Downsizing sounds great when you think of cutting your bills or finding a temporary solution to economic uncertainty, but…it isn’t as easy as you would think. We’ve been out of the travel trailer for over a year, and our small house still feels huge. With that said, I have seen some recent media advocating the travel trailer/RV for solving the unemployment & repossession issues.
It is small–that means very little fits IN the new space. Storage of items is expensive, and we learned something along the way.
So what were those lessons?
Mostly to just not bother. Donate, sell, giveaway, or throw away all of that stuff. Have you got heirlooms that won’t fit? Do the same thing. It’s a lot easier than paying the storage bill, risking losing the items due to inability to pay the bill, or retrieving it only to discover it has been ruined in storage due to insects, rodents, humidity, or temperature changes. Out of the stuff we had stored in our storage unit, the vast majority is simply not fit to be used. Clothes smell musty and it won’t wash out, leaving them as havens for allergies and useless for future use. The same goes for linens.
Furniture finishes were ruined, along with fabrics, and there were no leaks in our unit. That was simply the South’s natural humidity going to work inside of a hot, enclosed space with items that weren’t being used or moved.
We also discovered that we had a number of items that we paid to store, but we also ended up having to buy another one of simply because we needed it during the 2 years of storing stuff, but it was logistically impossible to find it in the storage unit. Paying to store the old item turned out to be a waste.
You have got to become a minimalist when in a travel trailer or you will end up with too much stuff in the trailer, resulting in no room for YOU. That goes for everything from clothing to groceries, and yes, that means over time, you will probably spend more for items because of the inability to keep out-of-season items.
The easiest way to cope is probably to stock your trailer/RV with the necessities, then get rid of everything else in the house. Sure, it means that your local charity is going to get a lot of stuff, even if you have the time and energy to have a yard sale. It also increases the likelihood of you staying sane!
Learn to prowl thrift shops, yard sales, and flea markets to buy things you need. Why buy new when it’s highly likely that the item is going to be donated soon?
Remember, for everything you buy while living in an RV, you have to get rid of something, and that goes from a new frying pan to a book to a t-shirt. You cannot be a pack rat. You don’t really NEED 16 dress shirts anyhow!
Give everyone sharing the space with you an allotted portion of space for “personal items”, and make sure they understand that everything has to fit there, from their clothes to their musical instrument. It may seem rough at first, but when you get used to it, it will become second nature.
My advice is to also not have a larger travel trailer than your vehicle can tow. I’m serious in that–we had to rent a truck to tow ours, and it was a serious pain. Also go with the smallest space you can manage–it’s a lot easier to find places to park smaller RVs and trailers. At 30′, ours was too large for most spaces.
Learn how to maintain and repair your RV. Things WILL break, from plumbing to leaks appearing in the roof. Repairs are expensive enough without paying for labor and waiting for someone to do it too. Know your RV so that you are able to recognize small problems before they grow into huge ones.
Learn to utilize “borrowed” spaces for holidays and entertaining. This can be outdoor space, parks, restaurants/coffee shops, or even a motel room. You don’t have room for diddly inside.
Forget a desktop computer. There isn’t room. Don’t delude yourself that there is.
Oh, and your relationship WILL be affected, even if it is incredibly strong and you are both very tolerant. Cram that tolerance into an anorexic section of space, and it will be tested. That doesn’t mean its impossible though! We got married halfway through our stint in the travel trailer, and we’re still happily married, marking five years of co-habitating. Bad weather, forcing you to remain indoors will be among the toughest time in an RV. Learn how to give your partner space when you have no space to waste.
Got kids in one? I have to admit, I don’t think I could cope with more than one child, and that child would likely have to be very young for me to tolerate child rearing in that cramped space. I can’t give advice there either–I’d have to imagine it. I’m a grandmother now, so it wasn’t an issue for us, other than it wasn’t possible to do the sleepover at Grandma’s house routine. Instead, we’d sleepover at THEIR house.
Learn to adapt and roll with the punches. People living in RVs tend to be either OCD neat nuts or adaptable. I’m not a neat nut, I’ll confess. We did adapt. But I am also not sorry to relocate to a small house, even if it wasn’t what we’d hoped for! We adapted there too–I wanted either a “historical” house to live in or something rural, and even entertained the idea of DIY micro-house, but in the long run, we opted for cheap & livable to avoid the mortgage situation. It’s not ideal, but we do adapt.
If you can’t adapt, if you can’t give up the “stuff”, then you can’t do the downsizing to an RV either.