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!!

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.

 

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!

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!