By Russ and Tiña De Maris
A common “problem” in making the transition to the fulltime RV lifestyle is STUFF – the stuff that you’ve collected over the years and sits in the attic, the basement, the garage. We hear from plenty of those who are in the planning stages of the fulltime life, and typically the question is: How do I get rid of my stuff? We’ve written on that topic before: having garage sales, wishing the stuff off on relatives, donating it to charity – there are plenty of ways to lighten the load.
But the question we hadn’t heard before is this one: What did you get rid of to enter the lifestyle that you really wish you hadn’t? The question was posted on a discussion forum, and we went through multiple pages of responses. Can you guess what fulltimers missed?
If you said, “Bottom line, almost nothing,” you get your gold star for the day. Here are a couple of exceptions:
“A few decorative items I wish I had kept, ones that were smallish, that I really liked.” Why did they “go” instead of being saved? The RVer hadn’t bought an RV when the old home sold. Not knowing the layout and the size of the future RV made the choices tough.
Hobby materials: One respondent remarked that they had some hobbies that, over time, they just lost interest in. We’re not talking woodworking here, with the need of a utility trailer behind the RV with room enough for the “Shop Smith.” Nope, in this case, the hobbies revolved around small stuff: Knitting, cross-stitch and yoga.
One fulltimer is still kicking himself for having gotten rid of the classic VW that he restored. He says he and his beloved “got rid of everything,” but now – that car just makes him sick. Well, there are plenty of RVers who had a similar “anchor” in their life. So instead of getting rid of the classic ride, they just invested in a car-hauling trailer to tow behind the motorhome. Of those that have done it, one commented that while they enjoy their old ride, towing the trailer restricts where they can travel. Doing any major boondocking away from paved roads isn’t in their travel plans.
Clothing: Some reason, “New lifestyle, new clothes.” After all, I don’t have to go into the office anymore, why on earth do I need a suit? Or, one we liked: “I’m going to winter in the south. Why do I need clothes for a cold climate?” Well, life is funny and has a way of throwing the occasional curve. Yeah, you can show up at a funeral or a wedding in casual, but do you really want to? Having a couple of warm-ups in the back of the closet may spare you the chills when the weather really gets odd in Arizona, but on the other hand, if there’s a nearby Walmart, picking up a jacket, a sweat outfit, even a pair of boots, isn’t difficult, nor particularly expensive.
Furniture: A repeated theme among many now-fulltimers is this one – let’s put the furniture in storage. After all, we may have to go off the road and then we’ll need it for the new house. And just as often repeated – we spent more money on storage to “keep” that furniture than if we’d just sold it to start with, then bought furniture when we needed it. Or the corollary: We paid for storage, went off the road, and when we got our new place, found the furniture was too big, and we had to get new stuff anyway.
The one exception that we heard occasionally was that of furniture with sentimental value. That caned rocker that Great Grampa made. That’s a tough one. Here’s where having a trustworthy family member who wants to adopt it can come in handy. We say trustworthy from experience. We turned over a bedroom set that “came around the Horn by sailing ship,” to a relative, who not too much later sold it and pocketed the money.
Underscoring it all on this subject of making the tough calls as to what to get rid of and what to keep was this gem. Many, many fulltime RVers had a similar story. There were just so many “things” that they couldn’t bear to part with that they either stored or somehow crammed into their RVs. But over time, that “stuff” just somehow seemed to lose its value, and much of it was eventually let go with no regrets. One RVer summed it up this way:
“Within the first six months we got rid of any anything we hadn’t used, or things we figured it would be cheaper to replace later on IF we needed them, than to haul them around with added weight and needed space. Six months later, we did the same. After the first year of fulltiming we found we could open any cabinet, drawer or compartment and actually see inside, without having to dig through stuff. Less is more. One bag in, two bags out. And weigh your rig once a year to keep items in check.”
Keep it simple: Less really is more.