Tag Archives: Full-timing

Enjoying Full-Time Living in Our Airstream Trailer

Enjoyed a few cups of coffee with friends today and returned to the house mid-morning. What to do with all that morning caffeine? Turned on some energy music, pulled out a few cleaning supplies, and started burning calories. Cleaned ceilings, walls, floors and doors of all our rooms. How long does that take? About two albums worth, listened to all of Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II.

Airstream walls and ceilings all clean

cleaning’s ez pz

This brings up a benefit of living in a tiny house. Our former home was 3,000 feet on two floors plus a detached 1.5 story 2 car garage. We lived in four rooms of that large house, the bedroom, small den, breakfast nook, and kitchen. With company, we’d use more space. How often would that happen? We’ve known homeowners of all ages who lived similarly, gravitating toward the cozy space for reading or browsing, eating in the kitchen, sleeping in the bedroom, while supporting a house of anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 square feet. The less-used spaces still require upkeep of dusting and vacuuming. Somehow all the washrooms seem to need cleaning. There are lots more windows to clean.

For now, we’re enjoying the benefits of living well in our tiny house. Do NOT get rid of your nice home. We love visiting you. We love occasionally housesitting for you (we call it “playing house.”) You love your home and we do too. In a way we don’t really know what we’re missing. Some ask us, “What d’ya miss most about your house?” Our answer varies with the season or our moods.

How do you answer about something that, in a way, never was? Sometimes we reply, “We never lived in it as retirees – as soon as we quit our jobs, we sold our stuff and the house and split. We don’t know what it would be like to live there now.” We also fondly recall hosting folks for large gatherings, like Jim’s high school class during Christmas holidays 2007, or a sister’s wedding brunch with family from near and far, and baby showers for friends and family. Just can’t invite as many into this tiny house. Those are nice memories. Would those occasions still arise if we had a large enough house? Do we miss doing those?

How many camping stoves does a fast-hiking 4-person backpacking team need to carry? Does everyone need a car in case they want to run an errand, or can we share cars or support mass-transit and taxi solutions more economically (and with less carbon footprint?) Do we all need enough house to host family and neighborhood gatherings? Is it fair for the tiny house people to not share in the cost of the host homes? Are we willing to own and maintain a “big home” again?

A large fixed location house isn’t currently one of our needs. We don’t miss owning a large home. Taxes, maintenance, and utilities comprise the large portion of an annual household budget. We’re saving, by not supporting a large home, nearly half of our current entire annual budget. We’re enjoying volunteer leadership for the Wally Byam Airstream Club, life in our Airstream trailer, and our ability to travel where, when and for how long we want.

How much Spring Cleaning time do we save by living tiny? It’s not really the point. We’re enjoying living full-time in our Airstream tiny house. Easy maintenance, inside and out, is a great feature of Airstream trailers. We love living in ours.

See you down the road,

Jim and Debbie
see us at dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees
see what’s going on at WBCCI, The Wally Byam Airstream Club

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How many years full-timing?

2-dswkayak2015 was a good year for us. It wrapped up an enjoyable eighth year of full-timing. We began the year in a wet and chilly Corpus Christi TX, and the year mostly improved from there.  Our year was full of interesting travels throughout much of the United States. We visited another FL state park (Silver Springs) for the first time before visiting Sarasota and Miami again. We added another state, Pennsylvania, to our camping list with two weeks enjoyable visits there.

5-liarWe traveled a different path westward to Farmington NM for the Airstream Club’s annual meeting and rally. It was fun to stop at the mother ship of Bass Pro stores in St Louis MO. Along the way we discovered a free city park in Elk City OK (electricity and water,) and nice RVers everywhere we went. While in Farmington at the annual meeting, Jim was elected to 2nd Vice-President of the international Airstream Club. This was an exciting event and promises to provide a lot of hard and rewarding work.

9-ChacoFarmington NM is a great part of the USA to visit. Attractions include Shiprock, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and Aztec Ruins, and Hovenweep National Monument, and Durango, among other ancient and more recently developed attractions. Summer may not be the best time to visit the southwest but we found the weather manageable and enjoyed our stay and the attractions.

3-CWCSadly, Jim’s mother died in mid-March last year. We left Miami earlier than planned to rush home to be with Catie and family during this tough time. Thankfully the campground in southwest Miami was very accommodating about refunding our unused camping nights, and we’re glad we weren’t any further away from the family home. Our full-timing lifestyle allowed us to quickly respond to the family’s needs and care for Catie so she could stay home during her last two weeks.

4-firewoodland

One of our daughters and her family repatriated from Vancouver in Canada last month. They’re getting settled in with many adjustments after being out of the country for ten years. We’re excited to have all our children and grands living in North Carolina for the first time. We sense, on the other hand, a tug to start settling on our NC mountain acreage. Doesn’t this look really inviting? We have courtesy parking – let us know if you’d like to stop in. It’s pretty nice.

 

6-Charlotte1-SAF

Two new grandchildren joined our family last year. We’re grateful our travels and their arrivals all timed well, and they’re both in N.C.

 

We encountered our fair share of mechanical issues last year. Our fridge and water heater both failed on our rain-soaked trip from Farmington. Not until we hit some dry pavement in Tennessee did these start working again. Our batteries stopped charging from shore power. We accidentally destroyed our folding step when we ran it into a projecting concrete sidewalk. Precipitates from the water heater clogged our sink faucet completely. The solar charger quit. Debbie’s makeup mirror LED lights failed. We found ourselves needing to replace the trailer’s brakes and turn the drums. We had our worst water leaks into the cabin. One that soaked the fabric base of our sofa and one that dripped onto the floor from inside the roof air conditioner.

These are all pretty routine maintenance issues to us. To have a gaggle of mechanical issues in the same year is unusual for us and was frustrating at times. We sometimes defer maintenance when we think we can count on getting to it before long. Ideally, we catch problems before they catch us. Other times, a delay turns out to be punctuated by a repair instead of preventive or scheduled maintenance. Dry camping is easy when most things are working. Living in an RV is easy for us when most things are working. Our RV is eleven years old and is apparently becoming a little more demanding. Okay – we’re on it!

Our 2015 towing mileage was 11,740, down from 14,866 miles in 2014. This brings our total full-timing towing miles to just under 108,000 miles. Our truck has 157,000 total miles, so towing represents 70% of our total truck mileage. The truck and trailer each continue to delight us with low maintenance needs and costs. We still plan to run the truck to 200,000 miles, or another three to four years, before replacement. Get your bids in soon for future purchase of a lightly used truck!

Our full-timing travel costs continued another year to trend downward. We spent $2,966 on camping sites, down from $4,050 and $4,565 the prior two years. Our average cost of camp site rental for 2015 dropped to $8/night, down from $11 and $13 the prior two years. Our average nights stay per site returned to six nights.

One expected decrease is our towing miles per relocation. We averaged 178 miles per relocation in 2015, our second lowest number in eight years. Moving more often within southeast USA from July through December 2015 drove this and other reductions. This year we’re likely to spend more time traveling out west, so some of these may swing upward again.

10-75 degrees

Finally, we now freely admit we’re likely to build a house. We bought very nice land two years ago in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Weeks spent at various times of the year getting a feel for the sun, the weather, the wind, and the neighbors, provide us good ideas for site placement.

This attraction to building a house runs counter to our full-timing ethic of the past 8+ years. We promised we would only stay on the road full-time so long as we wanted. We’re still loving it, but are beginning to wonder how many more years. We think it’d be nice to eventually have a house again.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
©2007-2016 Dreamstreamr odyssey

Expenses, Taxes, Work, Worries

We haven’t had enough to worry about for a few years. Our property taxes are for two depreciating assets, so they go down each year. We are lucky to avoid unusual expenses overall. We’ve stayed on budget, year to year. No worries, no problems so far.

Two weeks ago we mentioned we were in the hunt for a place. Since before Thanksgiving, we’ve visited a pretty spot in Ashe County, high up in the northwest corner of NC. Week after week, we found ourselves hiking on it and sometimes sitting against a tree, listening and watching. The afternoon sun shines through the leafless branches and warms us a little. All is quiet but the trees talking to the wind.

The NW county of NC

The NW county of NC

Finally this week we bought that very pretty wooded acreage. It has road frontage along part of two sides. No buildings, no development, just a nice large wooded parcel. We learned at closing it has been part of their family farm for over 150 years. We’ve met two members of the family, both really nice guys. We apparently are the second family of outsiders to be allowed in the cove.

ShadyCove5-002

A value of full timing, we’ve always thought, is the freedom to search the continent for the best place to live. We’ve enjoyed exploring almost all of North America and have often asked each other, “Could this be the place?” Many places could, and we’ve met many of you in these places. A few come to mind immediately like Durango, Bozeman, Madison, Port Angeles, Bend.

Two things no other state has are the Appalachian Mountains and our families. Each time we return to NC we always feel at home. We love the beaches, pulled pork barbecue, the Great Smokey Mountains and our state’s history. North Carolina is where we’re from. We like being close to family. The NC mountains tick all the boxes for us.

A friend showed us around Ashe County last September and introduced us to a great group of local folks at a diner he frequents. One thing led to another and we found ourselves working with a wonderful realtor, Scott Cronk at Real Living Carolina Property. He was consistently helpful, patient, and responsive, never pushy.

Scott knows the area well and offered helpful insights on land he showed us. Several places ended up on our short list, and any would have been great. Scott said of this one, it is all usable, something definitely not true for any of the others. We enjoy working with him and would gladly recommend Scott to anyone interested in buying in this area.

Often we will post our thoughts about looking at house designs. We long perused the designs in the newspaper and in books, pointing out how we’d change this or remove that. It’s fun to dream about how our house could be, if ever we built another.

Almost four years ago we posted about picking the perfect house, but not knowing where to put it. Very sadly, we learned yesterday we won’t be ordering an iHouse — they’ve pulled it from the market. There are other great modular designs including Marmol-Radziner, BLU, Method and Green Pod. We weren’t ready yet anyhow, but we’ll miss the iHouse.

Shady Cove drive2

We aren’t looking to build yet. But we we have found the place we want someday to do it. We’ll determine where we would build a house. We hope to figure out an attractive and serviceable driveway and parking area this year. We’d love to pull our Airstream in and enjoy for a week sometimes the quiet solitude of the NC mountains on our own little piece of paradise.

We paid this year’s taxes at the closing already, the most property tax we’ve paid in over six years. Our annual taxes won’t be reducing anymore. We’ll have work to do every time we visit. Hopefully we haven’t added any worries to our bag, although our heads are spinning with all the possibilities for using this beautiful land.

Full timing appeals to us now as much as it did when we started over six years ago. The rumors are false. We have no plans to stop living on the road. Our plan originally was to full time RV for between three and twenty years. We’re still on that plan, seven years later. We love what we’re doing. So little time, so much still to see!

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™
visit our website
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

One Reason Not to Go Full-Time

We visited my son in his new house a few days ago. Looking around, I didn’t see the vintage potted plants he had gotten from our house almost six years ago. I asked him where the elephant foot palm was and he replied, “Oh, it died a couple of years ago. I didn’t know it was an indoor plant and left it on the patio. It got snowed on.”

picture of Elephant's Foot Palm

Elephant’s Foot Palm

The elephant’s foot palm was over thirty years old when I gave it to him. I didn’t remind him that he had lived with this particular plant in the house for his entire life at home. It never spent an hour out-of-doors. Should I have given my son care and feeding instructions with the plant?

No, we had decided to give our things without strings attached. Although it really made me sad this bit of family history is no longer alive, I have to let it go too.

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2013 Dreamstreamr

Disadvantages of Full Timing in a Travel Trailer

We’ve given thought to the advantages of full timing. Who wants to hear whining about our problems, anyway? Wait, what problems? We don’t have problems.

There are some things we could do in a real house we cannot in our little house.  With little forethought, here goes:

1. can’t keep chickens (unless we upgrade to a 34′)

2. composting is challenging (we could keep a worm bin in the truck bed)

3. can’t do rooftop gardening (we wantonly used up all the space there)

4. parties no larger than 8, unless solely out of doors

5. cannot run around inside the house, just back and forth

6. no place for big screen television

7. no dance floor indoors, or at least very very small ones (Balboa anyone?)

8.limited on collection of print books for want of wall shelf space

9.lacking in space for wood shop tools or tractors or antique cars collections

10. if a car hits, or a bad hail storm pours upon, it then it’s probably a total loss

Admittedly a little thin, this list.

Richard mentioned, tough to get a hospital bed in or out of the travel trailer.  Lani, Chris, and Emerson just needed more space and are happy to land in a house in Virginia.

How about this folks, can you help us substantiate this? Are there more important issues than the ten we listed above?  What disadvantages do you experience or anticipate regarding living full-time in a travel trailer?

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2012 Dreamstreamr

Top Ten Advantages of Living in A Travel Trailer 2012

Anyone who has full-timed in an RV knows there are many advantages to living in a compact and mobile space. Many other people know little or nothing about qualities of rolling homes. Almost three years ago we came up with Top Ten Advantages of Living in a Travel Trailer. It remains our most popular post ever, even eclipsing the iHouse posts.

Readers provided a lot of helpful suggestions on the original post. Some were ideas we hadn’t thought of, and resonated with us. It just figures, a lot of people know lots more than we do. I like what Kay Peterson, Co-Founder and Director says about founding the Escapees Club, “. . . we had a lot of information to share and found others who had a better way to do some things.”

In this spirit, we offer our revamped Top Ten Advantages, with a little help from our friends:

1. You always sleep in your own bed, no matter where you go (thanks Bob)
2. If the weather turns nasty, you can find great weather somewhere (thanks Lani)
3. No mortgage or lease & you’re saving money (thanks Will & Anon Vagabond & Debbie)
4. The view outside changes as often as you want (thanks Will)
5. No leaves to rake or shrubs to trim, or gutters to clean – more time to play
6. Power outage, city water system down? No prob, You maintain your own power & water (thanks Will)
7. Nothing in your house is more than six steps away (thanks Will)
8. Window washing, dusting, sweeping AND mopping, you can do them all four in one hour
9. If you don’t like your neighbors and they don’t leave first, you can hitch up and go
10. Your property tax bill goes down a little every year

We’ve also spent almost three more years full-timing since we first posted “Top Ten Advantages”. Nothing has changed our intense enjoyment of, and appreciation for, our full-timing lifestyle. Quite the opposite, we continue to find full-timing better and better as we explore different things to do on the road.

Total Tennis, NY

Last year we spent time in New York, the Bahamas, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, and Kansas. We were able to stay one or more weeks in every one of those great places doing what we love, playing tennis, walking the beach, being with family and friends.

This year we spent time in Lake Junaluska NC, Myrtle Beach SC, Charlotte and Kannapolis NC, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, crossing from Kenora Ontario to Dawson City Yukon Territory, touring Alaska, and visiting grandchildren in Vancouver BC for two weeks. We’re headed for a week alongside one of Idaho’s great rivers then a week at the Sun Valley Jazz Fest before arriving in Mesa Arizona for two great months of tennis.

Our travel trailer makes all this so easy and affordable. Our overhead costs are really low without a house, and our worries are even lower without a lawn, landscaping, gutters, paint, paving, utilities, and all the other encumbrances ownership entails.

A favorite full-timer quip of ours is about looking for a jacket or headphones or any other piece of gear. “Hon, did we bring that iPod charger on this trip?” Well duh! You always know it’s here, because all your stuff is with you.

Looking for it won’t take too long either — how long can it take to search a pickup truck and a 25′ trailer? Sure, you might wash the windows, dust, sweep AND mop faster than finding something, but still. . . knowing you WILL find it IS an advantage of living in a travel trailer.

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2012 Dreamstreamr

Nine readers generated 16,000 views?

Full-timing allows us an opportunity to experience a different lifestyle than we had before.  Some of you told us you are interested in how full-timing works and what it feels like.  Some of our readership are full-timers and we read each other’s blogs and compare notes.  I think full-timing allows time to write because we’re not spending time fixing walls, trim, gutters, roofs, basements, driveways, or working much on our landscape.

We’ve joked about having nine  (thanks to Dana, Cal, Rob, and Beth for upping the numbers!).  Wordpress says we had 16,000 visits to our blog last year.  Let’s see, divide 16K by 16 and everyone would have visited our site 1,000 times each?  No, there must be more of you than nine.  Somewhere in the wordpress blog stats it must tell me how many?

And thanks to these top referrers — we read and recommend you a lot and are glad we get referrals back.  We appreciate it.

Thanks to you readers for helping make this blog enjoyable for us.  Your feedback is fun for us and keeps us in touch with you sometimes.  Today we added sharing capability to our blog, we hope will make our blog easier to share when we deserve it.  We’re glad you read this far — now look just a little further and see the numbers YOU created.  The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for our  dreamstreamr’s blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.