Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cheap RV Living

Although we have not paid a cent for one night of camping since we left Minnesota back in October the people features on this website have us beat all to hell. This website features people who are living in places much, much smaller than what we are living in. On the left hand side are links to people who are living in vans, truck campers and small vehicles. They are called vandwellers and at night can be in "stealth mode" which is basically parking the vehicle somewhere to spend the night without anyone knowing that you are living in it. Unfortunately the recession has made it so there are more and more people like this out there.

There are many people I'm sure who wonder how we can live in such small quarters and not have much stuff. What reading these stories brings home is that what we think we "need" and "can't live without" we really, really can if we HAVE to or, in some cases, WANT to. Is this life harder logistically even with less possessions? Normally yes. You can't just mindlessly turn on a light and the microwave or the generator will blow. You can't take an immediate shower if you forgot to turn on the hot water heater for 20 minutes or so. You can't just walk to your front porch or your mailbox and get your mail rather you have to have it forwarded to where you will be so planning ahead is necessary. You can't just turn on TV without going outside and setting up the dish and FINDING the satellite (unless you can afford a really nice rooftop self pointing system which we can't right now). You can't take a shower and let the wonderful hot water run if you are boondocking as you will drain your fresh water and fill your gray water waste tank. You have to turn off the modem at night as it will drain the RV battery and you will have to either run the engine for awhile or find another way to power the internet. You can't just let your laptop run down on battery because then you have three choices: plug it into the inverter which drains the house battery eventually, turn on the generator and waste gas and have noise or charge it in the truck and drain the batteries there. I think in a nutshell this life requires more PLANNING AHEAD and FLEXIBILITY.

Is this life for everyone? Absolutely not! There are times when even I, who have wanted this for years, is ready to pack up and head to Pickerel. Although admittedly thinking about the weather these last few months made me grateful to be in Phoenix. Could life be easier if we went to a campground instead of boondocking? I'm sure in some cases it would be and we may do that more when we don't have the mortgage to pay. But down here in the winter rates are astronomical, many parks are 55+, and some don't allow or only allow a certain number of pets. That's unacceptable to us as that was one of the main reasons we decided to RV - so the furkids could be with us.

So as far as feelings of deprivation? I can give up gardening as there are chances for me to volunteer with a community garden wherever we are - I can get my hands dirty and give back at the same time. But we are going to have to come up with some way of Bill being able to bring along the little boat. Once we get caught up there are quite a few lifts and other tow ideas that we can toss around in order to be able to do that. But other things? Have we missed them to not be able to live without them? No...of course yes, I miss the hot tub; yes, Bill misses his big TV etc. But is the trade off in what we are doing worth "missing" that stuff? Absolutely. The hard part has been having to work all the time these last few months and not getting time to go out and be a tourist down here. I wanted to horseback ride in the desert, Bill wanted to fish at Parker Dam. But now that we've got a better paying job going on we should be able to do all that from now on. What we did get to experience was really being a Phoenix resident for these last couple of months....driving the freeway during rush hour, dealing with lots and lots of people in the many different stores, being the minority in certain areas if you don't speak Spanish. That is really what made us say that we have "lived" here and didn't just "visit" and know that although we don't mind the area we definitely are not going to buy a retirement place in Sun City! Not enough trees and almost no water. The Escapees RV club that we belong to has a "retirement" location at their headquarters in Livington Texas where you can live in your own rig, get medical care and any other type of care you need right there. We are going to look into that location for when we have to hang up the keys - although hopefully that won't be for quite some time yet!

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