One year ago last week, we purged & sold 90% of our belongings and moved into our 30’ camper (187 square feet) fulltime. It’s funny because a couple years ago, living in an RV was something we only dreamed about for retirement “one day”, but now it’s our every day reality – and we LOVE it!
I really meant to update a lot more during our first year, but life got in the way of my blogging. I’ll work on that and try to do better this year. I can hear Yoda now saying “Do…or do not. There is no try.”
Let’s recap the past year, shall we? We moved out of our house and into our camper on March 30. For the next 5 months, we enjoyed life at a campground in Maryland near Rob’s work. It was a great “first home”. We woke up each morning to a beautiful view of the water, made some amazing friends, celebrated all 3 of our birthdays there, dealt with a couple storms with no issues, cooked and ate lots of meals outside, went swimming often, & fed lots and lots of ducks.
Memories from Bar Harbor RV Park in Maryland
Then, before we knew it, it was time to move down south to Georgia. The Army said it was time to go, so we went. That’s how it works. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – it was the easiest PCS move ever!! We took a 2 week vacation to get down here, camping and sight-seeing along the way. Then, we settled in at a campground in far eastern GA right near the coast. Or so we thought. It turns out we weren’t settled after all and that God had other plans for where he wanted us to live because then the hurricane happened.
We’ve now been at our current campground – Beaver Run RV Park – for 6 months and we couldn’t be happier. The campground, the people, the friends, the community….they all truly make this a HOME.
A really great playground where the kids feel right at home
A beautiful spring fed lake perfect for swimming, kayaks or paddle boating
So, how has it been for 3 people and a cat living in 187 square feet?
Absolutely wonderful! Does that make us crazy? Probably, but we’ve learned to embrace that title. There are definitely bigger families than ours in tiny spaces, though.
Seriously, this has changed our lives for the better. Pretty frequently, Rob and I check in with each other to see if we still like this way of living. Every time we both answer a definitive “YES!”. In fact, we often say we can’t believe we are getting to live like this daily. We’ve always loved camping and getting to do it every day makes me feel spoiled. Life is just more simple.
We spend so much less time cleaning. Our weekends are now filled with family time instead of cleaning house, yard work and chores. In fact, we’ve had to get really creative finding jobs for Emily to do to earn money. She does a lot of chores just for being part of the family, but we also pay her a salary for certain jobs as a way of teaching her how to handle money wisely because that takes practice. However, with this lifestyle there are a lot less household jobs to be done! The entire camper can be cleaned in under 30 minutes, and there is no yard work to do.
We buy less stuff & spend less money. There is no room for a bunch of randomness, so we think twice about every purchase. It has to have a true purpose and a place to go once it’s inside the camper. No shopping sprees at the thrift store on a whim, or buying random things at a yard sale just because. If something comes in, something else probably has to go out so better make it worth it. I also spend more wisely at the grocery store because there is only so much room in the fridge or pantry to put things. We are forced to use up what we have before buying more. We make great use of our Amazon Prime for shopping though because we can buy our vitamins, cat food, cat litter, and even clothes without going to the store and being tempted to buy more than we planned.
Our daughter THRIVES in this environment! She gets so much outside play time! She practically lives outside, which is truly her element. She rides her bike, plays at the playground or just in the nature with other kids, participates in an art class here at the campground, and is enjoying meeting new people too.
Even the cat is happier. She has several choices of prime seating right in front of a window where she can watch the birds & squirrels play. Unlike most cats, she is a “pack” animal and loves her pack of people. She used to follow us around from room to room in the house so she could lay down near us. Now, she can just pick a spot and her people are always nearby.
We have so much more family time! This happens naturally because we are all in the same space instead of off in separate rooms doing our own things. We play more games, cook more meals together, chat more about all the little things and just enjoy being together. We aren’t fools – we know time is limited before our daughter will be off on her own doing grown up things, so we are cherishing every bit of time we can. It’s also great for our marriage. I fall more in love with my husband every day, and it’s nice to be able to be together in the same space doing our own things instead of being in opposite sides of a house.
Oh, the people you’ll meet! One of our favorite parts of this lifestyle is meeting new people! Living in a house it always seems people come home, go in through their garage, close the door and never come out. At a campground, people are always out taking walks, cooking on the grill, or sitting by a fire. New people are coming and going all of the time – some just passing through and others staying a while. We’ve met so many interesting people with some incredible life stories. Getting to know people at potluck dinners, game nights, Bible studies, or just stopping to chat while on a walk is a great part of the experience. We’ve made some great friends over the past year, and many I think will be friends for life now.
We don’t miss the STUFF. We haven’t missed all the stuff we purged before moving into our tiny space. Not at all. Ok, I take that back – there was one thing. Hangers. We accidentally got rid of too many hangers and had to go buy more because we hang most of our shirts to dry. That’s it. We do still have a storage unit for now to hold some off-season items, Rob’s tools, our memory boxes, and a few extra craft items for me or toys for Emily that get traded out from time to time. Once we upgrade to a 5th wheel, we will get rid of the storage unit because we’ll have more storage built in. But all the boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff that we sold/donated/gave away/trashed?? We haven’t looked back. I haven’t even missed all the coffee mugs or craft supplies I let go. Emily hasn’t wanted 90% of the toys she thought she would. It’s been so freeing.
Any bad parts? Honestly, the only downside is that we can’t travel as much as we want due to Rob’s job. Retirement will come one day though, and we’ll do more then. At the same time, we really enjoy staying put and being a part of this community here at the campground and in the local city.
Lessons we’ve learned:
* Propane tanks are way cheaper to refill at Tractor Supply than to trade out the tanks elsewhere.
* Space heaters are really nice in the winter and make a huge difference in comfort.
* Dehumidifiers are a MUST! We started out with a couple tiny ones, but ended up with a 30 pint model. It might be in the way from time to time, but it is worth it for the amount of moisture it pulls out of the air! You don’t want mold growing because it’s too humid.
* Emptying the gray/black tanks are really not a big deal at all.
* Pinecones landing on the roof of a camper during a hurricane can sound like bricks falling from the sky.
* The night sky always looks better from a campground.
* Campfires never get old.
* Doing laundry at the campground laundry room is not only not a big deal, but I also like it. Unlike in the house, now I wash, dry AND put away all our laundry in ONE day!
* My husband was right – we didn’t need to bring the ice cream scoop because a spoon really will do the job. I did however, reclaim my lemon squeezer from storage.
* You don’t need a dishwasher when you have a 12 year old. I’m now understanding how my parents went so long with a broken dishwasher when I was in high school.
* Folding step stools are extremely helpful when you are only 5’3”!
Where do we go from here? Will we ever live in a house again? Not if we can help it. Of course, we don’t know what the future hold or where the Army will send us. It’s possible we could go somewhere that living in our camper isn’t feasible, but for now we have no plans of leaving the camping lifestyle.