Downsizing and delays…

I was hoping by now to have the reclining couch/bed and optional storage cabinet already built, the dimensions finalized, and the book done… but life keeps getting in the way. Just when I had a warm, or at least warm”ER” day coming up, with the sun out, my wife home with the van, and everything in place to at least video the unpacking and assembly of the TailVeil… I pick up a chest cold out of nowhere (seeing as how I haven’t BEEN anywhere lately), and now I can hardly get my breath without a cough rearing it’s ugly head from down deep in my chest.

It’s hard to find the right combination of ingredients to get anything done at this time of year, especially when you have a garage that isn’t even insulated, let alone heated. And I don’t feel up to fighting the cold and damp weather right now, so until this cough goes away, I’m hibernating, and contemplating the progress of our own downsizing. Maybe my thoughts might trigger some thoughts and ideas in your heads, too.

At age 63, I’m finding that many of the things that used to seem important are no longer in that category anymore. Having grown up on a 100 acre farm, I do like the outdoors, and used to enjoy getting out there and mowing the large expanse of grass every week. But back problems have since put a stop to bouncing around on a riding tractor, especially on the uneven rocky ground that we have now. So for the past two years I have found it easier to contract it out to younger people… and we sold the lawn mower last year.

Now my thoughts are toward this house that we bought over the internet, and failed to have a home inspection done. I’ve been kicking myself ever since we first walked into it, three months after we closed on it, for not having that done. But the realtor did a real “sell job” on us, showing us all kinds of pretty pictures of what she wanted us to see, and none of what she didn’t.

I expected a list of thngs that we would have to do to it, some of which have already been done. I just didn’t expect that list to extend into a Santa Claus sized list that goes on “forever”, constantly having things removed and added (unfortunately more of the latter than the former).  Being a builder of many things, not the least of which has been homes and machines, I have always done my own work, so that I know it is done right. But little by little, many of those tasks have had to be abandoned… things like concrete work, carpet and flooring, roofing, and many more, which require heavy lifting.

And since the economy and other things have destroyed our plans for a “comfortable” retirement, we now have to look closely at what we can do to live on what we know that we have. The maintenance and upkeep issues with a poorly-built house can be more than what is recovered from appreciation in an economy like this.

Even on a house that was built well, there are going to be maintenance issues, and the first thing that comes to mind is roofing. Unless you can get a great roof put on while you’re still working, such as a 50-year warranty metal roof, you can figure on normal shingles needing replacing within about 20 years. Ours were put on in 1999 from what we understand, so they have already served half their life-span. And no matter what size house you have, the more square footage you have in the roof, the more it’s going to cost for maintenance and replacement when the time comes.

The same can be said for the siding, and even the windows. The larger the “footprint” of the house, the more siding and windows there are to deal with. The more floors there are to cover. Eveything is relative to size.

For those who are comfortable in their retirement and can afford to maintain all that extra square footage it’s probably not an issue to worry about. But for many others, whose retirement plans have been doused by circumstances beyond their control, it can present a very real financial dilemma. Many things may have to be reduced, from the size of our homes, to some of the luxuries we used to enjoy, to even the way we travel, if that is even possible anymore. No matter what, there must remain a balance between providing the necessities of life, and our budgets.

And just as in sticks and bricks homes, so must the balance come with more portable things, such as vehicles and RV’s. Many people are downsizing both their vehicles and RV’s to what they can better afford. The RV industry has seen a large demand for smaller Class C’s and B’s, while the sales of the huge class A’s have begun to dwindle in comparison.  But is that really enough?

As I have said before, many places around the world have been building smaller, more efficient RV’s for years. Some places, like the Euopean countries started doing it out of necessity, because their streets and cities wouldn’t be able to handle the size rigs that we have become accustomed to. Another reason might be fuel prices, as it seems most other countries seem to pay much higher fuel prices than we do, so we have become spoiled by that.

I have been following and collecting links to blogs, and it is amazing how many people are out there that are either living in their cars, minivans, full-size vans or small Class C’s… and enjoying a freedom that they couldn’t believe existed, until they dumped all their accumulation of “stuff”. Every blog that I come to, I look to see what their recommended links are, or what other blogs they are following. There are obviously more out there then I have time to read, so I have to be selective about what I save.  But when I find a new one, I drag the icon in the address bar into a folder for “RV blogs” on my desktop. With two quick “double-clicks” I can go straight to whatever blog or site I want to read about… and the number is growing daily.

The trend toward downsizing and getting rid of useless “stuff” is growing almost exponentially as more and more people realize how futile it is to keep buying “stuff” that they don’t need, and then have to work harder to pay for it. I see hundreds of people out there enjoying life, with minimal incomes and expenses (usually under $1000 a month) that live full lives… have adventures every day, and never get bored by having to sit home and look at four walls every day! And the majority of them are educated people (or sometimes in the process of getting an education). And most of them are out there by choice… not “unfortunate circumstances”. They have simply gotten wise to the fallacies of home ownership and working for a living, just to buy things that they seldom use.

Sometimes there must be compromises, though. I would be perfectly happy to full-time in a suitable small vehicle, but my wife is a musician. Unfortunately, not on something as convenient as a harmonica. Rather, on keyboards, not the least of which is a 400-pound, double-manual Lowery organ, and a spinet piano. We also have a smaller portable keyboard and a 120-bass accordion, not to mention my guitar. We might be able to fit the latter things into an RV, but she isn’t quite ready to part with the larger items yet, so they must have a home base… somewhere… for now. And having to put a roof over the head of such things costs money… which would otherwise be spent for traveling.

So balance must prevail, as always. Spend a little here, and a little there rather than all of it on one place. So instead of the 40-foot motorhome that got 5-1/2 MPG like we used to have, we have to have something that is MUCH more efficient in order to maintain that balance, and still be able to travel freely when we want to.

If you are in a similar position, grab the free download of my book while it’s still out there. When the paid version comes out, this one will be edited down to the basics. You will learn enough from it to allow you to travel at very little cost, and be able to keep what you buy without losing it when you trade vehicles.

Meanwhile, I’m still working on the “behind the scenes” stuff to provide information you can use, no matter how you travel, so you can work less and enjoy life more.