Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A New Home in Saint Augustine

Okay, so some of our readers have been wondering why we are spending so much time in Saint Augustine, Fl in the middle of the summer months. First, we’ve been helping our daughter and Son-In-Law (SIL) make custom touches to their home. Shortly after they bought the new construction home, our SIL went on a 6 month Navy deployment to Asia. So we’ve been there to support our daughter and help her get the house decorated before his return. 
Secondly, we like it here. We’ve been Floridians for 35+ years and Florida just feels like home. We’ve lived in West Central Florida for most of that time but spent a couple years in the military stationed in the panhandle and a few months volunteering in North Florida when we started this adventure at Big Shoals State Park near Lake City. 
We like North Florida so much, we decided to build a house about 10 miles from our daughter’s and perhaps 20 plus miles North and West of the historic district of Saint Augustine. 
Our "Preserve" Lot
We don’t intend to stop traveling. We plan to just change from a full time adventure to part time. October will be three years on the road for us. Now a lot of factors went into our decision to slow down:
  1. Surprisingly, I was ready for a house and Joyce was more reluctant.  We’ve been checking out the housing market in several areas of the country that we’ve visited to kinda get a feel for what was out there. More out of curiosity than with a real purpose. 
  2. Interest rates. It’s a buyer’s market and it sure is hard to overlook the historically low interest rates. Especially since we both knew we wouldn’t be full time RV’ers for more than a few years. My concern has been that the interest rates could suddenly start to rise. We have saved enough money over the years and with the sale of our previous home to purchase a small home when we decided to come off the road. However with interest rates what they are, we have the opportunity to purchase a larger home without having to dip so far into our savings. We also have to furnish our home as we will be starting from scratch!
  3. Fuel Prices. The uncertainty with fuel prices is certainly a factor. Actually there is no uncertainty...fuel prices keep rising. Keeping diesel in the truck and gas in the Jeep while traveling across the country is very expensive. I’m sure there are more economical options but not for us at this stage. When we first started out fuel prices were just over $2 a gallon. I originally budgeted for $3. Obviously we’ve surpassed that and still climbing. I hated to see so much of our budget going to such an expendable commodity. The price we pay for open road traveling!  
  4. Living in a RV. It hasn’t been that bad for us. We’ve been very comfortable in our Carriage F35SB3. It would be a lot more comfortable if we didn’t have two Boxers underfoot all the time! We love Maggie and Rico and they've been excellent travelers but they do limit what we are able to do. We have plenty of storage space, in fact we just have to be careful not to overload the rig. The rig weighed 15,500 lbs fully loaded this time last year. The kitchen is small but Joyce has done a wonderful job with it. It is truly a “one butt” kitchen. I’m sure it’s hard to get motivated into cooking up culinary master pieces in such a small space! And of course without proper use of ventilation, the whole rig may smell for some time like your last meal!
  5. Entertaining. For us one of the biggest downsides to the RV is the inability to properly entertain guests. Most entertaining has to be done outside which is dependent of course on the weather conditions and coexisting with insects and nature. We can comfortably seat four inside the rig but pretty much all you can do is stay seated. We did have one guest sleep over and that went well.  But, it is generally not feasible for two. We miss entertaining our friends and that is something better suited for a house. We hope we will have many friends and family come stay with us in our new home which will have two guest rooms.
  6. Stress. As much as we like to think of the full time RV lifestyle as being stress free and care free. It really isn’t, at least not for me. It’s stress full knowing that you are pulling your home and everything you own down the highway at 60 mph (not wanting to keep pace with the traffic traveling at 80 mph). Mechanical issues and potential catastrophic repairs coupled with finding reliable service and the inconvenience of being homeless due to repairs can be costly not to mention difficult with two large dogs. We've been fortunate so far. I will feel much better regarding these potential issues when we’ve established a permanent home (house) again. And of course, any mobile lifestyle will accumulate related maintenance and repair expenses for the vehicles. In fact we just put a new set of tires on our two year old Jeep. We promised ourselves that we would not use our savings for this lifestyle and we haven’t. However, potential repairs and replacement costs down the road could have eventually forced our hand. 
We’ve made a lot of good friends and met a lot of people on the road. We hope many of them will take the opportunity to visit us in our new home. It’s not expected to be finished until November. It will be about a 5-6 month process before construction will have concluded. 
Our most enjoyable adventure, was last summer traveling and later volunteering through the winter with Paul and Paula. There was less stress knowing that we were traveling with good and reliable friends. 
RV’ing and in fact full time RV’ing has given us the opportunity to do so many things that we would never have done such as:
Volunteering at Big Shoals State Park on the Suwanee River, Volunteering at the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge on Lake Havasu and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area outside Las Vegas.
Visiting and enjoying many National and State Parks out West. Kayaking on the Colorado River, hiking in Glacier National Park,Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons National Park, kayaking near Moose in Idaho, climbing, hiking and driving over many beautiful Rocky Mountain passes. Off-road driving in the deserts and in the Rocky Mountains. Seeing all sorts of western wildlife. Spending Spring time in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Exploring the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts. But perhaps most of all re-connecting with friends and family that we haven’t seen or weren’t able to visit prior to embarking on our full time RV adventure. 
Ours should be similar to this sales model
We still have a few months till the house is completed so stay tuned. Oh, and you can be sure that I insisted the garage was large enough to park our long bed Dodge 3500 DRW. When the house is complete we plan to store the RV. Until then we will continue to be Full Time Rv’ers but just not moving down the road for a spell!