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Monday, February 23, 2009

Things to iron out

We're fairly confident at this point that the whole RV living idea is a viable one overall. But of course there are a few hiccups that we're still trying to iron out details.

Internet access Jeremy telecommutes for work, so no internet means no job, and that would obviously be a dealbreaker. We also clearly need something more dependable than "well, most campgrounds have wi-fi." There is an aircard through Verizon that connects on the cell network, but it's capped at 5gb per month. The salesmen tell us that's over 1.3 million emails. Jeremy is doing a little more than casual chatting with his buddies, and that limit would last about 5-10 days with what he typically does. There is an option for satellite internet. The upfront equipment costs a pretty penny, but even with the monthly fee it wouldn't be terrible averaged over two years. It still has limits, but much higher ones, and the service will be available anywhere.

Sleeping arrangements Believe it or not, no one seems to have designed an RV for a couple with kids who work from home and want to live in it full-time. (We're trying not to read too much into that.) So there are two basic floor plans to choose between. Something like this:

Bedroom for the kids, bedroom for the parents. Only problem is the living space is much less functional. See, it's just one couch facing the kitchen and the door.

We like this kind of floorplan better:

Fantastic living room with a heater that looks like a fireplace, a great kitchen with generous counter space, and a really nice bedroom for us. Only question is, what to do with the kids? If we're going to have such a nice living room, we'd really like to be able to enjoy it past 8pm. We're hoping that a lot of the time, we can hang out outside under the awning with a nice screened in area, but that won't always be possible. So our best current idea is bed tents, like this:

Easy to fold and put away during the day, which is obviously a plus.

Those are the biggies. Everything else I think is more a matter of us making the adjustment to a different lifestyle.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

RV Show

Yesterday we drove down to St. Louis to visit the St. Louis RV Vacation and Travel Show. It was well worth the drive. We were able to look at a lot of different vehicles and narrowed down a few things:

We want a 5th wheel. We had already eliminated any actual 'motor' homes because there isn't really a safe place to put car seats in them, plus we are anticipating maintenance to be less complex and expensive if we just have a tow vehicle to maintain at any old car place, instead of being restricted to RV repair centers. We were deciding between travel trailers and 5th wheels. Even though 5th wheels are more expensive, they do offer substantially more storage space. If we can't even go across town for Christmas dinner without filling a minivan, we're definitely going to need all the storage we can get to move in.

We don't want anything labeled "lite". No matter how much we try to follow the warm weather, it's almost guaranteed that we'll need to park ourselves in Cleveland for at least a few weeks in the winter. Since we don't want to freeze, I think it will be well worth the additional expense and larger truck to have the heavier, more insulated vehicle. Plus, I think the lightweights skimp on things like wood cabinets and solid countertops to save weight too. If we'll be there more than a few weeks, we'd like lots of cabinets and countertops that Ian can't break by throwing his wooden trains at them.

We want one of the "big boys". We're definitely looking in the 35+ foot range for this to be livable long term. But once you get that big and add a couple of slides, it's really 400+ square feet of living area with tons of storage below and much more functionality than a small apartment. Yes, it's still small. But we'll have the world at our fingertips. And we won't have nearly as much junk we don't need taking up all the space.

We need a BIG truck. To tow one of those puppies, we're probably looking at a one ton truck with a diesel engine. ROAR!! We were worried about fitting car seats in a truck, but it doesn't look like that will be a problem. At least with Dodge, even the crew cab offers more space than our little Pontiac Vibe and they also have a "mega cab" that can comfortably hold an elephant in the backseat.

Most importantly, the visit convinced us that this is really, really possible and would be not only doable, but exciting and fun too! After looking at some of the big 5th wheels, we are really looking forward to our new adventure.

How this all began

Jeremy works from home for a company in Cleveland, OH. We settled near family in the meantime, but our long-term plan has always been to move to Cleveland by the time our son starts school, in fall 2012.

Recently a lot of circumstances had changed in our lives and we decided to go ahead with the move now. We started getting our house ready to sell and visited Cleveland to look for housing. Those nice yuppy houses we liked (good neighborhood, good schools, shiny sidewalks and big yards) were way beyond our budget. Smaller/older homes scared us with the possibility of expensive maintenance like our current house. Apartments are expensive and the layouts aren't great for Jeremy to work from home, plus there's no equity. We found an old manufactured/mobile home we liked, but it's pretty remote and the financing is difficult with leased land. New manufactured homes are expensive and have the same leased land challenges. It seemed like every possibility we explored had a significant downside.

Then we looked into rv's. We found we could buy a truck plus a fifth wheel or travel trailer for less than even an old mobile home. We racked our brains for all the foreseeable expenses, and still came up with a monthly budget well below our other options.

Not only did this look like the cheapest way, but it also looked like the most fun! We have been wanting to travel, but air tickets & hotels are cost-prohibitive, not to mention limited vacation time and kids who aren't really good with full days of sitting in car seats. With a RV, we can travel leisurely, just driving short distances while Jeremy still works 40 hour weeks. We'll get to see all the people we've been wanting to visit in a way that's easier on everyone. More travel for less stress and less money-what could be better?

Now we just have to sell our house, choose a new home, and iron out the myriad of details to make this work. Piece of cake!

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