We built our family dream house on a 1/2 acre with a pool, swing set, and sandbox. We were set. Then we sold it all to buy an RV and travel around the US with our 4 kids and 2 dogs!
We have been living in our RV for over 2 years now and it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions and experiences, but it has all been worth it.
You’re probably wondering how we went from living the American dream to becoming homeless nomads.
Here you go!
How We Went From Our Dream House To Living In An RV
My husband and I were high school sweethearts. We starting dating the beginning of Junior Year. We ended up going to the same college, got engaged after Junior year, had an amazing wedding 2 years later, built our first house, then got a couple dogs.
Next step was to sell our house and build a bigger house so we could have a family, because we were under the impression bigger was better, bigger was needed…
So that is what we did.
Built a 2700 sq. foot house with 4 bedrooms on a 1/2 acre and eventually fixed up our basement to give us more than 3000 total sq. ft.
It was a dream house. We literally designed it to have everything that we wanted. It was the house we would grow old in and have grandkids come back to. It was that house. The house was on a dead end with a large open field next to it. We really couldn’t ask for more.
Next came starting a family. We started with 1, then unexpectedly got pregnant with twins, then had 1 more. So, in 4 short years we went from no kids to a family of 4 plus 2 dogs. During this time our house continued to fill up with more and more things. We literally had every toy you could imagine, and our friends would come over to have their kids play at our house so they could figure out what to buy their kids for Christmas. Seriously, we had that many toys.
Life was good. Really, we can’t complain.
The only thing was every weekend was spent going to Home Depot or Target to buy things to keep filling our house or to fix something that got broken. Then when we weren’t at the store, we were spending so much time taking care of the things we did have. Cleaning the house, cutting the grass, putting things away, building new things.
It really consumed us. We were having less and less family time and more time spent working at our jobs or on our house.
Feeling Suffocated In The “American Dream”
We started to feel suffocated in this amazing house and life we had built. Money was tight. We had to pay for this house and we could afford it, but it didn’t leave much extra. At this point my husband was working a 9 to 5 and I was a stay-at-home Mom with a direct sales business on the side. That did bring in a couple thousand a month to help cover birthday parties, activities, and those trips to the store. But that was it. We were always playing catch-up, and life was so busy with what we came to feel were meaningless things.
We didn’t have the amount of family time that we wanted. To really just be a family without a bunch of distractions. And we knew that having less and traveling as a family would help deepen our family bond.
Hence the idea started brewing about first downsizing then freeing up time and money and, finally, traveling. We had been planning to homeschool the kids since our oldest was 2, so that opened a huge door since we weren’t stuck on the school schedule. My husband had a job in IT which meant he was working remote 1 day a week and could potentially do more remote work or find another job which offered that.
Making The Decision To RV Full-Time
We looked into downsizing and talked with my sister and her family about buying a duplex together. They were in the same mindset as us and were ready to change it up. Then we started finding these other families online that were traveling full-time. WOW, it looked like an amazing life!
With the 2 dogs we knew hotel hopping wouldn’t work, so what is the best way to travel with pets? An RV! We started looking for an RV that we could take on short trips once we downsized. We found a 29 foot Class C which we bought to give it a go. We took our first long trip to Florida in January, and we were hooked. We called my sister and said let’s forget the duplex and travel full-time in our RV!
They were on board and so the crazy journey to downsize from 3000 sq. feet to a less then 400 sq. foot RV began! We did end up selling the Class C and upgrading to a 39 foot diesel class A motorhome. You can check out our setup here.
How we downsized for RV living:
The first round of downsizing wasn’t that hard.
It was a matter getting rid of the things we knew we wanted to get rid of and just hadn’t taken the time to do it. We used online tools like local Facebook garage sales pages and Craigslist to get rid of a lot of our larger items. Then we tried a garage sale, but given where our house was located, we didn’t get a lot of action. And we spent a lot of time pricing everything… I think we overpriced a lot, too. It seems like we thought our stuff was worth more then it really was.
We quickly learned that lesson and sold a lot more!
The next round of downsizing was harder.
This was going through each room to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of. This is where the mind shift started to happen. Did the kids really need 5 sweatshirts what are we going to do with all of these books?! Did we really have to keep all of those Christmas lights when we only used half of them. Things like that. We started looking at our stuff differently and really evaluating what we wanted to have versus what we had just because we didn’t want to make a decision to get rid of it or not. Just keeping it had been easier.
We got through that next round, and things were starting to clear out. At this time we hadn’t sold our house yet, so the pressure wasn’t on. We didn’t have a leave date in sight, so we were taking our time and letting our mind-set shift. In comes Christmas . . . I always went crazy at Christmas and bought the kids so many gifts. Even though I knew they’d only play with a few presents and the rest would be quickly forgotten.
I scaled back, but what we’d bought combined with all of their well-meaning grandparents’ and extended family’s gifts, we filled up a lot of the emptiness we’d worked so hard to make! Did I mention this was a journey for us??
After the holidays we got back at it. People started to show more interest in the house, so we knew we needed to do some drastic clearing out. It was an emotional process. I was so attached to the kids’ toys and things – more so than they were! I had to dig deep to get past that. We included the kids in the process and didn’t just take things away, but instead asked them to help make the decisions. They were great with it. They were much quicker to let go of things than I was. It really helped me with the process and to realize, if they could let go so easily then so could I.
Gradually, things started to clear out again and our mindset continued to shift. Then came the big day! An offer on the house – things just got real! We ended up having a huge rummage sale at my sister’s house since she was located on a busy street. We didn’t price anything but instead told people to make an offer on what they wanted. This was WAY easier. And we made an agreement that nothing would come home with us. We sold a lot and everything else was donated.
Leaving Our Dream House For Full Time RV Living
Then it came down to 30 days before closing. Meanwhile, we had sold our class C and bought a Class A – which my husband did some remodeling to so we could fit. Then I was actually able to bring things out to the RV to see how much space we would have.
During this 30 day window I lost 10 pounds (no time to stop and eat!) and slept about 4 hours a night… but we did it. We downsized to what we could fit into our RV and our cars. Yes, my husband’s car did turn into our garage for a few months. And we only ended up with about 4 storage bins which we kept in my parent’s basement. They were mostly filled with photos and other family memories.
That last day leaving the house was so emotional. Again the kids were good with it and didn’t shed a tear. Granted, they were 6, 4, 4, and 2 at the time. But they were able to move on without looking back. For my husband and me, it wasn’t that easy.
During the 30 days leading up to leaving, there was a day when I stood in the kitchen bawling and asking my husband if we were making the right decision. I physically did not feel like I’d be able to walk out of this dream house we had built and leave it all behind. He said, “Do we want to look back 10 years from now and say we wish we would’ve? Or do we want to close this chapter in our life and start a new one? And guess what? If we don’t like it, we can always come back, buy a house, and go back to our old life.” That actually gave me the strength to make this big change and move on.
That was it. NO, I didn’t want to look back and wish we’d done it. I loved our dream house, but I knew it would hold us back financially and time-wise from doing the things we wanted to do. We pushed forward. Then the day came where we actually had to hand the keys over.
My parents watched the kids so my husband and I could walk through one more time and shove all the last minute items into my husband’s car . . . there was more than we thought.
We walked through the house crying and sharing all our great memories there. We had brought all of the kids home from the hospital to this house. There were great parties and get-togethers. All of it flashed through our mind.
We headed down to the kitchen and just held each other while all of these memories and emotions came crashing down. It was HARD, but we did it. We left, went to the closing and handed the keys over – luckily to a family that we knew and knew would enjoy the house as much as we did. That definitely made it easier.
And we closed that chapter in our lives and moved on to the next one. Well, not that easily. I did cry every day for the first week. Luckily, my sister and her family had moved into the campground with us – and were staying right next door. That definitely made the transition easier. Gradually things got better, and I started to realize what we had been looking to do. Hours weren’t spent on cleaning any more. All of our stuff was manageable and there was more and more focused family time.
Looking back, I can’t believe that we actually did it.
There were so many variables that came up. Was this right for our kids, was it OK not to have a house, how were we going to manage financially?
We kept focusing on our why.
We wanted more time to deepen our family bond. We wanted all of us to be able to focus more on each other. And, above everything else, that family bond was the most important thing.
Did We Make The Right Decision Living In A RV?
We still question if this is right for our family and our kids. But we keep a pulse on it day in and day out. We talk to our kids and ask what they want.
We talk to each other to make sure it still makes sense for our family.
All of these conversations have helped put our travel style together. We may spend a week or 2 out doing a lot of exploring and then have a week where we just stay at the campground so everyone can hang out.
Being a parent and having kids is so hard no matter where you are and what you are doing. You always question if what you are doing for your kids is the right thing.
That hasn’t changed for us.
Our belief in our family bond and giving our kids a life of freedom and choice is what continues to push us to live our life outside of the conventional way. We want to show our kids the world and to make the road, its adventures and experiences, their classroom.
My husband I also didn’t realize how much this lifestyle would change us. We are pushed outside of our comfort zone every day. We are living our life to the fullest and not settling. We are making our own path.
Don’t get me wrong, this has brought on challenges for us all personally and in our relationships, but we have come out stronger as persons, a couple, and a family.
How We Afford To Travel Full-Time with 4 Kids and 2 Dogs
The question we get asked the most about our current life is how do we afford it?
Don’t worry, we aren’t offended and always wondered (and still do) how the families we were seeing online were able to do this.
In our situation my husband was able to go remote with his job. He did have to do some work to make this happen, since no one at his company was working remotely full-time. But, through being a hard worker and them wanting to keep him on board, he was able to make it work. The only problem was he had to work 9 to 5 everyday and actually go into the office for a week every couple of months.
We quickly learned that we didn’t like that he had to be at the table working all day while the kids and I were out exploring all of these amazing places! Plus, having to go back to Wisconsin was expensive and limiting how far we could travel. California is quite a drive from Wisconsin, especially if you want to go back and forth. The cost of him flying back alone would add up, not to mention I just did not want him leaving us for a week.
When we had first moved into the RV I had started a Virtual Assistant business called Virtual Powerhouse to help us bring in a few extra dollars, and we had started our travel blog Crazy Family Adventure with the hopes of monetizing it.
At this point we decided to make my VA business our full-time income so my husband could stop his 9 to 5. I dedicated the next 6 months to make that happen. And we did it! Lots of late nights and comfort zone pushing later, we were able to have him put in his notice. They came back and wanted him to stay on part time for about 9 months, so that worked out well!
Over the last year I have continued to grow my VA business, and we have really focused on lowering our Burn Rate.
This means we have lowered our bills and spending money so that we don’t need as much money each month. Our goal is to spend about $4000 a month for everything. That is definitely tight for us, and $5000 would be more comfortable.
But, we are committed to the idea that part of this lifestyle is to live a simplified life, spend less money, and focus more on spending time together as a family enjoying each other – not things.
That total definitely fluctuates month to month and depends on where we are and what we are doing. We are also looking to downsize our RV – which will lower that payment. Ideally, we would love to be where we don’t have an RV payment or a car payment.
My VA business focuses on providing social media, blogging, and email marketing support for small businesses and my husband is now coming on board to focus on web design and SEO work. Outside of that, we continue to work on monetizing our travel blog and using our blog as a way to encourage other families to travel more and to also live their dreams now!
I am putting a course together on building your Bridge Business. That’s a business that bridges you between leaving your 9 to 5 to find your dream business and/or live your dream life. We want to help other people realize their dreams while they have a family.
We are also starting a t-shirt line with a focus on travel-inspired sayings and images. We like the idea of having multiple income streams, so if one isn’t working, we have other things that are earning income. We have seen so many doors open since we started this entrepreneur lifestyle. The opportunities are out there, it is just a matter of finding the ones that fit you, your lifestyle and what you want to do.
We love that with this lifestyle the decisions are ours on what we want to do with our time and for our business. Yes, there are things we have to do that we don’t like. But overall, we are able to pick and choose our clients, the work we do and the hours we work.
In order to keep family our main focus our goal is for my husband and I to each work only 20 hours a week. Does that mean we will be millionaires? Probably not, but that was never our goal when we started this journey. Our goal all along was to care less about money and things and more about the one thing you can never get back – TIME.
To learn the details of our monthly budget visit our post: How We Afford Full Time Family Travel.
Related: How Much Does It Cost To RV?
Our New Life Living In An RV Full Time
This new life we have built is filled with such strong emotions. When we were living our typical American Dream our emotions were on a pretty straight line.
Yes, there were good times and bad times, but for the most part it was a straight line with small spikes up and down. In this life we feel everything deeper. The highs are really high and the low’s – living in the unknown, pushing our comfort zones, questioning our decisions – are a lot lower.
I sometimes question why I am doing this to myself.
Why am I bringing on these lows, which stem from uncertainty, when I could be living a life of consistency and comfort back in a house and a regular 9 to 5?
Then I remember I am doing this so that I can grow as a person, my husband can grow as a person, and my kids can become who they really are and enjoy this amazing adventure together as a family. And so we can deepen our family bond to a level that will be unbreakable.
You know what? It is worth it.
It is darn hard and challenging, but that is what life is, so we have decided to take that challenge and add a little adventure and travel into it too!
Author bio: Bryanna, her husband Craig, their 4 kids and 2 dogs sold their house, everything in it, and bought an RV and are now traveling around the US. They blog about their adventures at www.crazyfamilyadventure.com. Their goal is to inspire families to get out and travel more. When they aren’t out hiking to the top of mountains you can find them on the beach or at the local donut shop searching for the best donut in the US! You can find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat.
Are you interested in becoming a full-time RV family and RV life? What questions do you have for Bryanna?