There are usually two common responses we receive when we tell people we lived in an RV for a year during the pandemic. It is either, “How the heck did you do that?” or, “That’s always been my dream!” There is usually not much in between. The experience is one my family and I will never forget, but also one that taught us many valuable truths about life, possessions, experiences, and the things that truly matter.
Transitioning to RV Life
This decision came during a time when one job closed for my husband and another one arose. So we did experience heartache and tears before we decided that we could try to turn this difficult transition into an adventure. (Turning lemons into lemonade.)
Before we moved into the RV, we sold or gave away about 75% of our possessions. We knew we were going from 2200 square feet to 400 square feet and that there simply wasn’t space or purpose for many of the items we owned. We rented a 10×10 storage unit for all the things we couldn’t let go of, or would be too expensive to replace. After all, we didn’t know how long we would be on wheels.
What I Learned About Possessions
We have been asked many times about what we got rid of, and if we regret getting rid of any of those things. For some people, it is truly challenging to even think about getting rid of things. Sometimes we can hold worldly possessions with a tight grip because we think they hold memories or may be connected to someone we love or miss. With the loss of my father this year, I understand this conundrum.
One thing I have learned is that things are not equivalent to memories. I don’t have to have the object all the time in order to maintain the memories I have associated with that item. The item itself is not what gives it value but more the people who have used it, loved it, or taken care of it. I keep the memories without the stuff. And to be honest, I really cannot think of anything we got rid of that I wish we had kept.
We used Marie Kondo’s method by asking ourselves, “Do we LOVE this item?” This helped us evaluate whether it is worth keeping or not. This may not always be practical, as sometimes we have to own certain things that may not be overwhelmingly beautiful or nostalgic. But it helps with items like clothing, household items, decorations, and all of those “extras” lying around. If it’s not essential, this can be a great opportunity to really ask yourself if you’re loving the item anymore. It may have lost its “sparkle” or may not be useful in your life anymore.
It is okay to let some things go, or even give them to others if they’re in good shape. We were able to bless some single moms going through financial difficulty with beds and mattresses that we couldn’t sell, but still had a lot of life left in them. Blessing others in this way is something my children and I will never forget.
A Benefit of RV Living
Maybe one of the greatest things about living in the RV was that we were able to take our home with us wherever we went. No more packing bags, no more leaving things behind, no more finding a hotel room we could afford. We literally packed up and went on to the next place with all of our things.
We took a lot of beach trips in our RV and never got tired of parking our house by the ocean and taking on a different city and view. Even in some of the strangest places we camped, we were able to find beauty. Exploring new places has always been a fun pastime for me, but being able to do this with my children made it even more special. Now my kids are excited when we check out a new city or have a weekend away in a place they’ve never been. It is an adventure and not an uncomfortable situation.
If you are blessed enough to be able to travel around the country for a year, this is definitely the way to do it. We were not able to do so at this point in our lives; we were more stationary due to my husband’s job, so our traveling was limited to the weekends and holidays. It wasn’t the most ideal situation for a family of four (with two dogs) living in an RV park during the week, but it was a good thing for us due to the pandemic and job changes. We literally needed to be on wheels for the opportunities that brought us here to Charleston.
What I Took Away From Our Year of Living in an RV
Minimalism is something I never quite understood or appreciated until living in small quarters for a year. It definitely taught us to question purchases and make wiser decisions on what was brought back into our home. It enhanced the true value of gratefulness in my children, and myself. It taught us to look for beauty and adventure in life.
Even though we are back in a sticks-and-bricks house now, we still make much fewer random purchases than we once did. We evaluate if we need something or will use something and if it’s worth the space it will take, and the cost it will incur. We seek beauty, and adventure more now than we ever did before.
We aren’t perfect by any means and still find ourselves with too much stuff yet again, but we also have an easier time saying no to purchases and letting go of things once we no longer need them. We may have been living in a smaller space but our potential for joy-filled living has grown. And for that, I will be forever grateful.