Currently in Escapees Dreamcatcher RV Park in Deming, New Mexico:
Greetings from our self-isolation pod in sunny New Mexico, where we are continuing to practice social distancing while I recover from a mild case of shingles. We have some exciting news to share, so let just jump right in.
Over the past few weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic situation continued to develop, it became clear to us that this virus is not going to magically disappear anytime soon. As much as we might hope for things to return to normal, that doesn’t seem to be a likely possibility in the near term, if ever. On the contrary, it’s more likely that our lifestyles are going to be seriously disrupted and changed for months and years to come by this event, in ways that we can only begin to imagine.
Because we live full-time in our RV without a permanent address, we are vulnerable to the whims of governmental executive orders and/or campground owners when it comes to having a place to park our rig. Right now we are lucky enough to be in an Escapees park–the Escapees organization is a large and politically active group that continuously lobbies governments on behalf of its members to protect the rights of full-time and part-time RVers. The Escapees legal team advocates for RVers, and so far this park has been able to remain open despite the 25% occupancy restriction that was imposed by the governor’s latest executive order. The park has stopped accepting any daily/weekly guests and now only accepts monthly rentals, effectively operating as a residential park. That’s why we’ve been able to continue staying here, even though the park appears to be well over 50% full, maybe closer to 75%.
Most government officials do not understand the full-time RV lifestyle, and just assume that we are (a) campers, (b) homeless, destitute transients, or (c) rich boomers with permanent summer/winter addresses to call home. We, and many others like us, do not fit into any of those categories. We live in our rigs full-time because we like to travel and explore new places, while following the nice weather across the seasons. We are financially independent, but not what you would call wealthy. And we don’t have a permanent home to return to because we sold everything when we hit the road, because we didn’t want to be burdened down with all the stuff we weren’t using or a house that we didn’t live in anymore.
But that was before COVID-19 turned our whole world upside down in a matter of weeks. When it first started, we all thought that our government and our medical community could get this thing under control in a month or two, and that we could then go on with our lives. But that’s not happening.
Andy and I had a lot of conversations about what we needed to do to make ourselves as secure as possible in this new reality. After weighing our options, we both felt that it made sense for us to look for a small property that we could purchase and use as a “home base”–a place where we can hunker down and not have to worry about getting evicted. We’ve always liked the Deming area, so we decided to start searching here.
Our first thought was to just find an empty lot where we could park the RV. Ideally it would be a property that already had utilities installed, as the cost to run electric, water and septic here in the desert is not cheap. We talked to a realtor and she pointed us to a half-acre lot with a beautiful view on the southeast side of town, near Rockhound State Park, listed for $50k.
The lot had a low block fence around it with two gates. There was a utility building and two concrete RV pads with 50-amp hookups already on-site, along with septic and well water. There was a little bit of desert landscaping, but the lot was pretty overgrown. It’s located at the intersection of two county roads, with a group of dumpsters nearby.
We walked the property, and although the view of the mountains was amazing, we felt that the property was just too big for what we needed, and would require too much maintenance to keep the weeds down. Additionally, after we read the deed restrictions, it became obvious that we wouldn’t be able to leave our rig parked there and live in it for any length of time without starting construction of a permanent building.
So then we started exploring other options, and that’s when I found what we think will be the best solution for us under the circumstances. I found a listing for a property in a 55+ community in Deming that has a single-wide mobile home, a small workshop/storage building, and an RV pad with hookup. The price of the property was lower than the the price of the lot that we had looked at previously.
We met with a realtor to view the property on Monday. Because of COVID-19, we weren’t allowed to touch anything on the property. The seller had left all the doors and cabinets open, but we couldn’t check things like how the toilets flushed or whether all the burners on the stove worked because we couldn’t touch them.
The home has 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, and is about 980 square feet On the surface, it appears to be in decent shape, although the decor is seriously outdated. It does appear that the carpet and floor coverings are fairly new, but the walls in the kitchen and utility room would need to be painted to cover up that old-fashioned design. The sale includes the refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer.
The outside of the mobile home appears to be in good shape. It has an elastomeric roof which was last coated 2 years ago (estimated life 10-20 years). The home has evaporative cooling and gas heat. There is covered parking on one side for the truck, and the RV pad is on the opposite side. The landscaping is all xeriscape (gravel), so there’s no mowing required. The workshop is small, but since we don’t own much, there should be room for Andy to do a little jewelry work in there.
We submitted a full price offer of $45K on the property on Tuesday, and as part of the offer we asked the seller to throw in some furniture–the dinette set, loveseat, recliner, end tables and both beds. With all the furniture stores closed right now, we were trying to make it a little easier to furnish the place without having to order everything online. I wasn’t particularly fond of the owner’s furniture choices, but thought they would be fine for the time being.
The owner gave us a counter offer, basically saying “No, you can’t have the furniture but I’ll take your full price offer.” So we countered back at $40K, and then waited almost 24 hours until we heard anything back.
Late yesterday afternoon, we got another counter offer: $43K, plus we get the dinette set and two beds. We accepted the counter offer, and so it looks like we have a contract on our new property.
There are so many advantages to having this property as a home base:
- So far there have only been two cases of COVID-19 identified here in Luna County, and the state as a whole has a fairly low incidence in comparison to other states.
- It’s located in a part of the country where we enjoy traveling, where the weather is good and the taxes are low.
- We like that it’s in a 55+ community where people look out for each other and there aren’t a lot of kids running around unsupervised.
- Having our own washer and dryer means we won’t have to go to the laundromat, potentially exposing ourselves to COVID-19.
- We’ll have a place to store things that we don’t use very often (off-season clothes, Andy’s jewelry-making equipment, etc.) so we don’t have to haul it around with us when we go on a road trip.
- We can establish relationships with local doctors in case one of us needs healthcare.
- It’s close to the border town of Palomas so we can visit Mexico for dental care and eye glasses, and possibly prescriptions if we need them.
- We’re only about an hour away from Las Cruces and maybe 90 minutes from El Paso, so when things open back up, we can get to more large-city amenities fairly easily.
We’ve set a tentative closing date of May 12, but with things the way they are, the broker said there’s a 50-50 chance that it might get delayed somewhere along the line. Of course we’re having an inspection done, and hopefully nothing major will turn up to squash the deal. The title offices are closed to the public, and the banks are open by appointment only, so it will be a little tricky to get all the paperwork and funds handled while social distancing. But we’ll get through it, thanks to electronic signatures and the internet.
In the meantime, we’re comfortably living in the rig here at Dreamcatcher, having just paid for another month’s rent. I’ve already started shopping online, looking for the furniture pieces that we’ll need, but of course I can’t order anything until we have the address where it can be delivered. Most likely we’ll be using our folding chairs as living room furniture when we first move in.
What does this mean for our nomadic lifestyle?
Well, until this pandemic is under control, we won’t be nomads. We’ll be staying in one place, keeping our distance, and trying to stay healthy. But we definitely plan to start traveling again once its safe to do so, probably for months at a time, but returning periodically to our new home base to take care of maintenance on the rig or for annual health checks.
So that’s our big news for now. Amazing how things can change so quickly, isn’t it?
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