I think everyone totally understood my vagabond lifestyle when I was traveling as a nurse, but now that I have decided to stick around an area more permanently, people just assume I’ll put down roots in a traditional sense. I mean, that’s what you’re supposed to do. Especially if you’re a middle-aged mom, wife, and working professional. For those reading this who are unfamiliar with my lifestyle, my family and I travel in an RV. The craziest part? We do it by choice.
When my husband, three daughters, and I were traveling across the country while I worked at different hospitals, I suppose it just made sense that we’d move place to place in our fifth wheel. It gave our children a greater sense of stability having the same bedroom wherever we went, and we had developed a “home is where you park it” kinda motto. But ever since I announced the decision to stop travel nursing and sign on as a staff (permanent) nurse at a specific hospital, I’ve gotten the same question over and over.
So, are y’all gonna buy a house now?
My answer is always the same, and though it may shock those who inquire, when I explain my reasoning, they get behind me with it. You see, I’m not buying a house. We’re going to keep living in our RV. That’s right, five people in 500 square feet, and nope, we’re not crazy.
If I’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that much of the life we create is out of habit rather than necessity. We choose the life we do because that’s the way it’s always been, or the way it’s supposed to be. Folks get married, get pregnant, buy a house, buy a bigger car, and subsequently buy bigger debt with their bigger “more successful” life. It’s as if happiness comes on the back of mortgages and car notes, or that contentment comes only by checking a certain box on the “I’m a grownup now” worksheet. Yet when we build a bigger, better life, it usually comes with not just a larger price tag, but also a truckload of stress. So, I guess you could say, we create our lifestyle, yet we also create our stress. Or much of it, anyway.
From our personal experience, we found the bigger lifestyle (as far as square footage and belongings go) created a bigger sense of urgency. I had more dusting and laundry. My husband had more yard work and “honey do” lists. We both certainly worked more. For us, it just seemed like the lifestyle that society had always told us would make us happy only made us more rushed and busy. Traveling in an RV wasn’t just a convenience for work, but rather a decision for future happiness. And boy, did it exceed our expectations.
We found that we could live happily in 1/4 the space we had become accustomed to in our prior, traditional lifestyle (let’s call it living in a sticks and bricks). Turns out we didn’t need even half of the stuff we sold or gave away when we downsized. It’s actually not just a way to cut down on material possessions and re-evaluate what’s important in life, but it’s also a great way to payoff debt! Cause debt is crippling, am I right?! When I tell people my monthly living expenses (in a popular and large metropolitan area) are $200 a month (yep, that includes my utilities), they’re usually like, “yeah, I think I’d stay in the RV too!”
The fact is, a happy life isn’t built on two stories and a white picket fence. It’s built around the ones you love. It’s not held together by how much you have, or even how it looks to those on the outside, but rather by the ties that bind you. For us, that’s time together, less time working, and more time enjoying ourselves. It’s less time running here and there, and more time simply enjoying life. It’s less stress and more smiles.
So, while our circumstances have changed, our priorities have not. We don’t stay in the RV for necessity with traveling, but simply because it’s worked so far. Why change anything? Will we buy a house in the future? Perhaps. But it will be small. This tiny life fits us just fine, and I’ll tell you a secret. Going small has given us big happiness.