Looming Decisions

In the midst of a dramatic lifestyle change things don’t stay stationary for long. First there was the huge shift in perspective when I decided that yes, I really wanted to go full-timing. Then came the planning and research stage where many of my free hours were devoted to learning more about RVing and what I needed to do to get there. After a short pause the chaotic process of buying the truck and RV itself turned my world upside down again. Less than two months after that I was simultaneously moving out of and cleaning up my old apartment while moving into and stocking up the trailer.

The first couple of weeks I lived in the Casita there was a lot of running to Walmart to buy things I needed, learning how the RV worked, and figuring out how to organize things to best utilize the space. Now I’m in a bit of a lull again, but it’s already coming to a close.

I keep close tabs on my earnings and expenditures per month and this will be the first month since moving into the trailer that my spending should reflect what living in the trailer truly costs. Last month I was still buying a lot of things that I needed initially to make RV living work but weren’t ongoing costs.

Anyway, it looks like my total costs from 5/15 to 6/14 (yeah, my financial month starts in the middle of the actual month) are going to be $958.49, and because I worked Memorial Day, I earned $1090.30 this month, which is higher than average. Hooray, for the first time since I quit my higher paying job in January I managed to save money! Behold the money-saving power of RV living. The problem is, if I added the extra $175 for Julie’s half of the rent, I didn’t.

I’ve been averaging about 36 hours a week for the past six weeks, which counts as full-time even though I’m a part-time employee. A full-time position opened up at work which I’m pretty sure I would get if I applied. The thing is, I wouldn’t be getting many more hours than I already am (true full-timers seem to average 38 hours a week) and there wouldn’t be a pay raise. Basically, it doesn’t matter if I work full-time or not, once Julie moves out in August I’m either going to be holding steady with savings, or losing slightly, neither of which are good options.

Julie said before we moved into the Casita that if things didn’t work out and I needed to move back in with her temporarily after August that I could, but that’s not really a good option either. Her one bedroom apartment is going to be maybe $600 a month we’re guessing, and if I pay half of that to earn my keep it’s still only $50 less than staying here in the RV park. Factor in that I’d have to pay to store the Casita again and it makes savings negligible. Add in the work required to move all my stuff out of the RV into the apartment, then back into the RV at some later date and that makes it an even less attractive option – there may not even be enough room since the apartment is going to be much smaller than our last one.

So, it’s looking more and more like I won’t be hanging around Bluffton long after August. If I had been saving more, I might have stayed longer to save enough to be able to travel this winter without having to find more work. I would have liked to hit Quartzsite and try desert boondocking.

As it stands it looks like I’ll start searching for seasonal and/or temp jobs for the fall soon. On the bright side, my home has wheels and I have the whole of the country as my job pool. I’m sure I can find someplace fun and interesting to stay at and explore during the time I’m not working.

The only other place I’d like to be this year is home for the holidays, I haven’t spent Christmas with my family since moving to SC and I told them I’d do my best to make it up there this year. That opens up a whole different set of problems though since most places that hire seasonally in the fall are retail related and need you most during the holidays, plus the Casita would not survive Wisconsin winters so I’d need to find someplace warm (i.e. down south) to stash it for a bit and fly up there.


For anyone who’s curious, this month’s cost of living is the second cheapest since I started keeping track in October of 2010. I’ve covered in a previous post how much it took to get started RVing, but I thought I’d break it down here what the monthly cost differences are. Many things like food, insurance, and gas (remember I’m not traveling yet but living stationary in my RV) are the same. What changed for me is what follows:

The Old Apartment

  • Rent: $417.50
  • Internet: $31
  • Water: $17
  • Electric: $32+
  • Laundry: none
  • Total: $497.50

RV (Sharing costs with Julie)

  • Rent: $175
  • Internet: $0 (could be 35)
  • Water: none
  • Electric: none
  • Laundry $24
  • Total: $199 (saving $298.50 a month until August)

RV (Living on my own)

  • Rent: $350.00
  • Internet: $0 (could be 70)
  • Water: none
  • Electric: none
  • Laundry: $24
  • Total: $374 (saving $123.50 a month over apartment)


And that’s my updated plans so far. As always, I don’t quite know where I’m going but I’m confident that I’ll figure it out as I go along. What do your plans look like for the second half of the year?

Β The pictures for this post were taken Tuesday evening when the sun was setting through the rain. The first picture is looking at the sunset, and this one below is the full rainbow visible when facing away from the sunset. Had I still been living in the apartment I never would have seen this, I love how much closer to the natural world I feel living in the RV.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Ross Macintosh on June 17, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Hi Becky,

    Upon reading your background information (education & your work with animals) plus knowing that you take beautiful photographs, the first idea that came to mind was “Becky The Pet Photographer”. It is a service you could provide without much investment and it can move with you no matter where you travel. The travelling could even help — I’m imagining a portfolio that features different scenic locations. (Horses in Kentucky, puppies on a Florida beach, barn cats in Ohio, bird dogs in a Virginia forest, etc.). You could put together a website about the service and then get some cards or post cards printed. You can hand out to pet owners you meet as well as leave at pet supply stores and vet clinics. The cards could feature the url of your website where visitors could see your portfolio and contact you. You could also contact local kennels and even tack up some cards to bulletin boards at local grocery stores etc. It probably wouldn’t be that hard to get the word out when you roll into town.

    Given that you also like your computer maybe you could also do some photo manipulation — where you for a fee you manipulate pics or video that distant pet owners send you. There is for example a guy in my region who did a voice-over on a video of a dog (as if the dog could speak). It went viral on youtube and was voted their number one video last year. He now has a very successful service making similar videos from clips that customers send him from all over the world.

    In your downtime (when you aren’t out looking for pet owners or taking pics) you could write ebooks related to “How to Photograph your Pet” and perhaps about pet care or rv-ing with a pet. Maybe some who visit the site won’t pay for a photo session but might purchase a ebook. The good thing about ebooks is you do the work once and then potentially sell it for years after.

    It is something to think about: Becky + RV + Animals + Photography + Computer = “Becky-The-Pet-Photograper”.

    Regards, Ross

    • Becky on June 17, 2012 at 11:34 pm

      Thanks for the ideas Ross, it’s clear you put some real effort into thinking about this. It’s one more ideal to add to the pile, and the more ideas the more likely at least one of them will provide results.

  2. hobopals on June 16, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Becky, how about dog/cat grooming in RV parks? I know you say you don’t want to work with animals, but you could advertise with signs on your trailer and set up a table outside in warm weather. Just a thought. I had no idea that you had worked with animals when I suggested dog sitting.
    hobopals recently posted..Beautiful Portrayal of TexasMy Profile

    • Becky on June 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      Getting into grooming would require purchasing some equipment up front. Plus knowing how to actual evenly trim fur would probably help. πŸ˜‰ From my understanding it requires a lot of practice to get good at. Thanks though, it’s one more option.

  3. Reine on June 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Becky, Just a comment about winter in Wisconsin. If you’ll be staying with family and have a safe place to park, your Casita can handle it just fine. You just have to winterize the water system properly – but there are plenty of instructions on the Casita Forum. If you have electric connections, you can even live in her with a small electric heater – just not use the water system. Not recommended for a long stay but it would work for a week for a visit.

    Check out the Amazon Camperforce that works the Amazon shipping facility in Kansas as a seasonal job. They hire a whole army of workkampers and I hear they pay well. Check out Mountainborn Chronicles for December 2011. http://mountainborn.blogspot.com/2011_12_01_archive.html
    I think they finish two or three days before Christmas so you could get home in time for the Holiday..

    • Becky on June 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      Yeah I have thought about Amazon seasonal work before, but I had dismissed it because I figured you’d have to work right up till Christmas Eve. If in fact you get done a couple days before that it’s definitely worth another look since I’ve heard that you’re right and the pay isn’t bad.

      Working at the site in Kentucky would be halfway between here in SC and my parent’s house in Wisconsin, hmm. Guess I need to see what the climate is like there and if my little Casita could handle it without winterizing since I wouldn’t want to live 3 months without water.

      If I go this route I’d need to winterize it right afte leaving kentucky before I got up to WI though and I’d only have a couple days to get it done. Then there’s the question of where could I park the trailer at my parents.

      I’ll be looking closer into it. Thanks Reine. πŸ™‚

  4. Ross Macintosh on June 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Becky, clearly you get very little remuneration for your full-time work. That situation makes it very hard to get ahead. I’m very impressed that you manage as well as you do with those limited earnings. That said – you need to get a higher paying job sooner than later! Ideally it would be one that gives you skills you can successfully use to later earn an income when you hit the happy trails.

    You’ve written that you’ve had prior jobs with better pay. If you are willing to write about what jobs you’ve had in the past, your education, and skills & aptitudes you have, then I’m sure many of us follower friends would put on our thinking caps and try to help with suggestions that could lead to employment options you might not have already considered. Clearly you are a young lady with a good head on your shoulders, the ability to communicate effectively and make meaningful connections with others – even strangers as you have with us followers! Combine those attributes with your other skills & you’ll be cooking with fire.

    I think you should tap into this little community you’ve created and get some free career advice. You can bet us followers have a wide variety of life experiences — I have no doubt you’ll get some good advice. Heck, I’m sure some of us could even polish up your resume.

    Regards, Ross

    (PS – My little trailer is in production now. The factory sent me some pics. It is very exciting)

    • Becky on June 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      Congratulations on the trailer Ross! I hope you plan on putting the pictures up on the internet and leave a comment with a link so I can see them. πŸ™‚

      I’m making $9.50 an hour currently at a retail store, which would probably be enough if I didn’t live on the coast where everything is more expensive (including RV parks) but it is what it is. I’ve worked retail before when I was in school, I’m not great at the selling part but I’m friendly and helpful so customers tend to like working with me, hah.

      I have two associate’s degrees, one as a veterinary technician and one as a laboratory animal technician, I’m actually certified as a veterinary technician in Wisconsin and have the first level of certification through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.

      I worked in research before this, which is why I don’t give specifics – animal research is a hot topic for some people and I don’t want to get into a lengthy debate about the morality of it. Again I was good at my last job and they were sad to see me go, but I was done with it. I love animals, but am not passionate about earning my living working with them, at least not like that. If I ever wanted to get back into it I’m sure I could get another job doing that kind of work, people with my experience and certifications are hard to find, I just don’t really want to unless there is no other choice. That being said, I’m not going to starve or anything like that, if it comes down to it, I will go back to that kind of work.

      Likewise I could probably get a job working at an animal clinic without much problem, even if I don’t have prior experience with that. It just doesn’t sound like fun to me, I dread owners who can’t afford to give their pet the care it needs (or simply won’t spend the money).

      Ideally I want to sign up for the volunteer national disaster relief program for pets though. Basically in the event of natural disasters there are a lot of aid programs set up for people, but those programs can do very little for the victim’s pets that need medical care. It’s not something I could have done living in one place with a 9-5 job because the call could come in at any time from any place and I couldn’t just up at leave work for a week to go to whever the disaster might be. But living in a RV, I could. πŸ™‚

  5. Becky on June 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks Sherry, comments like these make my day. I’m not sure how many full-timing hopefulls actually read my blog but if I help just one of them get on the road it’ll all be worth it.

  6. Sherry on June 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I continue to be impressed with our determination. For such a young woman you have learned a lot of important life lessons in much less time than it took most of us. Hope you are an inspiration for others your age not to get caught up in the work, spend, work so you can pay for it, spend to relax from the work so you can pay for it nightmare.

    Sherry recently posted..Springs and ShellsMy Profile

  7. hobopals on June 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Becky, maybe I missed something along the way. Have you considered work camping? You can get a free spot as a camp host (no rent) and some positions come with an additional stipend or.

    One young woman, Rae, has been successful living “her” dram. You might want to take a look at her blog, if you haven’t already. http://travelswithmiranda.uskeba.ca/ – Shows it can be done.
    hobopals recently posted..Beautiful Portrayal of TexasMy Profile

    • Becky on June 14, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      Hiya Nancy. I have considered work camping and I will be looking into that as a possible income source. The problem is like you said, the site may be free but most work camping positions don’t pay much beyond that. Looking at my monthly cost of living ($958.49) and minusing what I spend on my site ($175) I still need to make at least $783.49 in a month (it’ll be a lot more next month since car insurance is due) to cover food, health insurance, gas, etc. and that doesn’t take into account that I want to be saving money for RV upgrades, want to eventually travel with a pet.

      I have followed Rae’s blog for a long time. She earns some money on the road via transcription work (seems like it’s a lot of translating French to English and vice versa). I have another solo young RVing friend who is actually hitting the road tomorrow and French/English transcription is how she’s earning her way. Sadly I don’t know a second language so I can’t do this. It’s also worth noting that transcription doesn’t pay Rae’s entire way, last winter for instance she took a temporary gig managing an apartment complex – and that’s likely what I’ll have to do starting out as well, travel seasonally taking temp jobs as I go.

      I have no doubt that I can do it, it’s just going to take some time to find the way that works best for me and that way will likely evolve with time. It’s not as easy as finding a monotonous and comfortable 9-5 that pays the bills but eats at the soul.

      Actually I’ll probably be writting about earning money on the road soonish, just waiting to do it until I know enough to make an educated post.

      • hobopals on June 14, 2012 at 7:36 pm

        I wonder how much you could make maybe dog sitting for people who want to see the sites–if you get near an attraction or washing and waxing cars–and since you are young maybe motorhomes–don’t need water with The Solution.

        House cleaning is pretty lucrative–may work you don’t want to do, but the charge and arm and a leg. Of course, this is all assuming you’ll be staying in one spot for a while.

        How about online medical or legal transcription. Maybe there’s an online course you could take.

        Just suggestions. I, like Sherry am impressed that you are dreaming BIG, and I’m rooting for you to succeed.
        hobopals recently posted..Beautiful Portrayal of TexasMy Profile

        • Becky on June 15, 2012 at 7:18 pm

          Thanks for the ideas, I’ve contemplated dog and cat sitting before, it’s a possibility. Thought about medical transcription too given my background in the medical field (albiet animal medicine) but you need to get certified in that before most employers will look at you and I’m not sure I want to be investing the money in the courses needed at this time. Haven’t dug too deep into what the costs would be but it’s something I might look at again sometime.

          House cleaning I haven’t really considered before, guess that’s one more to add to the list.

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