Downsizing our entire lives is coming down to the wire. In some ways right now may be more overwhelming than when we first started a year and a half ago. But we’re getting there.
We decided to go with Bix Wireless for our internet solution. We received our modem yesterday. Set up took less than five minutes. They had already programmed the device and inserted the SIM card before they shipped it. The only tiny glitch was I didn’t know the network name so that took a couple of minutes to figure out. The thing I like about Bix is there’s no contract. So if we get out on the road and this solution doesn’t work as well as we need it to, we can cancel our service. Another thing that’s cool is they are based in Jamestown, Tennessee so we are supporting Tennessee business. Yay!!
We also received our Thetford Porta Potti from Amazon. We decided to go with this for our RV bathroom and remove the typical RV toilet. We will be able to utilize the black tank as overflow for our gray tank enabling us to stay out longer once we start bookdocking next year. Also, Daniel won’t have to deal with the black tank, just the cassette from the Porta Potti. Still probably not fun, but not quite as yucky. Hopefully.
We still have a lot to do. But RV life is getting so close and we probably couldn’t be more excited.
After spending the last year downsizing in our preparation for full time RV life I’ve learned 5 tips that can make the process easier. These tips will work whether you are downsizing your entire life, as we are, or decluttering an overstuffed room
There are also many helpful blog articles and YouTube videos out there if you want to dig deeper into downsizing and purging belongings.
Number One: Start Small
When we first started talking about getting rid of most of our stuff and hitting the road in an RV I looked around the living room and panicked. Overwhelm doesn’t even start to cover the emotion. But what’s that saying? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
That’s how you start downsizing as well. Start with one drawer. Just one. Don’t look beyond that drawer. Once you complete that drawer stop for the day. Celebrate that success. Then choose the next drawer. After a couple of drawers then tackle a whole cabinet. Move from there to a closet, then a room. Maybe tackle a season. For example, can you go through all your fall décor? Do you really need three fall wreaths? Four Christmas trees?
Number Two: Start With Non-Sentimental Items
When you start downsizing don’t start with your grandmother’s china. Just don’t. Start with something very benign. When we started with our first drawer it was the kitchen junk drawer. Easy-peasy. It took me over a month to tackle anything remotely sentimental. Understand that purging those sentimental things will exhaust you. Not just emotionally. A couple of hours of going through sentimental things is enough to wring you out physically as well. Be gentle with yourself. You’ll be grateful if you don’t start with those things. And don’t save them all for last either. Intersperse those tough decisions in between some pretty easy ones.
Number Three: No Maybes
When you start downsizing you’ll want three piles or bins. Only three. Sell. Donate. Trash. Notice there is no Maybe or Later pile. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Maybe becomes Keep. Then everything goes into Maybe. Don’t fall into that trap. In downsizing there is no maybe.
Number Four: You Aren’t Going to get Rich
You might sell some of your stuff. Understand you are not going to recoup your money. You are not going to finance your lifestyle. You are not going to get rich. You just aren’t. That necklace you paid $50 for might bring you a dollar. Maybe. And don’t think you’re going to have a garage sale and get rid of everything. You won’t recover your time. After selling a few things we decided to either donate or trash stuff. Honestly, the quickest way we found to get rid of stuff is to set it out on the curb with a sign saying “Free.” Goodwill is your friend. Just donate stuff. You’ll provide a job for someone and feel a lot better about yourself. If you are really determined to sell your stuff, try resale apps or Facebook Marketplace.
Number Five: Get It Out of the House ASAP
Once you have stuff boxed up get it out of the house ASAP. Those boxes sitting around start talking to you, whispering that they really aren’t junk, you really want to keep them. You don’t. Just let it all go. Get those boxes out of the house. Rip it like a Band Aid.
Bonus tip: set a due date for the downsizing/declutter to be completed. Schedule the tasks.
What tips would you add to this list? Have you ever downsized your entire home or life? How did it go? How long did it take you?
But that NOBO 19.6 spoke to us. Well to me. Daniel liked it a lot. But as soon as we walked through, opened all the doors, looked at the storage, the decor, the floor plan, we both knew. We found THE ONE. Or at least the one we want to start our full time RV life with.
Trying to do the right thing, we took the salesman’s card, asked him to email us a deal sheet, and drove home.
We watched YouTube videos.
We decided we want the NOBO 19.6.
Wednesday afternoon I called the dealership, but our salesman was with another customer. I emailed him that we like the camper, but will need three to four weeks to get our finances settled. I asked him if he would take a deposit and hold the rig for us.
No response Wednesday evening.
No response Thursday morning.
No response Thursday afternoon.
Friday morning I called again.
The NOBO sold to someone else on Wednesday. I almost cried until I heard him say “But we’ve got more on order.”
So not only had they already ordered more of the same RV, one of the new units they ordered is already equipped with solar, which is something we want anyway.
Trying not to sound all trembly and whiny, I asked him if they would possibly take a deposit and hold the solar equipped unit for us.
Yes, it turns out, that is something he is willing to do. And the deposit was about 10% of what I anticipated.
So, while I was fretting for a day and a half, God had a better plan going. You can call it serendipity if you want to, that’s all good. I call it a God Thing.
And I’m grateful, so grateful we’ve found our RV. We should be full time RVers in six to eight weeks.
Until we started researching full-time RV life, I had never heard of Berkey water filters. It seemed like almost every RVer we followed used or wished for a Berkey system. So, I started researching Berkey a little bit.
The first thing I noticed was the price. Holy cow! Not cheap! I put the Berkey out of my mind.
Except I couldn’t.
Everywhere in RV research land-Berkey, Berkey, Berkey!
I realized that in our RV travels we will likely go places that have less than clean water. Which is more cost-effective? Lay out the cash for a small Berkey system? Or miss out on life while laid up with dysentery?
That kind of put things in perspective for me.
Late last fall Berkey ran a sale, which they often do. For somewhere upwards of $350, but less than $400, I could get a Travel Berkey system with the filters and six Boroux water bottles. I saved for a bit and bought the system.
Best. Water. Ever.
Daniel even drinks water now!
Worth. Every. Penny.
The Travel Berkey holds about 1.5 gallons of water. We typically fill it twice per day. Sometimes more, sometimes only once. We keep the Boroux bottles in the fridge with cold, pure, filtered water.
We use this water to cook with, to make our coffee and tea with. Oh, and we drink it.
Once we are RVing we will use it to fill our dogs’ water bowl.
Do you have a water filtration system you love? Have you ever tried Berkey?
To say life changed in the past two months and five days since my last post is beyond understatement. From changes in our personal plans to global upheaval in a fight against a novel virus, nothing seems the same.
The third week of February one of our three dogs had to be humanely euthanized. We’re not talking about details. That’s enough to know.
Another of our dogs required extensive veterinary care which took a great deal of money and time to complete. He is almost completely healed.
We cancelled our Elkhart trip in February due to a predicted snowstorm in that area. We also finally admitted to each other that van life might not be the best RV life option for us, so we started exploring Class C RVs that would give a little more room for the two of us and our two dogs.
Then the novel coronavirus hit our area.
Our retirement savings took a huge hit just like everyone else’s. We began to realize that might be the most minor of changes in our lives for the next few months.
But we decided not to give up on our dream of RV life. We prayed, soul-searched, talked. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried a lot over the past couple of months at the sorrow and fear and inability to know what to do and when to do it.
We took to heart the thought that it’s the RV lifestyle we truly want. The vehicle is less important. With that mindset we decided to go the least expensive route to get us on the road.
Truck and travel trailer.
We’ve narrowed our choices by shopping online. We had toured a few travel trailers during our RV search you know, when we could still go out to shop in person. We’ve done enough research to know we want and what we think we’ll need.
Late last fall we had thought to leave our jobs maybe at the end of March. Now it’s looking to be a bit later. We both work in healthcare, so the timing stinks. But, honestly, now may be as good a time as any to get out of healthcare. Praying about that too.
Regardless of when we leave our jobs, when we buy our truck and trailer, when we sell our house, we are moving forward with our dream and the vision God has given us. Neither of us knows what this is going to look like, but we know who does, and we trust Him.
Downsizing from a 1200 square foot sticks and bricks home to a Class B RV that is only 22 feet long overwhelms me, if I’m honest. We’ve lived in this house since the first weekend of January 2004. Lots of stuff accumulates in that amount of time. Not to mention the stuff from the six years of marriage before we bought our house.
When we decided to downsize and move into an RV full time we knew we had to purge our belongings. We knew we had to be brutal. We knew we couldn’t look at anything through the lens of nostalgia or sentimentality. We knew it would be a lot of work. And, y’all, I mean A LOT OF WORK.
Thinking about downsizing our whole house sends me into a panic. Seriously. I’m not a panic-y kind of person usually. But I did some hardcore hyperventilating the first time we sorted through our kitchen junk drawer. I couldn’t stay focused on the drawer. In my mind that one drawer morphed into an entire house of kitchen junk drawers dancing around me and mocking me. My heart raced. I broke out into a sweat. After Daniel and I went through that drawer I had to stop. It completely drained me.
But other people have done this. People do this every day. Lots of people go through their stuff and declutter at least once a year. How do they start? How do they survive the anxiety and panic? I’m learning how, and I’m going to share it with you.
Remember the old cliché: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It’s that simple and that difficult.
How do you downsize a lifetime from a sticks and bricks house to a camper van? One bite at a time.
Pick one spot, one drawer, one shelf. Daniel and I had the right idea starting with one drawer. I just had to learn to narrow my focus. Instead of thinking about what comes after that drawer and the next one and the next one and the next one, think only about that one drawer. Set that one drawer as the goal. Not the whole house or even the whole room.
Another technique that works for me, especially for spaces larger than a drawer, is to set the timer on my phone for 30 minutes. Purge stuff like mad for 30 minutes. When the timer buzzes, stop. Take a break. Go for a walk. Drink some water. Do 15 minutes of yoga. If you have time after your break, purge for another 30 minutes. So on and so forth.
That’s how I faced cleaning out the closet in our spare room this morning.
In 30 minutes, the closet went from this (which I’m truly embarrassed to share publicly):
From that closet, I took two trash bags full of paper and plastic to the recycle bin. I took a handful of garbage out. Daniel took a box of stuff to Goodwill. I did keep my mother’s old sewing machine which I’ll store at Dad’s house for now. I also have a quilting frame that I will sell. But all of that took 30 minutes. Yes, that room is still a disaster. But that closet, that one space, is clear. It’s done. I don’t have to think about it again.
The 30 minute rule works really well for me. Some people suggest 15 minutes. Others suggest an hour. Find the time limit that works for you. Break it down to small chunks. Focus only on that chunk, no more. Then take a break before facing another chunk.
Do you have any special ways to deal with decluttering? What works well for you? Do you declutter on a schedule? Or are you like Daniel and me, facing years of clutter with only a few months to go through it all?
We are 90% sure we have found our RV! We know we want a Winnebago. This is after a lot of research. We thought we liked the Jayco Alante, but the difference in the look and feel between Jayco and Winnebago is night and day.
Our final decision is months away. Of course we could change our minds before we buy. But we both really love the Adventurer 30T. We love the floorplan. We love the storage. We love the colors inside and outside.
Finding our rig is a big step toward our goal of full time RV life. Huge step.
Found one of my new favorite products on one of my favorite YouTube channels. I love Creativity RV. Her videos and interviews about RV life are some of my very favorite. She’s smart, confident, and fun to listen to.
On one of her videos she talks about hygiene and skin care while living full time in an RV mostly boondocking. With a limited amount of water, bathing, washing your hair, all of that can be a little challenging. She recommended Micellar Water as a way to cleanse skin, especially her face.
I’ve been wanting to try it for a while. I want to have some of these concerns taken care of before we go full time, so I’m trying some of the tips and tricks now to make sure they will work for Daniel and me.
Well, Micellar Water is a definite hit. I’ve used it on my face twice a day for about a week. It does remove mascara with a bit of scrubbing. My face already feels a little less dry and a little smoother. I do still cleanse, but I replaced my usual toner with the Micellar water. Once I run out of cleanser, I will try using only the Micellar Water.