Installment #1 -Before we go on the road
Note this is the background that leads up to this point, another way of saying it, how we got here, to this point of near no return.
Things like buying yellow mustard instead of the spicy stuff are simply choices we make without thinking. It is not the only choice I speak of. Options that set you on a different course in life, that has consequences is the type I refer too.
What I am referring to is those big decisions you make in life. Let’s set the stage here.
Buying a house typically for anyone, the right, and reliable decision. The old clap on the back from your parent’s kind of choice. What career to choose, what college or trade to go into, is nothing compared to making the decision to retire.
Why is getting off the little round wheel harder than getting on it?
The answer to that question is simple, it is fear. Around that five-year mark, before any real thought of retiring, an inkling of it starts to set in. You have several years, it is still just background wistful thought. My issue in the working world was the fact that I had been in the position for a long time, legacy knowledge of our systems and applications would be a problem. I began saying, “you have five years to figure this out.” My immediate supervisor, new to the company, took it to heart and started talking about cross-training and such. It’s funny, to a newbie starting out five years is a career; to me, it’s a mere blink of the eye. You see, where I am employed, has many twenty, thirty-year veterans, even forty on the job. I took the position thinking an easy gig for a few years, well that was nineteen years ago.
Nothing can prepare you for the dreaded third and final segment of life. The first was becoming an adult. The second is that adult, you worked to become. Then along comes that third segment. You know the one. When you start to go to bed earlier, go to the doctor more, a few more aches and pains, and suddenly the idea of retiring hits you square in the face, striking fear, not the wistful thoughts of retiring at fifty, you used to have. These are real ones, creeping, nagging thoughts; how will I survive, what will I do with my time?
Add to that the constant nagging doubt you have as you see younger, brighter minds, filling seats around you at work. You know your brain used to be that quick, you remember thinking why this old-timer doesn’t just leave, so you can take their place. Then comes the time of announcing that you’ll be retiring; a fresh new list of requirements falls on you. You investigate applying for Medicare, Social Security, Human Resources wanting to discuss payouts, and how best to handle things. All new territory.
Depending on your state of mind, you either forge ahead into the fray, or you push back. You say I will deal with this later, I have work to do now.
Eventually, the taboo, never discussed, until now surfaces at the dinner table. You might have whimsically talked about what to do if the Lottery hit your numbers, that was easy, this is not.
Reality says, Social Security won’t cover this that and the other and the house payment, since this last home was bought one year before the market tanked. Lucky in life not in the cards.
So now what?
Sell the house, reduce your expenses to move to Florida. Logical, but what will we do?
Slowly the idea of going fulltime RV’ing creeps into the conversation. Neither remembers where or who brought it up.
Just another crazy whimsical idea, this too shall pass, right? You throw every negative in your life at it. You won’t get to your regular doctors. You have regular macular degeneration treatments. Medicines for high blood pressure and so on goes the list. Maybe one of you has a bad knee and so on and so on. This negativity works the whole idea of this silliness into the ground. You make other ideas sound plausible.
Maybe that home in Florida in the sun, close to the beach, sounds better. This becomes the new responsible person approach to that third segment of life, retire to the sunshine state, like so many before have done.
Yep, that’s it, until one day the conversation comes back swinging hard, hitting you once again. What if we do the RV thing, but return for appointments, two weeks here, a month there, a little boondocking in between, you have the same doctors still. See how this works?
Then one of you finds the U-Tubers, oh wow, so many talking about their highs and lows of RV’ing full time. Even how-to ‘s on legal matters of domiciling if you go full time.
This discussion goes on over many dinner conversations, you tell the family. Some are for it, others not so much. Numbers are crunched until they begin to bleed from the screen. Is it possible to sell the house and buy an RV? How do we do this on Social Security, and so on and so on?
All just talk between spouses, a secret not to get out, but we both do our research, sharing links of things between us.
“Hun, check this dealer out!” One of you innocently says.
Soon that becomes a theme of discussion. This place has more selection, better prices than anyone else. Another decision made, if we do this, it will be with these folks at these prices. The savings are not overridden by the fact they are in Central Texas.
Wait, have we decided to do this, uh oh!
You search their fantastic website until you know every single unit they have. You slowly arrive at brands you like, the floor plans you want and the options you desire or are willing to do without.
This goes on for months, one or the other rejecting different floorplans, then while watching it rain one Sunday afternoon, waiting for your losing football team to lose again that one righteous coach shows up in your search. It’s 2019, yet you never saw this one before. A weird feeling as you search the pictures of the inside, looking for that one thing to reject it on. You forward the link for this one to your spouse and forget about it like all the others.
“Ahh, I never saw this one before, how did you find it?”
“Not sure, what do you think of it?”
“Well, it's perfect.”
“Ahh, as in call them and talk to a salesman perfect?”
From there, it took on a life of its own. Just a bit more real, when you find that one Motorhome with the exact Floorplan you both want. It’s new, yet last year's model. The plunge is taken, and for the first time, you fill out an online credit application. You think secretly, the bank will end your misery and deny you. They don’t, you are approved. Oh Crap!
Another process of buying a home almost, you painstakingly crunch numbers all over again, looking for a way out. At the same time, you envision actually doing this, living on the road.
Opp’s there goes that down payment! You give the salesman your few grand to see the coach turn to Sale-Pending online, a moniker that so many times before took that perfect coach out from under you.
Arrangements are made, you have expanded your salesforce to include the Finance manager. He sends a bunch of stuff to sign and return.
Wait, we have to finalize this deal in person? We can’t execute an agreement and wait a few months to pick it up?”
“Nope, at least one has to go there to sign, bank rules in Texas.”
Now you are talking with a salesman at the largest RV dealer in the country. Arrangements to fly in and sign the papers are made.
Soon, with numbers crunched for the umpteenth time, you realize it is possible to do this. It is indeed possible to become homeless with a home.
With a new eye in preparation of the pending date a mere six months away, weeding out of possessions begins. A must. This is somehow different, there are logistics involved.
Do I keep it or throw it out?
Do I throw it out or donate it?
How do you label sealed boxes, differently? Some are going into storage as a stop-gap, in case this silly adventure doesn’t work out, and you decide to go live in a mobile home in Florida to wait to die.
One spare room gets converted to holding empty boxes, lots of boxes. The garage, if your lucky enough to have one is carrying sealed boxes or open ones going to charity or storage.
Here is where you find your stamina waning, just a few years prior, spending the day, sorting, packing, and moving stuff around would have been easy. Now you're able to do maybe three hours tops before a good nap. Start this much sooner than later, you’ll thank yourself later.
The nature of dinner discussions is evolving. Now it's about the cost of staying in parks and campgrounds, you begin to crunch those numbers. Yikes, this isn’t good. No wonder you see motorhomes parked for days at Walmart. Then you latch onto a few different concepts.
Escapees™ and Thousand Trails™ are two prime examples of how to survive the madness out there.
Look them up, a lot of questions get answered, make your own mind up on memberships.
My wife and I both felt the mail service and domicile offerings of Escapees made sense. We would eventually, after buying the coach, selling our traditional home, would use Escapee’s provided address to domiciled in Texas. One of their three offerings of such. We signed up with them for their mail forwarding services, as well.
We crunched the numbers of the complicated rules of staying in a Thousand Trails park vs. being on your own as a guest. The membership far outweighs the standard fees, by a lot. We will sign up closer to go live. Listen to me using the jargon I have spent a career using; project plans come easy; attention to detail is second nature.
Now we wait a few weeks before I fly to sign papers. We will leave the coach on their lot then until we can make the trip together to drive it home. While there that one day, I will discuss the two alterations we have in mind as well. Instead of the sleeper conversion slide in the luncheonette thing, we want a small table and two chairs, homier. It should be easy to do since many coaches come that way now. The other is for me; personally, the side bunk beds are useless, we won’t be taking trips with anyone. I see that space easily convertible to my office, remove the bunk beds and add a countertop to hold monitors and laptops. Instant office.
The excitement of doing this, dampened by the drudgery of so many years, waking, showering, and driving the commute to work. Lord, its been so many years of this. In the meantime, we calculate, we plot, slowly moving towards it all happening, considerations of what goes with us, and contacting insurance companies for quotes. All of this is a part of the desired result.
Next Installment – navigating the Macular issues and how we will deal with that.