior with drapey fabrics. Our carpet and granite flooring are a deep plumb while the walls throughout our unit are cream. This makes for an easy palate. I decided to use grey as my main color and accent with shades of plumb and cream. I used a variety of simple patterns and textures where possible.
Eventually I want to re-upolster the dinette benches to protect the leather but I am not sure what I want to cover them with. I solved this problem by buying deep grey upholstery fabric then draping and tucking it into the benches. This will not a long term solution but should give me time to live with the fabric and see if it a good fit for the coach. (I scored it on discount at Joann's Fabric a saved a bundle.)
What are you doing in your RV? Are you painting walls or adding vinyl? Tell me about it in the comments below!
Here are a few of the things I have discovered about living small:
#1 Make it simple
Have you ever analyzed how many steps it takes to make a bed? I have. In a small space you have the challenge of balancing beauty with function and that can be a challenge. When we first moved into Beulah Grace my bed was filled with pillows and fluff just like it had been in our loft.
Within 2 weeks extra pillows were gone. (We are down to 4 plus 2 small decorative). Within 2 more weeks blankets and the top sheet were also gone. Within 1 more week the extra topper which kept shifting was tossed.
Now I keep it simple. Fitted bottom sheet, top comforter and duvet which folds at the bottom. If I can get everyone off the bed (I am talking about the four cats that LOVE to lay in warm spots) I can make the bed in a matter of moments. Before, it could take me 15 minutes to get everything set straight while crawling around and over the bed numerous times.
This concept also applies to the kitchen. One pot meals have become a specialty. I spend a few moments thinking through the process so I can get the best use out of my equipment and use as few dishes as possible.
#2 Use Paper
Ok, some of you won't like this. Heck, I never thought I would like it. But truth be told, I am loving using paper plates and plastic silverware. Why? I no longer have a dishwasher. Using recycled plates works for us and makes my job a lot easier.
In order to cut down on wasted plates we also use wax paper liners often seen in delis or burger baskets. These little liners work for a million things. Use them to cover an item in the microwave or use them to make a sandwich, either way they provide just the instant help you need. They are also cheap at under .01 cent each.
In my old world I was a "dish-aholic." Today, other than my teapot and teacup, I use paper whenever possible.
#3 Less is More
Originally we thought we needed both a water kettle and a coffee pot on our crowded counter. Now we are down to just an electric kettle? Why? Brian discovered it was easier to simply brew his coffee in his cup using a stainless steel tea filter. Since I always have boiling water (for my incessant tea drinking) it works great. Today he let me pack away the coffee pot to the nether regions of an upper cupboard. We will hold onto it in case guests come but for now it's great to use the counter for cooking.
I have actually started a mental list of items that can be sold or donated from our coach. I simply do not need many of the necessities that were important in our stick and brick home. I don't use the ROKU. I don't use the French Press. I don't use the Extra Towels. As you travel you discover what's important and what is clearly just taking up space!
Here are a few things I would NEVER want to be without!
1. Big Fridge
We absolutely love our residential fridge. True, it draws a lot of power but I love having the space to store food.
2. Large Shower
Our shower rocks. It does double duty holding cat boxes and when needed acting as a home style shower. I am very grateful for the "real feel" of a glass shower.
3. Basement Space
Living in your RV full time means you are traveling with your home. Your basement compartments are basically your garage and every garage needs space to hold tools. The beauty of a "bus style" class a coach is the size of the compartments below your floor and for us, it's Brian's domain.
4. Real Toilet
I like a high quality porcelain throne. Thankfully I now have one!
5. Bedroom Door
We have a air driven pocket door between the bed/bath and the kitchen/living. Why is a door so exciting? Well, try living and working together full time with four cats in 380 square feet and you will know the beauty of a "little separation." Need I say more?
So on that morning when we sat up in bed and decided "to really do this!" (move into an RV and full time it) We knew that meant taking "the quad" with us. OMG. What would that be like?
In truth, it hasn't been that bad. Mister (our 12 year old, Turkish Angorian) has had the hardest time adjusting. He likes it fine when we are not moving. Its the travel that makes him nervous. When he hears the engine start he climbs under the nearest cover and buries himself within.
Surprise (our youngest and an unexpected stray) is four and he loves adventure. When the engine rumbles to life he runs to the dash and lays down to watch the big event.
Tea' (our Rag Doll and only girl) and Keeper (our gentle spirit) tolerate the movement without a lot of strain.
The biggest issue with four cats in a small space is the shedding. These babies have a lot of hair and they love to share it with the carpet, the bedding, the curtains and anything else it could possibly stick to. I feel like I am forever cleaning.
Since leaving Washington, we have discovered just how many people travel with cats! We have met truckers and rvers who love to chat about their kitty and ask about ours. It seems cats make great companions even if you are on the road.
Planning to travel with cats? Here are two other RVers who often talk about the cats in their family.
In actuality, Brian spends his days and nights trying to figure out how to replace the toilet in our 18 year old coach. He has talked to plumbers, coach specialists, toilet distributors and anyone else that has a suggestion. Don't ask me the details. All I know is we have no one wants to work on our coach and they don't make the type of toilet we need for our system anymore. It's been crazy here. The only good news is we get a lot of exercise walking back and forth to the campground bathroom. (for which I am extremely grateful.)
Brian has been amazing. He hasn't given up. I was ready to throw in the towel and buy a composting toilet. Brian knows that IS NOT my style so he has diligently devoted every waking hour to creating a solution. We are on week 5. Who knew this could be such a big challenge?
I have been working on a few writing projects but find it difficult to keep a rhythm with every day changing according to appointments and ever changing needs.
Today we went to a book sale and picked up a few things to send into Amazon. That will feel good. I have sold books through Amazon for a couple of years and always enjoy "the hunt." This was the first time I have looked for new books in at least 8 months.
I have a bunch of tea that I need to send off to Amazon as well. Unfortunately, tea takes a lot more time to package so that project is on hold for a while.
Funny how life always turns out different than you expect. It is certainly a learning process if only you can learn to smile through the curves.
Here's what I mean.
Many website devote time to the ease of living in a small space. They write, "a small space is easy to clean." TRUE
"In a small space everything has it's place." TRUE
The thing they don't tell you is how MESSY your space can get in a hurry. Take today for instance. We got three packages of various sizes from Amazon. The process of opening these three boxes, making space for the items, finding room for the boxes and then re-packaging the largest item to send back, made our coach look like a bomb had gone off.
I literally had to sit down and "breathe" through the stress of the mess on two different occasions, and this is NOT a one time experience. It happens nearly every day. (gotta love the SMALL SPACE challenges)
We have lived in our coach about 2 months and I am already ready to TOSS THINGS to increase the feeling of spaciousness.
Here are the routines which are helping me process small space living.
#1 I straighten EVERYTHING before I go to bed.
For some reason, this gives me a sense of order. When I climb into bed I know that everything is in it's place. I don't vacuum or dust, I just make sure everything is put away. Unfortunately, I go to bed late and my husband often gets up early. By the time I get up, he has had a good 4 hours in the coach to "spread out."
(Limited space means sharing)
#2 I clean every morning
Each day I make the bed and remove cat hair (oh the joys of being a 4 cat family). This is not an easy process because our King size bed is shoved into a Queen size space. It's a tight fit. From there I work my way forward cleaning counters and floors, putting things in the kitchen away, vacuuming, resetting the pillows and removing stray cat hair wherever possible. Brian cleans the cat boxes and I vacuum the excess litter.
This process takes me about 30-45 minutes depending on how many things have to be moved or worked around. I am still finding systems to help me speed up my morning routine. I think I can get this process down to 20 minutes but it hasn't happened yet.
(note: I have since bought a Dyson vacuum and it has cut my cleaning time down significantly. Cleaning is about systems and that can take time to establish in a new space.)
#3 I am learning to be reasonable
This space is not going to stay clean when we are both working inside. I have to face it. It's not a disaster, its just not perfect and I have to let that go.
When we lived in our 2,000 square foot loft I had a hard time adjusting because I could see from one end of the house to the other. There was no hiding space. In order to feel things were in order EVERYTHING had to be put away in it's place or I could see "the mess" from each and every room. Eventually I adapted.
Thank God I learned that lesson so I can practice it in our 389 square feet, small space.
Motor coaching has its challenges and there have been many days that we wanted to run and hide. To say, "there is a learning curve" would be a blatant understatement. There is a learning MOUNTAIN. New systems, fixes and adjustments, things that look wrong but aren't and quirks. Our current challenge? No toilet! (that's right. It's a no toilet holiday.)
After 18 years of excellent service the beautiful, air powered, porcelain throne decided to begin leaking into the floorboards. NOT A GOOD DEAL. Unfortunately, this super expensive beast is no longer manufactured, nor are any other air powered units. And so for the last 2 weeks we have been walking across the park throughout the day and night to use the RV parks bathrooms. (a great way to get exercise.)
On Monday we are hoping for an Amazon miracle. We have ordered a Thetford Aria Classic and are praying it will not only FIT but actually WORK using our existing plumbing. If not, we will need to take our coach to Eugene and have a professionally installed air, power, water unit put in. That seems like alot of expense for a toilet. So, we are hoping that Amazon can come to the rescue. :)
Christmas was spent without a bathroom but with family for the first time in 7 years. This year we visited my Uncle and Aunt and 4 adult cousins with their children I hadn't seen many of them in over 15 years so it was fun to connect and see how everyone has changed. It was amazing to see how their children looked so much like I remembered them as kids. How time flies.
I'd like to say we discovered this little gem just by pulling off the road, but the truth is we looked hard and long for it. While staying at Spirit Mountain Casino (In Grand Ronde Oregon) we took several days driving through some 13 RV parks before we found "the right spot." I felt alot like Goldylocks as I cried, "This one is too noisy." or "This one is too messy." or "This one's spaces are too small." Finally we found a place that was "just right," Dayton.
Our park has 200 spaces surrounded by trees, grass and vineyards. 8 Spaces are filled with super cool, fully restored, vintage trailers from the late 1940's through 1965. Each is available as a nightly rental for the crowds visiting this popular, wine making community. Currently we have about 50 full time neighbors. The rest of the spaces are available for nightly rentals. We have access to a laundry room, rec room, gym, showers, a pool and a store.
In Kansas we learned to walk so we were happy to discover a trail leading directly into Dayton from our coach. It takes about an hour to walk round trip to and from our PO BOX at the Dayton Post Office and one or both of us try to walk it at least once a day.
Dayton is a very central location. We are 25 miles from Portland or Salem. 5 miles from McMinnville and 8 miles from Newberg. An hour drive from the ocean and a half an hour to my family in Grand Ronde. Its great to jump in the car and go somewhere quick. Yamhill County is all about Vineyards and gourmet nuts. Everywhere you drive you see hills covered with vines and rows of hazelnut trees. It's easy to see why this area is so very popular in the Spring, Summer and Fall.
You often hear it said that America is the richest nation in the world yet it’s easy to focus on our lack rather than our abundance. Downsizing is the decision to fix our mind on having less in order to gain the time and resources to give more. As a tiny house or RV dweller you will be able to spend less effort on:
Sorting & Organizing
Having the “latest”
Tiny home and RV residence gain intangible assets like:
More time to spend on hobbies or passions
Mobility (if your home is on wheels)
Less out of pocket expenses especially in the area of electricity, insurance, house payments, taxes
Cash to travel instead of always “just keep up.”
Joy of simplicity
Time to volunteer and make a difference
But what is the common characteristic that binds the tiny home and full time river, and separates them from others. In one word, I would say adventure. Anyone who swims against the stream has a desire deep within themselves to explore, create and innovate. They also have tenacity to push through when it is easier to just give up. Is that you? If you are reading this article I bet it is.
Rather than focusing on what you might lose in the downsizing process, begin to focus on what you are about to gain. Ask yourself some of the following questions and write down your answers for later reference.
- What am I most passionate about?
- What would I prefer to spend my time doing if money or time wasn’t an issue?
- How would I like to make a difference in this world?
- What is my favorite possession that I cannot live without?
- Why is downsizing really important at this stage in my life?
- What am I emotionally connecting with in this process?
These questions may stimulate new questions. Follow your heart. In a short while, you will begin to see your dreams and goals begin to clearly re-define themselves. Adventure and experience cannot be bought. Your life is short. Make it count!
24 years ago, I started my married life with a few boxes and a frameless queen bed. Life was simple back then but all I could think about was the “stuff” we needed. I had a tall list. We needed to find a job, a home, furniture and the list goes on. I was honestly surprised how long it took to fully achieve that goal. Yet one day, I woke up with 13,000 square feet of buildings and all I could think about was throwing EVERYTHING away. Can you relate?
When we decided to downsize, I started looking for a step by step system to help me achieve my goal. My google search found a few suggestions but no actionable lists to ease my weary soul. In this post, I will share with you a simple step by step checklist I developed to keep me on track with my massive downsize. We went from 13,000 square feet to 385 (yep, we are talking tiny home) rolling condo. (or RV)
Feel free to adapt this list for your own situation. Hope it helps you achieve your dream of less stuff and more freedom.
Step #1: Ask yourself which items makes you feel most at home?
When we consider our dwelling place certain items contribute to the feeling of home. These can be tangible or un-tangible items. Do you love the scent in a room or the sunshine through the window? Does your Grandmother’s table or your college lamp make you feel cozy? Whatever makes your casa your castle, it is important to identify their presence BEFORE you begin your downsizing process.
Here is an example. For me, I discovered early on that fine china, some family heirlooms and certain favorite colors contribute to the feeling of home. I immediately began to identify which items I should keep in my tiny house to provide me with the comfort I associate with relaxation and joy.
After identifying what made me enjoy my space, I decided to determine which specific pieces were small and adaptable to my new lifestyle. I quickly realized that I could not keep the entire set of antique china in my rolling tiny house. I could however store what was important to keep in the family and bring with me key pieces to enjoy each day. I chose 4 teacups and saucers and three teapots. 1 teapot for daily and two for special occasion. This might seem crazy to you, but to me, fine china makes me feel special and thus contributes to my overall feeling of bliss.
Step #2: Set A Timeline And Work Backwards
If you are an optimist (like me) you might think that downsizing from a large property to a tiny house won’t be too hard. WRONG! You truly have NO IDEA how much “stuff” you have until you start to sort it. My suggestion is this, the bigger your space, the more time you must allow to sort, toss and evaluate. With that said, don’t forget that a pressing deadline will keep you moving and ward off that awful feeling of “overwhelm” that may creep in.
- Look at a calendar and choose your absolute must be finished or else date. For us, it is October 9th 2014.
- Make a list of every job you can think of that needs to be completed. Garage sales, donation runs, turning off electricity, selling, renting, storing, you name it.
- Now divide the list into most important and least important.
- Take this list and divide it again into takes the most time and takes the least time.
- Using these lists begin to count backward on your calendar. Set a goal date for each activity that will add up to accomplishing the goal of being completely downsized by October 9th.
- Once you have a tentative schedule move each item back a bit to give you leeway in case something goes wrong or takes longer then expected.
Step #3 Find a Team
Teamwork can make downsizing a whole lot easier. Gather friends, family or strangers and ask them if they will each commit to helping you with a task on your list. These tasks now have dates so it is easy to tell them you need their help on such and such a date. The earlier you can ask for help the better. You will be surprised at how many people are willing to help you but who might not have volunteered since they didn’t know what you needed.
In return, consider giving your helpers a special gift. Ask them what from your collection they would like to keep for their own. This is a great way to “share the wealth” and pay your team at the same time.
Step #4 Buy, Donate, Sell
BUY? Yep. Believe it or not, you will have to buy a few things as you downsize. Many of your previous kitchen or bedroom items may not work in your new space. This is good! Giving away your stuff can be depressing. Instead, think of it as exchanging your items for an entirely new look.
In my current home I have an enormous kitchen with 2 refrigerators and I am moving into an RV tiny home with a kitchen counter 5 feet long and that including the sink and stove! Obviously, my beloved Kitchen Aid professional mixer is NOT going to fit. (and believe me I tried). What to do? I suggest making a mental exchange. I will sell my stand mixer and pick a special hand mixer in an attractive color. This process empowers me to look forward to my new “tiny kitchen” instead of dreading it.
If you are on a particularly tight budget use FREECYCLE to post things you need to get rid of exchanging for things you may now need. It doesn’t matter if the item is new or new to you, just that it fits in your space and makes you feel at home.
Here are a few ways to SELL your household items:
- For Sale (insert your town or county) on Facebook
- Garage Sale
- Personal Sale Through Flyers Around Town
Here are a few ways to DONATE your household items:
- Thrift Stores
- Consignment Shops ( you may get something for your items here)
- Charity Events
- Causes In Need (such as domestic violence shelters)
- Organizations running garage sales as fundraisers (Firefighters, Schools, Churches)
When you are planning your donation strategy be sure to call around and find out which organizations offer pick up services. This can be a God send when you are tired. Call ahead and find out what your options are, then map out a strategy and put the times on your calendar.
Last but not least create a “free pile” and offer it to anyone who wants or needs it. This can be done on Freecycle, Craigslist or by posting on Facebook. There are numerous items that people are willing to pick up for free giving you a chance to worry about the next thing on your list.
Step #5 Sort and Pile
One of the easiest methods for downsizing is to sort and pile. Place boxes or bins marked $1, $5, SELL,FREE, DONATE, KEEP. If you have specific items that will be sold for more on Craigslist, etc. put those in one area of the house. If you have multiple rooms start with one room and work your way through it first. This will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Starting at one corner of your room sort your items and place them in the appropriate boxes. Toss everything that you can. If you haven’t used it, put it in a bin for someone else to enjoy. Remember, in most cases you can always get another one later if you really need it. Carry a trash bag with you as you move throughout your house and USE IT.
When you finish with one room, move to the next keeping in mind it may take more than one time through the room to downsize to the point of living in an RV or tiny house. Plan to sort each room a minimum of three times. The first time through you will feel attached to a lot of things but buy the third time through those same items lose their appeal.
Step #6 Strategize Your Space
In an RV or tiny house square footage must be utilized. 400 or less square feet mean that each and every item must offer multiple uses or it isn’t worth keeping. Here are a few examples:
Collapsible Kitchen Bin - can be used for dishes, laundry, soaking your feet, gardening, cover for foot at a picnic, etc.
Decorative Bed Pillows - Can be used as guest pillows, couch pillows, baby bed or decor.
Play a game with yourself or your children. How many crazy creative ways can you use each item?
The biggest challenge for me is my office space. I am use to having a large office space all to myself. In my new home, my office will consist of the co-pilot seat and dash area of Beulah Grace. In order to make this work I have to think out every square inch for efficiency. Somehow, I will need to get my 27 inch iMac along with my printer and my recording equipment in that tiny area plus purchase a good set of noise canceling headset to keep me focused. (stay tuned to see how I accomplish this wonder.)
Downsizing takes time. If you are a motivated tosser this will be a relatively painless process. If you are a hoarder, find an accountability partner to keep you on track and to pry the items “you can’t live without” out of your hands. (don’t worry…as a hoarder you are sure to find new stuff for your next place.)
There are a million articles on how to choose an RV available to the average web surfer. This post will give you my perspective and is in no way meant to explain the entire process. Let’s start from the beginning. Every book and blog I read said basically the same thing, “THERE ARE LOTS OF OPTIONS AND EVERYONE HAS A DIFFERENT NEED.” With that said, I noticed that many full-time RV’ers seem to start with one RV and exchange or sell it in a short amount of time, sometimes going through 2 or 3 units before finding the one that’s right for them.
Top 6 Questions
Choose An RV
I don’t know about you, but I am hoping to find the right fit from the beginning. So, how do you choose an RV? Here are the steps we took:
Question #1: Will you use it full-time or part-time and do you have kids?
We are in our 40’s with no kids and plan to live in our unit full -time. This means we don’t need a unit with bunks or a ton or beds and tv’s.
Question #2: Do you like to “camp” or do you prefer a rolling condo?
Your preferred lifestyle is an important factor in choosing an RV. Take a look at the house that you live in and it should give you a good idea of the type of living quarters you prefer. Do you love the great outdoors? If so, a simple RV where you use lots of outdoor space may be perfect for you. A class B unit (click here) might be exactly what you need.
If you are a houseplant (like me) and like to visit the outdoors when the weather is good, your RV unit will be important. It needs to be big enough to “feel” like a home and if you plan to full-time it needs to be as solid as you can afford. (think cabinets, flooring, etc.)
Question #3: What’s your budget?
The first thing you should know about RV’s is that they drop like rocks as they depreciate. If you can’t afford to watch your savings be flushed down the toilet you may want to consider a used unit. Units 5 years or older are oftentimes the best value.
If you plan to RV for your business, RV depreciation may be just what your accountant suggests. Consider purchasing a unit from a large RV dealer like MHSRV.com where they offer huge savings on new models.
Question #4 Do you already have a dually truck?
If you plan to pull a fifth wheel or a travel trailer the bigger the truck the better. Power and pull is the name of the game. If you already own an appropriate truck, an RV you can pull will be the perfect fit.
If you don’t have a large truck you may find that the expense of both a truck and a fifth wheel is more than you want to spend. In that case, a motorhome may be a better deal for your pocketbook.
Question #5 Would you prefer parks or boon docking or both?
The smaller the RV the easier it is to take places. If you have a unit under 30 feet long (total) you can take it almost anywhere. If you choose a big 45 foot bad boy you will be limited on your stopping places, but you will have plenty of indoor space to call home. What’s your priority?
Many RV owners tow a trailer or a car. Today I actually saw a truck pulling a fifth wheel and a vehicle trailer. Remember, every inch contributes to the places you can and cannot visit with your new, “home.” Decide on your priorities BEFORE buying your unit.
Question #6 Slides or no slides?
For me, this was a no-brainer. Of course I want slides. Who wouldn’t? I want space! I began looking at the 45 foot, 4 slide motorhomes that scream, “home on wheels” and it seemed like the ultimate fit.
Then I stepped back a bit and looked at my other priorities. At the top of my list was low mantainence for my husband (who is mantainance weary from our 13,000 square feet of building space.) Another top priority was always feeling at home and comfortable whether we were in a Walmart parking lot (where you should NOT put out your slides) or a RV resort.
Finally, I decided that I was ok with no slides, if the unit itself felt spacious and luxurious like a house. We chose a Newell Coach, much like a bus, built for full-timing, big miles and without slides. (and I will let you know how it goes :) Now before you hate us, you will be happy to note that we are not talking about a million dollar coach. We found a fantastic deal on a 1996 unit that looked like new with average miles.
What are your priorities? Slides have been around forever yet they are still the number #1 most in need of service, area of the RV. Whatever you choose, know that you are comfortable with the decision you make in each and every type of parking situation.
If you are looking for a complete description of each and every type of RV. Click Here. I hope these questions helped you think. Don’t be surprised if you start with one type of RV in your mind but switch to another. We started with a 4 slide motorhome, moved to a toy hauler and ended up choosing a Newell Coach.
Remember, imagination is the key. See yourself living in your unit. What does life look like? Where are you living or traveling? What makes life easier? What makes life harder?
Answering these questions will help you choose an rv that is just right for you.
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