A lot of people have asked what made us sell up, quit the jobs and decide to live in a motor home…the answer is….read on.
My husband, Kev, had a telecommunications business, which he was a 50% partner in. He loved his job and always said that even if he won the lottery that he’d carry on working.
I had been temping as a Personal Assistant to a Director in the NHS, and absolutely loved my job and got on great with my boss. The problem was we both loved travelling. Not going on holiday, but travelling around exploring different countries, cultures etc. Our trips started as 2 weeks, then 3 weeks. We’d travel approximately 3 times as year, but when we got home, we just wanted to book more trips.
Kevs business was very busy and he was working through the day “on the tools”, then coming home and doing quotes, invoicing etc. He was 56 years old and was fed up of going to work, coming home and working again. We knew too many people that had either died too young or had gotten ill and we’re unable to fulfill their dreams.
We didn’t want to wait until we retired at 67, to “start living”. By this age you don’t normally have the energy, the health etc to be able to do what we wanted to, and who knew if we would survive until this age. Life is no rehearsal, you get one chance to make yourself happy, so why be like you’re supposed to be, and work until retirement age and save your money to maybe find you’re not in a fit state to enjoy your retirement?
Kev’s mum always said we were “pisspotical” haha. It translates as impulsive…I think. Yep that’s us. We’d never driven, ridden, or sat in a motorhome but Kev was determined to live in one. I wasn’t against the idea, I just didn’t want to sell our house. It was where we got together as a family, for bbq’s, parties etc. He was adamant he wanted to sell and enjoy the money from the sale of the house.
After looking for motorhomes for 2 years, we decided to bite the bullet and go for it! Kev had already quit his job, sold his half of the business to his partner, who agreed to pay him off over 3 years. This would be like a salary for him. He still did some sub contract work and was happier…for the time being.
I had just accepted a permanent position within the NHS, my mum was now living in a retirement home as she’d suffered from a stroke, and couldn’t live alone any longer. Was this the right time to throw caution to the wind and leave the life I knew behind? There would always be an excuse to wait. Wait until we retire, wait until the grandkids are older, wait until mum is settled. My mum loved travelling and told us not to put our life on hold for her, she did it for her mum and didn’t want me to do the same. I appreciated this and assured her I wouldn’t be far away and would come and take her off for weekends with us.
So we put the house up for sale and started looking seriously for our home on wheels.
The house sold in the November of 2016. We didn’t find our motorhome until January 2017. Sadly my mum passed away in December 2016 so she never saw “b” (our name for the motorhome). My mum’s name was Barbara, “b” (not B) for short, so we named our home after her.
We sold/gave away practically everything we owned. I bought all new quality camping pans (that stack into one another), decent quality melamine plates, cups and bowls, plastic cooking utensils etc. Everything is lightweight as your whole life is in the motorhome and you are restricted to weight. Not a lot of people check this out when buying a motohome. Every motorhome has a factory weight, that it starts it’s life with. It’s then safety tested to see how much weight it’s can carry on each axle. Some manufacturer’s only leave enough weight for 2 passengers, fuel and water….no clothes etc. It’s ridiculous. You have to account for a TV, gas bottles, bike rack, TV aerial…and that’s before you add any personal items, food, passengers etc. Be warned if looking for one…you NEED a decent payload (the weight you can add to the vehicle).
Now..what type of motorhome do you go for? People say German are good makes and I agree. They’re very sturdy but we never found any European models that offered a big living area. I wanted to be able to lounge on a sofa and watch tv. I didn’t want an overcab bed, or a french/traverse bed. I was positive we needed an island bed so I didn’t have to climb over Kev in the night if I needed the loo 😂.
What did we end up with? An overcab bed! Haha. It means the rest of the van is living space and we don’t have to keep making the bed up every night. We love it!
We’ve bought a small 2 bedroom house, from the proceeds of the sale of our house, but this is because it returns the best interest rates. If we decide after 10 years that we’re too old to travel then we could live in this house, but then again we may move to Wales to be nearer our daughter.
The thoughts that go through your head when you’re planning on going full time can be scary. “Where will we park?”, “Will we have to live on campsites?”, “What if we don’t like it?”. The answer…. “who knows?” Haha. We didn’t have a clue where we were going first. It ended up being in the car park of the retirement home that my mum used to live in! They said we could stay whilst we filled it up with our clothes etc. The day the house completed we flew to Eastern Europe for 5 weeks and we picked the motorhome up on our return. We still had a car, so after filling the motorhome we went to a garage to get a price for it. We ended up selling it there and then and the garage dropped us off at the retirement home, and took the car. Yep…pisspotical 😂.
Our second night was spent in a working mens club car park (we did ask first, our friend knows the Manager). The following day we drove to Wales and spent the weekend in the Brecon Beacons with our daughter. She loved motorhome life with us 😊.
We ended up doing a LOT of house/pet sitting in the first year. We didn’t charge, just asked for food to be left for us. We were saving the owners a fortune in kennel fees, and it was a roof over our head and a chance for me to get a bath. I don’t mind showers, but most women prefer to lounge in a bath, I think.
Some were very generous and left us enough food to last whilst they were away. Others left enough food to last 2 or 3 days, and we were walking their dogs and looking after/cleaning their house for 2 weeks. We loved all the pets we looked after though.
We have decided to take a year off from house sitting but have offered to do it again next year (2019) in the summer holidays. We’re already booked up for July! 😀
So we’re currently in France for 4 months, but where do we stay when we’re in the UK? Anywhere! Haha. We’ve stayed outside my son’s house, my mother and father in laws sheltered housing car park, outside my friend’s house. We once went drinking near my son’s and we just slept on the street, in a quiet area, not far from the pub. 😉
If you’re planning on the going full time, here’s a few things I’d recommend as “must haves”.
- Good security. Get a door bar so no one can open the doors from the outside like this. A lock for the habitation door that you can lock from both inside and outside. Get an alarm installed. It’s your home, if it gets stolen you’re homeless 😣.
- A small spirit level (to help get the van level)
- Levelling blocks – also used to level the van. Don’t worry about makes, they all do the same thing!
- A plastic washing/airer to hang out of the window, to dry your smaller items of clothing.
- Shampoo/shower gel container that glues to the wall of the shower (saves having loads of bottles everywhere and saves on weight) from this website.
- Plenty of storage space…remember you’re not on holiday, your life will be in the van.
- A full cooker/oven….for the same reason as above.
- Patience….you need this more than anything if you are to live with someone in such a small space! You can’t walk around at the same time, you always have to wait for the other person to finish at the sink, in the bathroom, in the wardrobe etc.
The good thing about living in a motorhome is that if you get bored of a place, you drive on to somewhere else. You don’t pay council tax, your gas bills are very cheap, and if you have a solar panel and extra leisure battery you don’t need much electricity.
You do need to have a contact address. This is needed for the insurance, DVLA, bank etc. We have some good friends that let us use their address. Most of our correspondence is now via email so it doesn’t pose a problem.
The only thing we can’t fit in the motorhome is most of our clothes. As you would in a house, you need seasonal clothes. We store our excess clothing at a friends house and go back and forth when the seasons change, but mainly just for Summer or Winter clothes.
We have adjusted quickly to van life. Do I miss our house? No, not at all.
We went backpacking around Patagonia for 3 months this year. I really missed the motorhome and a bath, but not bricks and mortar. I can call at any of my friend’s houses if I fancy a bath though 😊.
Since we have moved out of our home, it’s amazing how many people have said “If you ever need a bed or bath etc, my home is your home”. A lot of people think we’re crackers, whilst some envy us. We quite often hear “I’d love to do what you’re doing, but the wife/husband wouldn’t” or they want to do what we’re doing but don’t have the bottle to do it. Some I can understand can’t afford to do it. We were lucky. We bought a big house, when they were cheap, and made a good profit. Kev took the chance to work for himself in the 80’s, not knowing if he was taking a risk with having a young family. The risk paid off, he worked hard and the business became a success. Without these factors we couldn’t afford to do what we’re doing.
Whatever your dream is, don’t just dream it, make it a reality. You never know when you will leave this earth.
In the words of Mark Twain….
20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the tailwinds in your sail…Explore, Dream, Discover.
We have a huge sticker on the side of our motor home that says
WE TRAVEL NOT TO ESCAPE LIFE BUT FOR LIFE NOT TO ESCAPE US
My mum’s moto was “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. This is also on the back of our motorhome.
These are now our moto.