Well, well, well—what do you know? Our exit from full-timing life was as messy as our entry. No, messier. You can’t say we’re not on brand. It’s been a bizarre process that happened really fast and also really slowly.
When we set out on the road, our long-term plan was to build a house on our Nevada property. But we still had little discussions about life might be too short to build a house. Those conversations dovetailed with others about the possibility of discovering a really cool town in our travels that we might want to settle down in.
Houston, we have a problem
The short version of our trajectory is that we decided full-time life isn’t for us. Over numerous happy hours, we batted around all the various fixes to the struggles we had getting settled into life on the road. In the end, it came down to what we’d need to do to “fix” things was impractical both logistically and financially. And we would still be making compromises that kept the ROI low for us to remain nomads.
There’s a long list of reasons. But topping the list of factors is that the thing we love doing more than anything in the world is riding our motorcycles together. We knew we’d have to address the lack of having both of the bikes with us but we figured we’d work that out with time and experience. We never came to a solution that didn’t involve more work and money than we were willing to put in. Even then, the compromises would still far outpace the rewards.
The other realization is that our Nevada property wasn’t going to work either. The growth in the area, escalated by the pandemic, sent housing and construction costs into the stratosphere. And beyond the costs, the atmosphere of the area changed with the pressure of a booming population. It was no longer home.
So what next?
Living with our challenging rig setup was wearing us down more and more every day. It needed to end. The writing was on our flimsy walls; we needed to find a new place to plant roots. For many months we channeled our Google Fu to find out about cool places that ticked off certain boxes for us in terms of location, weather, motorcycling and paddling opportunities, cost of living, and the like. Yes, there was a spreadsheet involved. With formulas, thank you very much.
As we winnowed down the possibilities, a clear winner emerged—Silver City, New Mexico. Neither of us had ever been there so we needed to get to the little town and make certain it was everything it looked like “on paper.” We wanted to high-tail it there from our winter hideout south of Phoenix. It would have only taken us a day to make the trip. Except we needed to go back to northern Nevada first to tend to our reverse medical tourism needs.
It was a deflating delay that cost us weeks of travel and increased fatigue. Our stamina for full-time life was waning quickly. We used the time to house hunt, find a real estate agent, and learn everything we could about neighborhoods and local workings. But it was still frustrating, having made the decision and not being able to execute on it as quickly as possible.
Taking the leap
Once we could get back on the road, we planned to travel as fast and light as possible to cover the 1,100-ish miles back south. That meant no motorcycles came along—an extremely tough decision to make. Even so, the trip to Silver City took much longer than we’d hoped. We also made another difficult decision en route—to hover at Lake Mead for more than a few extra days after learning we could get our first Covid vaccine doses nearby.
But once we arrived in Silver City, our research and gamble paid off. It proved to be what we were looking for. And that’s especially good because we had exactly zero back-up plan. We had some other places that were still on the menu but they were very distant seconds to Silver City and would have been compromises we would always be aware of.
We found a great RV park with reasonable monthly rates, nice folks, and parked. We stayed gloriously parked. Life in the toy hauler felt different then. We were on an exit path. There was relief in not constantly figuring out the next place to transit to. That energy was refocused into house hunting.
The pain before the gain
With the help a dear friend and real estate agent in Atlanta, we found the perfect agent in Silver City and hit the ground running. The market was nuts, of course, like everywhere at the time. We managed to find a foreclosure/fixer-upper that had been vacant for two years that we felt we could work with and closed the deal fairly quickly, as real estate goes.
Getting moved in was a much more cumbersome process. With no utilities at the house, much less all of our stuff in storage in northern Nevada, we couldn’t move in right away. We found ourselves stuck between the need to be in Silver to manage getting utilities on and getting our asses back to Nevada to retrieve our belongings from storage. That would be no small task with one 400-square-foot unit holding the household contents and another 250-square-foot unit holding two motorcycles, a sidecar rig, and my Subaru Forester.
We looked into professional moving companies, hoping to ease that pain. That was a fail across the board in terms of the staggering cost, their availability, and our timing to be there to over see it. We’d have to do it ourselves. And it would take two trips.
As for the house, it took about six weeks to get all of the utilities turned back on. There were inspections and special hoops to jump through because of how long it had been vacant. But we got water and gas reinstated within the first few weeks which allowed us to do some work on the house while still living in the trailer.
The power would take longer since we decided to upgrade our sketchy 1970s 50-amp electric service right out of the gate. The extra time involved in that project gave us a gap to make a mad dash to Nevada for the first load from storage.
The process was complex and exhausting but with the first load now in New Mexico—mostly tools and basic furniture—we could at least start working on the house, even if we couldn’t live in it yet. Our days were filled with trips back-and-forth from the “job site” as J called it to the trailer to eat, sleep, and shower.
One magical morning, we got the news that our electric was going in that day. Finally we had power which meant we could move into the house—and out of the toy hauler. That meant it was time to do another Nevada run for the last batch from storage.
That final trip was nothing short of horrendous. That seems to be U-Haul’s secret goal as a business—to make moving the most miserable experience you’ve had in your life. But that’s a rant for another day. With our start and end points for the truck rental, we didn’t have another option so we had to make do with the scourge on society that is U-Haul. As bad as the whole ordeal was, there was a distinct endgame and we were driven by seeing the finish line. And having our motorcycles in our lives again.
Slightly less-tiny living
So we’re here and we have a house, such as it is. The hurdle we face now is renovating it while living in it. The bonus challenge? We have half the space we did in Nevada. So yes, we’re purging. Big time.
What we learned living in the trailer is guiding us through how to manage what will stay, though. Life in a small house will hopefully be a little less challenging as we use our RV living knowledge to our advantage. We’re turning our lemon-ridden full-time experience into lemonade.
In the meantime, we’re enjoying taking the step back to part-time travelers/campers/RVers and to a travel style that works better for us. And boy, we’re going to need it as we take on this house.