How to move into an RV – We did and are now living the RV life! This is a story to inspire you to move into an RV or follow your dream, whatever that may be.
We did not move into an RV because of COVID – we took the step two years ago because we were done with the city, done with the stress of 9 to 5, and done with being static. It was time to get out of Dodge.
Now, because of COVID, many people are looking at the option of either moving into an RV or using one as a way of heading to the hills on their terms. We get it! It’s time to get away (even if only for a moment). So, whether or not you are looking to move into an RV, need a respite from the world, or looking to create another dream entirely, we hope our story both inspires and guides you…to whatever your dream may be.
We are Ken and April Pishna, 50-year-olds with two adult sons, a mortgage, bills to pay, and no trust funds or wealthy relatives to take care of us. We are what you would call typical middle-aged parents. Some might think we are going through a midlife crisis, but if this is a crisis, it’s the best damn crisis we’ve ever had.
How did we create this crisis, and how do you create your own?
Each person will have a different story. We’re sharing ours hopefully to inspire you to start yours.
Rewind…12 years ago
Zakk, our oldest son, had just graduated high school. Owen, our youngest, was 10. I had just started on my teaching degree. Ken, our constant, reliable rock had been working as an online editor for six years.
And all of us had a dream of moving from Denver to the mountains.
Did we make it to the mountains? Nope! Life got in the way. We did put our house on the market. We even found a couple of places we were considering; if only our house would sell.
It didn’t sell. We didn’t try harder.
Zakk moved out on his own after high school, Owen moved on to high school, and they both created lives of their own in Denver. We remained in our house. Life happened, and we continued to dream of the day.
Over the years, the call of the mountains kept getting louder, and finally we couldn’t ignore it, so I started looking for a job. I could not find the right fit, the right money, the right location, the right anything.
Fast forward 11 years
Zakk, now 27, renting our basement. Owen, turning 19, starting his first year of college. I had been teaching 5th grade for the past five years, but now had started my 6th year as a teacher moving on to teaching middle-school aged kids at a new school. Ken, still our constant, reliable rock, had now been working as an online editor for 15 years. We were both working too much.
I was getting frustrated with life and work. Ken was getting frustrated with me. We were in limbo. No job for me; no move to the mountains.
We had a turning point, then. It pissed me off that we had to rely on somebody else to give me a job to dictate where we live. That was it! We both knew the only for sure thing we had always wanted to do was travel, so we decided to travel. It all starts with a decision. Honestly, neither of us quite remembers where the RV idea came from. We had a pop-up camper in the past that we rarely used. We were tent campers. We knew nothing about RVs and never thought about owning one.
Regardless, the thought came from somewhere, and we fell for it…hook, line, and sinker.
How to move into an RV – Finances
After listening to a few podcasts (huge shout out to Heath and Alyssa Padgett from the RV Entrepreneur and Jason Moore from Zero to Travel) and Googling anything that even closely related RV life, including the possibility of an RV rental, our unrealistic dream began to transition to something real. Within a couple of weeks, we came up with a plan, if you can call it that. It went something like this:
- Refinance house
- Pay off bills: credit card, school loan, car loan
- Have some money in savings
- Buy RV
- Rent/Sell house?
- Ken continues working
- I teach online (I did not want to do this, but what else could I do?)
- Set a date to leave – 1 year from now
- What about our kids?
The only dollar amount we pre-determined was how much money to get back from the refinance to allow us to pay off bills, have some savings, and buy an RV. After doing some half-assed figuring, thankfully we had enough equity in our house to get back $70,000.
- $35,000 to pay off my school loans
- $10,000 to buy an RV
- $10,000 to pay off car
- $10,000 to keep in savings
- $ 5,000 to pay off credit cards
We never looked into the actual costs of RV’ing full time. We just knew we wanted to do it, so we set the plan in action, imperfections and all.
We had no idea about:
- Health insurance
- What exactly are we doing with the house
- Where will our kids live
- Internet connectivity on the road
- How to compensate for my loss of income
- How to maintain an RV
But at the same time, we had no big fears, no huge doubts, no voices yelling not to do it. We had encouraging words from our kids, and contrary to what you may hear, nobody thought we were crazy. Maybe they knew this about us long before we did.
How to Move into an RV – Timeline
This was our timeline – you need to create your timeline that fits you. Everybody plans differently, travels differently, and has a unique vision for their life. Follow that. This is simply an idea to get your brain thinking, to finally get your motions set in gear. Do it!
By the end of October, we signed papers to refinance our house.
By the end of November, we bought RAIF, our RV. We searched on Craigslist, RV stores, and we talked to everyone we knew. We were talking to family about our plans, and lo and behold…“Hey, I have a friend who is looking to sell their RV; you should come check it out.” And so began our imperfect search for the perfect RV. We visualized ourselves in each RV, cooking dinner, writing blog posts, hiking off in the distance with the camper receding from our view, welcoming us back from a rigorous mountain bike ride.
Which one welcomed us home? Which one called our names? It was most definitely RAIF. (Click here for the cool story of how our camper got its name.)
We have the RV, we have the money (sort of); now, how do we maintain money?
Ken kept his job, but we both have dreams of being entrepreneurs, so in December, we did a lot of thinking, more so than when we decided to move into an RV. We brainstormed all kinds of ideas: teaching, videos, martial arts, beer, RV life, people, beer, website names, products, food, people, beer, beer, people…Ken finally hit on an idea that felt true to us and our personalities. We planned on highlighting people living full lives. We have found that many great conversations occur while having a great beer. So we decided to combine the topics and eventually create gear, podcasts, videos, and more around our love for interesting people and our passion for good beer.
Living a Stout Life was born. Done. Not yet!
We then purchased this name for every social media aspect you can think of: Facebook, Instagram, a website, Pinterest, YouTube, everything! Then, we created business cards and more. The process is still ongoing.
While we knew we were doing this, our family knew we were doing this, my boss did not. And that is what made it real for me, when I told him in January that I wasn’t coming back the next school year. I do love teaching, but the stress of it, especially this past year, has taken so much from my life, and knowing that I can now create anything has changed everything.
Ken was away in January for a week in the mountains, and fate had a reason for that. I was sitting at a brewery after hiking with my dog, just wasting some time on my phone, when I came across an email from my favorite podcaster, Heath Padgett, about only two tickets remaining to something called an RV Entrepreneur Summit in Texas. Intrigued, I clicked the link and was hooked. Are you kidding me? A group of entrepreneurs who live in their RVs get together to help others do the same? It was like the biggest sign ever. When the hubby’s away, the wife will spend money. I bought the tickets, told Ken we were taking RAIF on his first trip to Texas, used all of my vacation time, and counted down the days to February. We found our tribe!
Before and after the RV Entrepreneur Summit (click here for our adventures there) in February, we took RAIF on little mini trips in the mountains near Denver. We stayed overnight at trailheads, at a brewery parking lot, and we cooked dinner for friends after a cold wintery midnight hike. We got to know RAIF like going on dates, even though we were already committed. We tried out the heater, the water tank, the stove, the steering, the black tank, and more. We found leaks to be fixed, heaters that wouldn’t keep heating, and valves that kept leaking. We still haven’t figured out everything.
In April, we asked ourselves a very important question. Why are we waiting until October? So, we upped our launch date to June 5. Throughout the summer, we would stay in Colorado to not only make sure we were all set, but to also make sure our kids were set. In August, we will be heading towards Maine and then down the East Coast, and from there, only the future knows.
In the meantime, we only had 60 days. We really had to get moving, and we took this as our chance to not only get serious about downsizing, but also to get subscribers to our website. We decided to do a 30-day launch campaign and get people to sign up for a daily email about how to move into your RV with 30 days to go. While that has definitely passed on, we’d love it if would subscribe to receive our weekly email. We’ll keep you both entertained and informed about the craft beer travel lifestyle with recommendations, stories, and fun tales of our adventures.
As our launch date neared, we decided there was a lot of wasted space above the cab, so we tore out the entire frame and left it empty until we figured out what to do with this new space. In May, this became a priority. What Ken did with this space is nothing short of a miracle. We now call it our spare room, as it can sleep an extra person or store whatever stuff needs stored.
Did we make our launch date of June 5? We did…barely! At 9:30 the night of June 5, 2018, we left our house of 26 years to our boys and two of their friends. We arrived at our first destination, a mere 80 miles southwest of Denver just before midnight where we stayed for five nights, while turning RAIF into an actual home and figuring out internet access, cooking breakfast outside, working throughout the day, mountain biking in the early evening, enjoying a good beer after dinner, and breathing in the fresh mountain air…with no idea where we were headed next.
Did we know everything yet? Only everything that mattered!
What will your story be?
RV Statistics (RAIF)
Don’t quote me on these.
- 2003 BTouring Cruiser – self contained motorhome
- 23 feet, 9 inches in length
- 38 gallon fresh water tank
- 30 gallon gray and black water tanks
- 6 gallon water heater
- 11 gallon propane tank
- 55 gallon fuel tank
- GVW 11,500 pounds
- Full bathroom
- Sleeps five
First Nine Days and Nine Nights of RV Living Costs:
- Gas $80 fill up
- Propane $35 fill up
- Lodging – boondocking for six nights and three nights at RV park in Fairplay $120
- Food $120 at the grocery store – could have lasted us most of the nine days, but we like to eat out
- Entertainment – $200 including eating out, visiting sites, and drinks (we splurged about on eating out and drinking since this was our first week – it almost felt like a vacation)
- Annual Income $43,000 (half of what we are used to, so this number is still a bit scary)
- auto insurance (car and RV) around $350/month
- health savings of some sort (again, not sure yet what this will be, but it has to be less than the $900 month I was paying while working)
- Campgrounds, RV parks, various lodging (we boondock 20-25 days out of the month) – $100 month and usually less
- Gas – fuel and propane – $25 month for propane and gas – ha! A lot! When we first started traveling we covered about 300 miles a day and moved about every three days – now, two years in, we generally travel about 150 miles a day and move about every week. We get about 10 miles to the gallon.
- cell phone and internet (our kids will continue to be on this plan) $300
- Entertainment – varies
- Food – varies, but obviously will be beneficial to shop at grocery stores and cook at home – this works well most times, but we love going out!
- Beer – Our business is beer, and while sometimes we don’t have to pay for it, this breaks the budget every time. Life is about loving it, so this is perfectly fine! Actual figure? I don’t want to know.
Update on RV Living
It has now been just over two years, since we’ve moved into RAIF, and while life is definitely not all rainbows and unicorns, I would say those things hang around quite a bit. When we first headed out into the unknown, we had no idea we would weather a pandemic (Who would ever have thought that?), but it turns out living in an RV during this made life much simpler and quite a bit easier, in spite of the unknowns of a pandemic.
We also never knew we would run into such a wonderful community of people, with many of these people becoming family. One of the hardest things about living while traveling is missing family. And while we do miss our family back home, we have created more family through our travels.
So, whether or not you are just renting an RV for a vacation, temporarily living in one to get through this craziness, taking a sabbatical, or living in it full time (or following another dream, entirely) the entire journey is made better through the people you will meet along the way. Yes, even in the world today – especially in the world today – it is worth saying hi to a stranger. They might just become family!
Need help getting started on your journey to your best life? Check out our friends at Integrated Natural Health, where they will co-create an action plan with you to lead you down your path to make your someday your nowday.