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 Michelle and Wes. They have been living in a Winnebago RV on the road for the past year. Take it away, Michelle and Wes!
Hello! My name is Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. My husband, Wes, and I and our two dogs are full-time RVers and we love this lifestyle. We sold our home in the summer of 2015 and bought an RV that exact same week.
As I’m typing this, we are currently in Tucson enjoying the amazing weather here. We have plans to spend time in Moab, Colorado, Florida, and spend extended stays in the states where our families are this year.
Why did you decide to move into a RV? (Financial reasons, more freedom, ownership, etc.)
Our business allows us to work from wherever, so we wanted to use that to our full advantage and travel more. We were hardly at home anyways, so it was a waste of money paying for a place that we were constantly trying to escape from.
Now, we get to choose where we live every month and it’s like we are on one super long vacation. We love seeing new places, being outdoors, meeting new people, trying new restaurants, and more.
It just made sense for us to live on the road. After this, we plan on possibly trying out living on a sailboat. I’ve heard that’s a lot more difficult, though, so we are going to spend our time doing RV life first.
Did you build or buy your RV?
We bought our RV. We have a 2016 Winnebago Brave. It’s a Class A and 33 feet long! We just bought this one in February of 2016, but we had a smaller one that we bought in July of 2015. We realized that we needed more space so we upgraded. That cost us a little bit of money to switch RVs so quickly, but it was a change that was needed.
Please describe your home.
We have a 2016 Winnebago Brave. It’s a Class A and 33 feet long. We have two slides, so our RV seems HUGE on the inside. The bathroom in here is even bigger than the bathroom we had in our master bedroom’s bathroom in our house!
We have a kitchen with an oven (surprisingly, some RVs don’t have this!), an enormous front window with beautiful views, and more. We love our RV and the space is great for our small family.
Everything is original in our RV. Many RVs are designed extremely horribly, but our Winnebago Brave is absolutely beautiful on the inside.
Our RV is retro on the outside, and that’s what we fell in love with. Funny enough, we have had several people come up to us and compliment us on our renovation job. Many people actually think our RV is a pristine one from decades ago!
Oh yeah, and we have a king-sized bed in our RV! It’s just like if we were at home.
If you feel comfortable, we’d love to hear about the financial part of buying or building your home? What was your budget?
We bought our RV brand new, so it was expensive. Its MSRP was for around $125,000 but we got it for $80,000. RV prices are ALWAYS inflated, and you can usually get around 30% of the MSRP.
This was around our budget too. We wanted to spring for a diesel RV as they tend to do better in the mountains and can carry more weight, but we couldn’t justify the expense since we’ve never driven something so big and wanted to test it out first. Diesel RVs are usually around twice the price of gas ones, so that is something to think about.
What has been the most surprising cost of living in a RV?
I guess I never realized how expensive RV parks and campgrounds can be. You’d think that a parking spot with utilities would be a lot cheaper, but you can easily find yourself paying over $1,000 a month at RV parks and campgrounds if you’re not careful.
Have you saved money since living in the RV?
Yes! Now that we live in our RV, we are much more mindful of what we buy due to the fact that we can only carry so much weight. We now think long and hard about whether a purchase is worth it or not and this has helped us save a lot of money.
How do your costs compare to your life before the RV?
We are spending a little less money than we were before. This is because before we were still traveling and paying for our house. Now, we just travel in our house!
Please describe your daily life (i.e. How do you work, exercise, eat meals, etc.)
It’s pretty much the same as when we had our house. I work in my RV or sometimes at a dog park while my dogs play. I exercise in the best way possible, by enjoying the outdoors wherever we are. I go for a hike once a day, so I don’t think life could be any better!
For meals, we do eat out a decent amount. We like to enjoy new food and new restaurants whenever we visit a new place, so that hurts our food budget. We do still cook in our RV, though, too.
For our days, we usually wake up around 7 a.m. and take our dogs for a long walk and to the dog park. Then, we’ll come in and eat breakfast that my husband prepares. I’ll then work on my laptop for a few hours and Wes will go for a long bike ride. He either goes mountain biking or road biking, depending on where we are. When he gets back, I usually go for a long hike with our bigger dog, and then I come back and we have lunch. I’ll work some more and we may explore our new town a little bit too.
What is your favorite part of your home?
My favorite part of our home is that we can travel to new places and bring the comfort of home with us. This is great for both of us, as well as our dogs. We love exploring new places and couldn’t imagine a better way to do it.
What is the best part about living in a RV? The worst part?
The best part is definitely being able to travel. The worst part is probably driving it! This thing is huge! And, other people usually drive really horribly around RVs. You really realize how bad other drivers are when you’re driving something this big.
What advice do you have for other people who want to live a similar lifestyle?
My top piece of advice is that it is possible! So many people think that they can’t RV because they are too scared of the unknowns. The big one being money. There are so many jobs out there that allow you to work from your RV, online, or on the road. You just have to try.
Thanks Michelle and Wes! What an inspiring life! If you want to read more about them, check out their website, Making Sense of Cents.
Do you live in a tiny house or alternative dwelling? Reach out to us for a feature.