Our Full Time RV Story

People have many reasons why they go full time in their RV. This is our story!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-YjlILQtAA

Our Full Time RV Story

Dreaming of Full Time RV

Many years ago, we somehow stumbled upon RV videos on Youtube (thanks Google!) - and quickly discovered Gone with the Wynns, Technomadia, the RV Geeks, Nomadic Fanatic way back in the day (like 2015!). Over the years we found RV Love, You me and the RV, Changing Lanes and KYD (and many others!). We dreamed of doing this ourselves - the thought of downsizing, simplifying, and enjoying experiences instead of "things" really appealed to us.

Full Time RV Becomes a Reality

For many years this was just a dream for us. But in 2019 this all changed. Christy had been at UPS for 30 years, but could not retire until 55 (which was still 5 years away). But UPS unexpectedly decided to outsource her entire customer service department to Guatemala.  They laid off her entire department, which was horrible for the junior people, but turned out to be a blessing for Christy and our dreams of living a full time RV life!

She came upset with this news, and I told her "do you realize we can go full time in an RV now, right? Since she got a good severance package, she could actually retire at 50 if we managed our expenses well.  I was still working, but I knew if I could work another year or so I would be in the same position. So at the beginning of 2019 we decided that in one year we would start the downsize process and hit the road!

We spent most of 2019 planning our adventure, and starting to seriously think about what type of RV we would get. Our thoughts wandered all over the place - one week we figured a motorhome made the most sense, then the next week it would be a 5th wheel. And sometimes we think we need to REALLY downsize and thought we could live in a 25 foot travel trailer or airstream. I spent a huge amount of time researching and we came up with a list of nice-to-haves:

  • King bed - Knowing the beds are already smaller in an RV, this seemed a must
  • TV layout - We wanted the TV to be across from the couch (not on the other side of the kitchen table or above the windshield)
  • Aquahot - the advantages of having infinite hot water and a relatively quiet furnace seemed very worth it!
  • 10K towing - Towing our Jeep
  • Bath and a half - Having a small bathroom would allow us to have a compost toilet
  • Induction cooking
  • Dishwasher
  • Washer/dryer - We didn't really want to be hitting laundromats every 2 weeks.
  • All-electric - Having one less fuel on board would make things more simple
  • Side radiator - Everything we read made us feel a side radiator coach would be superior

All of these definitely started pushing us toward a motorhome. Additionally, we wanted to not have to get ANY paid-for storage for our stuff. So we needed to downsize a 2800 square foot house into our new RV!

The summer of 2019 we found a 2015 Entegra Cornerstone for sale up in Ohio - the price was just too good to ignore.  We flew up to see it, and ended up buying it!  I had to get back to work so we drove all the way back to Atlanta almost 800 miles in 24 hours. We had never driven a motorhome before, and now we were driving a 45 foot, 50,000lb beast. Talk about some serious stress. Now we were committed!

Full Time RV Solar - Going Big 

Even though we had never done it, we knew we liked the thought of boondocking and having a RV that was somewhat independent of being hooked up in a campground. So we started making plans for a solar build on our new-to-us motorhome - This turned into quite the major project, and $15K in expense (before the solar tax credit). The cool thing is we can now power ANYTHING in our coach off our our new battery system and solar.  We added 2680 watts of solar panels, and a 14KW lithium battery bank.

 

Full Time RV - Downsizing Here we Come!

2019 ended a little differently than we thought it would - Garrett's company laid him off unexpectedly in December, which allowed us to focus even more on the downsize (he had planned to quit in a few months anyway, so it wasn't the end of the world).  We started 2020 focused on getting rid of everything and prepping the house for sale. Little did we know this would be a full-time job for 10 months! Add in a quarantine in the middle of everything, and it was a crazy year. We went through house renovation, 3 contracts, and hundreds of Craigslist/Marketplace/Letgo sales to get to the finish line.

Full Time RV - Finally!

We finally hit the road in October 2020.  After a few few Passport America campgrounds along the way, we are now in Tampa, Florida. We had planned on making it to Quartzsite this year, but thanks to the pandemic we hunkered down at Bay Bayou RV resort in Tampa. We are looking forward to heading to Savannah in April and finding out what awaits on the big road adventure ahead!


Top 5 Kitchen Gadgets for RV Living

Our kitchen gadgets for RV living aren't too much different than the ones we had in our house. But there are some nuances - the smaller kitchen means that we have less of everything. Gadgets that can do multiple tasks are high on the list. Big bulky appliances are a harder sell - if they don't make the cut they get quickly dispatched (We're looking at you, air fryer). Here are a few of the things we just love in our RV!

Top 5 Kitchen Gadgets for RV Living

Kitchen Mama Electric Can Opener Kitchen Gadget

We just recently bought this hands-free can opener and really loved it! You can open your cans with a simple push of a button. No more sharp edges and it's battery operated. When finished, it removes the top for easy disposal with no mess! When you have 7 cans to open for our Instant Pot chili, this device is killer!

Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

For us, we just LOVE our instant pot to make some of our favorite meals. There are so many things you can cook in an instant pot. Garrett makes the best Instant Pot chili and I like to cook our oatmeal groats for breakfast. You can also boil the perfect eggs and steam veggies very quickly.  Perfect tiny living appliance.

 

 

The Original Hotpop Microwave Popcorn Popper

You would not believe how good the popcorn is from something so simple. This Hotpop Microwave Popcorn Popper is simply a silicone bowl with a silicone lid. And we find it super easy to use. Here's the steps we do:

  • Add popcorn - We usuallyput anywhere between 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of kernels in the bottom. We really like Orville Redenbacher popcorn in the 8 pound container. It is cheap and tasty!
  • Add Oil - We usually spray a little bit of no-calorie olive oil, or pour in some real olive oil (adds calories, but the corn is even juicier!)
  • Add salt - Grind some salt on top of the kernels
  • Shake the Kernels up!
  • Microwave on High - We found that 2:30 was the sweet spot in our old house microwave, but it takes 5 full minutes in our crappy Samsung microwave in the RV. It also wastes almost half the kernels for us in the Samsun (that did not happen with the Whirlpool we used to have). Still tasty either way!
  • Add more salt - We throw in a bowl then put a bit more salt on the top. We like salt!

 

Brita Water Pitcher with 1 Filter, Large 10 Cup

We decided to buy this Brita Water Pitcher with filter for an extra water filtration system even though we have water filters in our coach. This BPA-free Grand water pitcher with filter holds 10 cups of water. Love my Brita!!

 

 

Command Traditional Plastic Hooks

We bought these command hooks to hang our kitchen towels so they would be out of the way. They are easy to install and are damage free hanging on the wall. They come in a variety of different sizes and colors. We purchased the brass nickel one.


6 Tips for RV Grocery Shopping

RV Grocery shopping can really be a challenge! When we lived in a house, life was much easier. We went to Kroger and Aldi every week, used coupons, and earned points for really cheap gasoline. Once we hit the road full time, we quickly had to change our strategy.

Of course, everyone has different eating habits, so these tips may or may not work for you. Here is how we would define our eating habits:

  • We tend to eat relatively simple meals and whole foods with an emphasis on protein (see our fitness article to find out why)
  • We eat a relatively repetitive diet - we would like to try other things but it makes tracking calories harder and we are pretty lazy!
  • Our shopping trips tend to be larger and less frequent if possible (who likes shopping!)

Hopefully some of these tips will help you!

6 Tips for RV Grocery Shopping

We find this tips to be a good balance of saving money and getting quality food, which is very important!

Break Down Your Must-haves for RV Grocery Shopping

Everyone has food habits - items that are gotten every week and make the foundation of your eating.

Map Out Your Shopping Options

RV grocery shopping is very dependent on how long you are staying in an area - if you are just passing through, your options may be limited and/or you're too tired to bother. But if you're staying for a week or more, its worth a bit of time to find your shopping options. We try to keep it under 15 minutes from our campground if possible, because gas isn't free and we have better things to do than drive all over! Once we have mapped these out, we try to work in shopping with other errands or trips to the gym. This minimizes our driving and saves time. 

  • Identify shopping options - ideally you can get everything from one place, but that might not be practical.
  • Optimize your shopping list - decide the best place to buy each item. Make substitutes if your favorite items aren't available or too expensive (Walmart Mio vs real Mio for example)
  • Set a rhythm for grocery shopping - Be flexible, but having a schedule can help keep the fridge full and food fresh. We typically go to two different stores twice a week for the bulk of our shopping. But we have to make a quick run-in to Target or Publix to get our favorite frozen pizza - Newman's own!

Get to Know the Chains

Some chains are regional, and others are national. But the stores within a chain are typically very similar in layout and their sales strategies. Here are what we found for each chain we are familiar with:

  • Kroger - Prices are generally lower than Publix, but higher than Walmart. They often have good "red tag" or "blue tag" sales if you buy in bulk. They have the best reward points program - if you shop there a lot you can also save substantial money on gas at their fuel centers (up to $1.00 per gallon).
  • Publix - Generally better quality stuff, and often at a substantially higher price. A bushel of kale was twice the price of others! Best strategy here is to take advantage of their weekly 2-for-1 deals!
  • Aldi - One of our favorites. Small, but great for stocking up on good quality food. We bulk-buy here alot! Their house brands are solid.
    • Steaks (yum - and sirloin is cheap)
    • Yogurt
    • Cottage Cheese
    • Almond Milk
    • Bottled water
  • Walmart - Cheapest and huge selection (and not just food). See next tip.
  • Target - Surprisingly large selection of food and decent prices. Certainly works well in a pinch.

Don't be Afraid of Walmart

We will admit it, a little piece of us dies every time we step into a Walmart. There is just something about the big crowds and chaos that hurts your soul here. But if you want the lowest prices of any chain with the biggest selection, this has to be on your list. And they are in pretty much EVERY town in America. In our experience, they don't really have many killer sales, but every item seems priced consistently lower than any other major grocery chain. For example, we buy 5 dozen of eggs for under $4.00 - that's insane!

Buy in Bulk if You Can Afford the Space

Certainly it is a challenge to store large quantities of items in most RV's - and ours is no exception. But when we do our grocery shopping, we try to buy bulk to save costs. This can be a challenge for items such as paper towels, soda, toilet paper and other bulky stuff.

Don't Be Afraid of Mom and Pop Stores for RV Grocery Shopping

It is definitely worth knowing the chains when you are RV grocery shopping - when you are in a new area, the familiarity of a chain makes shopping quicker and typically cheaper. But you can often find unique items and get much better customer service at smaller grocers, especially in smaller towns.