In December 2015, our world began to change. We put a plan in place, but really didn’t know how it was going to actually work. First a little background.
When we relocated back to Missouri from Iowa in 2011, we looked for as much house as we could get within our budget. That was our criteria. We felt we ‘needed’ a big house, with a 3 car garage and lots of room to store all our STUFF. So a 4,000 square foot house with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, full kitchens on both the main level and in the full finished basement seemed perfect. And, it had lots and lots of storage space!
We did several improvements to the landscaping, including installing a sprinkler system. It was going to be our RETIREMENT home and we wanted to spend the money getting it all done while we were still working. It was also the perfect family gathering house. We hosted Christmas, Thanksgiving, various birthday parties and even a wedding reception!
The PLAN was to get it how we wanted it and pay it down as much as possible before we hit retirement age. We had a plan and we followed it.
Until we decided our small travel trailer just wasn’t big enough for us any longer. We had discovered that we loved camping and RVing while living in Iowa. We had bought our first travel trailer there and found that it was a bit too small when we started taking it out more after the move. We upsized to a 34 ft. trailer in the Spring of 2013 and upgraded our pickup for pulling it.
Did I mention that we were bit HARD by the RV bug? (It is a real thing, just ask a full-timer) On a cold February morning in 2015, we traded in our travel trailer for a 5th wheel. It was bigger and pulled easier and we loved it. We took it to South Dakota that summer and to area state parks and lakes as much as possible.
And we continued to pay extra on the mortgage and the camper loan and realized that we would probably continue to work a few years longer than we originally planned. Then, in December 2015, we had a big decision to make.
Andy is a nurse and I (Peggy) am a Business Systems Analyst. I worked remote and felt extremely blessed to be able to live closer to family and keep working for the same company. The company made an announcement regarding some upcoming changes and employees with a certain number of years or more of service and at least a certain age were offered a package for early retirement.
Hmmm . . . . . .
I took the package. I was also blessed again, because I would continue to work until the end of 2016. Salary for another year, and then severance.
We discussed selling the house. We discussed me getting another job. Okay, okay, if I took the package, why would I look for another job? Why didn’t I say no thanks and stay there? Even though I enjoyed what I did, after many years of sitting at a desk, staring at a computer, I saw this as an opportunity to explore other options. After being remote for almost 5 years, I was ready to work next to people.
We crunched numbers. We were not financially able to continue living where we were without my salary. We discussed living full-time in our RV. Andy was not ready to stop working at his current job.
Downsizing to a smaller house, with a better place to park our RV was where we started to lean. I didn’t mention it earlier, but parking the 5th wheel on our 3rd driveway, with it’s a big dip, required ramps, patience and practice.
After a couple months looking, we found our smaller house on an acre and a half lot. And it came with an RV port!
We cleaned out stuff from our house, carting off loads to various thrift stores and got it ready to list. The timing was perfect for the market and we had a contract within a few days. Of course, we still had lots and lots of stuff stored in the basement and deep garage. We did what we could in the amount of time we had before closing and moving. It wasn’t enough.
At the end of March 2016, we took possession of our downsized home. We had a week between closings, so we painted and cleaned and had new carpet installed. On moving day, the movers brought the furniture and our stuff. We had measured and planned the placement of our ‘too large for this house’ pieces. Yep, it didn’t fit. It was so tight that we had paths in the garage and basement. Recliners upside-down on the downstairs sofa, boxes everywhere. The spare bedroom was packed, the mattresses against the wall. The sectional barely fit in the living room. Our bed was covered with clothes that didn’t fit in closets that were full of boxes. We put wire racks in the kitchen to hold stuff that had nowhere else to go.
We slept in our camper for the first week.
Through our blog, we will share our stories of coming to terms with the size of our home and the various things we did to expand our space. We had done remodeling in previous homes, but nothing this extensive. We have been here almost a year and we are not done yet! Still downsizing the stuff, making improvements and growing closer.