Crazy Times but still FULL SPEED AHEAD. I started this post with the title Full Speed Ahead – Full Timing! in 2 months! Well, we are now just over 1 week away from that milestone – that’s an indication of how crazy it’s been.
In reading this post, it may seem daunting to look at all the things we have done if you are a new RV owner or are looking to purchase one, however remember that we purchased Lola in August of 2014. We started our RV research nearly 9 months before that. We read books, went to RV shows and changed our minds about what type of RV to buy several times.
Much of what is listed below we did step by step and a little at a time. We bought Lola early enough that we didn’t have to rush to ‘re-break’ her in and get her customized to our needs.
An overview of what we’ve done to prepare for Full Timing! RV lifestyle
The last months before full timing is crazy! What’s crazy about it? There are a dozen things happening, all at the same time. All of a sudden everything we are working towards is becoming very real. Setting up for our retirement income(s), deciding on a domicile plan, selling our house, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of… even packing up the RV!
Get the house ready to sell… Sale Pending!
Since January Christine has been busy painting the inside of the house while I’ve finished our grandson’s chest of drawers. We have also been making regular trips to our favorite donation centers to get rid of clothes, furniture and nick-knacks. We have already had two garage sales, and donated many special things to the Cancer Society and Goodwill. Some things we need to keep until almost the last day.
Then, early this month we put the house up on the market and it sold in 3 days. What a relief. We are in the last week and a half before closing now and everything (knock on wood) is going well. Going from Sticks and Bricks to Diesel Fumes (and the great outdoors).
Retirement Planning and Finalization
We have been working with a financial planner for over 2 years to evaluate our post-retirement income options. Work and Social Security retirement paperwork is ready to go and our health plan options are almost finalized. We have a detailed budget of our anticipated expenses, and how we are going to meet those needs. We’ve gone through dozens of budget variations and have taken a middle of the road approach to our forecasts. Thanks to the several bloggers who have shared their expenses and RV-Dreams for the sample spreadsheet template we used as a jump-off for our own analysis.
Domicile & Mail Service
We decided to go through Escapees and set up Domicile in Florida. California taxes are just way too high for us. Escapees also provide mail service so we can continue to get snail mail forwarded to us wherever we are.
For our first annual oil change at Freightliner last fall we had Sacramento Truck Center go through and change all fluids and check everything out as if she had not had any service done to her since her 2008 manufacture. This set us back some, but we did not have any service records from her prior owner(s). Especially since she only had 16,000 miles on her we were afraid she might not have had all the time-based maintenance done.
Staying in touch with the family is critical. We purchased the WeBoost Drive 4G-M to extend our cellular coverage. In addition, later this year we will be purchasing a Wi-Fi extender (probably Wi-FI Ranger). Technomadia has been a great resource and well worth the membership for technology information, product reviews and peer-based forums. In another post, I’ll cover how we stay in touch while driving separate vehicles, with family and friends while traveling and maintaining our online blog presence.
Last year we also installed an HD Jack antenna extender (booster), and recently received the Channel Master so we can record over the air programs. In addition, we purchased the Amazon Fire Stick so we can pick up our favorite Amazon shows (Bosch anyone?) that we can use with the Wi-Fi extender. We also copied a couple hundred hours of DVDs to hard drive, and have a couple of shoe boxes full of Blu-Ray. We also have our Amazon Kindles and our music is on an iPod that connects to Lola’s sound system. We are now set up for a couple of years of vegging out after our walks, hikes, bike rides, kayaking, beer tasting, wine tasting, farmer’s markets, etc!
Solar Panels & LED Lights
We already wrote about our solar panel and lithium battery upgrades that will help us stay off the grid and limit our generator time here. Recently we upgraded all the interior lights and exterior marker lights to LEDs from M4 Products that will cut our energy consumption for lighting.
Preparing for the Unexpected
We have an extended service plan for both the chassis as well as tire for Lola that we purchased when we got her. In addition, we have Coach-Net for the specialized roadside assistance we felt RVs need.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
Our review of the decision-making process to select a TPMS is posted here.
Interior Fans, Heating and Cooling
Lola has A/C and a furnace, but to keep the air moving we upgraded the kitchen/dining area roof vent/fan with a MaxxAir fan that has a built-in cover. While we were at it, we went ahead and upgraded the bathroom fan with the same model. We also purchased a Dyson bladeless fan that cools and heats and a small heater that uses propane bottles when we almost froze our butts off up in Oregon Thanksgiving Day.
Some of the miscellaneous equipment that has come in handy in our first trips out are:
- ViAir RV Air Compressor reviewed here.
- Battery Charger (purchased when we left the Toad’s lights on and left our charger at home)
- Voltage Regulator reviewed here.
Our first trip out east is NOT as much of a ‘retirement mode‘ trip as we would like. We will be taking a trailer with some woodworking – house-fixing equipment that will be stored in northern NY – and need to be there in early June so we can work on a rental house there. But first we have to stop in Florida to register our vehicles since the RV registration expires in August. Since I’ll be dragging the trailer and Christine will be driving the Pilot until the trailer get’s stored, we want to make this first trip relatively quick with our only long layover once we get to Florida.
We also mapped out the major holidays for this summer and fall and made some reservations for those. We will post a separate post on trip planning, but as teaser we purchased the Garmin RV 760LMT specialized GPS for Recreational Vehicles.
Toad (Towed Vehicle) tow bar & base plate
We decided to keep our older Honda Pilot at this time until we have a better understanding of our Toad requirements. We purchased the RoadMaster Falcon tow bar & base plate for the Pilot so we can tow it. Of course as I mentioned initially I’ll be pulling our little 5 x 8 trailer and Christine will drive the toad. After that though it will be smooth sailing together! I need my navigator close at hand!
Traveling with 3 mature dogs, each weighing 65-70 lbs can be a challenge. How much food to take with us? What about medications? Our strategy to start off with is to store 30 days of dry food. We have 2 dogs that need medication twice a day. For one medication we are going through Costco and get 3 months worth at a time. For the other we are getting a year’s worth. Carrots are one of their main treats, and we hope to get them at Farmer’s Markets along the way along with our greens.