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In late 2015, my husband Josiah and I decided to make some drastic changes in our life in order to take decisive action that would move us toward our long-term goals of financial stability and time freedom. I decided to quit my job as a middle school English teacher, a career I had fallen into due to limited job availability but didn’t love, and Josiah, who had been working as a freelance web developer, decided that his path to financial success lay in commercial real estate.
In summer of 2016, we sold our house in our hometown of Springfield, Missouri, and bought a fifth wheel RV to live in full time. We also spent the retirement savings I’d accumulated during my five years of teaching on a coaching program to learn how to syndicate the purchase of commercial real estate in order to buy and sell apartments.
We couldn’t afford to buy a truck to haul our fifth wheel (we had financed the purchase of our RV before selling our house), so we had our RV hauled directly to a mobile home park in Kansas City, where we intended to buy our first property to launch our real estate career, after which point (we assumed) we’d be able to buy a truck and hit the road.
That wasn’t quite how things turned out. I’ve previously written about how we ended up remaining stationary in our RV for three years while starting our own businesses (mine being RVinspiration.com, and Josiah’s being a commercial real estate software company) in these articles:
For a quicker read, this article about us published by Camping World does a great job of synopsizing our story: Why We RV: Ashley Mann of RV Inspiration.
Josiah and I were also each separately interviewed on The RV Entrepreneur Podcast if you’re interested in more of the details about our entrepreneurial journey:
- RVE 168: The Best Way to Generate Useful Content for Any Blog (my interview)
- RVE 182: The Power of Finding Great Mentors in Your Business (Josiah’s interview)
The end of “Our RV Adventure“
By the end of 2018, Josiah and I had both reached a point in our businesses where we were able to work from home and be truly location independent. At that point we were living in an RV park about 45 minutes north of Dallas, and it was really inconvenient because to go anywhere other than the grocery store required at least a 30 minute drive, so we were ready to figure out what we wanted to do next: Did we want to finally buy a truck and travel full time? Or did we want to pick somewhere else to live in our RV, knowing we could choose pretty much anywhere we wanted?
We made a list of the things we wanted in a place to live. Our list included:
- Good coffee shops within 15 minutes of our house
- Access to nature / outdoorsy activities
- Easy to visit our families – Ideally within an easy day’s drive or a direct flight
- A good place to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, preferably a Gracie affiliated school
My sister-in-law in Springfield was pregnant at that time, and I had planned to visit for a few weeks before and after the baby came to help out, so we decided to have our RV hauled to Springfield in January of 2019 to spend some time with family while we figured out our next move.
A funny thing happened, though. We realized we actually kind of liked Springfield, and that it checked almost every box on our list. It had lots of new restaurants that had opened since we’d left, more great coffee shops in close proximity to where we lived than anywhere we’d lived previously, and best of all, a new Jiu Jitsu gym whose head instructor was a third-degree black belt who had trained under Rickson Gracie.
Spending yet a third winter in a cold climate while living in our fifth wheel was the final straw for us: we were done with stationary RV life.
In March of 2019, we traveled (by plane) to the RV Entrepreneur Summit in Guntersville, Alabama, where I had been invited to give a presentation about blogging, and that made us think seriously about pulling the trigger and buying a truck so we could actually enjoy living in our RV and escape to somewhere warm during the winter. We even went truck shopping when we came home from the event.
But something didn’t feel right. Even though we had achieved location independence and had much more time freedom as entrepreneurs than when we were working full time jobs, we were still in debt. We had several thousand dollars worth of credit card debt, and we owed nearly as much on our RV as we did when we bought it, so we decided financing an expensive truck at that point was not a good idea. When we looked at trading our RV for a lighter one that could be hauled with a less expensive truck, we realized that our RV had depreciated so that it was worth about 10k less than what we still owed on it.
The truth was, traveling was never our goal; freedom was. Freedom would include the ability to travel if we wanted to, but until we had achieved our goal of financial freedom and time freedom, spending time and money on travel felt like it would delay us from reaching that goal. So we abandoned the idea of buying a truck, and decided to start taking steps to sell our RV, which was eating up a huge portion of our monthly income.
In fall of 2019, we found a house to rent in an adorable older neighborhood that actually cost less than we were spending to live in our RV, so we moved, listed our RV for sale, and finally sold the RV spring of 2020 (we had to use credit cards to cover the 10k difference between the sale price and what we still owed).
I wrote a blog post summing up the end of that chapter of our lives, which you can read here: What We Liked & Didn’t Like About Living in an RV Full Time
Recently, some guy on the internet left the following comment on that blog post:
There’s a lot I could say about that comment and the guy who wrote it (the part about Josiah and martial arts is laughable to anyone who knows him), but in some ways, the guy’s not wrong. Buying a fifth wheel without considering the expense of the vehicle we would need to go with it is not something we would do again. Also, having debt and starting a new business are both huge sources of stress and very time consuming, and I personally would not want to add to those the stress and instability of having to pick up and move every few weeks or months. The ideal path to full time RVing would certainly be to reach stability first and THEN to buy an RV and start traveling.
But the ideal thing isn’t always possible at first, and in our case, the drastic step we took of selling our house and buying an RV wasn’t so much about traveling full time as it was a symbol of our commitment to change our life trajectory and take action toward making our dreams happen instead of waiting for things to happen on their own.
Even though we sold our first RV without ever having traveled in it, our living in it had these results:
- I started RVinspiration.com, a business which now makes enough money to cover our monthly living expenses.
- I developed skills through owning my business that make me confident that should anything ever happen to my website, I’ll never have to worry about being able to support myself but will be able earn a living doing work I enjoy and am good at while working from home or wherever I want, which was always a dream of mine.
- We were able to easily and spontaneously relocate as needed to advance Josiah’s career and to be close to family when we decided to return to Springfield.
- Perhaps most importantly, it taught us that much of what we experience in life is the result of our own choices and actions, and that if we don’t like our circumstances, we can and should work to change and improve them.
Buying Our Second RV
Last month (June of 2021), Josiah had a huge win when his software company was acquired, marking the beginning of a new chapter for us. We’ve got several big things in the works, including plans for Josiah and me to partner in a new business venture. We’ve decided we want to make Springfield our permanent home base, and last week we closed on the purchase of a house.
We plan to (finally) take some time to travel, to relax and to get our minds off of business. To be able to do that more easily (and to be able to bring our Kitty along), we decided to buy another RV–a motorhome this time, which we were able to pay all cash for!
We took this picture yesterday after we finalized the purchase of our motorhome and drove it to our new house. I chose to wear my t-shirt from RV Entrepreneur Summit 2019 that says, “Create your own rules!”, because that’s what we’ve been doing all along, it’s and what we’ll keep doing as we continue setting and reaching more of our goals!