The Big Idea

February 21, 2016

Sell the house. Be nomads. Travel full time. 

Just how does one arrive at this decision?
In our case there wasn't one big moment, but just the confluence of several different things.

  • Retire before 60. This has long been one of our goals, and financially it is doable. No one gets to the end of life and says, "Gee, I really wish that I had spent more time in the office."   Well, maybe some people do, but not us.
  • Live somewhere warmer. We've been in the Chicago area for going on 29 years. We've had several winters where we said, "That's it. I'm not sure I want to do another Chicago winter." 
  • Live somewhere interesting. When we got married 36 years ago, we had a list of places in mind where we might like to live for a while. Seattle/Pacific Northwest, Alaska, San Francisco, Colorado, somewhere overseas (Jane's idea). We grew up in Michigan and lived there for 5 years after we were married. Then Southern California was home for several years. Now Illinois. None of these places were on the list.
  • Family ties. Our parents have all passed away. Our daughter and son-in-law live in Michigan, at least for now. But we've lived in Michigan and know what those winters are like. Don't need to do that again. Plus they have really bad drivers there. Our son is working full time. While currently in Illinois, he could easily be transferred to Minnesota. His girlfriend is from Singapore, currently living in San Francisco. Who knows where he'll end up. So we don't feel a strong family tie to any particular place.
  • Roots. We have put down roots in Illinoischurch, neighbors, friends. But Illinois was never a place where we wanted to end up. The landscape is boring. While the city of Chicago has lots of attractions, we really aren't big city people. We like oceans and mountains better. You can fly to anywhere in the world from O'Hare. But after traveling for projects in Aberdeen (Scotland), Houston, and Leiden (Netherlands) on just about a monthly basis for the past 5 years, I think I've seen enough of O'Hare.
And so we started thinking about where we might want to live when we retire. Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest looked interesting to me. But Jane wasn't so sure, because of the cloudy and rainy days. Lack of sunlight can be an issue for her. Colorado might be an option. But where? The front range is getting pretty congested. The mountains are great, but what about the winters? Arizona has potential, at least during the winter, but summer can be brutal, unless you're up in Flagstaff. Florida?  Maybe too cliche. So many options and so little information to go on for making such a big decision.

So we considered this possibility: Before we decide on a place, perhaps we should tryout living there for a few months, and see if we really like it. And the easiest way to do that would be to have a motorhome. As we began to investigate more, we found that there is a fairly sizable mobile community. Not just retirees, but people of all ages. Many of them blog about their experiences. Most post pictures that will make you want to consider this lifestyle. But mostly their experience convinced us that this is actually a pretty reasonable and achievable lifestyle choice. At least for a number of years. And why not get started as soon as you can?

So that's our big idea. We sold the house and hit the road August 3, 2016. So far, so good!

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  1. Very exciting. Kristin and I have talked about doing this for a year in about 10-15 years from now. It will be fun to read about your journey. (I appreciate your comment about bad MI drivers...It reminds me of driving to SERVE with Jane).

    1. We'll make all the mistakes, and you can learn from them. I'll even overlook how comments about bad drivers make you think of driving with me . . . ;)

  2. So excited for you guys! Wishing you Godspeed!

  3. Wow! Dad just told me the news. I am so excited for you guys and kinda jealous! What a crazy and awesome idea. I can't wait to see pics!

    1. Thanks, Rachel! How long until you guys move on--or are you in Ann Arbor for a while? jv


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