Think Save Retire – Selling Everything and Retiring to an RV

Think Save Retire - Selling Everything and Retiring to an RV

On today’s episode of the Financial Independence Podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Steve from!

Steve initially planned to retire at the age of 40 but after making some drastic lifestyle changes, he ended up walking away from his job at 35.

One of the biggest factors that reduced his time to FI was his and his wife’s decision to sell nearly everything they owned and move into an Airstream.

If you have dreams of spending your early retirement traveling around North America in an RV, this episode is for you!

We dive into the costs of RV life, the benefits of drastic downsizing, and Steve’s advice for anyone who wants to hit the road after retirement!

Listen Now


  • How to shed the golden handcuffs
  • The problem with promotions and the joy of stepping off the ladder
  • The costs of living in an RV full-time
  • Using a health share ministry for health insurance and going to Mexico for dental work
  • Why you should start with a smaller RV than you think you need

Show Links

Full Transcript

Mad Fientist: Hey! Welcome, everybody, to the Financial Independence Podcast, the podcast where I get inside the brains of some of the best and brightest in the personal finance space to find out how they achieved financial independence.

On today’s episode, I’m excited to introduce Steve from

Steve is 35 and just retired in December. And now, him and his wife are about to embark on a trip around the country in an RV. They just sold both their houses, bought an RV—an AirStream actually—and they’ve been living in it for the last year. And as soon as his wife steps away from work, they’re going to start a big trip around the States and just live in it full-time.

I know a lot of people out there have dreams of traveling in an RV after they retire. So hopefully, this episode is going to give you a lot of useful information.

Steve’s story is also very interesting because he wasn’t frugal to begin with initially. But then quickly embraced the whole FI lifestyle and the frugality and really accelerated his path to financial independence.

He discovered this whole scene in his thirties, declared that he wanted to retire by 40, but ended up doing it by the time he turned 35.

So, lots of good stuff to unpack here. So hey, Steve, thanks a lot for being here. I appreciate it.

Steve: Thanks a lot for having me. I’ve been looking forward to it.

Mad Fientist: So, where are you right now?

Steve: I’m in Tucson, Arizona. We’re finishing up our full-time working careers—well, actually, my wife is. I retired in December. She’s retiring at the end of the month, and we’re going to set sail April 1st.

Mad Fientist: That’s exciting! Congratulations.

Steve: Thanks so much.

Mad Fientist: So, you retired at the age of 35. And that was just last December.

Steve: Yup! December 23rd was my last official working day.

Mad Fientist: Nice! How was that?

Steve: It’s really hard to put it into words, knowing that you’re 35 and you’re done with full-time work.

And usually, when I describe this to people, I use the term: “I’m retiring from full-time work; I’m not just retiring.” So, I’m not going to hold down a full-time job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m not going to do anything in the future.

So, I certainly had that at the back of my mind. I’m not just going to sit there bored all day. But knowing that I’m free from having to hold down a job, it just continues to be an amazing feeling.

Mad Fientist: That’s awesome.

And for people that may not know your story, can you just give a little background and give a little intro to Think, Save, Retire.

Steve: Sure! I run the blog. I originally started it about a couple of years ago. I was really dissatisfied with what I did for a living. I worked in IT. And IT pays well, but it also has the ability to just drain the life out of you with the demands and the schedules and the requirements. It’s always there. It’s always this omnipresent thing that you’re thinking about.

Some people thrive under that kind of pressure, but I guess I’m just not that kind of person.

So, to be honest with you, over the last five years, maybe ten years, I’ve been considering a career change kind of in the back of my head. But I never really went down that route because I felt that I had this golden handcuffs on me where the money was just so great. Even though I didn’t really like my job, I just couldn’t get myself to change career because I know my lifestyle would change so much. And I didn’t want that initially.

However, back in 2013, I met my wife (the person who is now my wife. We got married a year later), and we both had a dream of travel. And neither of us drew all that much satisfaction out of your jobs, so it just worked out so well. We put two and two together. And we’ve finally decided that if we save as much as possible, live a little bit more frugally now—well, really, a lot more frugally now—and save as much money as we possibly can, maybe we can quit.

The initial age timeframe was by the time I’m 40. And it’s interesting how this frugal lifestyle starts to snowball. You do one thing, you get used to it, then you do another, then another, then another. And your retirement date just rolls up slowly but surely every single time you make a change. It was so amazing.

Eventually, we just got to the point where, “Well, if we maximize our savings spending to the nth degree, we might be able to get this thing done by the time I’m 35.” And sure enough, it worked out that way.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, it’s been fun to watch your progression. It was first 40, and then I think you dropped it down to maybe 37 or 36.

Steve: Thirty-six, yeah.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, 36… and then you dropped it down to 35. And it happened. We’ll definitely talk about that progression. But just so people know, what’s your job in IT. I know you’re the director of an IT group at age 32 which is pretty impressive stuff. But what did you do before that? And then, what did you do after that once you actually went to a telecommuting role?

Steve: Yeah. I got a degree in IT. I worked the majority of my career just doing programming support roles. I was a software developer, web applications developer for the longest time, writing applications in languages like Java, Javascript, PHP, and things like that.

I eventually got my opportunity to step up into a director role because that role was vacant. The organization I was working for at the time went through a major overhaul in their management structure. And I wanted to try my hand at leadership.

And so, I just kind of assumed that I had the job. And I was actually told, “Pretend you have the job.” I went down that route. I really got exposed to the demands and responsibilities of a true leadership position. This was a director role, so it was two or three levels of management above what I was already at.

So, it was a big step. But I ultimately realized—in short order, mind you—that this really wasn’t for me. All the politics and the management and the performance reviews, that’s not what I like to do.

So, I ultimately demoted myself by moving to another company into the telecommuting role.

Mad Fientist: Nice! And you went back to a more hands-on technical person?

Steve: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So, I was doing database work remotely which is an easy thing to do remotely. I still wasn’t all that satisfied, but it was good enough, and the money was good. So it worked out well.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, it’s amazing. As a developer myself, your whole career, you think you’re either going to work your way into a managerial role as a director or something like that or a manager of other programmers or maybe in a more senior technical role like a software architect or something like that.

And when I realized that I was just going to retire early, it was like this huge weight had been lifted because I loved the programming aspect of it and I hated dealing with people and I hated being the go-to guy that needed to deal with critical software bugs. Both of those trajectories were not appealing.

But then, yeah, when I was like, “Well, this is probably my last job ever anyway. So what’s the point of working my way up the ladder? I make good money as a programmer, and I love that aspect of it,” that’s what I ended up doing.

I don’t think that would’ve happened if I haven’t found early retirement and financial independence.

Steve: Yeah. I wrote an article a year and a half ago titled something like The Awesomeness of Not Being Important at Your Role. I went through the same kind of thing. I went to work, I did my job, I went home. I didn’t care about raises and promotions.

I mean, there was still a little bit of stress naturally because you are holding down a full-time job, but it certainly was not the level that it was before. It was an awesome feeling!

Mad Fientist: That’s fantastic! I’ll link to that in the shownotes. I actually haven’t read that one yet, so I look forward to reading that after this interview.

Steve: Oh, awesome!

Mad Fientist: And your wife, she’s a rocket scientist? Is that right?

Steve: Yes, yes. She’s an actual rocket science which is kind of cool to say even though she doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal. It’s kind of cool!

Mad Fientist: So, she’s in the same sort of position. She doesn’t really like it? Or she likes it, but she’d just rather be traveling with you?

Steve: Yeah, exactly. She gets a little bit more satisfaction out of her job than I do. She really likes her team and the people that she works with. But yeah, if it’s that or a lifetime of travel or not having to worry about a full-time job, she definitely chooses the latter.

Mad Fientist: Cool! So, she’s only got about a month left, you said?

Steve: Yup! The last day of March is the last working day, then we set sail for a while.

Mad Fientist: Cool! And we’ll talk about setting sail and what that actually means. But I want to dive back in to how you went from 40 to 35 because that’s a pretty nice jump especially considering you’re probably in your thirties at the time when you started making all these decisions?

Steve: Yes.

Mad Fientist: So, I definitely want to dive into that.

But I also want to point out that you weren’t really naturally frugal. Is that right?

Steve: I wasn’t horrible, but I definitely was not frugal. That is a correct statement. I mean, I made a lot of mistakes, a lot of financial mistakes. The year that I graduated from college, I blew half my salary on al ’99 Corvette convertible.

Mad Fientist: Nice!

Steve: Yeah. It was fun, but it was such a money pit.

Mad Fientist: And you ended up putting like $25,000 on top of that to soup it up, right?

Steve: Oh, yeah. I put a [00:10:01] and supercharger on top. It looked great when you popped the hood. It sounded great. GHL Straight Through mufflers, headers, race cam, twin-disc clutch, [Forge] 390 rear end. It was a monster car, but it broke a lot. Fun to drive, but it’s just not…

I mean, eventually, I got to the point—I think the water pump broke yet again. I was like, “Okay, as soon as I get this towed and fixed, this thing is gone. I am done.”

Mad Fientist: Nice! So, not naturally frugal.

Steve: No.

Mad Fientist: And you said 2013 is about when you sort of realized…?

Steve: That’s about right.

Mad Fientist: And what was the catalyst or were you just searching online and stumbled across Mr. Money Mustache or Early Retirement Extreme or something like that?

Steve: Well, when I first started my career, my dad had mentioned something to me. He said, “Some people are on the 10-year plan.” And at that time, I didn’t really give it much credence. Some people live a traditional life. You buy things, you get nice cars, nice homes. And then, you retire in your sixties just like a traditional lifestyle in this country. But some people choose the 10-year plan where you just save as much as you can and retire in 10 years.

That’s always been at the back of my head, but I didn’t want it bad enough.

Then I met my wife. We like to travel. Initially, when we got married, I was like, “Oh, cool! We can have two salaries now instead of one. We can go out to eat. We could do $100 dinners every month” and that kind of thing. But this nagging, I don’t know, element in the back of my head, it never went away. It kept surfacing.

“But you don’t like what you do. You don’t like what you do. You don’t like what you do. There’s got to be something else to your life than just working and spending money.”

And in 2013, once we combined finances, yeah, we could spend a lot, but what if we saved this instead, how early could we retire?

And that’s when I went online. It was mainly the Mr. Money Mustache blog. I liked how he wrote. I liked how he kind of bashed society a little bit—a little bit passive-aggressive here and there. That’s just the kind of writing I like. I really connected with that. It just snowballed from there.

Mad Fientist: Nice, okay! So, it was 2013, you make this declaration that you want to retire at 40. How did you bring it down so quickly? You said that the frugality started snowballing. Can you just take us through how that actually looked?

Steve: Yeah, initially, it was maybe we don’t go out to eat as much or maybe we cancel cable, television or magazines, those kinds of things—the easy stuff. But the more we got into it, the more it’s like, “Well, we don’t live with this, maybe we don’t have to live with that either.”

The more frugal you live, the more you get used to that lifestyle. And you are willing to accept more and more and more. You’re actually learning to live with less. And the more you do that, the easier it gets to live with less.

We walk the dogs every evening. We talk about what’s going on in our lives, our future, and where we want to be, and more and more, a life of travel, a life of experiencing things rather than just spending money. That was a recurring them in our discussion.

Originally, we wanted to move to Sedona. Sedona, Arizona is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The Red Rocks are absolutely spectacular. But it’s very expensive to live there, and we still wanted to travel even if we did move there.

We kind of went in a circle from just relocating to a relatively expensive area to “What if we don’t live anywhere permanently, and we just move around from place to place? So what do we have to do to put the pieces in place to get to that point?”

I think that’s really where the extreme—and I use that term loosely—frugality really comes into play. If we really want this bad enough, let’s sell both of our homes. Let’s get into this AirStream or RV, whatever we wanted at the time. I don’t think we initially wanted an AirStream. We just wanted something that was mobile.

So, yeah, selling both homes, not spending money on anything that isn’t absolutely critical, and your retirement moves up fast.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, definitely. So, I’m assuming, in 2013, you weren’t saddled with a bunch of debt or anything. Maybe you’ve had mortgages on the houses or something?

Steve: Mortgages, yes. I think I had an auto loan at the time. But other than that, zero credit card debt my entire life. That was something my dad drilled into me from a teenager. You never, ever, ever let credit card debt rise. So, I certainly didn’t have which was nice.

Mad Fientist: Nice! So, how long did it take to really unwind your previous maybe more consumerism lifestyle, and start unloading the houses and the cars? Is there any other big things that you sold to help increase that net worth and lower that spending?

Steve: Yeah, really home subscriptions to either magazines or cell. We don’t upgrade our cellphones every year like we used to. Things have become a lot more simple. And I almost get a high every time I get rid of something that I used to spend money on that I used to believe brought me happiness that no longer does. It really is kind of a high for me. So, I almost like… I like doing it.

And when we shut ourselves of our second home—I owned a home, and my wife owned a home (we sold my wife’s first; mine, second)—once we got rid of my house which was our remaining home, it was this feeling of ecstasy. I’m no longer tied down with a mortgage or tied down to a location. I don’t have to worry about renters. That was just an amazing feeling.

And I think I got used to that feeling over the years of getting rid of stuff. And I just couldn’t stop.

Mad Fientist: I couldn’t agree more. When we sold our house, it just felt so good not to be tied to that place and have complete freedom.

Steve: For sure.

Mad Fientist: So, I assume you sold or gave away most of your stuff or do you have a big storage unit somewhere hiding all your belongings from two houses?

Steve: No. Yeah, we sold (or gave away) probably 99% of our things. My brother-in-law made out like a bandit. He got a lot of our stuff that we didn’t want including computer parts and things like that.

We do have some things stored, maybe a container or two of stuff at my in-laws place in their garage. But other than that, we just got rid of everything. We don’t miss a thing of what we used to have.

Mad Fientist: Oh, that’s so good. We haven’t even touched on this yet, but maybe tell everybody where you’re talking from now, and what you’ve been doing for the last year?

Steve: I am sitting inside of our 2005 AirStream Classic. And we’ve lived in this AirStream full-time since April 1st, April Fool’s Day of 2016. So, we’ve almost lived in here for a full year now. We went from a 1600 sq. ft. house to a 200 sq. ft. AirStream with very little storage.

The initial transition was—I don’t know, I guess it was a little intimidating. But there was also an element of excitement in it. And the one thing that I think is remarkable is how quickly we get used to our living arrangement.

It took about a week or two for us to get settled into our new routine. But honestly, every morning, I wake up, I don’t even think about the fact that “Man, I’m only living in 200 sq. ft. I want a house again.” I don’t think I’ve ever thought about that. You just fall into your routine. You don’t think about it. And you find happiness in whatever situation you happen to live in.

Mad Fientist: That’s really cool. And yeah, you have some good YouTube videos where you show a little bit of the AirStream. And the way it’s laid out, it does—I was trying to imagine myself living there. And it’s totally fine. It looks like there’s plenty of space to do everything that I currently do. And it seems like it would be pretty comfortable.

But were there any freak out moments where you’re like, “Oh, shit! What have we done?”

Steve: Nope! It was more like, “Oh, shit! Why didn’t we do this sooner?” We don’t have the backyard or we don’t have a tool shed or those kinds of things. But there’s always a way to get around that. You take what’s important to you. We have some storage in the truck. That’s where my tools sit.

So, really, everything that I want, I have here. I just may not be to the degree, to the volume that I might have in a larger house. But neither my wife or I have regretted this decision at all.

Mad Fientist: Oh, that’s great to hear. So, you’ve mainly been just in Arizona, is that correct, because your wife is still working?

Steve: Yes, yes.

Mad Fientist: So, have you a monthly lease or parking space? What’s the situation there?

Steve: We’re at a camp around here where we rent by the month, which means it’s a certain price for your “rent,” but then you also pay for whatever electric you happen to use on top of that. And that’s really it.

Everything, 100% of your monthly expenses just goes to the camp ground.

Mad Fientist: And you just got some solar panels installed too, so that should bring down your electric?

Steve: Oh, yeah. Granted, it’s the winter, so electric will be a little bit lower anyway. But the last three or four months, we’ve paid a total of $8 in power usage.

Mad Fientist: Wow! That is pretty good.

Steve: Of course, solar is not cheap. And we certainly did not install solar to save money in the long run. We installed solar for the flexibility of being able to boondock and live absolutely free out there in the middle of nowhere and still be able to generate our own power.

Mad Fientist: That’s really cool! So, how much does your monthly parking place run, the monthly fee that you pay the camp ground?

Steve: Yes. Here, it’s $775 a month which is actually pretty high. But we’re at a “resort” camp ground. It’s really nice. We have citrus trees. I have an orange tree right behind the AirStream. There are lemon trees around. There are pools, hot tubs, laundry facilities. So, it’s really a self-contained almost like a city in here.

This is definitely one of the more expensive places to stay. But we’re okay with that expense because we are still working full-time—well, my wife is now, but we both were through 2016. So, we were certainly okay with that expense.

But yeah, once we retire, we won’t pay anywhere near $775. In fact, we probably won’t stay in a campground more than half the month any given month.

Mad Fientist: And while you’re in the campground, do you use their showers or things like that or you try to stay within the AirStream itself?

Steve: I used to stay within the AirStream itself, and it was perfectly fine. There was no real problem with that. But while I have the nice shower facilities, I might as well use it. So yeah, I have been using the showers here, and of course, the hot tub and the pool, things like that. We’re paying for these amenities, so we might as well use them.

Mad Fientist: Sure, sure. Absolutely.

So, utilities are a lot lower, your rent, reason (and will be a lot lower once you hit the road). And I’m assuming that an AirStream and a truck to pull it is cheaper than a normal house, is that right, depending on what truck you’ve got?

Steve: Yeah, especially if you buy a used AirStream. When this thing was new—the AirStream that we’re living in now—when it was new in 2005, it was probably around $130,000.

Mad Fientist: Oh, wow!

Steve: …which was really expensive. And new AirStreams today are around that same price, even a little bit more expensive.

But we got in, AirStream and truck, for I want to say $65,000, maybe $70,000.

Mad Fientist: Oh, wow! Okay…

Steve: So, yeah, it’s definitely a lot cheaper. And you can go cheaper than us. You certainly don’t need to buy an AirStream. You can go buy a $10,000 trailer and a $5000 truck too. You can make it significantly less expensive than the price that we paid. But we happened to like the AirStream. We liked the design. It’s like this classic RV in America. We like that feel. And it’s well-built. So we thought the cost was worth it for us.

Mad Fientist: Cool! Yeah, that’s actually less than what I would’ve expected I think. My grandparents, when I was young, they always used to have those massive tour bus-sized RV’s that must’ve cost a fortune—which were a lot of fun to go on trips with them with, but it must’ve been a fortune.

Have you had any issues towing it or has that been relatively easy?

Steve: It’s been so easy.

Mad Fientist: Has it? Oh, good!

Steve: We have a Dodge 2500 HD, and it pulls it like there’s nothing behind it. We have a nice hitch too. We have a $1300 hitch that we bought used. So that helps a lot with the towing, the quality of towing, and not being blown around in the wind and things like that.

Yeah, it’s been nothing but good times so far.

Mad Fientist: And how about gas mileage on something like your set up with?

Steve: When we’re on towing on relatively flat roads, we’re looking at between 10 and 12 miles a gallon which isn’t bad for towing a 10,000 lb. But when I’m not towing, I get between 15 to 16 depending on how I drive.

But my parents, by the way, lived in an RV for 13 years full-time. And they did have one of those buses, those huge 42 ft., three slide-outs. And they got I think 3 or 4 miles a gallon in that thing. So, big difference. Big difference.

Mad Fientist: That’s good. So, are there any other costs that I may not be aware about? Or is that pretty much everything?

Steve: Well, there’s insurance, and there’s healthcare. But other than that, I think you’ve covered everything.

Mad Fientist: So, insurance, is that quite expensive on an AirStream?

Steve: No. Actually, it’s quite cheap. It’s a few hundred every six months. And it’s about the same for the truck. So, we’re in the $600 to $700 every six month range. That works okay for us.

Mad Fientist: And then, healthcare, what do you plan to do after your wife leaves?

Steve: That’s something that we thought about a lot. We’ve toyed with co-bring for the first year, but that may or may not be worth it.

What we’ll probably end up doing is going with one of those health share ministries. We’ve gotten some feedback from other RV-ers who have done the same thing. They recommend—I don’t remember the company off the top of my head. I think my wife remembers.

But there’s a particular health share ministry that doesn’t require a lot of beliefs and how you live your life which some health share ministry do. But this one is pretty laid back and it’s relatively inexpensive. So, we’ll probably go that route and spend, I don’t know, $150 or $200 for our healthcare.

Mad Fientist: Oh, that’s not bad. Have you written about that at all?

Steve: Not yet because nothing is official. Once we actually sign on on the dotted line, I’ll probably write about that to let people know exactly what we’re doing. And we probably won’t get dental insurance at all. We’ll just go down to Mexico and get our dental work done there. We have many recommendations from dentists right across the border. And they’re set up to work on Americans who just jump the border and go right back. So, that’s probably what we’ll end up doing for that.

Mad Fientist: Nice, cool! So, your wife’s got a month left, and then you guys are hitting the road. So, what does the future have in store for you?

Steve: Well, the first two nights, we’re going to spend at the Cato Peak which is just north of Tucson. It’s an area that we wanted to visit for a long time. But that’s really on your way up to the northwest. And that’s where we’re going to spend our first summer.

We’re going to start in Utah actually which is where my folks now live. And then, we’re going to go out to the Oregon coast and spend the majority of our summer there.

Mad Fientist: Wow! And then, is everything open-ended after that or do you have some tentative idea?

Steve: Yeah. Well, my wife might be conned into coming back to work for four or five months because her team really, really, really needs her. So, what we’ll probably end up doing is spending the summer in Oregon, and then meandering our way slowly back down south. And we may spend this coming winter here in Tucson as well.

But other than that, we don’t really have any hard and fast plans. In fact, we have campsites reserved for holidays which is when you actually do need to have something reserved for the holidays. It’s when everybody that has any interest in camping or RV’ing goes out and does that. So you definitely want a spot to stay in there.

But yeah, things are very, very open-ended, especially in 2018 and beyond.

Mad Fientist: That’s cool! And working for five to six months, that would be pretty fantastic I think. I just had my first really vivid work dream last night—or I should “nightmare.” I had this dream that I went back.

When I left, they were like, “Oh, we’ll give you letters of recommendation or whatever if you need them.”
And obviously, I haven’t been in touch because I’m not getting another job, so I haven’t asked for them.

So, my dream was that I went back just to see everybody. And then, they thought I just couldn’t get a job, so they felt so bad that they hired me back on. And I was trying to say, “No, I don’t want the job.”

Steve: “No, I’m good. I’m good.”

Mad Fientist: But then I ended up having it. And yeah, I was working again. And then, I woke up this morning, and I wasn’t working, and it was even better.

Steve: It’s like a nightmare averted.

Mad Fientist: Exactly! So, going back for five or six months, and seeing what you’re not missing is probably going to be a really cool experience and make 2018 even more exciting.

Steve: Exactly! So, technically, what she’s doing right now, she’s taking a sabbatical. She will be out with me traveling until October. So, once I guess this time 2018 rolls around, then it won’t be a sabbatical. That will probably be it.

And it’s always nice to have another five months of income coming into yourself.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, yeah. That will make the transition a bit easier and less stressful I’m sure.

And then, do you plan to stay within America or are you hoping to go South eventually or is that still really just not been talked about too much?

Steve: Well, we have two dogs. So, while we have our dogs with us, we’ll probably stay in the Continental US maybe, maybe Canada. But we’re certainly not going to do any overseas traveling until our dogs are no longer with us.

But once that happens, then definitely South America. In fact, Costa Rica is a country that we hit on our hit list; Thailand as well. So, yeah, we definitely do plan to travel internationally once we don’t have our dogs with us.

Mad Fientist: Cool! So, for anyone out there who’s interested in this sort of life, is there any advice you would give or are there any resources that you used as you’re preparing to transition to this lifestyle that you would recommend?

Steve: We just went on a lot of RV forums, and just kind of listened to what people are talking about what problems they’re having, what advice they have. But really, there’s only so much that you can do. You really do learn as you go.

I guess the one bit of advice that I would have especially as you’re buying things to start this lifestyle is the first RV you buy, whatever it happens to be (whether it’s a trailer or a fifth wheel or a motor home), I can guarantee you, that will not be your only RV. In fact, you will probably find many reasons to upgrade (or downgrade) for that matter in the very near future.

So, don’t spend your life savings on your first RV. Just get a relatively inexpensive RV that works for you, get out there, and just live with it. See what you like, see what you don’t like. And you’ll probably be changing in the relatively near future.

If you can, buy something a little bit smaller than you think you need, do it. The smaller, the better when it comes to camping. Especially when you want to get out there in the middle of nowhere and boondock, in the middle of the desert or the wilderness or whatever, the smaller your rig, the easier job you will have to actually get there.

And some camp sites even will not allow RV’s longer than—30 ft. is generally the cut-off with some of these RV parks. So, definitely the smaller, the better with RV.

Mad Fientist: Cool! And to define boondocking, that’s just staying out in the middle of nowhere without any sort of plugs or anything like that.

Steve: Exactly! No hook-ups, no water connection, no sewer, no power. So if you have solar, you could certainly generate there. If you have a generator like a Honda 2000, then you can generate your own power that way. But there’s nothing to plug into. You are literally parked out in the middle of nowhere with no communication around you…

Mad Fientist: …and no rent.

Steve: Exactly! Zero rent. That’s the key.

Mad Fientist: So, what have you learned over the last year? What do you think your next RV would look like?

Steve: If anything, it would be a smaller RV. We have a 30 ft. AirStream that’s, like I said, about 200 sq. ft. But if we were to change this thing out, it would probably be something in the 25 or maybe 28 ft. length. So, we would definitely go smaller just so we can get to more places.

But we don’t really have a good idea about that yet because we’ve really only stayed in one place, this RV park here in Tucson. Once we start traveling, we’ll get to know some of the camp sites a little bit better—where we can fit, where we can’t. So, we’ll have a better idea of what we would upgrade to (or downgrade as the case may be) later on after we do some traveling.

Mad Fientist: That’s awesome. I can’t wait to read about all your adventures once you hit the road full-time. It’s going to be fantastic!

I usually end all my interviews just asking: “If you had one piece of advice for someone who’s hoping to achieve financial independence, what would it be?”

Steve: One piece of financial advice I would have is you need to want it bad enough. That’s it! Once you want it bad enough, all the other pieces just fit into place. You’re motivated to downgrade your cellphone or not upgrade your phone every year. You’re motivated maybe to cancel cable or satellite TV. Maybe you don’t need ESPN, maybe you don’t need the movie channels, things like that.

If you want it bad enough, the pieces often fall into place. If you don’t, then it’s probably going to be a little bit more of a struggle.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. So, if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way?

Steve: Well, my blog, On Twitter, it’s @ThinkSaveRetire. We also maintain the YouTube channel that you mentioned earlier. I do have a Think, Save, Retire YouTube channel, but the one that we maintain more is called aStreaminLife. That’s “stream” without the G at the end. So, StreaminLife. That’s where we document our RV adventures and film the majority of what we do on a daily basis.

Mad Fientist: Cool! I was getting sucked into some of those videos today actually. They’re really good. What kind of camera did you use for that, just curious?

Steve: I have a Sony A6000 digital camera. It’s very small, very lightweight, and it works well.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, it looks really good. Cool! I will link to all those things in the shownotes. But Steve, I really appreciate you taking the time today to talk with me. This has been great. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there with an RV dream, so this is going to be a lot of good information.

So, good luck making the transition to the full-time on the road in a month. I can’t wait to see where you guys go.

Steve: Thanks so much for having me.

Mad Fientist: Alright! See ya! Take care. Talk to you soon.

Steve: Alright! Bye.

Mad Fientist: Bye.

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14 comments for “Think Save Retire – Selling Everything and Retiring to an RV

  1. JC Webber III
    May 16, 2017 at 9:41 am

    We did the same thing! Although we had to wait until I was 57. But waiting that long allowed us to build up a $1.5M portfolio that allows us to live the dream with minimum financial worries. 8^)

    It’s been a great 10 years so far. We intend to continue on the road for at least another 5 years. In the meantime we are looking at houses in San Miguel Mexico for our winter retreat, while still traveling north during the summer in the RV.

  2. Al Ortiz
    May 16, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Wow! Awesome.

  3. Dawn
    May 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    RV life in Europe really appeals to me. I wonder if that’s a thing

    • T. Hall
      December 1, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Yes. Plenty of folks travelling around in RV’s here. Ex-East bloc countries can get dangerous… robberies consist of stealing the entire RV and occasionally result in rape/murder. Italy and Spain are safe. The chances of robbery are 99.9% but they only steal the contents in your RV, and they generally won’t kill you. France, Germany, and Austria are nice, safe, and not too expensive. Scandinavia countries are fantastic, but a 12 inch pizza and Coke will set you back 40 euros… which is like $47.00. A gallon of diesel is about $8.00. A speeding ticket doing 20 kmh over the posted limit costs $1,400. If you leave a traffic circle without signaling, the police will shoot your tires out. Now to the rigs themselves: The RV’s rarely, (and by rarely I actually mean never), have A/C, micro-waves, or generators. They all have diesel engines with manual transmissions… no automatics, no gasoline. The toilets do not have black tanks. They are the cassette type, which means you have to detach the cassette and pull it along behind you as you do the walk of shame to the dump station… and the dumping process can be nauseating. You will find vomit on the ground from those who tossed their cookies….next to some errant poo clumps that missed the hole. Rinsing the cassette out afterwards can result in some splash back. Not really a Giorgio Armani experience. Smart people were a filtered nose and mouth mask, safety goggles, and rubber gloves that extend to the elbows. No real show stoppers though. Europeans have a more relaxed relationship with feces, than the average North American does. Here, it’s not unusual to not be fully potty trained until you’ve completed the third grade. At any rate, the European RV experience is alive and well. The best is 60 kilometer traffic jams that last for 9 hours. Then you can drive for 3 hours until you hit the next traffic jam. That’s when an RV shines and becomes really convenient.

      • Yvonne
        March 19, 2019 at 8:51 pm

        Love this! I was in tears reading your comment!

  4. Parker Bernet
    May 16, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Terrific insight for those who aspire to hit the road in a recreational vehicle – or who have thought about it in a daydream. Appreciate Steve’s openness about the costs and benefits of the RV life. It’s very helpful and instructive. All of us who want to become FI benefit greatly from the practical advice and guidance that the Mad Fientist, Steve, et al. give so generously here and elsewhere. Many thanks!

  5. Gigi
    May 16, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Great idea. How do you handle mail, medical insurance etc. while you are traveling?

    • TR
      May 19, 2017 at 10:07 am

      I handle almost all my bills on autopilot–online account access, automatic payment. Many bills people normally are related to your residence anyway.

      Mail, I’m not sure. Probably to a friend/family with permanent address.

  6. Aussie Firebug
    May 16, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    I dream of doing something like this when traveling. Really insightful.

    Great episode

  7. Wanda Fox
    May 17, 2017 at 8:50 am

    We did it 5 years ago, Sold it all an took of. It’s Wonderful as we have a Home Base in Florida where we bought an RV Lot of the Gulf of Mexico. We Live in our Fithwheel and Travel I’m our Motorhome which is in on Site Storage in the Resort. It’s not for everybody we enjoy the Lifestyle. We had been RVing for 10 years prior to doing so. We hadaFive year plan and it all fell into place. I was 55 an my husband 52. That was 5 years ago. Some people Travel Full-time and others have a Home base and Travel all during the year..I suggest before anyone makes the Lifestyle Change to an RV that you are experienced with RV’s and do your research. RVing and Loving Life! Doing it our way!!!!

  8. MoveModerateMotivate
    May 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Great article. I dream of a lifestyle like this sometimes, but I feel like having 2 kids would make it a bit tough. I agree that removing certain material things from your life feels 1000X better than adding them in.

    • Ninja
      May 17, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      I agree — very appealing, but with kids seems like a nonstarter. School, friends, lessons, activities — all prohibitive to the mobile life. There’s homeschooling, I guess…

  9. Dave
    May 19, 2017 at 9:36 am

    I enjoyed the interview with Steve. It sounds like it will be an amazing adventure living in the airstream.

  10. Andy
    August 25, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Hi I was going through the show notes and couldn’t find the link
    The problem with promotions and joy of stepping off the ladder.

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