From Chicago Condo to RV Living (in less than a year)

From Chicago Condo to RV Living (in less than a year)

We’ve covered our a-ha moments, and why we chose to live in an RV fulltime. Now its time to discuss how we’re doing it.

1 year ago…

A year ago, Tiffani and I lived in a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath condo in Chicago’s West Loop. Like many newlyweds, we were holding on to his-and-hers versions of most things – you know, dish sets and duvets, pots and pans, books and CD collections. But even with the extras, we had trouble filling out the condo. There were bathrooms we never visited and just too many cabinets to fill. And we had no desire to try.

Chicago Condo

Our Chicago Condo. We've sold, donated, or given away everything in this picture!

Then one day, after an illuminating trip to Mexico, something changed. We realized that we’re much happier with fewer things and less space to clean, manage, and pay for.

Time To Move On

In Chicago, my wife and I worked at the same company (different departments), but we both were unhappy with our jobs. We enjoyed going to work together, and I love my career as a video game producer, but we did not enjoy the day to day. Many factors weigh in to a person’s happiness at work and for us the factors ultimately lead to starting our job searches in 2009. Luckily, the results of our search started to pay off in early 2010, opening options for us.

I don’t want to breeze by this topic too quickly. Finding a new, better job is no small feat. Doing so while you have a job (which we highly recommend) is even more difficult to organize and handle.

Not all of us can or even want to quit our day jobs to pursue a new lifestyle overnight. Getting a new job or starting a new career is key for changing your lifestyle in a manageable, responsible timeline, so don’t take this step too lightly! It requires planning and patience. There are many resources to help with your job search, but here are a few things we did to make the process work more smoothly:

  • Vow to keep your job until you have a new job – this process is stressful enough without having money problems to work through.
  • Hire or get the help of professionals – industry recruiters, professional resume writers, etc can be HUGE time savers and key in your negotiations.
  • Network with friends – having friends in companies you want to work for means you may have a foot in the door. Ask nicely for help.

Finding a new position took several months, and suddenly it was time to move — and with moving, comes getting rid of Stuff.

The Initial Purge

The first purge can be a long and arduous process, depending on how many things you own. There are plenty of websites dedicated to methods of getting rid of things, just search Google for “How to get rid of stuff”.

  • If you want to sell items, Ebay and Craigslist are still the best sites we’ve found.
  • If you have a lot to give away and live in a city, you can post your things to sites like Freecycle.org and Freesharing.org.
  • For big things check your local Goodwill1-800-Recycling, or city services for furniture or bulk item pickup.

We began by organizing things into groups – keep, donate, throw away, trial. Our trial category was a holding ground for things we only occasionally need or use. If we don’t use that item within a set amount of time, it goes to the donate or sell pile.

Once we made your way through everything once, we found lots of things we overlooked for the donate pile. Going through things twice or even 3 times on the initial purge is a must.

Results of a recent great purge.

Mid-Year Checkup

After living and working in Dallas, TX for a few months, we decided to review our overall goals again, just to make sure we were on track.

In case you missed them in our previous post, here they are again:

  • We want to spend more quality time with each other.
  • We want to travel and experience more.
  • We want enough money to afford the lifestyle that makes us most content.
  • We want to work less for other people, more for ourselves.
  • We want to enjoy our waking hours not dread them.
  • We want to leave a small environmental footprint on the places we live and visit.

So let’s see how we’re doing by June 2010:

  • Living in Texas gives us better weather, with more travel options, and living here is certainly a new experience for us.
  • The money is better and goes farther in Texas.
  • With better jobs and better weather we’ll enjoy more hours of the day.

After only half of a year, we made major improvements toward 3 of our 6 goals. We were really happy with our progress, but there was something missing.

As we’ve said in previous posts, living in an RV is a perfect match for the lifestyle we’re trying to achieve, and it fits nicely within our 5 year plan. But by June 2010, we had no serious movement toward living in the Airstream fulltime.

We already owned a 22′ Airstream, but there were a few things that made our particular model a bit more challenging. Don’t get me wrong, living in a 22′ Airstream is possible and can be enjoyable – See Whereiskylenow.com and Aluminumbliss.com for successful examples. But for me, as long as I have a fulltime location-based job, living in this extreme small space, with its wet bath, mini-fridge, and against the wall bed, did not match the lifestyle I had envisioned.

So, in a move reminiscent of buying our Chicago condo, we decide to upgrade to a 27FB Airstream International CCD. Luckily this was handled in a much smarter way than the condo purchase because we a) sold the smaller one to help pay for the larger one, thus lowering our initial cost and b) made sure this purchase fits firmly within our goals.

Our End of Year Report

So here we are, one year later. Last year we set a plan in motion to free ourselves from our belongings, become more mobile, and reach our ultimate goal of a manageable and happier life within 5 years and we’re very proud of all we’ve accomplished so far!

  • My wife and I both have new, better jobs that make each day much more enjoyable.
  • We have secure renters for our Chicago property.
  • We moved  to Dallas, TX, where pay is good, cost of living is low, and weather is  much better for most of the year (more camping!).
  • We’ve sold most every sellable, unneeded piece of furniture we own.
  • We truly embrace quality over quantity. Everything we buy is the best we can afford, and we buy multi-use items anytime we can.
  • We sold our Tahoe and 22′ Airstream.
  • We purchased a Prius, a Tundra, and a 27′ Airstream.

Each step led to the next, and each was equally important in reaching the next phase of our plan… to move in to the Big Weaz, our 27′ Airstream Travel Trailer and begin full time RV living.

Reporting Live

As we embark on the next phase of our plan, we’ll update you every step of the way and report on what’s working and what’s not.

So, if we’ve piqued your interest, or if you’re just interested in a couple of newbs living in an RV full time, please subscribe to weaselmouth.com so we can keep you updated through RSS or email – or like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Also, If you like something you read, please be sure to share a link with your friends. More importantly leave us a comment – we answer every one!

3 Comments

  1. Thank for sharing your story!

    Reply
  2. Totally enjoying your website which I found last evening. I wish you the best of luck. We just purchased a 2006 28′ Safari LS which we pulled home with our Tundra 4×4 about 10 days ago. Our other vehicle is a Prius (sound familiar). However, my wife and are are recently retired. We will be snow birds living in our AS for 5-6 months annually. Currently, Sylvia, sits in our front yard overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. We just transitioned from a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house into a one bedroom lake cabin which we have owned for a long time. Getting rid of stuff accumulated over 37 years of marriage and three children was was, and continues to be, a process. We, like you, are amazed at how much stuff we can live without. This process alone will make it easier for the next transition into the AS. Thanks for the great read.

    Reply
    • Thanks Dave, and welcome to Airstream ownership! You won’t be disappointed – the 28′ is a great layout and one we heavily considered.

      It’s nice to hear we aren’t the only ones offsetting a Tundra’s heavy carbon footprint with a (slightly) less heavy Prius. I’m sure you’ve heard the “Prius’ aren’t THAT eco friendly” arguments as well – but hey, in a world where we need cars, we figure *some* fuel efficiency is better than nothing, and buying a used cars is pretty darned close to recycling them as far as we’re concerned. Again, its all about taking steps toward your final goals :)

      Anyway, we can’t wait to hear more about your Airstreaming adventures with Sylvia – what a great name for an Airstream! If you get a website going, send us a link. And please don’t hesitate to give us a shout if you have any questions – current Airstream owners are really great resources for new Airstream owners!

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