House-less But Not Home-less

Sometime between 2:00 and 2:30 this afternoon, we officially became house-less. After two final exhausting days of disposing of the last of our belongings and then cleaning the house and workshop thoroughly, we closed on the sale of our house this afternoon.

Before heading to the attorney’s office to sign the paperwork, we drove by the house to test all the keys that we were planning to deliver to the buyer and to say good-bye to our wonderful next-door neighbors, Mary Ann and Ronnie (unfortunately they weren’t home at the time). Andy made one more visit to his workshop where he spent so much time creating his beautiful silver jewelry, and then we drove away for the last time.

We made one last trip to Goodwill to leave our Vitamix blender and our Cuisinart food processer. We’re still going through the downsizing process even after moving into the RV and truck, and these two items were taking up more space and weight than they were worth to us in the great scheme of things, so they had to go. Living a minimal lifestyle in a small space is all about letting go and examining our “stuff” to really determine its worth and utility. In our heavily consumerist society, we so often use the words “need” and “want” interchangeably, but living in a small space brings the meaning of these two terms into much sharper focus and teaches us just how little we actually “need” to live a full and interesting life.

After leaving Goodwill we drove to the closing attorney’s office and took care of signing all the closing paperwork. We were very pleased with the final amount that we received after the closing costs, commissions and loan payoff were deducted. These proceeds just add to the nest egg that will fund our travels until I finally decide to start drawing my pension and Social Security. We finally got to meet the buyer, and we hope that he enjoys the house and the neighborhood as much as we did. We left several things in the house that we either couldn’t or didn’t choose to sell–one recliner, one Sleep Number bed, surround-sound speakers and Pioneer receiver, kitchen hutch, full set of bathroom linens for the hall bath, as well as a lot of smaller odds and ends. The realtor had told us that the buyer was a veteran, just moving out of his Mom’s house, and that he didn’t have a lot of furnishings to get started with, so we were happy to leave a few things to get him started–less for us to have to fool with disposing of.

We left the Sleep Number bed for the buyer, along with bed linens

The closing process was handled quickly and efficiently, and as soon as we had the check in hand, we went right across the street to our bank and deposited the check. From there, we went directly to Starbucks to celebrate–and also to use their wi-fi so I could catch up on emails and the bookkeeping. This week we are staying at Tombigbee State Park which is just about fifteen minutes from downtown Tupelo, but the cell service out there is pretty weak, so we aren’t spending a lot of time on the Internet. After Starbucks, we made a stop at Walmart to pick up some groceries and other essentials, and then made our way “home” to the RV where the kitties were waiting for us.

So, we are now house-less, but we are far from home-less. We have a comfortable RV home that is air-conditioned and heated, has a full shower, convection microwave, three-burner propane stove, refrigerator and freezer. We live comfortably with our two cats, and now that we aren’t tied to a street address, we can travel the country to where the weather is more to our liking and the scenery is just as varied as the country is wide.

Our home on wheels, Lizzy

We love each other, we are best friends and we have a common dream that is finally coming to fruition after years of hard work, saving our money and living a lifestyle that some would consider frugal. Our home is wherever we are together, and right now it’s in an RV named Lizzy that is about to take us on a great adventure.

Smiling in the attorney’s office as we prepare to close on the sale of our sticks and bricks house

Tomorrow (Thursday) Andy will leave some more of his handmade jewelry with the shop in Tupelo that handles his work (The Main Attraction–check it out if you live in the Tupelo area!!). Then on Friday morning we will pull out of the park fairly early, meet my parents for breakfast and from there we will be on our way toward Texas in our home on wheels.

This is real!!

Move-In Day

The big day finally arrived! We moved out of our sticks-and-bricks home, and into our 24′ Class C RV where we will live and travel full time.
Of course, we aren’t totally free of the house just yet. The sale does not close until Wednesday (three days away), but almost all of our worldly possessions have been sold, donated, gifted or sent to the landfill. And I can’t tell you just how freeing that feels!
We got up around 5AM this morning to get started on the big day. My brother, Steve, came by around 6:30 when he got off his shift at the hospital. He picked up our television to replace his TV which got fried by a lightning strike a couple of weeks ago. We were so glad that we were able to help them out, especially since they have been so helpful to us in getting the workshop cleared out and ready for closing. He also brought over a dozen fresh doughnuts, which just sweetened the deal!
We picked up Lizzy (our RV) from the storage yard around 7:45, filled her up with gas (35 gallons @ $83.75), brought her home and parked her at the end of the driveway. Then we started the process of moving our stuff out of the house and into the RV.
While Andy was working on loading up the outside basement storage area, I started with clothes and wardrobe items since those went in the rear overhead bins above the bed. It’s hard to believe that all my clothes now fit into such a small space. We’re using packing cubes to help keep things organized, but it will still take some time to get used to finding specific t-shirts and shorts amongst all the different packing cubes.
Next I started loading the overhead/over-cab area at the front of the RV. This was fairly straight-forward since we had already planned out this storage arrangement on our dining room floor. It was just a matter of picking up bins, carrying them to the RV and placing them in the same arrangement that we had configured in the dining room.
Then it was time to start on the real challenge, loading the kitchen and dining area. This was especially challenging for a couple of reasons. First of all, Andy and I eat primarily a plant-based diet, and we eat very little processed food, sticking mainly to fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and grains. Because of that, we have a lot of kitchen utensils, spices and gadgets that we feel are essential to our diet. The RV has very limited storage space in the kitchen area, so we had to get very creative and put a lot of things in the overhead space.
Just to give you an idea, we have two Instant Pots (3 qt and 6 qt), a Crock Pot, a Vitamix blender, a full-size Cuisinart food processor, a mini Cuisinart food processor, and a Ninja blender. When we were considering what things were essential to our livestyle and what we needed to downsize, we both agreed that a healthy diet was of utmost importance to us, and was something that we were unwilling to compromise on. So our RV (and the truck) will be carrying a lot of kitchen equipment, along with a lot of fresh produce, beans and grains.
In the middle of loading up the RV, we had more people come by to pick up furniture items. One lady had reserved one of the recliners when she came to our yard sale several weeks ago, and she picked it up today. Our next door neighbors (the good ones!) got one of the beds, and our other neighbors up the street picked up a cabinet and a pair of sawhorses that they purchased at the yard sale. It was good to get more of the stuff moved out of the house even while we were loading up Lizzy.
And it was so HOT today! I think the high temperature was around 93°, and of course it was humid, so that made it just a litte more miserable. We opened all the windows in the RV and turned on all the fans, which was a great idea until wasps started flying around inside. They even started building a next on the awning supports, so Andy had to get out the wasp spray to get rid of them.
We worked ourselves pretty hard until around 2:45 when we decided it was time to start winding down. Andy started up the generator and turned on the A/C inside the RV to let it start cooling down while we loaded a few more items. Around 3:30 we were ready to start the drive over to Tombigbee State Park where we’re staying this week.
Of course, the cats, Maggie and Molly knew exactly what was going on and decided it was a good time to hide under the bed. I had to get the vacuum cleaner after them to chase them back out into the hallway where we were able to corral them and get them into their carriers for the trip.
We got to the campground a little after 4PM and got set up pretty quickly. Then we both got a good shower, had a cold brew and then relaxed for the evening. When it came time for dinner, we were too tired to really put too much effort into it. We had decided not to stock the refigerator and freezer today because the unit was not cold enough after sitting in the hot sun without air conditioning all day. The only food we had on board was some canned beans, canned tomatoes and lots of dried beans, rice and other grains. So we mixed a can of black beans with a can of diced tomatoes, threw in some Mrs. Dash Southwest Seasoning and some other spices, and enjoyed a quick bean soup.
Tomorrow we’ll go back to the house to continue cleaning out what’s left. We’ll have to take a load to Goodwill and possibly a load to the dump. I’m going to put a lot of stuff in the garage to see if the neighbors need any of it (toaster, printer, etc.) We’ll clear out the refrigerator and freezer and bring some of that stuff to the RV, and we’ll also hit the grocery store for some fresh produce. Our goal is to have the house empty by the end of the day tomorrow (Monday).
On Tuesday we’ll go back and concentrate on cleaning–sweeping, mopping, cleaning the shower, etc.
And then on Wednesday, we close on the sale!
Thursday we plan to just relax and maybe do a little more organizing.
And then on Friday, we’ll pull out of here and head west toward Texas.
But tonight is our first night in the RV as full-timers, and I am just giddy I’m so excited! This is a day we have dreamed of for so long and it’s finally here!
Life is good!!

Three Days and Counting

Only three days left until we move into Lizzy, our 24′ Class C RV!

We have been so busy for the past few weeks that I haven’t had the time or the energy to write a blog post, but here we go. We are right on the verge of having all our non-essential possessions liquidated in some form or fashion, and we’ll soon find out if we have downsized enough to fit into the RV and the truck.

One of our bigger storage areas will be the overhead space, or cab-over space, in the RV. This space measures a whopping 32.5 square feet, is 25″ high at the front and 10-1/2″ high in the back. Additionally, there is a weight limit of 500 pounds in the overhead.

IMG_1888

Our overhead, or cab-over, space in Lizzy

After we finally sold the dining room furniture, we used painter’s tape to mock up the overhead space on the dining room floor. Then we started filling in the space like a jigsaw puzzle, trying out different arrangements of storage bins and smaller items, always keeping in mind the height restrictions.

IMG_1891

Planning our organizational strategy for the overhead

We’re still playing around with the bins and small appliances, but I think we almost have it figured out.

The house is just about empty of furniture now. We still have our two recliners and the TV, so we eat our meals from TV trays while we watch other RVers on YouTube. All my office furniture is gone, so I use a plastic folding table and a folding chair to hold my laptop and scanner. All the bedroom furniture is gone except for the bed frames and mattresses, so we have what’s left of our wardrobes stored in the bins and packing cubes that we’ll be using in the RV.

IMG_1880

Our living room, which is also our dining room

One of the things that Andy was struggling with was how to purge his t-shirt collection. He had t-shirts from all our vacations, cruises, art festivals and interesting places that we’ve visited over the years. Since he had a birthday coming up, I suggested that we have a quilt made from some of his favorite shirts. I just happened to know someone who was a schoolmate of mine from Pine Grove, and she specializes in these t-shirt quilts. Long story short, she produced this beautiful quilt, preserving many of our favorite memories as well as providing a cozy wrap for those winter nights in the RV. Thanks, Pam!

IMG_1897

T-shirt quilt from Andy’s favorite shirts

Yesterday my brother Steve brought over his huge trailer, and he and Andy worked all day to empty out the workshop. We had planned to haul a lot of the stuff to the dump and then just leave most of the shelving in place, mainly because we didn’t have the time to try and liquidate it properly. But Steve said he wanted all of it and that he could re-home everything, so he wound up taking two trailer loads of “stuff” home with him where he has ample storage space to sort it all out. We were so grateful for his help in getting the workshop cleared out, and for making it possible to keep all that stuff out of the landfill.

While the guys were working in the shop, I was taking care of chores in the house. I made a trip to the laundromat to wash two large quilts that are going with us. I also spent some time brain-storming a solution for our spice and herb collection. The cabinet where they will be stored is 13″ deep and about 14-1/2″ high. This was my preliminary arrangement with the large Tone’s canisters stored lying down in back in two rows (I actually labeled the bottom of the canisters), and the smaller spice bottles in a wire rack in front that can easily be moved out of the way. The entire grouping was about 17″ wide.

IMG_1947

Preliminary organization idea for the spices

However, after thinking about it I realized that this would be a mess when everything moves around while we’re driving, so I got on Amazon and found a basket that measures 13″ by 17″ by 10″, the exact dimensions of this arrangement, and I’ll just put everything in that basket.

So, today is Thursday, and move-in day is Sunday. Still so much to do! It’s time to contact the utility companies and notify the post office of our forwarding address. We’ll do one final round of yard work (I like that word “final”!), and then deliver the lawn tools to my dad. I still have one piece of furniture and a few small things listed on Facebook Marketplace for sale, and I may list another item or two. We’ll need to make deliveries of donations to Goodwill, the local Gem and Mineral Society, and the Humane Society, as well as the landfill. I need to clean out the refrigerator and the pantry. We need to get the truck cleaned up and ready for loading.

And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head, as I have not yet had my coffee this morning. So I guess I’d better get up and get to it.

Someone asked me yesterday if I was enjoying my retirement. Although this is my fourth week since I left the work force, it really hasn’t hit me yet. It has definitely been nice to be able to concentrate fully on this downsizing task, especially since the house sold so much faster than we anticipated, but I haven’t had any time to rest and relax. So as soon as we get to Livingston, Texas, I’m pretty sure we’re going to spend a few days just hanging out by the pool!

But for now, back to the grind, and that includes coffee!!

 

Bittersweet Good-Byes

Yesterday I said good-bye to my baby. I didn’t want to do it, but if we’re going to chase this dream, then it had to be done.

Yes, I found a buyer for my 2007 Toyota Prius, and after meeting in downtown Tupelo and going for a quick test drive, we stepped into the downtown BancorpSouth building where the buyer works, and took care of the transaction on the spot. From there, we drove a couple blocks to the county courthouse and turned in the license plate at the tax collector’s office, and the deal was done. The whole thing took less than an hour.

IMG_1813

That’s my baby, being driven by her new owner.

It seems so strange to step into the garage and only see one vehicle parked there. But I haven’t really had a lot of time to dwell on it, as the days are really starting to go by quickly now, and we still have so much to do.

After we got back from selling the car, I spent most of the rest of the day wiping my Dell computer to prepare it for sale. It has a 2TB hard drive and a 30″ monitor, along with a set of Bose speakers. I did a total reset, which completely wiped the drive and then reinstalled Windows 10, leaving it in an out-of-the-box condition for the next owner. I then listed it for sale on Facebook Marketplace for a screaming deal of a price, and immediately found a buyer–my brother! Yep, he knows a good deal when he sees it! Enjoy the the system, Mark!

We have (or had) a lot of Southwestern collectibles from when we lived in Arizona, and we’ve found that Southwestern art does not really appeal to folks here in the South, so we haven’t really been able to re-home any of it. I’ve posted a couple of pieces for sale on Ebay this week to see if they’ll sell, and if not, they’ll all go to Goodwill. That’s sad, but it’s just not practical to try to keep it all. A lot of the pieces were sitting on shelves in the entertainment center behind a glass door where we never really saw them anyway, so were they really that important to us? Probably not, and it just makes us realize how much money we’ve wasted on stuff that doesn’t really bring us joy.

Today I spent most of the day doing more scanning and shredding of old records and documents. We have a fireproof lock box to hold all our really important documents like passports, birth certificates, etc., and that will stay in the RV with us. I bought a little scanner several months ago, the ScanSnap S1300i, and it is doing an awesome job of scanning old records quickly and efficiently. I’m saving the scanned files to our Dropbox account so we can access them from anywhere. I should have done this long ago even if we weren’t planning to get rid of everything and live in an RV. So much paper, all shredded and out of my life.

I also cleaned out the drawers in my nightstand, and ran across this dress and shoes from when I was a baby. I thought about hanging on to it, but decided to just capture a photo of it and then let it go. Once again, it was something that was just hidden in a drawer anyway, and the photos that I took are just as meaningful to me as the actual items. Since we don’t have children, there’s no one to pass it along to anyway, so it was just time to let it go.

IMG_1830

My dress and shoes from when I was a little younger.

Andy measured the bed of the pickup under the camper shell and then picked up the new storage bins that we’re going to use in the truck. He’s already packed his off-season clothes in one of the bins, and I’ll work on mine this week. I spent about an hour this evening going through all my toiletries and make-up, purging and combining things to get down to the minimum number of lotions and potions that I want to take with us. We have a fair amount of toiletry items that we had stocked up on at Costco, like bar soap, makeup remover wipes, Breathe Right strips, etc., that we don’t want to just toss. So we’re storing them in a smaller bin that we’ll use until that stash is depleted, and after that, no more stock-piling at Costco!

We also got a couple of administrative type things taken care of today.

First of all, I finally received my COBRA information from my last employer, so I was able to get enrolled for continuation of my health insurance benefits, including dental and vision for both myself and Andy (he’s on Medicare so he wasn’t on my health insurance). It’s really good insurance, and it turned out to be less than what we had budgeted, although it’s still obscenely expensive. I’m enrolled in a high deductible plan because I don’t have any known health issues, I’m not on any medications, and rarely see the doctor. The monthly premiums are:

  • Medical – $554.76
  • Dental – $72.68
  • Vision – $14.90

Secondly, we have our new mailing address! No, I’m not going to publish it here on this blog, but it’s in Livingston, Texas. Now we can start the process of filling out all those change-of-address forms. That’s one of those things about moving that I always dreaded, but now that almost all our business is done online, it’s not nearly so bad.

So that’s what we’ve been up to for the past few days. Still have not sold the dining room furniture or the microwave hutch, although I’ve lowered the price a couple of times. The bad thing about Facebook Marketplace is that you have to wait a certain number of days (10?) before you can re-post something, even if you change the price. With only 20 days left until closing, we may have to get more aggressive.

 

Happily Exhausted

What an exhausting weekend! But it was super-productive, and we also got to spend time with family members that we don’t get to see often enough, so it was worth the long hours, sweat and heavy lifting.

We had our yard sale yesterday (Saturday), and of course people were lined up in our driveway a good half hour before our advertised start time. What was the biggest draw? TOOLS!! I actually had people texting me from outside the house at 6:30 AM asking about what kind of tools we had for sale.

Andy had just gotten out of the shower when I told him that we had a crowd waiting to get in. He wasn’t very happy  about it, especially since he hadn’t had his coffee yet, but once the money started rolling in, his good humor came back and he enjoyed the process.

When we opened the garage doors it was like Walmart on Black Friday. There was a mad rush that lasted almost an hour, and then things settled down into a nice steady flow. Yes, we sold things cheap, and we even put a “free pile” in the driveway of things like half-empty bottles of cleaning supplies and half-rolls of shelf paper. We just wanted the stuff to be gone.

By about noon it was pretty much over and we broke for lunch. Andy’s nephew, Mike, had driven over from South Carolina the night before to pick up some family heirlooms and to help with the sale. My mom and sister-in-law, Kathy, also came over to help out, and we were glad to load them up with some things to take home with them as well. It was a lot of fun to hang out with them during the day, and in Mike’s case, for the entire weekend.

After we had lunch, we started packing up the remaining items which we’ll be donating to charity this week.

Items remaining after the yard sale ended on Saturday.

As we were getting the garage cleaned up, another person showed up to meet with Andy about possibly buying some of his lapidary equipment and supplies. He wound up buying the cabbing machine, almost (if not all) the rocks and stones, and some other supplies. It was tough for Andy to see all that stuff go, but it was for a good cause.

This morning, we loaded up Mike’s truck with not only the family heirlooms that he had come to retrieve, but also most of our old camping gear that he and his son should enjoy using (and hopefully his wife as well!).  He headed back to South Carolina after we promised to stay in touch so that we can all get together and do some camping in the future.

Mike loading his truck with family stuff and camping gear.

After having lunch and resting up a little bit, I finally completed the task that I have been dreading–I posted my Prius for sale in Facebook Marketplace.

My 2007 Prius is officially for sale.

Almost immediately I started getting inquiries about it, and I already have appointments for showings tomorrow and Tuesday, with others asking to be notified if it doesn’t sell to either of those. I’ve really enjoyed this little car, it’s been a workhorse and has had very, very few problems. I hate to part with her, but it’s part of the process.

I did some laundry today, mopped the kitchen floor and made sure the bookkeeping was up to date, but otherwise we just relaxed a little bit today. We’ll hit the ground running again tomorrow after a good night’s sleep. The plans for this week include showing (and hopefully selling) the car, applying for our mail forwarding service through Escapees, delivering the leftover yard sale stuff to charity, making a run or two to the landfill, continuing to scan and shred documents from the files, and wiping the files on my desktop computer so it can be sold.

We’re still trying to sell the dining room set and the microwave hutch. I’ll have some other furniture pieces to list soon (desks, bookcases, file cabinet, breakfast table/chairs). The bedroom furniture and recliners are semi-promised to certain individuals, and the television will be among the last things to go.

Oh, and we went ahead and made our reservation for Tombigbee State Park for the move-in process. We had originally thought we would stay at Barnes Crossing RV Park here in Tupelo, but after comparing rates, we saved over $150 by choosing the state park due to Andy’s senior discount as well as a credit on our Reserve America account from where we had to cancel a trip earlier in the year. Tombigbee is only about 15 minutes away, and we’ve always enjoyed staying there. It will be our home base while we move everything in and get it organized, and while we go through the closing process on the house sale.

Only three weeks until we move into the RV.

Wow.

Things That Keep Me Awake At Night

It’s 4:00 AM on Friday, and I’ve been awake for over an hour. Why can’t I go back to sleep? Because I’m trying to figure out the best place to store those blasted rolls of aluminum foil, plastic wrap and parchment paper in our little RV. There’s no good place!!

Only 26 more days until we close on the sale of our house and hit the road, and there is so much to do. We got the results of the appraisal yesterday, and everything looks good for a successful closing. The fencing guys finally came by to repair the chain link fence behind the workshop where the huge branch fell on it several weeks ago, so that was our last major repair expenditure. On Wednesday we took our two kitties, Maggie and Molly, to the vet for their annual checkups and vaccinations, and we also had them do a blood workup to check for any organ issues that we should be aware of–still waiting to get those results, but the vet said that they seemed healthy otherwise, although Maggie could stand to lose some weight (couldn’t we all!).

Our big push at the moment is getting ready for tomorrow’s yard sale. We’ve already started setting things up in the garage, but there is just so much STUFF that needs to be sold that we won’t be able to put it all out there at once. One of our neighbors was kind enough to offer the use of some more folding tables, and that will help tremendously. We’re keeping our fingers crossed on the weather forecast, hoping that the rain will hold off so we can put some things out on the driveway as well.

On Wednesday I visited Lizzy at the storage lot and brought home all the dishes, cookware and kitchen utensils that we had been using on our camping trips. Yesterday I went through everything in our kitchen cabinets and drawers, pulled out anything breakable to put in the yard sale and replaced it with the non-breakable items from the RV that we’ll be using going forward.

All our camping kitchen-ware from the RV

For instance, my 43-piece set of Mikasa stoneware that we’ve had since we got married is now on the sale rack, replaced with a few non-breakable plates, saucers and bowls from the RV. All my glassware and stemware is gone, replaced by two clear plastic goblets from the RV. Making these changes now will give us several weeks to make sure we still have the items that we need to prepare and enjoy our food while still keeping our possessions to a minimum.

Andy’s nephew is driving over from South Carolina to pick up some family heirlooms that we’re passing along, so we’ll put Mike to work helping in the yard sale for as long as he’s here. 🙂

Yesterday we sold our wine rack and one of our Roku devices on Facebook Marketplace. We sold our patio furniture to the next door neighbor (same one who got our grill). We still haven’t sold the dining room set or the microwave hutch, but there’s been a lot of interest so we’re still hopeful. I’ve also already had a serious inquiry about my car, but I’m not planning to post it for sale until Sunday at the earliest.

Andy has been going through his wardrobe and has managed to weed it out pretty well. He was having a tough time trying to narrow down his t-shirt collection, so we decided to have a quilt made from some of his favorites. I have a friend from high school who specializes in making t-shirt quilts, so I’ve sent the shirts to her so she can work her magic. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Now that the appraisal is done and we’re 99.9% confident that the sale will go through, we’ll move forward with some important things like getting our new address set up in Texas, reserving a site in the RV park here in Tupelo for our move-in, and selling the car. We’ll have to deal with all the stuff that does not disappear in the yard sale, and we will have some final larger items to sell like the bedroom furniture and the television that we’re still using for the moment.

We follow a lot of full time RVers on YouTube and listen to their stories about how they made the transition from sticks-and-bricks to the RV, and they all talk about how hard it is to totally divest yourself of all your possessions–not necessarily because of the emotional attachment (although there’s a good bit of that when it comes to certain items), but just the sheer volume of “stuff” that we tend to accumulate when we live in one place for too long. We tell ourselves that our stuff is valuable (how else could we justify hanging on to it), but you find out just how worthless all this crap really is when you try to sell it to someone–anyone–else. And when you have a hard deadline, like a closing date, to meet, it becomes even more stressful.

But underneath that stress, there’s this feeling of freedom that’s starting to bubble up, knowing that there will be no more yard work, no more utility bills, no more being stuck with crazy neighbors fighting in the street.

I’ll have about 10 square feet to sweep and mop. That in itself makes me happy!

Now, I just need to figure out a good place to put those stupid rolls of aluminum foil and parchment paper.