Frequently Asked Questions

It’s been a little over four weeks since I turned in my notice at work and started going public with our plans to sell everything and travel full time in our RV.

Everyone is very supportive, a few admit they’re jealous, many say they plan to do the same thing in the future. So far no one has tried to convince us that we’re crazy (we’re not). But we do get some questions, although not really the questions that I expected.

Here are the top three questions that people are asking about our plans:

#3 – Are you going to tow your Prius behind the RV?

Answer: No, we are selling our Prius (sad face) and we are keeping our Tacoma instead. It would have been nice to have the fuel economy of the Prius when we go driving on sight-seeing expeditions, but unfortunately the Prius cannot be towed flat (a.k.a. four-down), and we don’t want to fool with putting it on a trailer. The Tacoma will be used as a chase vehicle which I will drive behind the RV. Since we have a camper shell on the Tacoma, it gives us some additional storage space that will come in very handy as our RV is only 24′ long. It’s all about compromises.

#2 – Do the cats like RVing?

Answer: We have two cats, Maggie Mae and Molly Ann, and yes, they do enjoy RVing AFTER we get to a stopping place and get settled in. They still aren’t that fond of riding in a moving vehicle. But once we get to a campsite, they get a lot more attention and lap-time than they ever get in our sticks-and-bricks home. They are both strictly indoor cats and are very lazy, so we will not be letting them roam around outside the RV. They each have their favorite hiding spots during the day, and at night they tend to pile up in the bed with us (mostly on top of me). In their short lives, they’ve lived in Arizona, Indiana and Mississippi, so they’re not surprised when we decide to shake things up a little.

And the most asked question of all is:

#1 – Do you know what your first destination is going to be?

Answer: Yes we do. As soon as we close on the sale of our house (currently scheduled for August 29), we will be headed for Livingston, Texas where we have reservations at the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park. Once we sell our house we won’t have a physical address, so our first few weeks in Livingston will be devoted to establishing our residency, or “domicile”, as citizens of Texas. We’ll get a new physical address through the Escapees organization, get our vehicles inspected and registered in Texas, get our Texas drivers licenses and insurance, set up new bank accounts, and do a few other things to indicate our intention to make Texas our new “home”. All full time RVers have to go through this process in order to meet legal requirements for the IRS and other government entities. Most choose Texas, South Dakota or Florida as their domicile state because these states¬† do not have a state income tax, and are generally friendlier to RVers who want to establish residency. We also chose Texas because it’s on the route between Arizona, where we’ll spend a lot of time, and Mississippi, where we’ll be coming back to for family visits.

So those are the answers to our top 3 most frequently asked questions.

Speaking of the sale of our house, the process is continuing along at light speed. The appraiser was here today to look things over and should submit his findings before the end of the week. After that, only the termite inspection will remain.

We’ve been posting furniture for sale on Facebook Marketplace with great success. Last Sunday we sold our huge entertainment center, our leather sofa, and our coffee table,¬† within hours after posting the ads on FB. Today I posted ads for our dining room furniture and our microwave hutch. It seems like the ads do better on the weekend, but we’ll see what happens (today is Tuesday).

The strange part of all of this is that we aren’t spending any time at all in the RV right now. Lizzy is parked in the storage lot, just biding her time. Andy visits her once or twice a week to fire up the generator and run the engine and the air conditioner for a little while, just to keep things in good operating order. But it seems like years since we made our last trip in April, and I’m getting really antsy to start the move-in process. We still have so much to do in the next few weeks, but we’re definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Officially Retired!

As of 4:30 PM this afternoon, I am officially retired!!

Today was my last day of work, and while I may someday decide to pick up an odd job here and there in exchange for a free camping spot, my “career” days are over. It’s been a good run–sixteen years as an accountant in the oil and gas industry, fourteen years in various positions in the Information Technology and software field, and then three years in a couple of specialist positions in the retail and health insurance industries. I got my MBA degree and passed the CPA exam while working. I picked up a second bachelor’s degree in IT after we moved to Phoenix from Houston. I met a lot of wonderful people, made some lifelong friends, traveled all over the country, and learned so much about so many different things through each of the various positions that I’ve held over the years.

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OFFICIALLY RETIRED!!!! #lifeisgood

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But I am SO ready to move on! I’m not going to miss having to be at an office or sitting at a computer on someone else’s schedule every weekday morning. I’m looking forward to being able to go for a long walk in the mornings without worrying about being late for work. Desk jobs are not healthy, and eating out while traveling for work is especially bad. I’m looking forward to being outside more, getting that solar Vitamin D, stepping on a hiking trail instead of a treadmill, waking and sleeping with my natural body rhythms, and exploring all the quirky, historic, jaw-droppingly beautiful places this amazing country has to offer.

Retiring early (I’m only 59) means that we’ll have to be very conscious of our spending for a few years until we decide it’s time to apply for my Social Security and pension benefits. But we’ve always been fairly frugal in our lifestyle, and we have a nest egg that should be sufficient for how we plan to live going forward. We don’t anticipate any major adjustments to our monthly budget, at least in total spending. Of course, there will be a change in the types of spending that make up that total, but it should even out or go down once we get on the road. We’ll be trading our spending on a mortgage, city utilities, home and lawn maintenance, and car insurance for spending on campground fees, RV maintenance, propane and my health insurance. I’ve always tracked our spending religiously in Quicken, so it will be very interesting to see how the numbers change once we’ve been on the road for a few months.

Now, the latest on the house sale:

We had the home inspection on Wednesday morning and held our breath while waiting to hear what all the buyer would want fixed. We felt like we had the house in pretty great shape, but we had agreed to pay up to $1000 in repairs based on the inspection. Today we heard from the Realtor that based on the inspection report, the only thing the buyer is asking that we repair is a broken window pane in the garage door. That’s it. Easy peasy. Yep, we can do that!!

Next week the appraiser will come in, and we’ll be holding our breath again, but we really don’t anticipate that there will be a problem in that area. The last thing will be the termite inspection, and since we have annual inspections under our Terminix contract and there have never been any problems, we aren’t worried about that either.

We’re planning our next yard sale for next weekend (August 3-4), and we’ll also be posting ads next week for the larger furniture items as well as my beloved Prius.

So unless something unforeseen happens, we’re still shooting to close the sale on or before August 29. Since we’re planning to have all the furniture gone before the close date, we’ll probably be moving into the RV full time before then, after we move Lizzy from the storage lot to a local campground. Then once the closing papers are signed, we’ll be ready to roll!

Which brings up the question that we get asked more than any other:

Have you decided where your first destination is going to be?

Yes, we have!

But I’ll answer that question in my next blog post, so stay tuned!

House is Under Contract In Less Than 24 Hours!

OMG, what a whirlwind! We just put our house on the market yesterday and we already have a full-price contract on it. How did that just happen?

Our house went to contract in less than 24 hours.

It certainly helps to hire the right Realtor. We used the same guy, Keith, that helped us buy this house in 2011, and now he has a partner, Blake, who works with him and primarily concentrates on buyers. They both disclosed that they were dual agents working for both buyers and sellers, and so we were fully aware of that situation.

It just happened that Blake was working with a buyer who was actively searching for a house in our size and price range, and who had just recently had a deal fall through when the house he was trying to buy did not appraise high enough. When our listing hit the MLS database around 5:30 or 6:00 PM yesterday, this buyer contacted Blake (who was working out at the gym) and asked for an immediate showing. We were contacted and told we had about 15 minutes to get out of the house, so Andy had to stop cooking dinner and we vacated the premises. We wound up doing some grocery shopping while we waited for the all-clear.

After what seemed like a short time, we got a text from Keith telling us we could go home, and so we thought that nothing would come of it since the guy wasn’t in the house that long. But as we were pulling in the driveway, Keith called and said he had an offer to present to us.

The offer was OK, at about 94% of our asking price, but the buyer also wanted us to pay for all of his closing costs, up to $5000. Since we had just gone on the market, we certainly weren’t going to allow ourselves to be low-balled. Since our Realtors are representing both the buyers and us, they really couldn’t advise us as much as they normally would, since they had to remain neutral in the negotiations. We were pretty much on our own in that regard.

So we countered.

Then the buyer countered.

Then we countered.

Then he accepted!!

So now, suddenly we have a contract for the sale of our house. The buyer is pre-approved, and due to his having tried to purchase another house recently, a lot of his paperwork was already in place. He was asking for a 30-day close, but Andy managed to negotiate a little more time since all this happened much faster than expected and we still have a lot to do to divest of our belongings.

Right now we’re shooting to close on or before August 29.

The big unknowns are the inspections and appraisal, since the buyer is using a VA loan, and that can sometimes result in a lot of nit-picky dings on the inspection report. We have confidence that we’ll get through it, though.

It’s so funny, we basically had the house sold before we even had the For Sale sign in the yard (it was placed there this morning).

It will be nice to not have to worry about having our lives disrupted with a lot of showings. Our lives are going to be disrupted enough as we rush to get rid of almost all our worldly possessions and get moved into our RV, Lizzy. We have to sell my beloved Prius, and Andy is trying to figure out how to re-home all of the artwork painted by his Mom that we have on our walls as well as stored in the workshop.

I have six more workdays before I’m officially retired, and that includes being out of town one night next week. Right now my job seems like a huge bother, even though it’s an income source–it’s just standing in the way of my being able to do what I really want to do, which is get things ready to move into Lizzy.

Things are about to get really crazy around here, and fast. Hang on!!

 

House For Sale!

We have officially listed our house for sale!

House for Sale in Tupelo, MS

This is a huge step toward our plans to become full time RVers, and we’re so excited about what this day represents. By committing to selling our house, we are looking forward to no longer being tied down to a specific street address in a specific town. We’re that much closer to being free to explore new places, follow the mild weather, escape from obnoxious neighbors and make lots of new friends on the road.

Back of the house

According to our Realtor team, our timing is just about perfect for the current market in Tupelo for houses in our size/price range. In fact, while one of the Realtors (Blake) was taking photographs of the house, we were standing in the street talking to the other Realtor (Keith) when one of the neighbors stopped to chat. She said she knew of two families that were wanting to move into this neighborhood and might be interested in the property, so she took one of Keith’s cards.

Workshop a.k.a. Man Cave

We signed all the listing paperwork tonight, and it should show up in the MLS listings database by the end of the day tomorrow. We’re hoping that the showings begin immediately.

We have the property priced at $124,950, so we’ll see how much interest we get.

Fingers crossed, guys!

More Home Maintenance and Furniture Sales

Only three more days before our house goes on the market, so we’re scrambling to complete our “homework” list of repairs and maintenance items that the Realtors assigned us.

Last week Andy spent several hours painting the baseboards in the kitchen and breakfast room, after they had been scraped up pretty badly from the recent tile installation. The hardest part was getting to the baseboards in the kitchen counter toe-kick space, but he got it done.

Andy painting the baseboards in the kitchen

On Friday we had Todd Jordan come by to clean the roofs on both the house and the workshop. He advised against pressure washing because of the damage that the high pressure can do to the shingles, and instead he used a bleach solution to kill the mildew, mold and moss that had accumulated on the roofs. The workshop was especially gnarly since it had big clumps of green moss growing on it. Todd bleached it good on Friday and let it soak up the sun for the rest of the day, and then he came back on Saturday and applied another soaking of the bleach solution.

Todd applying bleach solution to roof to kill mold and mildew

The roofs were already looking much better, but he said that the next good rainstorm would wash all the dead moss and mildew away. Well, we certainly got that rainstorm this afternoon, and the roof does look much better! Another task completed!

Next item on the list was to continue cleaning up the shrubbery beds and putting out fresh pine straw. Both Andy and I worked our butts off in the heat and humidity on Saturday morning, pulling weeds, mowing, weed-eating and sweeping. This morning, Andy was back out there, distributing pine straw in the beds. It was so miserably hot and humid that I talked him into stopping at lunchtime even though he still had one more bale of straw to go. He will complete the job tomorrow, since he had to go get more pine straw anyway. I also bought some new flowering plants to put in the pots under the crape myrtle tree.

Andy adding fresh pine straw to the rose beds

Next on the list were a couple of spots on the ceiling where old leaks had left brown patches. The first one was in the kitchen, and it had been there since before we moved into the house in 2011. The Realtors had suggested we try dabbing it with bleach, so I mixed up a half-bleach-half-water solution and gave it a shot. And it worked! You can hardly tell there was ever a spot there. They said it might take a couple of applications, and to just let it dry in between, but I don’t think a second application will be necessary.

The other spot was in the garage, and was a result of the leak that we just had repaired last week. This spot was much bigger and needed more drastic measures. So we had our old contractor, Ben Jackson, do the work for us (he did our bathroom remodel for us last year). He came over today and replaced the section of the ceiling that was damaged, and got it mudded. He’ll come back tomorrow to texturize and paint it.

Ben working on ceiling repairs in the garage

In addition to getting all these repairs done, I listed a couple more pieces of furniture on Facebook Marketplace this weekend, and both are already sold!

SOLD – Antique armoire converted to entertainment center

SOLD – Desk chair I’ve owned since about 1992

So things are continuing to move quickly toward getting the house put on the market this week. I have just two weeks of employment left before I retire, but they are loading me up with work to do until the very last minute. I have a lot of company-owned equipment that will have to be shipped back to Baton Rouge, but they are sending me all the boxes and packing materials, and will have UPS come by the house to pick everything up on the Tuesday after I’m cut loose.

So that’s all the news for the moment. Andy and I need to sit down tonight and fill out all the paperwork to complete the listing agreement on Tuesday evening. It’s going to be an exciting week!

Home Repairs and Good News!

Handy Andy has been a busy bee this week, lining up contractors and repairmen to handle our punch list of items that need to be addressed before we list the house.

On Monday, we had Keith Martin come over to repair the leak in the roof around the chimney. While he was on the roof, he also cleaned out the gutters. He charged us $125 for the work, but Andy gave him a $25 tip for being punctual and a good conversationalist.

Over the weekend while we were in Lowe’s, we ran into the contractor who remodeled our bathroom for us last year. We told him we needed to have a portion of the ceiling sheetrock replaced where it had been stained by the roof leak. He came over on Sunday evening to check it out, and said he would be back later this week to take care of it.

Yesterday, we had the electricians come in to install GFCI outlets where needed. We had to have three installed on the counter near the kitchen sink. Fortunately, they found that the outlets in the two bathrooms were already GFCI at the breaker box, so they did not need to be replaced.

New GFCI outlets in the kitchen

While the electricians were here, they also took care of some light switches that didn’t work, and made sure that all the breakers in the breaker box were properly labeled (something that was noted on the 2011 inspection report when we bought the house but we had never taken the time to address).

Total cost for Tuesday’s electrical work – $305.66.

After the electricians left, Andy started working on installing the new ceiling fan in the master bedroom. However, when he removed the old fan, he found that all the wires coming out of the ceiling were white, so he had no idea which one was hot. Since wiring is not his forte, he did the wise thing and called the electrician that had just left to get some advice. In the end, the electrician came back this morning and did the fan installation for us for $50.

New ceiling fan in the master bedroom.

We have someone coming over on Friday to pressure wash the roofs of the house and the workshop, and we’re waiting to hear back from the fence company about getting the chain link fence repaired where a huge branch fell on it last week.

This huge branch took out part of our chain link fence on July 1.

So things are progressing nicely on the repairs!

And then this afternoon, I got some GREAT news!!

I just found out that the neighbors on our east side are moving in two weeks. I was told that they are selling the house and moving to Plantersville. I have no idea what will happen to the house after they move out–if it will just sit empty, or if it’s been foreclosed–but at least we won’t have to listen to the fighting and yelling all the time. The property is in pretty bad shape, so it still concerns us as we’re getting ready to go on the market, but we’ll see what happens.

I have twelve more working days until I retire, but who’s counting?

And I miss Lizzy!! It kinda sucks that we can’t actually enjoy our time RVing while we’re getting ready to become fulltime RVers, but the sacrifice will be worth it!!

 

 

Prepping Our House for Sale

We had our first meeting with our Realtors on Thursday evening, and they have given us some homework to do.

On the positive side, they said the house, workshop and property were in very good condition, and they feel confident that we should be able to sell fairly quickly, possibly even get into a multiple offer situation. The inventory of houses in our price range here in the Tupelo area is very tight, which works in our favor.

Of course, there are always things that need attention and repair, and so the things that they pointed out to us did not come as a surprise. Most are minor things, but we’re going to try to hit them all if possible.

The list includes:

  • Spot on the kitchen ceiling – it was there when we moved in, probably from an earlier leak that had been repaired. They gave us some tips on how to remove the stain from the popcorn ceiling.
  • Roof leak over the garage ceiling – Andy has tried to fix this a couple of times with no success, so it’s time to call in the professionals.
  • Power wash the roof on both the house and the workshop.
  • Clean up the shrubbery beds and put in fresh pine straw.
  • Replace mini-blinds in the garage windows.
  • Replace the ceiling fan in the master bedroom (it died a few weeks ago).
  • Repaint the baseboards in the kitchen/breakfast/laundry room area which were scuffed up when the new tile was put in.
  • Have GFCI outlets installed in the bathroom and kitchen to bring them up to current code (these were called out in the home inspection when we purchased the house, but we went ahead with the purchase without the previous owner doing the update).

Our Realtors also left us some paperwork to fill out (i.e. disclosure form, etc.). They will be back to visit with us on July 17 when they will take photos for the listing, and then the sign will go in the yard on July 18 when we officially go on the market. At that time, we’ll nail down the asking price that we want to go on the listing.

They gave us a list of local contractors and repair guys, and Andy has started calling them up to get on their schedules. We can take care of a lot of things on the list ourselves, but roofing and electrical work are better left to the pros.

This morning we had the roofer come by to see if he could find the leak that’s causing the spot on the garage ceiling. He thinks he found the problem around the chimney, and will be coming back on Monday morning to do the repair. Andy will pick up the materials at Lowe’s for him this weekend so we’ll be ready.

Having the roof inspected to figure out where it’s leaking

I spent several hours this morning pulling weeds in the shrubbery beds and dead-heading the rose bushes. Fortunately it was overcast so the temperatures were bearable, but it was still very humid and miserable to be doing that kind of activity. Can’t wait until we can walk away from all this yard work!

We have a “challenging” situation with the neighbors on our east side. We may have to resort to some creative solutions to lessen the negative impact on our curb appeal, but we’ll see how that goes. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

So, we’re starting to move forward very quickly now, as the pace accelerates. I still have three more weeks to work before I’m officially retired. It’s going to be the longest three weeks of my life, I think! But when we think about everything that needs to be done to free ourselves of the house, our stuff and our responsibilities, it doesn’t seem like there’s nearly enough time to do everything that needs to be done.

But no worries, it will all work out just fine, I’m sure! Keeping our fingers crossed that the house sells quickly for a fair price!

How We Plan to Sell our Stuff

You just don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to get rid of it all.

Now that we’re starting to really get serious about The Big Purge, we’ll be using several different avenues to liquidate our belongings:

  • Yard Sales – We already had a large and fairly successful yard sale back in the spring, but we were still holding on to a lot of things that we use on a daily basis in our house. Now it’s time to let that stuff go as well, so our next yard sale will have a whole new selection of items that we didn’t offer last time. Some of our neighbors are already salivating. Right now it looks like our next sale will be the first weekend in August. It will be hot and miserable, but we need to get it done.
  • Goodwill – Whatever doesn’t sell in the yard sale will be going to Goodwill or the landfill. In fact, we already took a load last weekend of things that we didn’t think would do well in a yard sale–I think mainly we were just tired of looking at them and wanted them out of the house. But Goodwill is going to be seeing a lot from us.
  • Social Media – This will be the main place where we sell larger furniture items, and possibly even the Prius. I had always used Craigslist before when we lived in larger cities, but it doesn’t seem to deliver the same results here in a mostly rural area. So this week I tried listing a couple of things on Facebook Marketplace, and we were very happy with the results. I got rid of two milk crates of miscellaneous office supplies, along with our very nice leather recliner. I’ll be listing some more furniture items next week.
  • Specific Facebook Groups – Andy is listing a lot of his lapidary inventory in a Facebook group specifically related to that hobby. Not much luck so far, but we’ll see how it goes.
  • Freecycling – If someone we know and love has expressed an interest in anything that we’re getting rid of, then in some cases we’re just giving stuff away. For instance, yesterday Andy gave his big charcoal/gas grill to our next door neighbor (the good one!), as he has always been so willing to help out when Andy had his broken leg and when we needed someone to feed our feral cat while we were camping. They were so happy to get the grill, they fired it up last night and had a big cookout! Last week I gave my sewing machine and a bunch of sewing notions and supplies to my niece, as her daughter has started learning to sew. It’s nice to know that the things we give away will be used and enjoyed.

Tomorrow evening we meet with our Realtor to get started on the process of listing the house for sale. We’re trying to get it ready to show by cleaning, decluttering and repairing a few things that need attention.

The downside to all this activity is that we don’t have any time to actually take the RV on a road trip. I still have to work through the 27th of July, but maybe we can sneak in a trip in August after the house is listed. I wouldn’t mind heading up to the Smoky Mountains while we’re still in this part of the country.

We’ll see!