Let’s face it, living comfortably can be expensive.
Do you ever find yourself watching videos uploaded by minimalists on YouTube and thinking “How on Earth do they live with so little? Surely it’s all for show and they have a 3000 sq ft house just down the road.”
While yeah, maybe some of them do, there are true minimalists out there; those who only own books on Kindle, don’t own a single DVD or Blu-Ray, or even a single piece of movable furniture. This is the life my husband and I have chosen!
While there are many families who do this and have kiddos along for the ride (Check out Knorpp and South and Keep Your Daydream), for us, it will just be us lovebirds and our personal, adorable, versions of Milo and Otis.
How did we come to this decision to live full-time in our camper?
Well, there are actually several things which aligned for us and helped us make this decision. Not all of the factors were good, but when life hands you lemons, you add some Vodka and some sweet tea, pop a straw in it, grab a book and a lawn chair, and call it a day!
For those of you who don’t know him, my husband is a genius. I like to call him a socially functioning savant. He’s a Sheldon Cooper but with (some) people skills and knowledge that makes Wikipedia jealous. When we have an argument, inwardly, I give up, because I know he’s right! The second he sighs and says “Okay, Google!” into his phone, I know I’ve lost.
He’s fortunate to be allowed to work remotely, and I’ve been self-employed for the past two years. What better time to hit the road than the present?
There are, of course, other things we would like to be doing as well, such as building a shipping container house in Oregon. But there are always reasons to stay and live a life planted in one place. Sometimes you have to make reasons to go as well.
So what is our reason? Simply, it comes down to saving money and living where the road leads. Honestly, I’m beyond thrilled to have a smaller refrigerator and less storage space for food, so we can stop being so wasteful with our grocery money.
Selling Our Beautiful Home
Selling our house was the first step in moving fulltime into our camper. You can read about the process here. We have worked our butts off to make our house beautiful and were blessed by an amazing couple who instantly came along and fell in love with our hard work.
What does selling the house mean for us? It means being able to pay off a ton of credit card debt, and finally being able to focus more money towards our student loan debt (maybe a chance of paying them off slightly before we die at the ripe age of 135 years old). It means being able to buy plane tickets when the perfect priced flight comes along, being able to check more countries off our lists, and being able to make long-term plans.
I’m excited to be able to change our course as we wish, see all the country has to offer, and really decide where we want to eventually call home. We’ve lived in four states so far, and while we have loved aspects of most of the states, there has always been that feeling that we need to move on. Even though we’ve formed a family of friends in Illinois, the rest of the state doesn’t appeal to either of us. I type this as it is snowing in mid-April, by the way! Friends can always visit, and why not find the most amazing (and possibly warm?) places for them to visit you?
Also, quite importantly, it means that we should see a savings of roughly anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 each month, depending on how much we drive, and the cost of our campground.
Simple things which are considered ‘necessary‘ cost of living expenses will no longer apply to us! Mortgage payment and insurance? Gone. Electricity payment? Auf Wiedersehen! Water bill? Gas bill? Weekly trash services? All no longer affect us!
The space I rented for my photography studio which cost nearly as much as our home each month? Au revoir! Illinois state taxes? Buh-bye! Internet, cable, toll road fees, city parking stickers, bags and bags of Ice Melt? Ciao!
So what will our monthly costs be?
Our finances will be able to go towards Babette’s measly payoff, car and camper insurance, gas, camp spots, credit cards, mail forwarding, dog toys, student loans, groceries, camper maintenance, propane, and hopefully some fun activities too! I’ve been wanting to go ziplining and ride on a luge so badly!
Are you now wondering how you can live the nomad life, traveling the country non-stop, and changing plans as quickly as the weather changes?
Well, I am no Mathlete like Cady Heron is, so I found a great budget planner at HeleneInBetween.com and plugged all our numbers in. I’ve linked to Helene’s website so you can download as well and figure out if the nomad life is the one for you!
To help cut costs, we may not always stay in a campground. While it’s nice to have amenities at hand, depending on the location, they can run upwards of $60+ a night. That’s a lot of money in my book. I prefer to stay around the $15-$20 a night locations. However, sometimes you may come across a campground straight out of Dirty Dancing and find yourself saying “okay” to the high fees, because let’s face it, there’s a slide in the middle of the lake! To offset any cost we may come across, we can boondock.
Boondocking and the American Way
Boondocking is where you simply park for the night (or however long) and live off the resources you have. Campers and RV’s have a fresh water holding tank, so we will have access to water for drinking, showering, etc. We hope to upgrade to solar or wind power in the near future as well so we can stay powered up without having to use Starbuck’s internet.
Our favorite boondocking spot for a quick stop and a grocery run is Wal-Mart. I know, it sounds pretty redneck, but it’s actually really convenient. You’re parked in the back of the parking lot, under the safety of the super bright lights, surrounded by truckers who have got your back.
The 24 hour Wal-Marts are my favorite! I love going shopping around midnight, using the facilities or whatever I need to do. It’s so nice to shop when the store is empty and to be able to simply roll my groceries straight to my kitchen as well!
Not all Wal-Marts allow overnight parking, so it’s always best to check first. We use a site called Free Campsites to find our boondocking locations.
How to Save Even More?
There are many ways to save even more when living in a camper! How does a free night at a winery or discounts off your campground stay sound? Be sure to install EBates first from the sidebar on the right to save even more on your purchases!
For a nightly campground discount, check out Camping World’s Good Sam Discount and AAA. Like a nice bottle of local wine? Harvest Hosts lets you stay in wineries across the country for the night for a low yearly fee and the cost of a bottle of wine. Additionally, military members can usually get a nice discount with ID. Even more jaw-dropping discounts can be found at Escapees.com! We are becoming Escapee members soon, and I’m so excited about the many benefits, education, community, and resources we will have!
How has it affected your bank account and freedom? Share in the comments below!
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