My name is Sam and I am a 33 year old female currently living out of her RV. Why am I RV living? Let’s start with a little backstory to explain.
In 2012, I studied abroad in Europe. We travelled to Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, and France. It was absolutely lifechanging in more ways than one. That trip sparked my love for travel and desire to do it all the time. Unfortunately, I had just graduated college and had no extra dollars to spend on a vacation.
That’s when I decided that I was going to visit every state before I turned 30 years old. Domestic travel is cheaper than international, right? But I couldn’t just drive through the state and airports didn’t count. I had to actually do something in each state – eat somewhere local, visit a monument, etc. It took me until 4 months before my 30th birthday to complete this goal. This was also 5 months before COVID-19 hit in 2020.
While travelling all over the U.S. (some of which I did solo), I realized that there is SO much more to see than any of us can fathom. Wisconsin is great and all, but there is an entire world beyond that. Because of Covid, I had gone from travelling every 3-4 months to not travelling at all. It was 11 months until my next trip and it has become sparse after that.
During Covid I saw “Van Life” and "RV Living" becoming a popular lifestyle on social media. I was so intrigued by it. I began following several different van accounts, research how people made it happen, etc. It seemed like a dream come true.
But… I have a house. And a fully in-person job that I need in order to pay the mortgage on that house. So, the van life was only a dream.
November of 2022 during one of my therapy sessions, I told my therapist that I had been feeling extremely depressed. I have had seasonal depression for such a long time and living in Wisconsin doesn’t help ease it. My therapist asked me “Well what would make you happy?” And I said “Travel. And be somewhere with sunshine. But I can’t do that because I need to work to pay my mortgage and my other bills.” To which she responded “well how do other people travel full time?” I said, “fully remote jobs, selling all of their items, solely living out of their van to cut expenses, etc.” and she said “Seems like the first step for you would be to find a fully remote job.” So I did.
Now, if you know me and are doing the math in your head, you’re probably realizing that I never actually switched jobs during this timeframe. I’ve worked at the same place for almost 3 years. But I interviewed for several positions and I received a fully-remote job offer for $5k more a year than what I was making at the time SCORE! But I really liked my employer and I didn’t want to leave. I had to make a decision – take the fully remote job and travel, ask if I can be fully remote where I work now, or stay put in Wisconsin and keep dreaming my dreams.
I crafted an email to my boss explaining to him what I wanted to do – live in a van and travel. I was very straightforward and telling him that I understood if they did not think that would work for the company, but that I would need to find a new position if that were the case (still had the other job offer in my back pocket – but I never disclosed that to him). After several conversations about logistics, expectations, etc., to my *absolute* surprise, they agreed to let me leave.
I told them that my plan to start RV living was September 1st and I followed up several times over those 8 months to make sure they knew that I was serious. I began saving money like crazy, shopping for vans, and planning. After doing a lot of research, I decided that I would rather have an RV; mainly for the bathroom and insurance. It is difficult to get insurance on conversion vans. I knew I wanted something smaller, so a Class B RV made the most sense. I found my RV in Illinois at the end of May. After that, I did a couple of “practice weekends” to learn how the heck an RV works and when September 1st came around... and I left.
My original plan was to sell my house because having an RV payment, mortgage, Jeep payment, and insurance for all of these things is costly. But after much consideration I decided that it would be a safer plan for me to make sure I enjoy this lifestyle before fully committing to it. My parents are taking care of my house – mostly my mom, my dad does some check-ins – and I did some rearranging of expenses to help my costs. I turned off my internet, shut off my water, cancelled a bunch of subscriptions, changed car, home, and pet insurance companies for a better rate, changed my cell phone plan, etc. It is still expensive, don’t get me wrong, but I am trying to be as smart as I can when it comes to spending money.
I am two months into my RV journey, and I don’t know when I will go home. I miss my friends and family, of course, but I feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I am all the way on the west coast (literally, all the way). Some people have said “you can come back and then leave again” which is true, and I might, but as of right now, driving 28 hours home seems like a real pain in the ass. So, I will be in this RV until further notice – probably until my job tells me I have to return or an emergency happens back in Wisconsin.