RV Life

Why I Quit My Job and Moved Into an RV

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Me in my classroom in 2014

Me in my classroom in 2014

Part One of a Three-Part Series.  Subscribe to my email list to be notified when Part Two becomes available.

Everyone who lives in an RV has a story.  Here’s ours.

In 2015, I was a middle school English teacher.  I had been teaching for five years, and even though the job had been a huge personal challenge for me (especially in the first few years), I had wonderful students and co-workers, felt proud of my accomplishments, and had developed my classroom systems to the point where the job wasn’t as overwhelming as when I first started out.

2015-2016 yearbook photo

2015-2016 yearbook photo

But while I was passionate about education (and still am), teaching in a traditional classroom setting was never what I wanted to do long term, and at that point I felt ready to move on.  I wished for a job that wasn’t so demanding of my time and energy.  I wanted to be able to earn a living doing something I loved and could do well at, yet still have time in my day for other things that were important to me: exercising, cooking healthy meals, playing music, doing projects around the house….eventually maybe raising kids.  I have many fond memories of and deep appreciation for my time as a teacher, and I have a lot of respect for teachers, but I didn’t want to be one forever.

I have a lot of respect for teachers, but I didn’t want to be one forever.

The problem was, I felt stuck.  At that time, my husband Josiah’s income from freelance web design was sporadic, and we depended on my paycheck to pay our bills.  At times I considered looking for a different job, but I knew from my experience job hunting after college that in the city where we lived, the only jobs my degree in English qualified me for were entry level office jobs–receptionist, administrative assistant, etc.–and those kinds of jobs weren’t going to pay enough for us to live on, nor were they necessarily going to help me reach my goals any better than teaching would have.

Then one day, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw an advertisement for a workshop that was coming to our town where people could learn about fixing and flipping houses.  We were watching a lot of Fixer Upper and Flip or Flop on HGTV at that time, and when I saw that ad, the thought struck me: I could learn a different career!  Josiah and I had remodeled our own house after we bought it as a foreclosure; maybe we could do that as a business, just like the people on HGTV!  And in the meantime, maybe I could get a real estate license and work as a realtor!

Our house before we bought it

Our house when we bought it, in 2013

Our house after we remodeled it

Our house just before we sold it, in 2016

The light bulb moment for me was the realization that my career options didn’t have to be limited to jobs I was already qualified for; if I wanted to get a job doing something else, I could become qualified!  I had already learned how to be a teacher; if I wanted to do something else, I was sure I could learn how to do it, too!

My career options didn’t have to be limited to jobs I was already qualified for; if I wanted to get a job doing something else, I could become qualified!

I told Josiah about my idea, and he was enthusiastic.  He immediately started reading books about how to make money flipping houses and from there ended up learning about other types of real estate investing.  As a result of his research, he concluded that the real money in real estate was not in flipping houses, but in commercial real estate.  He found what some might call “a guru course” that promised to teach people how to start syndicating real estate deals–essentially “fixing and flipping” apartments.  A few months later, I handed in my resignation, and we pooled all of our resources to purchase the commercial real estate training course and embark on our new career as commercial real estate investors.

Oh yeah – and we decided to buy an RV to live in.

Oh yeah – and we decided to buy an RV to live in. (Ha–I almost forgot that’s what this whole article is supposed to be about!)  Before I can explain about the RV though, I have to back up and tell a little more about Josiah’s career path.

When we got married in 2011, Josiah was working in the billing department of a hospital–a job that was about as exciting to him as being a paper salesman was to Jim Halpert in the TV show The Office.  Which was why he wasn’t too heartbroken when, in 2013, he was laid off and given a nice severance package.

Around that same time, Josiah’s uncle was trying to start a kitchen and bath resurfacing business, and was about ready to throw in the towel because he was having trouble getting customers. Josiah decided to help his uncle out by building him a website.  Josiah had taken a few very basic coding classes in the past and had also put up a blog type website for himself at one point, so he figured he could get something decent built for his uncle.  He did just that, and with a business website and little bit of SEO, Josiah’s uncle started getting phone calls from potential customers.

After seeing the difference a simple website could make for a small business owner, Josiah started thinking maybe he could go into business building websites for people, and that led him to a career in freelance web design and development.  He started improving his coding skills with help from TeamTreehouse.com and CodeAcademy.com, and pretty soon he was starting to get jobs through Upwork.com.

Josiah wearing t-shirt

Josiah in 2014 wearing a t-shirt we bought because it perfectly described his life (and it still does!)

With each job, Josiah’s skills and experience increased, as did his pay, and at the point we decided to pursue a career in real estate, he was working in a long-term freelance contract for a financial tech company based in Philadelphia, so we knew we’d be able to pay our bills at least until that project ended.

I still haven’t explained how the RV fit into all this.

Our dream of living in an RV started one night when we both woke up in the middle of the night, and out of the blue, Josiah said to me, “I think at some point we’ll be living and traveling around in an RV.”

One night we both woke up in the middle of the night, and out of the blue, Josiah said to me, “I think at some point we’ll be living and traveling around in an RV.”

This wasn’t something we’d ever discussed before, but when I was younger I used to think it might be fun to live in RV someday, so I was excited when he suggested it.  It sounded thrilling and adventurous, and additionally, we had become aware of the Tiny House and Minimalism movements and found both of these lifestyles appealing.

After that conversation (which happened sometime in 2015), we started spending a lot of time looking at RVs online and even touring them at local dealerships.  I also started saving RV decor and organization ideas on Pinterest. (I had a much harder time finding those kinds of ideas then compared to now, which is a big part of why I ended up starting this blog…but I’ll tell more about that in Part 2!)  We weren’t sure how soon we’d actually get to live in an RV, or really even why we would be living in one, but we had caught RV fever!

We had caught RV fever!

Along with starting a new career in real estate, we decided to move three and a half hours away to Kansas City after my final school year ended, because it supposedly had an up-and-coming real estate market.  Since I was quitting my job and Josiah’s income was sporadic, we knew we probably wouldn’t qualify for another home loan, and we really didn’t want to buy a house in Kansas City anyway because we weren’t sure how long we’d stay there; if Kansas City turned out to not be a good place to invest in real estate after all, we wanted to be able to easily go someplace else.

It seemed to us like the perfect opportunity to make our dream of living in an RV come true.  We found a fifth wheel we liked and decided to finance it (we applied for the loan before I quit my job and we sold our house!).  We didn’t have enough money to buy a truck yet, but we figured we could just live stationary in the RV until after we syndicated our first apartment purchase, and then we could buy a truck and move wherever we wanted to invest next.

Our RV, a 2009 Keystone Everest fifth wheel

Our RV the day we bought it

So in July of 2016, we signed the papers on our Keystone Everest and had it delivered to a mobile home park in Kansas City, Kansas…which is exactly where it stayed for the next two years!

So that’s how we ended up living in an RV, ha!

But there’s obviously more to our story.  We no longer live in Kansas City, and our careers took a different path than we had planned (which I’m grateful for!).

You can read the rest of our story in Part Two of this series: How We Changed Careers & Found Jobs We Love as RV Nomads.

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In 2016, I left my career as a teacher and, along with my husband, embarked on a new adventure as full time RVers with a dream of having a job that would let us live and travel wherever we wanted.


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9 comments

  1. Julie 11 June, 2018 at 19:53 Reply

    Ok, you have me hooked! I’m ready for part II. Sean and I also toyed with the idea of flipping houses, rental real estate investing, as well as several other business ideas before we moved into our RV.

  2. Kim 12 June, 2018 at 05:33 Reply

    Great read!!! Can’t wait to hear the rest. RV living is a dream for us as well. And we did flip two houses. 😁

  3. Katie 12 June, 2018 at 09:44 Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the series. Definitely inspiring! Also, dang that’s one heck of a before and after on the exterior of the home you guys renovated!

    • Ashley Mann 13 June, 2018 at 11:31 Reply

      Thanks so much Katie! It’s kind of funny – that’s the most dramatic before and after picture I have, but we actually didn’t redo the exterior until we were getting it ready to sell, and we paid someone else to do the siding! (Except I added the flower beds before that, and that alone made a huge difference!) We had been planning to paint the exterior, but Josiah didn’t want to do it ourselves, and when we priced having it painted we realized it wouldn’t cost that much more to do vinyl siding. We redid the interior before we moved in; it had been completely gutted (flooring removed, appliances & fixtures torn out), and that was a pretty drastic change too! We bought it as a foreclosure for $35k, put about $12k into it, and sold for $72k! (This is in Springfield, MO, of course.) So we were pretty proud of that. Good first home ownership experience. 🙂

  4. Mia 12 June, 2018 at 15:34 Reply

    Thank you for your story! Call me weird but my throat tighten a bit because I can relate to many of the things you said, right now Im at the part were I feel stuck in my low paying job and want to try coding so i can do the same things your husband and your self want to do, drink coffee, make art, read books, take naps and pet my rag doll kitty. Im currently living in a toy hauler in San Diego. Rent is very high here even for a space at an rv park. Cant wait to completly change careers to get out of San Diego and have a stay at home (rv) job while living more independently from the general public (pay city prices, electrity etc). Look forward for your next story! Sorry about my long comment, and if your still reading thank you for your time and for listening! Sincerly Mia.

    • Ashley Mann 12 June, 2018 at 17:15 Reply

      You’re not weird at all! I think it’s human nature to crave freedom, whatever that means to each person. I tend to be pretty optimistic about the power of human will and determination, and I truly believe “where there’s a will there’s a way”. I also believe in “bloom where you’re planted”, and whenever I am in a situation that’s less than ideal, I always try to do my best until I can find a way to move forward…to “earn” the life I want, so to speak. I wish you the best of luck in pursuing your dream…it is a worthy dream, and it can definitely more than just a dream! I’m also going to be sharing some resources for finding remote work with my blog subscribers over the next few weeks, so if you’re interested, feel free to subscribe and that way we can stay in touch!

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