Life in Kansas City – Downsizing and Family Time

May and June have been busy months as we occupied our time with family and getting the homestead ready to sell.  For those already on the road I’m sure this will bring back memories. For those thinking about, or in the clutches of preparing for a life on the road, my advise is get started as soon as possible. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do this in less than a couple years.  Although the prize of freedom is quit large and certainly is a motivator.

Officially I’ve left our take off date as November 1, 2019. However we got to thinking; does it really make sense to leave as winter is starting? Especially as we want to see family in what would be colder climates before Karen and I crawl off into our winter hibernation in a deep southern state. That date of November 1 will more than likely be adjusted up a little.  Recently Karen and I have began talking at a very conceptual level about what we want to do the first couple months on the road. More on that later for sure.

For two years now, family has gotten together for a three night campout at Pomme de Terre State Park and Lake. Ninety degree weather each day was a bit hard to endure but we found ways to make it work. Such as building a tent city under the best shaded spots. I gave our tent to a nephew once the trip was over. No need for it next year as we will have our fifth wheel by then – and air conditioning!

Start of Tent City

Add on eating area. We also had three other spots full of tents and family.

Setting Jug Lines for Fishing

Ringo Likes the Water

Back at home I’ve been working to over-haul the front yard landscaping. Building curb appeal I’m hoping. Two years ago the front yard grass was re-seeded and this last spring I spent a lot of time controlling weeds to build the yard up.  I cut out all the overgrown bushes and tilled the planting beds. I’ve been driving by my favorite plant store waiting for plants to go on sale and finally scored a 50% off deal for a trunk load of replacement plants. We have 13 planting beds scattered through-out the property and along our wooded walking trail. Those are looking good as well. Most importantly, we have been spending time enjoying the place as much as possible.

I’ve also been painting on various sides of the house over the last couple years and have a contractor coming in to help with the two-story side. Karen has always taken photos around the property, especially when the flowers and trees are in bloom. A couple years ago I started adding to the collection in an attempt to capture the hills behind and in front of the home in photos. Our plan is to print off the best photos for an album which we are going to leave out for potential buyers to view. The scenery changes so much with each season that I’m thinking it would be a good idea to document it.

Hills out back with no leaves on trees.

Zoomed in view from the front yard.

And the purge continues. I gave myself a goal to complete four major tasks before purchasing our truck, preferably by around September. Well the first of four is done as the hot tub was carted off by it’s new owner last Friday.
We have a list of contractors to call, such as our alarm guy to move and repair some connections, carpet guys and such. Contractors should speed things up a bit.  The plan is to finish all the outside work before winter so we only have to spruce the yard up before the house goes on the market. Over this winter we are finishing up the inside stuff. Next month is our first of at least two garage sales and we have been selling off more expensive items on Craigslist.

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Downsizing – Sold Some Guns

If you want to motivate yourself while getting ready to leave for a future in an RV, sell something!  It works for me. I sit around thinking about what stuff we must get rid of and it seems overwhelming. Then I finally get off the couch and get it done. Each time I sell something it feels like I accomplished something. It’s a little hard to explain the feeling. It’s kind of liberating to sell items off, especially the stuff we have not used for a long time. I got to tell ya, if you have years to wait in your own journey to going full-time, I’d sell something now just for the emotion of it.

I used to be a bird hunter so had the nice shotgun to go with that. I’ve had the need for various handguns I use when not at work (that’s seems like a strange comment when I read it again). They change the policy on weapon types and ammunition caliber we can carry when off-duty, so I had a couple guns laying around.  Sold it all!

I’ve been wanting to purchase a new Glock model 43 which is a single-stack 9mm. It’s on the “approved list” for off-duty carry. I told myself I’d not buy one until I sold off all the other guns. Ya, it’s adding back something to get rid of later, or not.  But waiting to buy the new gun motivated me to sell the others. And law enforcement gets a major discount using the blue label purchase program available from Glock. Thought I should take advantage of that while I can. I’m not wanting to start a thread covering if someone should have a gun when on the road in an RV. That’s a personal decision. I’ve heard some very good arguments that just having bear spray is enough. For you gun enthusiasts, I want to let you know I was leery about going to a 9mm because of the ballistic qualities. Our weapons people at work say the new ammunition is outstanding and I agree 9mm weapons are a easier to shoot because of reduced recoil. Area departments here are making major moves back to the 9mm from the 40 caliber. Enough of that.

In deciding to sell off my other guns, I investigated several paths. Selling them online, to friends or whatever. I’ve decided not to sell any handguns to private individuals and to just go through a gun dealer. Here in Missouri the gun laws, especially for selling them, are liberal. What I did was research the gun values online and went to a local reputable gun store that buys used guns. I figured they would ask what I wanted for them. I’d figured out what they might sell for if I sold to an individual. I gave the dealership a price equal to 2/3 of that price and they excepted the offer.  Off I went with my check and my new 9mm gun thrown into the deal.

On another subject, I’ve been working on a couple blog posts regarding truck options for Rams and Fords. Our purchase will come only after a few other items are first sold (there’s that motivation to get it done again). During my hunt for a truck I’ve made a few decisions on what optional equipment I’d like to get in a truck.  I’m still thinking about an article regarding clothing to have for full-time RV living. And I’d thought about a post on avoiding extreme weather situations. But most of that just got covered by the  Hebard’s Travels Blog. For all you current full-timers, I for one could use a little more advise for dealing with the dangers of extreme weather and certainly how to handle it if your stuck in it!  Perhaps that’s an idea for your own blog post!

Downsizing Efforts

Took a “break” to finish up scanning my final business documents. Beginning with 2016 documents, the scanning went much quicker as I had stopped using staples for the most part.  If you have done any heavy scanning, then you know STAPLES SUCK.

Karen has been going through a lifetime of photos and is about ready to start scanning those. A couple months ago she must have had a wild hair because she scattered then sorted paperwork all over the living room floor.

Here is a link to my December 2015 update post regarding going paperless. Yet another benefit of planning so early is having time to adjust our paper habits to include having a reason to convert to digital services for bills, banking, the part-time office job and more. I’ve also added a small external hard drive to our arsenal of computer appliances. It’s a very fast drive that connects to our tablets for mass storage of all our scanned documents, old and new photos.

Karen decided to move her desk from our study to the sunroom. The view out the window is a lot nicer as the trees have dropped their leaves, revealing the rolling hills beyond them. Should have done that years ago as it’s a nice space to work out of.  A side benefit was clearing more room in the study (our third bedroom) to make room for sorting through stuff.  There are pills of stuff out in the open in several other rooms. No big deal as long as we can walk around it 😊.

Click to Enlarge Photos

Started a few garage sales boxes and planning for maybe one sale next year.  I’ve also started posting more expensive items on Craigslist with more regularity. Maybe this winter we will learn how to eBay and Karen has used the local Facebook swap and shop page where she sold some purses. There are lots of benefits to taking years to plan for our mobile future. Among which is saving money by not buying anything that we can’t take on the road later.  And “trash day is Tuesday” so we often fill the bin weekly with what we can’t sell. Before all this we might have cleared some space only to fill it with junk stuff later.

I’ve also been sorting through older scanned or digital photos of views outside our home. We live on a flat hilltop where the views out back and front change dramatically with the seasons. I’m hoping to take one of our old photo binders, which was freed up by scanning photos, and fill it with outside landscaping photos for potential buyers of our home to see when touring the house. Our current plan is to put the house on the market the spring of 2019.

I’ll bet for you on the road, all this sounds familiar!  I’m working on a blog post regarding budgeting. I’d done some earlier estimating for the sake of financial planning. And know our first year on the road may be the most expensive. I’m hoping to bring together all the notes and such I’ve tracked down from other’s blogs and the great advice I’ve received over the past couple of years.  Figure I’ll come up with a first-year budget and then adjust it while on the road from then on.  I’m hoping you will get something out of the upcoming post on budgeting.

I’d also like to take a moment to thank you all for the comments on my last post regarding emotions. There was much advice passed along which I’m taking to heart. If you are not one to read the comments section, the ones from that post are worth it. I felt comfortable putting it out there because I consider you all friends. And being as honest as possible brings the issues as close to the root problem’s as possible so the advice really hits home.  Thank you again.

I’ve also been picking away at the 2017 list of things to do and decisions to make.  As we moved our takeoff date from 2023, to 2020 and then to 2019 I had to move a few decisions forward to earlier years.  Got to get busy with those items during this winter. We will let you know in 2019 if we plan to rent a storage unit or not.


Outdoorproject.com
is a website Karen found.  It contains a tremendous amount of information on outdoor journeys such as hikes, national parks and more which are included in its 6,152 adventures (and growing).

Cargo Capacity

One specification that will get a fifth wheel knocked off the short list of what we would buy are those with a lighter cargo capacity. Since first starting to research trailers in late 2014 I consistently read 3,000 pounds of cargo capacity or more is suggested for fulltime RV living. A quick check of nine full-timer rigs, who weighed their trailers and posted results, averaged closer to 3,448 of cargo capacity.  Some say their next trailer will have way more than that. I would really appreciate your opinions on the matter!

For us we might be hauling around the following “extra” items:

  • Full grey and black tanks at times: We plan to boondock at times so I could see hauling in fresh water and adding to that tank from jugs. If we are looking at trailers having in the range of 75 grey water capacity and 45 black water I suppose just the water in these tanks if full would be 996 pounds. What’s the chances of having to haul that any distance outside a camping area to dump? I have considered we might purchase a blue boy. We have stayed at electric only sites and found not having to worry about water or sewer connections for shorter stays is a bonus.
  • Hobby items for entertainment: We are not yet sure of what hobbies we might haul around with us. Board games, bikes and tent camping equipment. We already own an inflatable kayak and love it. I’d think all that could add up to less than 200 pounds. And Karen loves real books she can hold in her hands so we are going to haul a few around.
  • Extra battery and maybe solar someday: Although we are leaning towards an RV gas/electric refrigerator we might go with a residential. For sure we are starting off with at least two batteries. If we add a solar system we could see adding several more batteries. At 60 pounds apiece or so that can add up. Six batteries could be around 360 pounds plus the solar panels and components.
  • Washing machine: Karen wants at least a combo washer/dryer for smaller loads of laundry. We have used the ones in campgrounds and she is thinking it would be convenient to have a unit in the trailer. I’d rather just have two weeks worth of clothing and haul it to a laundry twice a month. That adds 148 pounds. I don’t view any compromise as reasonable if both persons can’t live with it. In this case if she wants a combo unit then we are getting it.
  • Generator: For sure we will have at least a portable setup that can power up to one air conditioner. That adds about 94 pounds. And if we were to go with a full size 5500 watt propane unit that would add about 279 pounds.

These above items total at least 1,973 pounds. We could see having a few other lighter weight amenities we read about such as solar shades that hang from the edge of the awning, a screened room for the picnic table and such. From what I understand when an RV manufacturer lists the estimated cargo capacity in their advertising the weight assumes what comes with the basic build. The advertised cargo limit does not include optional equipment such as a second outside awning, backup camera and more that are of lighter weight. But what about upgraded insulation packages, larger propane tanks, a heavier pin or whatever?

Realistically one should be able to compromise and just be willing to give up what would not fit within the weight limits. We can do that. But I’ve read where people can’t fill half their cabinets because of weight capacity limits. Or they found out they enjoyed Rving so much they were going full time and only had a couple hundred pounds capacity remaining, having used their trailer for extended stays.  In one extreme I read where a motorhome technically did not have the carrying capacity to haul all the passengers.

I started this year looking at 38 trailers with the basic floor plan we were interested in which is a rear living room fifth wheel. The list is now 24, chiefly because the floor plan comes with less than 3,000 pound of cargo capacity. More importantly, this knocked out a few serious brand names which are trailers commonly used for full timing.

We are going with a dual wheel truck and I suppose one needs to research methods of storing items on the truck rather than the trailer.

Am I thinking in the wrong direction on this one?

(8/17/17) Update: The more I read about possible upgrades to a trailer and the stories people tell about being over weight, the more I want to go with a high cargo capacity trailer. For example, for those of you who might want to upgrades your suspension, tires, axles brakes and such, read this forum thread.

(9/3/17) Another update: I’ve been zooming in on the labels for various trailers as I pull up photos. I’ve found a few that advertise X amount of cargo capacity on the manufacturers website, which I know is an average figure. However, the actual labels of any given trailer might show less cargo capacity. I assume this is because of all the options such as heavy dual pane windows. It still remains reasonable, I’d think, a trailer that starts with a larger cargo capacity will be left with the greatest capacity after the options are installed.


July 13, 2017 the 100,000th Keystone Montana rolled off the factory line.


Good video compilation on what we wish we knew before we started Rving from seven full-timers.

Sales Chart for 2015/2016 Fifth Wheels

At the local RV show I took a photo of this chart on the side of a Keystone Montana fifth wheel:

trailer-sales-2016

A factory representative had posted this chart.  He also had a list in a file comparing the Keystone Montana’s features against the Grand Design Solitude. He would not let me take a photo of that! I nearly missed it on the chart but noted it represents the top 20 models by sales. The charts source of information is listed as Statistical Surveys Inc, Grand Rapids Michigan. Per their website, Statistical Surveys (founded in 1958) is a provider of market research for marine, manufactured housing, trailers and recreational vehicles. They report an impressive list of publications where their research has been posted to include RV News, Trailer Life and the Wall Street Journal.

From what I could gather at the Statistical Survey’s website, companies can purchase the data. It might be reasonable to assume those companies would then present the data in whatever light they feel might shine brightly on them. It is however common knowledge the Montana has been the best-selling fifth wheel for years. The above chart combines three different full profile trailers from Heartland those being the Bighorn, Landmark and Big Country.  I thought it important to note the Montana full profile line includes the High Country which was not listed next to the Montana. Nor was the Cedar Creek Silverback listed next to Cedar Creek. To me, it’s important to note the High Country has a drop frame basement and the Silverback does not. I understand drop frames are more expensive to build and the basement space is considerably larger. One obviously needs to keep these construction variations in mind when comparing trailers in each price point. It is good to see some of the relatively lighter weight trailers on the list such as the Forest River Sierra and Sandpiper. The

Here’s what else we have been up to: I’ve been busy studying up on one ton trucks. Real glad the selection is limited to the big three. The hard part has been trying to figure out all the equipment options available that influence their towing/cargo capacity.

Karen and I are steadily working on downsizing. At this point selling larger items on Craigslist and trying to fill the trash can each week. I just ordered three large capacity CD/DVD wallets to reduce the footprint of our music and movie collections. I’m also getting close to having important personal and business documents completely scanned as part of going paperless. My photos have been scanned and Karen wants to get her’s finished up soon. It’s been very convenient to view old photos on the computer that I’d not taken the time to look at for years as prints.

And for the first time I’m working with a financial planner and may write about the decision and how it has been going in a future blog post.

 

new flash  Today Show video about workampers where the average age of workers is 53.

new flash  Highland Ridge fifth wheels recently put out a new factory tour video.

Life in Kansas City – Sold a Truck and Kitchen Remodeling

One of the benefits of long-term planning is the ability to spread-out time consuming tasks over several years. Another benefit, as it relates to saving for our future in an RV, is cutting expenses now and reaping the savings over a longer period.

Among my list of tasks to complete in 2016 was to sell off a vehicle or two. Karen and I had talked about downsizing to one family car which is still something we might do. However, she started a part-time job at the Crescent Inn Bed and Breakfast and is making use of the spare car. She is excited to be working again. Her tasks at the Inn include checking customers in, housekeeping, serving breakfast and customer service. I told her the new job would look better on a workamping resume then anything I had to offer on mine! So for now we are keeping the second car.

I’m happy to report another monthly expense is gone! We sold our old 2002 truck and the money raised is going right into our RV/truck fund to join the money collected with the sale of our boat earlier this year.  Next spring, the motorcycle is going to share the same fate.

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Old Truck is Sold and Money is in Savings

Over about three years, or maybe five – I forget, we have been remodeling the kitchen. Early in the year we installed ceramic tile floors to go with the tile backsplash. I’d been trying to talk Karen into replacing the appliances. They are dented and in various stages of disrepair such as broken buttons and cracked plastic. The refrigerator finally gave out so now we are using a smaller spare unit located in the basement. I consider it our new exercise plan which requires we run up and down the stairs for food.

Next Thursday the new fridge is to be delivered free of charge as part of the purchase. So not having a truck was a non-issue the first time we needed one.  I’m surprised in learning from a knowledgeable appliance salesman the anticipated life of a “modern” refrigerator is only 15 years and a dishwasher is eight years.

I’ll spare you the details but we decided on going to Maytag appliances which are middle of the road in terms of expense, construction and amenities.  Maytag uses smudge resistant stainless steel which was a must have per Karen. I had looked into Whirlpool, who also build the Maytag and their upper end KitchenAid brand. I was shocked to discover Whirlpool are now builder grade level appliances, best suited for apartments or moderate priced spec homes.  Here in 2016 I notice a lot of fifth wheels in the $60 to $80,000  MSRP price point use Whirlpool for residential style refrigerators. Trailers about $10,000 more expensive is where I’m seeing better brand names are used such as LG and Samsung.

We ordered the refrigerator and microwave now as both were on sale with free delivery into our home and only a $15 fee to haul off the old fridge. After giving consideration to buying from three local stores or two online appliance sites, we went with Home Depot. What I discovered could be a big change in the way these larger stores do business, given the competition from internet sales. We looked over the appliances we were interested in at the store and then went online to buy them from Home Depot as they were not stocked in the store.  Part of good marketing is to make it easy to buy something. I was impressed with the ease of doing business with Home Depot. They even had a phone number to call after hours with questions. Installation was scheduled only four days after the purchase and they sent us a tracking number to follow the shipment. The sale price was the same or less than advertised at discount websites such as AJ Madison who don’t haul off old appliances.


I should also add we decided on a French door refrigerator with the freezer in a bottom drawer. According to a salesman who we trusted, more of the units built and sold are French door rather than the side by side unit we are replacing. The salesman said 90% of what they sell are French door versions which make better use of inside space and don’t cause you to bend down to get in the least accessed portion of the fridge which is not the freezer section. In other words, the freezer is on the bottom because you access it less than the cold food storage area. Karen and I are trying to pay attention to what the future owner of our home might want. We did not go with a convection microwave but are getting a convection stove which again were more than half of what are selling at Home Depot. I’m thinking the standard electric stove/oven is a thing of the past. We plan to replace our current stove and 14-year-old broken knobbed dishwasher once they go on sale at a discount and we have saved up the cash to pay for them.

On the RV front I’ve been reading up on what are the best truck colors for ease of maintenance. I’ve also been giving some thought to if we can justify full body paint on the trailer and if so what would be the best colors for heating and cooling concerns. More on that later.

Ordered a Dumpster and Sold the Boat

IMG_2667 (1024x667) (800x521)

Parked beside a shed for more than 13 years has been our aluminum fishing boat. The last time the motor had been ran was eight years ago.  If I’d known it would be so easy to sell I would have done it years ago.  After spending a day cleaning it up I posted the boat on Craig’s List and had five emails by the next morning. Sold it to the first person who showed up with cash. The interior of the boat needed refurbishing, new tires and some work on the trailer. Priced it less than what I would have paid for it if I had planned to fix it up.

Dumpster (800x450)
A friend who is a home builder ordered us a dumpster at his discounted rate. We were also able to order a size larger at no extra cost.  Karen and I are going to walk through the house selecting items to dispose of that would not fit in our normal weekly trash container.  We agreed to select items together using the following rules for disposal: If we have not used it in four years, can’t give it away, can’t sell it or we are not going to use it in the next three years, then it goes in the dumpster. We also have two old sheds that are coming down so those are going in the dumpster.

If you are feeling like you stalled out with your downsizing efforts – order a dumpster and pitch some big items. It really is liberating.  I’m sure we will order another just after retirement. For now, the extra space in the house will be more usable while we still live here.

One of the sheds has already been torn down. The floor was built using treated lumber. We are planning to turn the floor into a deck which is attached to a remaining shed and in the shade of our woods.  Going to be a great new gardening area. (Update, we decided to pitch the rest of the shed floor rather than buying more lumber to finish a deck we would never use.)

Yet another advantage of starting so early in planning for retirement to an RV.