Fabgrandpa and I lived in our RV for more than 13 years. Over the years, I have had many people email me or private message me on Facebook, asking me how we got started workamping or how we prepared for our life on the road. So, because so many people want to know, I am going to try to answer that question today.
Way back in 1995 or 96, I came across a news group online that was all about camping. In that newsgroup, there was a thread that came up about full time living in an RV. Before I saw that thread, it had never occurred to me that people actually did that. I was hooked immediately. I wanted to sell the house that day and go out to see the world. Well, at least the US. It took me a couple of years to convince my husband that we wouldn’t starve or go broke by doing that.
So, in 1999, Fabgrandpa and I had an estate sale, and sold almost all of our “stuff”. That included furniture, household goods, yard equipment, and our pop-up camper. And then we just sat in the empty house for another year or so. In July of 2000, I was talking about just doing it again, and Fabgrandpa told me to shit or get off the pot. So, I called a real estate agent and put the house up for sale. I thought I would have a couple of months to get ready to go. Ten days after I put the house on the market, I was sitting at the closing table.
It happened so fast! When we got a contract signed on the house, we called the RV dealer we had been talking to for over a year, and told him we were ready to buy the Starcraft travel trailer we had been looking at. He said he had sold it. It would take sixty days to get another one in. I started calling Starcraft dealers around the southeast, looking for another one. We found one in Sylacaugha Alabama, about 90 miles from our house. We drover over there and put down our earnest money on that one. The day after we closed on our house, we drove back over to Sylacaugha to pick up our trailer.
While it all sounds so quick and spur of the moment, it really did take some planning to get there. We had talked about how to get rid of our things for over a year. When we finally decided to actually do it, we called an estate sale company to handle selling the things in our house. They said we were their first “live” customers. The estate sale people had us put the things we wanted to keep in one room of our house, so that they wouldn’t be sold. We had to go through all the closets, drawers, and storage places in the house to pull those things out. Going through family photos and Christmas ornaments took the longest time. It was so sentimental, and hard to do.
On the day before the sale started, the estate sale people came to our house. They set up lots of folding tables and put all of our things on them throughout the house. On the day of the sale, they asked us to leave, because it would be easier on us if we did. I think they were right, too. The sale went on for two or three days. At the end of the sale, the estate sale company kept a percentage of all the sales, and gave us the rest.
Even though the estate sale got rid of a lot of things, there was still a lot left in the house. We had two moving sales after that. And then were there was still stuff left in the house. We called The Kidney Foundation, who came out and picked up everything except an upright piano. I called several churches in the area, offering the piano as a donation, but no one would come to get it. I finally decided to just leave it in the house, and told the buyer if they did not want it, they could roll it outside and burn it. Finally, everything was gone that needed to be gone.
Before we put the house up for sale, we went to visit a campground that was ten miles from the house. We asked if they had a monthly rent plan, and if they ever used workcampers. They told us how much the rent would be by the month, and said that they did use workcampers. They hired Fabgrandpa, and he started to work there the day after we moved in. They paid him an hourly salary, and comped the rent for us as well. It was a pretty good start to our workcamping career.
We stayed at that first campground for about eleven months. I had a job in Atlanta, so I just continued to work at that job until I was laid off.
If you are thinking of living full time in an RV, I know you must have questions. You can leave them in comments, and I will answer them in the next How to Get Started Workcamping post. Do you see yourself living in an RV fulltime? When do you want to do it? Do you have a plan yet?
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