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Living And Working Full-Time In Less-Than-200-Square Feet

As Published In WBCCI Blue Beret Magazine
Living And Working Full-Time In Less-Than-200-Square Feet

Earlier this year, I attended the annual Alumapalooza rally in Jackson Center for the very first time. This being my first big RV gathering, I didn’t really know what to expect — but while I tremendously enjoyed meeting so many fellow Airstreamers in person, I was surprised at how much in the minority I am as a full-timer (and especially as a pre-midlife rolling nomad).

Not Your Typical RVer

Folks were fascinated by the fact that I had ditched the “American dream” to hit the road at such a relatively young age — they wanted to know how I earned a living, what the downsizing process looked like, how I managed to store every-thing I needed (including Renaissance festival costumes, drum circle instruments, and my beloved-yet-outdated “Guitar Hero”) in such a small space, and how my two cats enjoyed year-round wayfaring.

As I gave tours of my well-ordered (of course) little tin can home, I explained over and over again (to the fourscore visitors who traipsed through our rig) how it was that I ended up living an itinerant life starting in my mid-thirties — living and working and running two businesses out of a 29-foot Excella, sans any sort of permanent home base, wandering the earth 365 days of the year like a modern-day Bedouin (without the sand), and all while still decades away from retirement. And now I’ve been asked to share that story with the rest of you — so here goes!

A Lot To Consider

Choosing to full-time was a pretty easy decision — I was unencumbered (being child-free aside from my furbabies and self-employed), I was quite frankly a crappy homeowner (when I joke that I became an RVer because I could never find time to cut the grass, I’m only half-kidding) — and I wanted the freedom to travel beyond your typical two weeks of vacation a year. But the actual transition from stationary to mobile was a bit more complicated — there were a lot of details to work out before I left the brick-and-mortar way of doing things behind.

I needed to set up my financial accounts so they could be accessed from afar, convert a great deal of my life into a more virtual format, and figure out how to stay connected with clients and loved ones wherever I might be in the world. I had to choose a state in which to declare domicile, switch over my driver’s license and vehicle registrations, figure out how my tax situation would be affected by this vagabond existence, and transfer the legal paperwork related to running my business. I spent time getting off the junk mail lists, shrinking my filing system, digitizing hard copies of documents (as well as a lot of multimedia), and swapping out bulky-breakable-space-hogging belongings for those more suited to a portable lifestyle. I was forced to consider transient medical care issues, how to legally get my pets across borders, and roadside service options other than AAA. Most importantly, I had to determine what of our “stuff’ would go with me, how to sell the rest for what it was worth, where to put everything in my new home, and how to keep my belongings from getting damaged in transit.

Making The Transition

The whole process took about 18 months — it’s a good thing I’m organized, or I never could have managed it all! I spent a lot of time perusing books and magazines and websites dedicated to living in transit — which helped with questions like “How will I get my mail?” and “What kind of insurance do I need?” and “How do I get power and water when there are no hookups?” But while I found some good information, much of it was written from the point of view of a snowbird retiree who roams around during the warmer months, then heads south for the winter — and I knew my reality would look very different than this.

I would be working online some portion of nearly every day, which meant that I needed reliable internet access (beyond RV park wi-fi) and a permanent computer workstation (something no recreational vehicle seems to offer as a standard option). I would be RVing in the big city as much as in the middle of nowhere, engaging in “urban” activities as well as outdoorsy stuff. I wanted to live like locals (rather than tourists) wherever I went — and insisted that my rig be just as cozy and functional as any other traditional “home.” And I needed my RV to be able to tolerate inclement weather in order to have the experiences I desired. (Talk to me sometime about the winter we spent in the northeast — so I could celebrate Halloween in Salem, then have my Macy’s parade for Thanksgiving, my Rockettes at Christmas, and my Times Square for New Year’s Eve in New York!)

Not Just For Retirees

Of course every day is a giant learning curve, and I’m still figuring this thing out as I go (my friends compare us to Thor Heyerdahl setting out on a raft — telling us, “There’s no map for where you’re headed!”) I guess I’ll add “cartographer” to my resume, as I do my best to help the RVing community discover this still largely uncharted territory. The one thing I hear again and again from other Airstreamers is, “I’d love to do what you’re doing some day” — and my response is, “You can do it now, if you want!”

My goal with this column is to share a few tricks of the trade with those peripatetics who dream of of full-timing (as well as those of you who are entirely happy weekending it, but who want to make both RVing and everyday life just a little bit easier). If you’d like to maximize your limited storage space, reduce information overload, and find more time for the fun stuff — I’m your gal. If you’re interested in making your work travel with you — I’m also your gal. If you want to hear some incredibly weird local anecdotes and discover those hidden roadside gems you might have otherwise missed — oh boy, am I your gal. And if you’re looking for the inspiration to make just ONE positive change each month that will move you closer to the riveted life you’ve always wanted — I am most definitely your gal! I hope you’ll join me on this grand adventure we call Airstreaming!

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Copyright 2001 RamonaCreel.com

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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