At ATWS we’re interested in challenging the norm of debt and spending. That’s why once a month we feature people who have gone to (what some would say) extreme means with their living situations to get out of debt, save money and live a simpler life. Today we have a tour with Andrea and Brady. They’re a young couple from Minnesota currently living in a RV in sunny San Diego! Take it away, Andrea!
Hi, my name is Andrea Gaalswyk. I’m an Account Producer that works remotely for an Advertising & Design agency based out of Minneapolis, MN. My husband, Brady, also works remotely as a dispatcher for his family-owned trucking company based out of Southern Minnesota. We are currently parked in San Diego, CA and have been living in the RV for about 4 months.
Why did you decide to move into a RV?
We were entering into our second year of marriage and realized we didn’t have a house, kids, or pets yet – let’s embrace this freedom and travel the country.
Did you build or buy your home?
We bought our 31 ft travel trailer off of Craigslist for $6,800. We poured about $1,200 and 6 months into a cosmetic remodel that made it feel like home. Our remodel included 5 coats of white paint, replacing old flooring/tiling with peel and stick wood floors, ripping out the old bench table, new window treatment/curtains, and pasting birch wood wallpaper up in the bedroom.
Please describe your home.
From the outside it just looks like a normal old trailer, but then you open up our sliding glass door and step into a bright white southwestern, rustic-style homey apartment. We have a full kitchen with a fridge/freezer, a living room with our couch and table/chairs from our past apartment, a bathroom with a full shower and separate room for a toilet. Our cozy little bedroom holds our bed and a closet full of our clothes. The dark wood floors and bright white walls throughout the trailer help you quickly forget that you’re on wheels.
If you feel comfortable, we’d love to hear about the financial part of buying or building your home? What was your budget?
Our budget was to spend $10k or less. We ended up spending $8k on the actual trailer and remodel. There have been a few extra costs along the way… 4 new tires, a new anti-sway hitch for our truck, registering the trailer, new poop hose, and stabilizer jacks.
Did it cost more than you anticipated to build/buy your home?
No, we were really happy with the price we bought our trailer at. We had never remodeled a home, or done a lot of ‘fixer-up work’ before, so some of those costs surprised us. Overall though, we were able to stay within our planned budget.
What has been the most surprising cost of living in a RV?
Rent! I had no idea that RV parks charged these high of rates for their monthly fees. When I think about how all utilities are included and the great amenities (beach, security, pool, grounds maintenance) it makes more sense, but when we first hear the number we were a little taken aback.
Have you saved money since living in the RV?
Yes. We had some initial costs (buying the trailer, the remodel, road trip gas), but now that we’ve been living in it for a few months, the savings have started. Obviously the longer we live in the trailer, the more we’ll save.
How do your costs compare to your life before the RV?
Our apartment rent in Minneapolis, MN was $1300 rent/utilities + $70 parking + $45 electric + $70 Internet/TV = $1485 per month. For our trailer spot in San Diego we’re paying $850 rent + $30 parking = $880 per month. We don’t have to pay for utilities or internet and we don’t own a TV.
Please describe your daily life.
During our time parking in San Diego we are renting an office about 2 miles away from our RV Park. My husband and I share a 170 sq ft. basement office – this helps us separate our personal life and work and also helps us maintain a routine each day. Our exercise is all outdoors- running on local paths, we both have our bikes with us and hikes on the weekends. For meals we love using our grill or tiny kitchen to cook meals that we eat outside on our picnic table each night. We treat cooking in our tiny house the exact same way we did before – our trailer’s oven and stove work great. A few things we’ve had to get used to; limited counter space and a smaller refrigerator/freezer.
What is your favorite part of your home?
That we can bring it with us anywhere. You know how you just feel so relaxed when you have ‘your things’ with you and are able to sleep in ‘your bed’? Well, now we get to feel that all the time and in any cool new location we want.
What is the best part about living in your home? The worst part?
Best part: how cozy it is. We love how we decorated it to feel like ‘us’. The size is comforting; it’s simple, it’s easy. We love that.
Worst part: emptying the sewage once a week or keeping bugs out. We’ve never had to maintain our bathroom sewage before – there is a lot to learn in that whole process. Bugs (ants and flies mainly) love to sneak into our trailer; it feels like we’re constantly trying to get them out.
What advice do you have for other people who want to live a similar lifestyle?
Just start the process, start the remodel, start looking into buying a trailer or a tiny home, just start. We can’t lie; moving into this trailer has been A LOT of work. It was more work than we thought it would be. The remodel took longer than we thought, downsizing our belongings was more emotional and more complicated than we thought, moving is just so much work, learning how everything works within our trailer – it was all really hard. But now that we’re all moved in, we feel this giant weight lifted. Life literally feels lighter. We have so much more time on our hands and feel so much freedom in the fact that we are literally living in a ‘mobile existence’. Everyone should have a chance to slow down for a moment and experience this feeling.
Thanks Andrea! To follow more of Andrea and Brady’s adventures, visit their blog, Northern Nomads or follow them on Instagram.
Would you ever consider packing up your life to live in an RV? Let’s chat in the comments!
P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide