Life Adventures: Path to becoming Digital Nomads - CBiT's Two Cents
Hopefully, by now you’ve read Nic’s blog post on our Path to becoming digital nomads, telling her view of the past few months of our 'Life Adventures.' If you have – great and thank you – if you haven’t, go read it, otherwise my rambling will make no sense what-so-ever.
For context, I need to explain the fundamental difference in the personalities involved. Nic is very spontaneous and a “things will work out” type. I am on the other side of the coin – put a plan in place, make a contingency plan, double check and verify everything – this is how I roll. Not to say I’m inflexible, but having contingency plans for possible changes makes me sleep better at night. I blame that fundamental flaw in my personality on the 30+ years of being in and with the military.
Five Year Plan
Nic mentioned our “Five Year Plan” to going full time. What she didn’t mention was the amount of detail I had in that plan. Estimated amount of money that was needed to retire into the RV, timing of trading in the Jeep so the new one would be paid off or very close to paid off before we hit the road. Timing of a few house improvements to maximize the return on investment, taking some long trips in the RV to figure out what is the optimal packing list, so on and so on. I had the five-year-plan fairly well laid out with dates and events...then I got the new job offer.
I really didn’t expect to get the job since I had a few conditions before I would take it. The biggest condition was that I wasn’t willing to move to the snow belt where the company is based out of. The conversation, which directly lead to the change in the Five-Year Plan, went something like this:
Me: “The position is described as “Remote location” what exactly does that mean?”
Them: “Exactly that, you will not have an office per-se, but will telecommute from your house. Most meetings will be via WebEx, occasional you’ll need to travel the home office or other locations.”
Me” (Slowly having an epiphany) “So…to re-state what you just said….my physical location is irrelevant as long as I can get connectivity to the internet and am able to get to an airport?”
Them: “Yes, that’s correct, but I’m curious at your wording, ‘location is irrelevant.’ Can you elaborate?”
Me: “I own an RV, and based on what I’m hearing, it won’t matter if I’m in the RV or if I’m in a house – as long as I can get on the internet and find an airport.”
Them: “That sounds so cool. Yes, we can work with that.”
And just like that - my grand, thought out, scheduled, and researched Five Year Plan to Full Time RV life went in the trash can.
In her blog post, Nic glossed over a lot of the pain involved in the RV search. When we decided to find a replacement for our original 2005 RV, Big Joe, we spent months researching different makes and models, and agreeing on what options and amenities were ‘must have, nice to have, and wow that’s cool’. But the most important consideration was size. Nic wanted to stay under 30 foot so we could stay in more National Parks and I was pushing 35 foot for extra living space. So, like any other married couple, we compromised. As close to 30 foot as we could get with the amenities we wanted.
But let me clarify why I gave up on the bigger size: she said she didn’t want to drive anything that big and I have gotten spoiled by not driving. In fact, I never drove the Winnebago and have not yet driven Bevi.
Let me jump back in time a little, again for context: when we got our first RV, I drove it. No sexism or question of ability involved, I had a Class C license and lots of experience driving oversized vehicles. But over the years, Nic grew increasingly frustrated as my job interfered with our RV time. Waiting on me to get off work before we could get on the road was driving her crazy, so she started driving the RV. Over time, the conversations about camping went through a series of evolutions:
“All your stuff is in the RV, go shower and change so we can get on the road.”
“We are in Site 54 at Blah-Blah RV park, all your stuff is in the RV, see you after you get off work.”
“Look at this RV campground – it’s only an hour or so from your office, you can commute for a week or so…. right?”
“Only a week off? Bummer - Look, there are non-stop flights from Atlanta to Phoenix. I’ll pick you up from the Phoenix airport.”
So – yes, I caved in on the size of the RV. Napping in the passenger seat is fine with me.
But back to the search for an RV. When we were searching for a replacement for Joe, we ended up with a six-foot by six-foot spreadsheet taped to the wall in the living room listing all the models with all the features so we could do a comparison. Then, when we started our Five-Year-Plan we were able to focus on the ones we had previously excluded due to price, and this gave us the starting point for the renewed search. Of course, Bevi has reversed a problem. With Chief and Joe, we had more weight allowance than we had space to put stuff, with Bevi the opposite is true – more storage space than weight capacity. But we are figuring out the ‘correct’ packing list.
After the fun and games Nic described, we found Bevi, got her home and started planning our ‘Trial Run’ of full time living. We discussed where we wanted to go and decided to go to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina to avoid some of the summer heat, then circle back through South Carolina and Georgia so we didn’t retrace our route and explored new areas. After a lot of internet time, I had the route laid out with most of the parks reserved and confirmed, and off we went.
Driving through the mountains in a 33-foot RV towing a Jeep can lead to a few interesting conversations, like “Hey, I just found out how far the front wheels will turn” in the middle of a hairpin turn on a mountain, or “45 minutes to go 20 miles? Really?!.... Oh, now I understand.” And my favorite “Is this really a two way road?”
Making the Move
As Nic described, our plan to sell the house and move into Bevi was a well thought out, choreographed, six-week plan that ended up being a two-week mad scramble. You really want to test the strength of your marriage – manage a house sell, move out, downsize, and pack-up while working and attending the wedding of your oldest son. It’s amazing how the definition of ‘must keep’ changed over the course of those two weeks as we were moving stuff from the house to storage. My best advice is to A) not do it in two weeks or B) when you think you know how big of a storage space you need, get the next size up.
But it’s done – we are still alive, married, and we are on the road.