Moving Back To A Fixed Home

This was where I launched IO from. My last fixed address before hitting the road.

This was where I launched IO from. My last fixed address before hitting the road.

Don’t worry, I’m not giving up RVing yet. This is just an intellectual exercise to lay to rest one of the fears I hear from prospective full-timers on occasion: how easy would it be to go back to sticks ‘n bricks living after being a full-timer?

People who are contemplating getting off the road probably already have a place in mind that they want to live, either a location they fell in love with while traveling, or back where friends and family are. But before making a final decision, there are a few things you want to consider. Even if you were familiar with this area before becoming a nomad, things could have changed in the time you were gone.

1. Look up cost of living statistics for that area to make sure you can afford living there.

2. If you’re still working age and are not remote or self employed, do some research into the job market to ensure there are options available to you.

3. Check the rental and/or housing market for availability in the price range you’re willing to pay. If you didn’t keep furniture in storage or in safe keeping with friends or relatives, remember you’ll have to figure the cost of replacing it into your initial investment.

4. You also might want to look into crime statistics, shopping options, climate information, school districts, tax load, insurance costs, and healthcare costs depending on what’s important to you.

Aside from the obvious to-dos like finding a place to live and a place to work, when you settle down you’ll need to get a new driver’s license, register your vehicle(s), locate a new doctor (if you’re working, might want to wait until your insurance coverage kicks in first), fill out a change of address form with the postal service, and notify all your correspondents of your change of address. Wait a few weeks after your move until you cancel your mail forwarding if you’ve been using one of those services, to catch any straggling mail that got sent out before you officially changed addresses.

When looking at these considerations, going back to a more traditional living arrangement is very similar in scope to when people living in a fixed location decide to move to another state. If you want more detail than what I’ve listed here, you need only ask advice from those who’ve moved states before (if you’ve never done it yourself).

The biggest difference will be instead of the hassle of hiring a moving truck and packing and unpacking all of those belongings, you’ll have the hassle of acquiring the essentials needed to make your new home livable.

If you’re pressed for time or money, there’s no rule saying you have to get your new digs completely furnished and decorated right away. Look for bargains in thrift stores and places like Walmart for now, and upgrade to your own tastes over time. If you can’t get all the furniture needed right away or if your new home needs some work before you move in, stay in your RV in a nearby park while you get things settled.

Handing your RV once you’ve moved into your new home is also easily done, you’ll just need to locate a place to store it at if you can’t store it where you’re living. Once everything is out of it, you can sell it or keep it for part-time use as you wish. Just remember to switch your RV insurance to part-time use if you keep it.

So as you can see, it’s certainly not impossible to go back to sticks ‘n bricks living after being a full-timer and you can take comfort in the fact that people who move across state lines do something very similar.

But what if your move is due to a hardship situation? Remember that motto: where there’s a will, there’s a way.

As an example, a full-timing friend of mine had her tow vehicle break down beyond hope of repair in a location she was unfamiliar with.

Luckily, she broke down not far from a mutual friend of ours, who was more than happy to put her, her pet, and her belongings up while she figured things out. I say it frequently and I’ll say it again: people in general are friendly and willing to help as long as you’re courteous and don’t take advantage.

Her defunct tow vehicle was hauled away and junked, she hired a tow truck to take her trailer which was still in good condition to a storage lot. Then she put an ad up in Craigslist to sell the trailer, and used some of those proceeds to rent a car to take her back to where her family lived several states over.

I can’t stress enough the importance of having an emergency fund in case of situations like this, my friend was able to pay the towing bills for her van and trailer because she had one and also paid her share of the groceries while she was getting the trailer sold. The more you can set aside the better, but even $500 can fix some kinds of mechanical problems, rent you a car, buy you a plane ticket, hire a tow truck, get you an RV spot, or pay your bills and groceries for a few weeks.

My emergency fund is $5,000, enough to fix many problems that could occur with my truck or trailer, but in the event of a catastrophe where my rig was completely lost, it would be plenty enough to get me and my stuff back to friends and relatives up in Wisconsin, and give me enough to live on for a month or two until I could procure a job.

Have any questions about this topic, advice you’d like to give, or experiences you’d like to share? Comments are always welcome!

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22 Responses to Moving Back To A Fixed Home

  1. Terri September 7, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    Phew, I was worried you were really moving back home for a second there, but I was like “wait, Becky wouldn’t do that just yet!!!” When reading through this post, it reminded me of all the details I needed to take care of when moving from a stick and brick apartment to my RV out here (which is kind of like a stick and brick in that I have a permanent site to keep it on) but not completely the same as all of my other moves, in that I had to get rid of everything, rather than figuring out how to pack it and move it.

    Emergency fund – its importance can definitely not be overstated. I so totally agree. My number is higher than yours but I’ve got all the pets, too. As I found out this past summer, their bills can definitely add up, and quicker than you like. But it’s comforting to know you can take care of it when it does happen, without it being a major problem that throws you back into the throes of debt.

    As always, a wonderful post, Becky. Love your writing style.
    Terri recently posted..HappyMy Profile

    • Becky September 8, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

      Yes Terri, I bet your moving situation shared a lot of similarities to this, except your hassle wasn’t moving stuff or buying stuff, but getting rid of stuff instead. 😉

      And I think you’re wise for having a bigger emergency fund. The more things that could potentially drain your money, the more money you should have set aside for emergencies. I myself plan on increasing my emergency fund when I adopt, being a former vet tech I understand just how costly a pet can be. I hope yours are all doing well now!

  2. Misty September 7, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    Haha, yep. 🙂

    I will point out that it can be difficult to find a rental property wiling to take you if you haven’t lived in a rental for awhile, and don’t have a job lined up already, even if you have significant savings. Just the fact that I was self-employed made a lot of places refuse to even consider me. And NO ONE was willing to talk to me remotely. The one place I did talk to fell through before I got there. I took a leap of faith and drove out here anyway, and it ended up working out for me, but I’m not sure it’s for the faint of heart.

    It would have been far better to have the trailer to live in while I looked for an apartment (my original plan), but c’est la vie. It all worked out in the end! 🙂
    Misty recently posted..How to fight a lack of motivationMy Profile

    • Becky September 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Misty, that’s certainly something to consider for people looking to rent after getting off the road.

      (For any who are curious, Misty is the friend I was referring to in the post who’s tow vehicle broke down, she knows her stuff!)

  3. Jodee Gravel September 8, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Lots to consider for folks wanting or needing to make that transition. We only know that wherever we land we want a small place, can’t imagine ever going back to a big place with lots of stuff!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Moses Lake – Where a Stop-Over Becomes a Nice DestinationMy Profile

    • Becky September 8, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

      Me either Jodee! That last townhouse I lived in (with Julie as a roommate) was over 1,100 square feet on two floors, never again. We never even used the living room or dining room when we lived there, which is part of what convinced me I’d be okay in a small space to begin with. 😉

  4. Theresa September 8, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    Like Terri I was worried when I saw the subject of your post! I’ve been following your blog for several months and would’ve been very disappointed if you had decided to give up rv’ing. I’m planning to follow your example at the end of 2016 and I hope to meet you out on the road one day. In fact, if you’re ever in Austin, TX look me up and I’ll buy you lunch! Keep up the blogging and traveling, you’re living the dream!!

    • Becky September 8, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

      Heya Theresa,

      Sorry to have given you a scare. I volunteered at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area at the beginning of this year which isn’t far from Austin at all, it’s a lovely area. I’ll be in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for Amazon which is still a ways away, but I’ll keep you in mind.

      And yes, if nothing else it would be great to meet up with you on the road later!

  5. green September 8, 2015 at 11:14 am #

    Paying rent to a friend for a place to hook up can be a nice option.
    It feels good to have a base camp and still be able to explore.
    I discovered a love of horses…

    • Becky September 8, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

      Glad you’re having fun Green.

      And yeah, I’ve crashed with friends before when I was in a pickle, always a great option if both parties are amenable to it.

  6. Jim Schmechel September 8, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    The title of your post had me worried, and curious!

    My Grandma was recently awakened from a deep sleep, and felt the need to tell me that I am supposed to get a small parcel of land and farm it. A couple of days before, a friend of mine told me the same thing.

    So, I believe my days on the road are numbered. While I don’t imagine going back to a 9 to 5 life, I can see myself settling down at some point. Life on the road takes it’s toll. Or at least the way I roll it does!

    I have seen so little of this country, I’m not sure if I could decide where to settle right now. If I wanted to be close to friends and family, it would be Wisconsin. But the winters are oh so cold and long……

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..BaptismMy Profile

    • Becky September 8, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

      I met a couple at Amazon one year who’d spent a year as a part of a close knit community that farmed for their living, which had the benefit of not having to buy the land although a person would need to make sure they got along with the other members of the group. It was a much simpler way of living and they enjoyed their time there.

      Whatever you decide to do in the future I wish you the best of luck. Heck, might as well try everything you’re interested in at least once, or you’ll never know what your “best” life might look like.

  7. Jerry Minchey September 9, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    Becky,

    You used the phrase, “when I adopt” in one of your comments. Having a pet and living on a tight budget don’t really belong in the same sentence.

    My brother just spent $1,800 for surgery on his dog. One of his friends just spent $5,000 and one other person I know just spent $15,000. Yes, when your pet gets sick, you can choose to have them put down instead of spending the money, but would you do that?

    When I lived back in your old stomping grounds in Hilton Head Island, SC, the local humane society had a program where you could go and borrow a dog for an afternoon and take him for a walk. You could even take him home for a weekend. I did that a lot.

    I like animals, but owning one is a big gamble. Just my two cents worth.

    • Becky September 9, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

      Trust me Jerry, I went to school to be a veterinary technician, got my certification, and then worked over four years in the field before I started traveling, my best friend still works in private practice as a vet tech. I definitely understand the costs, and that’s why I told Terri up above (right where I mentioned adopting in fact) that I’ll be increasing my emergency fund when I do, maybe you missed that part?

  8. frugalrvgals September 11, 2015 at 7:23 pm #

    Emergency fund is huge. Sounds like you would have some where to go if your rig was a total loss. If someone didn’t have some where to go wonder how large the emergency fund would need to be? I struggle with that perfect figure. I am still not full time and working those details out. It becomes a comfortably factor which is hard to gauge.
    frugalrvgals recently posted..Spring Fed Swimming Pool – Balmorhea State ParkMy Profile

    • Becky September 12, 2015 at 9:42 am #

      There are so many factors to consider that I doubt there is a such thing as a “perfect” figure frugal. It’s all a matter of probability in the end. For instance, while during my three years on the road I’ve never had a repair bill of more than $1,000 yet, there are certainly things that could go wrong that could cost more than $5,000. But the probability of that happening isn’t high, so I don’t worry about it.

      Take into consideration what’s most likely to break down on your rig and what it would cost to fix, what your monthly cost of living is, and how much you can afford to set aside as an emergency fund right now. If you can’t set aside as much as you would like to, make a plan to add to your emergency fund a little at a time until it’s where you want it to be.

  9. Linda Sand September 17, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

    I am fortunate in that I love Scandinavian style furniture. So when we came off the road we shopped at IKEA for basic furniture then had it all delivered to us. Easiest move we made since we were newlyweds almost 48 years ago and moved into a furnished place.

    • Becky September 19, 2015 at 11:39 am #

      Nice Linda! I have several friends who swear by IKEA, their stuff does have a neat style.

  10. Bill September 18, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    Be aware, for the catastrophic pets health situations, there is a pet medical plan you can get on. Just google it, I think ours is called PetsHealth. Very reasonable cost and is there if you need it.

    • Becky September 19, 2015 at 11:40 am #

      I’ll look into when when the time comes Bill, thanks for sharing.

  11. Jess June 6, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

    There are places which allow long term parking for a nominal fee, near cities where jobs are plentiful. There are quite a few here in Louisiana and they’ll run about 300-400 a mth (all inclusive). Renting a long term spot and living in your RV while finding a full time job would save tons of money as opposed to renting an apartment, and while you are now stationary, you can still take your rig out camping on the weekends.

    • Becky June 7, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

      While I wrote this for those who no longer want to live in an RV, that’s a good strategy for someone who hasn’t tired of living in it but wants to settle down Jess.

      I stayed in RV parks with monthly rates for the 4 months I lived in Cas before I started traveling, and while I was working a temporary job at Lowe’s my first winter on the road. Now, monthly rates will vary a lot depending on what state/city you’re in and whether the park is a resort or not, but it’s definitely worth looking into.

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