Technomadic Couple Answers Q’s about Living the Edited Life in RV
Last week, we showed a family living an edited rural life, showing that densely-packed, tiny-apartmented cities aren’t the only environments that support pared-down living. We ran across another version of this way of life that is neither urban, suburban, rural or any of the above: it’s mobile.
In 2007, René Agredano and Jim Nelson, inspired by their dog’s diagnosis of bone cancer, quit their corporate jobs, sold their home and most of their possessions, bought a truck and an RV trailer and hit the road with Jerry, their sick doggy to evaluate their lives. After realizing they could support themselves from the road through a combination of online businesses, freelance work and some labor, the trip, meant as a sabbatical, became a lifestyle. They have been going at it for 5+ years with no plan to stop.
We shot René a few questions via email regarding their lifestyle–asking about things like the pros/cons of RV living, their carbon footprint and what landlubbers might learn from their perambulating lifestyle.
LE: What is the best part of your lifestyle?
René Agredano: We can sum up the best part of our lifestyle in one word: Freedom. We have the freedom to live as we wish, work where we want and when we want. Being location independent entrepreneurs gives us the flexibility to go where the weather’s nice and experience all that this great big world has to offer, without sacrificing our need to earn an income.
LE: What is the worst part?
RA: Dealing with the unexpected. When you’re stationery, life is broken up into a series of predictable routines that rarely vary. But when your scenery changes throughout the year, unexpected challenges are always around the corner and there’s a big learning curve in discovering how to cope with them.
Unexpected events ranging from mechanical failures with your rig, to severe weather situations you’ve never experienced before, to something as simple as navigating your way through a new grocery store layout. All of these things challenge your ability to think on your feet and be positive while encountering the unknown.
LE: Can you say something about rising gas prices?
RA: We’re glad we have a diesel pickup and a relatively small fifth wheel trailer (24′ feet), which helps to keep our fuel bill down. And as fuel prices go up, our lifestyle gives us the ability to choose how much or how little we want to drive, unlike people who are tied down by a daily commute or suburban lifestyle.
Rising prices used to scare us, and they really hurt at the pump when we have to swipe our debit card twice! But since we’ve carefully track all of our expenses over the last 5 years, we’ve discovered that on average, we spend less than $400 a month on fuel, which probably less than what the average commuter spends driving to and from work each month.
Also, while we might travel longer distances in one shot while getting from Point A to Point B, we still drive much less frequently than most people. Once we’re in one location, we do little driving other than to the grocery store or sightseeing because we work from our rig.
LE: How do you view the issue of sustainability and your lifestyle? We saw on your blog that something about using bio-diesel. Can you say more about that?
RA: We’re from Northern California, where being an environmentalist is the de facto way of life. Before we started traveling, we were avid backpackers. Whenever we saw a big RV hauling down Highway 101, we would scoff and think “gas hog!” But now that we became one of them, we’ve realized that’s not the case for fulltimers anyhow. If someone is full-timing in their RV, even the biggest 40′ rigs have a smaller carbon footprint than the traditional lifestyle of living in a house or even a small apartment.
For example, as RVers who choose to boondock (forego standard electric, water and sewer hookups) most of the time, we are living off-grid in remote areas with solar power and satellite internet service. By not staying in RV parks unless the weather is exceptionally cold or hot, we’re not consuming a whole lot of resources. Also, we don’t consume stuff on the same level as most people, because with less space we just can’t stock up or buy things on a regular basis. We live in about 100 square feet! Whenever anything new comes into the rig, something has to go to make it fit.
One of the reasons we bought our Dodge Ram diesel pickup, was so that we could make and run biodiesel in it (a mix of veggie & diesel), or eventually convert it to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO). But the practicalities of making our own fuel have eluded us, and these days, finding anyone selling biodiesel is like a needle in a haystack. The industry has just tanked because of the bad rap the palm oil industry has received (there is debate about the ethics of harvesting these trees for fuel instead of using that land for food) and it’s really sad to see. We’re still petroleum-slaves, I hate it.
LE: Do you have a storage unit or did you really get rid of everything that couldn’t fit in you trailer?
RA: When we first hit the road, the plan was to do it for one year, then settle down and get back to “the real world” again. We sold off most of what we owned but kept got a small storage unit for things we didn’t want to have to re-purchase, like basic furniture, as well as some sentimental things. Well, one year turned into two and when we finally returned to that storage unit, we saw that we didn’t get rid of as much stuff as we thought we did. It was scary to realize that our mindset about downsizing was so different when we first hit the road. After living in a tiny space for two consecutive years, now we realize how very little we need to be happy, and it comes down to less than 1/4 of what we left in that unit!
One of our lifetime goals was to own some property, so today we own a very nice paid-for RV site on 5 acres in the Colorado Rockies. It also happens to come with a guest cabin for our visiting friends! But the cabin is off-line and not using any resources for about 10 out of 12 months. We only go there occasionally, since we still love traveling too much.
LE: How long do you plan to continue?
RA: Indefinitely! We’re having too much fun to even think about hanging up our keys.
LE: Any living strategies you can lend the non-mobile?
RA: Yes! Whether you enjoy life on the road or in a stick house, the key to living simply and being happy is to remain debt free. Living unburdened by monthly payments allows you so much more freedom. You can enjoy life to the fullest, be prepared for unexpected expenses and not live in fear of losing your job because you have so many bills to pay. Ever since we became debt free, we aren’t working just to pay bills…we have more time to to pursue our hobbies and interests that may not pay a lot of money, but make us fulfilled, like the Tripawds.com community we founded for canine amputees and their humans!
But when it comes down to it, as Dave Ramsey says, debt is a symptom of insufficient income. We have learned that the best solution to staying financially solvent and able to pursue our passions is to diversify our revenue streams and focus on earning passive, ongoing income. Instead of relying one one business for all of our earnings, we have several different endeavors that each bring in revenue streams each month. Cumulatively they all add up and we’ll never go back to a traditional small business structure again. We believe this is one of the best ways to protect ourselves against economic catastrophe, so now our mission is to help others do the same, through our remote home-based business ebook (www.bit.ly/incomeanywhere) and free coaching at Agreda.com.
image via liveworkdream.com