I just watched the movie “The Company Men”.  I immediately recognized the setting: amazing Autumn foliage.  Crisp, cold air.  Beautiful New England houses.  It took place in Boston, starting in the fall and ending in the winter.  As you may recall, I got to Boston in the fall and left in the winter while on my RV trip last year.

For the past year and a half, I have written down what I do every single day.  After the movie ended, I opened up my journal and  read through my entire 8 weeks in Boston.  I was able to relive the whole thing.  I could remember how I felt each day.  Little events which had been long forgotten came back to me, without being specifically written down.

I was able to feel the adventure again.  So much excitement everyday: meeting new people, exploring new places, and having new life experiences.  My whole mindset was completely different than what it has been the last few months.

I’m hoping to get another adventure in the works soon.  I really like the idea of learning Spanish, but practicing it is SO BORING!  I’m considering getting a one-way ticket + 3 month stay to some remote Spanish-speaking city.  Ideally, nobody will speak English, and I’ll be forced to learn.  Furthermore, if I buy the ticket 6 months in advance, I’ll have a heck of a lot more incentive to start studying before the trip!

Any recommendations on fun, remote, Spanish-only-speaking cities?  Central/South America or Spain will do.  I won’t consider any cities in the US like Salinas, East LA, Santa Ana, etc.

 

With minutes to go in the Rialta eBay auction, the bid was still $12,000 away from my break-even point.  I’m nervously hitting refresh, getting more and more worried that the final bid won’t be anywhere near what I wanted.

Finally I see a little activity before a very pathetic ending.  I’m out nearly $10k  when all is said and done, not including the countless hours I put into installing all the mods.  I can’t be upset because this is what the market determined the value at.

The experiences I had while traveling the country in this rig were priceless.  It was a huge learning and growing experience, and I have absolutely no regrets that I went through with it.

Restructuring my life

I’ve decided to set up my home-base in Reno, NV.  I’m buying a 4-plex and calling one of the units my home.  I’m excited to be able to answer the question of “where do you live” in one or two words.

I’m still in the process of downsizing my entire portfolio of websites to just one.  Business will be much simpler with just one site to focus on.

I’ve been closing credit cards/bank/savings/investment accounts that I haven’t been actively using.  Trying to again minimize things I have to think about.

I have already set up a new Nevada corporation, and I’m in the process of moving everything under that one: bank accounts, payroll, addresses, accountants, etc.  I’ll be entirely out of California by the end of the year and will have dissolved the CA incorporation I currently own.

Different type of travel

I’d like to be spending more than a month at each location.  I’m thinking 3-6 months at each city, and renting a room with locals rather than staying at hostels or in an RV.

US Destinations I’d like to live in:

  • Denver, CO
  • Austin, TX
  • Portland, OR (again)
  • Somewhere in the south?

Foreign destinations:

  • Summer in Stockholm
  • Long trip through Eastern Europe/Russia
  • Summer in New Zealand
  • Summer in Argentina/Moto tour through South America
 

Selling the Rialta!

The Rialta spent the last 5 months in storage while I was busy visiting Australia, Asia and Europe.  I came back and really didn’t have much interest in doing more trips in her.  I’d like to spend a lot more time out of the country, and I can’t really take the Rialta along with me.

I made the decision to sell before I got back to the states.  I pulled it out of storage the day after I returned, got it smogged the next day, cleaned it up and finally have it listed for sale.  I’m going to be really sad to see it go, however happy knowing that I won’t have to worry about it anymore.

I figure that if I ever want to do another RV trip in the future, I can always buy another RV and do it again.  Modding it out is half the fun!

Here is the official CL ad: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/rvs/2496392261.html

 

Due to my somewhat unusual lifestyle, I’m constantly getting questions/comments from curious individuals.  Here is a list of common questions, and my responses to them.

Note: I was going to do a single FAQ post, but decided to split it up into two posts: Lifestyle and Business.  This is the lifestyle part.

Must be nice not having to worry about income/job/boss/working/time/money/etc.

While there are heaps of perks doing what I do, it isn’t exactly this perfect lifestyle that some people perceive it as.  To dis-spell some common misconceptions, here are a few notes:

1.  I still put in close to 40 hours of work per week.  It is not 9-5 M-F, but I’m still putting the time in.  That whole 4-hour work week idea is crap if you ask me.

2.  While I don’t have a boss, I also don’t have co-workers who I can push responsibilities to if I want to take a 2-week vacation away from work.

3.  All my websites are NOT set-and-forget.  I do have to maintain everything, and if something goes wrong, I’m the only responsible for getting it fixed.

4.  There are risk factors beyond my control.  A recent Google logarithm update dropped the traffic in about 6 of my sites by 30%.  I can’t exactly get on the phone with Google and tell them to take it back.

Are you still looking for a place to “settle down”?

When I embarked on my first RV tour, a big justification in my head was that I wanted to check out other places in the country/world to see if I would ever want to “settle down” there.  At this point, I haven’t been thinking about settling down as much as I have about adventure.  Now that I’ve ventured outside the US, I’ve realized there is just so much to see.  I could spend a lifetime discovering new places.

Are you planning to do any more travel in the RV?

To be honest, I was a little tired of living in the RV when I returned from Boston in December.  I was in and out of the RV for my most recent stay home (Dec-Feb), and every time I returned to the RV, I realized I had missed it.

At this point, I am still enjoying the luxuries of living in a house, including:

1.  Hot water

2.  Unlimited electricity

3.  Oven/BBQ

4.  Roommates/ability to have multiple friends over

5.  Yard

6.  Telling people where I live without also having to explain that I’m not a rapist.

I guess we will see how I feel when I get back into the US, whenever that may be.  Just thinking about it right now, I realize that I do miss the RV lifestyle!

Is it harder to stay productive on the road?

Yes.  Constant change and lack of a consistent schedule do not create the best working conditions.  However, I am adapting, and learning to squeeze work in whenever I get a chance.

Your adventure sounds awesome.  I wish I could do that!

You can.  And you should.

The average Australian that I’ve met has traveled much more than the average American.  I’d estimate that Australians travel 5 times more than Americans.  Any excuse you can make is just that, its an excuse.

Job?  Take some time off.  Or save up some money and quit!  You’ll be able to find another one.

Kids?  Bring ‘em along!  It will benefit them to see other parts of the country/world.

Do you miss your cat?

Yes, and I’m sure she misses me just as much, if she noticed I’m not there.

Are you still watching Sharks games?

Even better, I am listening to them!  Its like reading a book instead of watching a movie.  I get to imagine it all in my head.

Have you told anyone that you are an international spy yet?

Yes.  And they did not believe me.  So I spared their life.

Are you just making up questions?

Yes.  I thought I had more lifestyle questions to answer.

 

RV Instruction Video

This is intended to be an instructional video for those who might borrow the rig while I’m gone, however I think anyone who wants to learn more about the rig might find these interesting.

 

I had to quickly leave Boston since the freezing weather was finally causing damage to the RV.  I raced across the country in 79 hours to beat some storms that actually closed down the highway.

I’m now home for the holidays, enjoying the better weather.  My plans from here on out are currently:

December/January/February: Bay area/SF in the RV (Maybe trips around the West Coast)

February/March/April: Australia

April/May/June: Europe

June/July/August/September: NY (With some trips up to Boston)

September/???: Possible southern tour of the US?

With this plan, the RV will be sitting for 6+ months.  Anyone have ideas on ways to get it some use while I’m gone?  I was thinking of letting close friends/family borrow it if they wanted.

 

Working Out While on the Road

Going to the gym has become a mandatory activity for every day I live in an RV.  This is because it is oodles easier to shower at the the gym rather than shower in the RV.  My current gym is closed on Thanksgiving…  I don’t know what I’m going to do!

Why is showering in an RV so lame?

  1. I only have 26 gallons of fresh water.  I actually have a 16 gallon tank, and 2 5-gallon backup tanks in case I run out.  If I showered every single day in my rig, I’d need to refill water every 6 days or so.
  2. The water heater draws 1400 watts and needs to run for 10 minutes to have a warm shower.  This is a lot of electricity, especially when you have batteries and solar panels in Boston in November.  And forget taking a cold shower when it was 35 degrees out the night before.
  3. The shower is SMALL.  Need I say more?
  4. The shower curtain needs to dry or else it starts smelling like mold.

While it was initially awkward to shower at the gym, I have since became totally comfortable with it, having done it every day for the past 6 months.  I actually have had great conversations with other men in the showers.

Forcing myself to workout.

Since I plan on going to the gym every day to shower, I might as well work out while I’m there.  I feel weird going to the gym and not working out.  I feel weird not showering, so I go to the gym.

Finding gyms near me.

When I scope out my next target neighborhood, I always make sure there is a gym nearby.  Pretty much every single gym I’ve been to offers at least one week free to new members.  Sometimes this pass is good for more than 7 days as long as you don’t ask.  For example, my 7-day pass here at Bally Fitness actually lasted 10 days.  I just walk up, say I have a guest pass, and they say “Oh yea, I remember you.  C’mon in!”

When it comes time to sign up, just be straight up and tell them that you are leaving in a month.  Typically, the salesperson has much more flexibility then you’d think.

 

My Expenses While Living in an RV Full Time

Due to an overwhelming amount of requests (1 email), I’ve decided that I’ll share my last few months’ spending with everyone.  I actually just wanted to track where my money has been going, and I figured this would be a good idea to get a breakdown of my expenses.

I broke down my spending for July and August.  I spent July in Portland and August in Seattle.

These numbers do include every last penny that I spent on my lifestyle.  This includes health insurance, food, gas, gym, entertainment, bus, taxi, etc.  This does not include money spent to operate my business (marketing, contract labor, hosting, domains, etc.).

Here is the breakdown:

July:

Cash (ATM Withdrawls, likely spent mostly on Food/Entertainment/Beer/Bus/Taxis): $740

Food/Entertainment: $507

Phone: $127

Gas/Propane/RV Dumps: $26

Car Insurance: $0 (Prepaid)

Health Insurance: $100.10

Gym: $58

Other (Shoes, clothing, supplements, etc): $218

$1,777 Total

August:

Cash (ATM Withdrawls, likely spent mostly on Food/Entertainment/Beer/Bus/Taxis): $605

Food/Entertainment: $653

Phone: $127

Gas/Propane/RV Dumps: $187

Car Insurance: $52

Health Insurance: $100.10

Gym: $70

Other (Shoes, clothing, supplements, etc): $288

$2,082 Total

Cutting Costs:

Clearly a large portion of my monthly expenses is dedicated to Food/Entertainment.  I have a big appetite and eat out at least once per day, usually twice.  If you were interested in living in an RV, you could probably get away with doing it for less than half of what I spend.

 

20 Week Update

20 weeks of living in an RV is no laughing matter.

Actually it is.  I can’t tell you how many jokes I’ve made/been a part of due to my living situation.  Its close to a “That’s what she said” scenario.  Any opportunity to make a jab about how I live in a car is exploited, and we always have a good laugh.

“Tommy, do you want a ride home?”

“Yes”

“Where did you park your house today?”

Here are a few thoughts I’ve had recently:

  1. It has been 3 weeks since I have seen anyone I have known for more than 3 weeks.  I forget what it’s like to hang out with people that you have known for more than a month.
  2. It is pretty emotionally draining to make friends for a month and then leave only to start over again somewhere new.  While it is fun and exciting, it also requires immense energy and positivity, which can be hard to keep up all the time.
  3. I’d like to spend more than a month in each location if I really like the place.  I wanted to spent more time in Portland and Minneapolis, but I’ve been on a schedule to make it to Delaware for a wedding in October.  After the wedding, my schedule will open up, and I’ll be able to spend longer in each location.  I’m thinking maybe 2 months in the bigger cities with more to do.
  4. I need a new fridge.  I’m sick of mine freezing everything.  I hate it when all I want is a bowl of cereal, and my gallon of milk is just one giant ice block.
  5. I have to start watching my energy consumption in the winter.  There were a few days here when my solar panels didn’t pull their weight because of heavy rain and clouds all day.  Maybe I’ll get better/more batteries to help store more power when it is sunny out.  Worst case, I can just turn the engine on.
  6. It has been 3 weeks since I have seen anyone I have known for more than 3 weeks.  I forget what it’s like to hang out with people that you have known for more than a month.
  7. There are LA Fitnesses EVERYWHERE.  I don’t know why they don’t just call it US Fitness.
  8. I miss In N Out.  Everybody here misunderstands me when I say that I’m dieing to have in n out animal style.
  9. I’m still paying California Income tax.  Thanks Arnold.  I’ll mail in my deposits from the other side of the country for you.
  10. I used to think people that did work on their laptops in coffee shops were losers.  Now I’m one of those losers every day.
  11. My business is still continuing to grow because I’m working smarter rather than harder/longer.  I spend more time on the important stuff and simply ignore the unimportant time-wasting activities I used to fill my days with.  Last month was actually my best month ever!
  12. I’m sick of telling new people that I meet what my deal is.  It takes 5 minutes to explain my living/travel situation is, and 50% of the time, that’s the first and last thing we talk about.  How annoying.  I should wait to explain myself until they first prove worthy of my friendship.

I’m planning to go to Boston immediately after the wedding in Delaware.  I’ll stay there in my RV until it starts to get too cold.  After that, I have 3 options:

  1. Park the RV long-term and do a sublet for a few months in NY.
  2. Park the RV long-term and fly to South America/South East Asia/Australia/Japan/Hawaii/???/Europe for the winter.
  3. Drive the RV south to escape the cold winter.
 

Hidden Benefits of RV Living

While the ability to go wherever the wind takes me is the most obvious benefit of living in an RV, there are a few other interesting bonuses that only other RVers realize.

  • You don’t lose stuff. There are only a few places it could be.  I never spend time looking for stuff anymore.
  • It takes 15 minutes to thoroughly clean my rig. Even if it is a total mess, takes me 15 minutes to organize everything, wipe counter tops, and even vacuum.
  • A sink full of dishes takes a few minutes to do. My sink is tiny and doesn’t hold a lot of dirty dishes.
  • Takes a few minutes to heat up. The rig is so small that it heats up very quickly when I turn the furnace on.
  • Nothing is out of my reach. Literally, from where ever I may be, everything is no more than one step away.
  • No bills. Rent? Nope.  Mortgage/property tax?  Nope.  Electricity?  Solar panels.  I’ll use about 5 gallon of gas a month (not including traveling between cities), and maybe 4 gallons of propane.
  • No mean neighbors. If I don’t like my neighbors, I just find a new spot to park.
  • Safety.  When I come home, I know that nobody is hiding inside, waiting for me to go to bed, because there are no places for a full-grown human to hide.  Furthermore, if someone enters, the alarm goes off.  Simple as that.