RV Redo

After spending 5 years in our initial trailer, we finally upgraded to a more spacious, leak free home on wheels.

We painted the walls, stripped a few unnecessary things, and added our decorations.

It didn’t take much to create our own perfect little space.

Having space to cook, craft, workout, and dance (we had a dance party our first night), being able to do our laundry at home with integrated washer/drier, and having longer hot showers make a world of difference. A luxurious difference.

With a little bit of imagination and creativity (okay, and maybe a bit of Pinterest), you can create the home (or the life) you have always imagined.

Money helps for certain things (like it did help to get this new roof over our heads), but if you learn how to reuse, up-cycle, shop local, and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, and if you take the time to invest your heart and your mind into creating your little (and big) dreams, you can accomplish anything.

How Living In A RV Made Me Rich

What is it that we really need in life? Shelter, food and water, clothes, love, safety? While those are the biological needs of the human being, the modern world has added a terrifying item to the list: money. In fact, money has created a world of wants over needs, a society of consumerism with a lust for wealth and power. But does money make us rich?

While most will refer to being rich as material wealth and copious amounts in bank accounts, I believe being rich is a quality of life. Being on earth is a gift of incredible wealth and money is only delusional. In fact, money creates unethical and immoral behaviours, and distracts and disconnects us from living a nourished and meaningful life.

Last summer I bought an RV. I was tired of paying steep rent and always being behind with money. Little did I know how much it would change my life. In fact, it made me richer. Here’s how:

I have time to appreciate the little things

When I downsized my life to live in a trailer, I never felt so relieved. I finally got rid of things I didn’t need, and only kept the necessary. Long hot showers, laundry and TV have become luxurious activities. Big dinner parties have turned into outdoor gatherings. A large wardrobe have turned into a small selection of clothing. Owning less makes me appreciate what I have even more. And anything else is luxury. Owning less makes you realize that you are doing just fine with what you have. It makes you appreciate the little details that life brings. It makes you slow down, take the time to smell the fresh air, and admire what’s around you. It makes you grateful.

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Downsizing hasn’t felt so good, considering all this immense and stunning backyard I get in return. Far from the city lights, I can see the sky so starry on clear nights. Would you stay in a 5-billion-star resort like this one?

I have the ability to live wherever I want

By opting for a life in a trailer, I can go day by day and and am not attached to any mortgage, or lease. I can choose to take on the road to choose a different backyard, or set anchor for a while. Having the freedom to move whenever and wherever I want means that I am not tied anywhere and am free to live the life I want to lead.

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I hiked it, I flew above it, and now my home is parked beside it. Yet, I cannot express the feeling I get each time I admire nature performs around this pinnacle of volcanic rock. Couldn’t be more grateful to have the view of the mighty Black Tusk right from my window. Love this backyard!

I am debt free

Owning less means more money in my pockets. In a few months I managed to pay off a travel debt that followed me for years. I was never able to pay it with my rent being so steep. Living in a trailer means that my bills are much lower. I also drive a used car that I purchased cash, as well as my trailer. Living with the minimum means that I have fewer bills (campground fees, cellular, and car insurance). Now I spend less than what I earn, and manage to have some savings that allow me to get closer to my dreams. Being debt free and financially stable is a pure freedom.

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My shelter, my ride and my company. This is home, and I have all I need.

I choose experiences over possessions

I have less goods to take care of and don’t need a stressful high-paying job that I don’t like just to pay the bills. That way I have more free time being with the people I love, bonding with my dogs, spending time outdoors, getting creative, and pursuing my passions. With more money in my pockets and more free time, I get to travel more, adventure often and experience life at its fullest.

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Spending a day in my backyard.

I own less, but I gain more

By owning less, I have the opportunity to live more. Living off grid gives me the opportunity to get closer to nature. Not only does living in nature is known to lower stress and increase happiness and physical health, but it also offers me a unique and incredible backyard overlooking the range of the Coast Mountains. I might live in a small trailer, but my backyard is immensely peaceful, inspiring and grand.

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One of the privilege of living off grid is to have an immense playground to ourselves.

Wealth is subjective. But I sincerely believe that money doesn’t make us rich. We have to think beyond money to define success. In fact, happiness is the key to success. When you start appreciating the little things in life, take time for yourself, cherish love, kindness, gratitude and compassion, nurture social connections and family ties, spend less than what you earn, own less to live more, I think you find the true essence of being. Once you understand that wanting is a desire and not a necessity, you start living authentically. And being content and happy with what you have, I think that’s the richest a man can be.

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Right here, tucked into wilderness, and inside my RV, I got everything I need. This lifestyle allows me to get closer to nature and to people, spend more time doing things I am passionate about, focus on dreams and goals, and connect with my one-self. And for me, that is true wealth.

Morning Sweetness

Winter solstice is still a couple of weeks away, but the days are already colder and snow covers the grounds here in the mountains of Whistler. It was such a nice day today, and such an enjoyable morning walk with the pups. I love how I can just open the door of my trailer and walk the trails through the forest. And the views are simply stunning.

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La Crémaillère: First Day At the New Home

We are pretty excited about our new purchase: a home on wheels. 

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 An old gondola for storage space.  

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Cracking the first of many bottle of sparkling.

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Cheering to my new setting.

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Loving my new backyard.

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And the views are to die for.

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Much better than TV.

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Getting cozy.

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Friendly neighbourhood. And again, can’t beat the view.

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The sun painted the mountains of a stunning alpenglow.

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And left the sky with a blood moon.

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Not bad for a first day at our new home.

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Preparing for a Winter in a Trailer: Winterizing the RV

Owning a RV is in all a project and adventure. As newbies of the RV culture, there is so much to learn, especially with winter around the corner. Depending on how El Nino will affect our region this season, it is prudent to expect lots of heavy snowfall. Plus, we are sitting on an edge, offering pristine views of the mountains, but also exposed to cold wind swirls. To have our RV ready for winter, there are a few things we need to do.

Skirting

Building a skirt to the bottom of the RV will break the wind from cooling the underside of the trailer and can help to keep the rig warm. You can purchase a skirt if your trailer didn’t come with one, or you can build one. We wrapped the bottom of the trailer with foam boards to create an insulation. Then we secured them with plywood. We heard that keeping a space heater works wonderfully as well, to keep the bottom of the trailer warm as well as to prevent the tanks, pipes and hoses to freeze. When snow comes, we will tuck the skirt bottom with snow to give it an igloo effect. Now we just have to watch for rodents!

Roofing

We haven’t quite decided what we will do with the roof. As we aren’t staying at one place permanently, we can’t built a shelter on top of our flat roof to allow the snow to slide off. We also heard that tarps are a no-no. However, we will make sure that we keep shoveling the snow carefully and hope for the best!

Water Hose and Sewer Pipes

We wrapped the water hose and pipes with thick blankets. We heard that heating pads and 40-watt bulbs work well. We will also put an electric heater under the trailer to create heat flow and protect tanks and pipes from freezing.

Windows

We placed shrink film on the insides of the windows to help eliminate cold drafts and reduce condensation.

Condensation

Cooking, washing, showering or even just breathing create condensation. We haven’t had any issue with it yet, but it is something to be aware of, especially living with 2 adults and 2 dogs. When cooking, we always use the stove fan and open up the roof vent. It would be the same thing for showering however, we chose to shower at the campground facilities instead (their showers are amazing!). We might get a dehumidifier for the winter, depending on the level of condensation.

Heat

We chose to use electric heaters to keep the place warm. Electric heaters don’t create moisture and warm up the place pretty quick. We have an electric fireplace that we use when we are here, and at night and during the day we leave an electric oil heater on. Depending how cold it gets this winter, we will try not to use the propane furnace too much as it will get expensive and is bad for moisture. Be sure to read and follow all your heaters warnings and rules. Also get a carbon monoxide detector. Stay warm but mostly be safe!

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We are excited to spend a winter in our new home on wheels. Even though it is quite some preparation to get ready for the cold months and still lots to learn, we cannot wait to wake up to nature, wearing its white and sparkly robe, and go for hikes, snowshoe, nordic ski and sled right off our door steps!

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RV Budgeting: Cost and Expenses

RV living seems like a good way to save money while living in a natural setting. While saving a chunk of money on rent and bills monthly, and with the possibility of re-selling the home at an equivalent price, there are costs and expenses to be aware of before purchasing a mobile home.

Cost:

-Trailer: ( $5,000) 

Our budget was on average $4,000. We knew we wanted a trailer with slide-out, 25ft+, and in a decent shape (no mold, no leaks). After several weeks of research, we realized that we had to raise up our budget a bit in order to get something closer to what we needed. We found our home on wheels on Craigslist. After driving a couple hours to see it, we realized that pictures aren’t always accurate and sometimes it is a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kinda deal. The trailer was listed at $5,500 and we managed to get it at $5,000.

Expenses:

-Insurances and Transfer Fees: ($150)

Insurances always depend what kind of vehicle you have and what you need. Insuring a trailer for a year is normally very cheap.

-Towing: ($350)

Since we are parking our trailer at the same location for a few months, we didn’t feel the urge on installing a fifth wheel itch on the truck. Instead, we hired someone from Craigslist that charged a flat rate to tow our fifth wheel to our town (200km). It was cheaper than buying and installing the hitch, and it was done professionally and safely.

-Repairs ($225 so far)

You never know what to truly expect when you purchase a used recreational vehicle. So be ready for the unexpected!

  • Floor: wood laminate on Craigslist: $75
  • Fix leaks (yeah, there were leaks!): plastic cement+ tools: $50
  • Replacing fridge: $100

-Making It Home: ($400)

  • Coffee table: $25
  • Closet and shoe organizers: $40
  • Fluffy blankets, and pillow cases: $20
  • 2 Electric heaters: $135
  • Electric fireplace: $150
  • 2×4 for deck and stairs: 30

-Propane tanks: ($16/mth)

We have 2 propane tanks. They seem to cost about $16 each to fill up where we live. We estimate that we will use one a month for cooking and water heating. As we have full hookups, we will try to solely heat with electric heaters to save on propane.

-Winterizing 

My partner works construction so he has leftover material and gets good deals. He got sheets of plywood that we put around the trailer, as well as foam panels to insulate. We still need to cover the pipes and protect the roof. To be continued…

Total: $6,000

In all, so far, we spent just over $6,000 for our new home. We are realizing that owning and living in an RV during the winter months could become an expensive lifestyle. We already spent over $1,000 just to make it ready to move in and we haven’t put a roof on it for the winter yet. That might be the next thing to be put on our list. This is all new and exciting and we are always aware of possible complication. Life in a RV will definitely be quite an adventure!

Stay tuned!

Considering the RV Life: Is This For You?

I am a home owner. A home on wheels owner. That feels good to say. Plus, I don’t owe any mortgage and I don’t pay someone else’s mortgage. It might not be luxurious like a home with multiple bedrooms, a nice jetted tub or double car garage. I also don’t own the land. But it has a functional kitchen, a cozy living room, a comfy bedroom, a shower and a flush-able toilet. And, I get to choose my backyard and my view whenever I want. What else do I need, really?

Owning and living in a trailer is something I always considered doing. We had a truck camper a few years ago that we used for camping on rainy weekends and in the chill autumn days. Then we traded it for a 24′ trailer that ended up staying in the backyard for a whole summer until we traded it for a boat. At the time, we weren’t ready to live out of our town, further from our social lives. But years went by, and we grew up as the town developed, and after the series of past events, we decided it was the time to invest into a home.

So the idea of living in a trailer came back to mind. We saw immediately the BENEFITS of the RV life:

Not dealing with landlords Finding a place to rent in town for 2 adults, 2 dogs, 2 vehicles, and big toys isn’t easy at all. While the majority of accommodation aren’t pet friendly, only a few have parking for more than one vehicle. As for the toys, better find a place to store them. There was no way we could sign up for another year of steep rent and strict restrictions. We chose to stay at a RV Park/campground for the winter months. There are no restrictions on pets, parking, or toys. We go day per day, and have the freedom to leave whenever we want.

Save money on rent and bills The daily rate includes full hook-ups (hydro + running water) and wi-fi Internet. There are laundry facilities and hot showers on site. Staying at a RV Park will allow us to save around $1,000 on rent and bills monthly.

Personal ownership  Owning a home without owing a mortgage is absolutely amazing. With $5,000 we managed to find a trailer that suited our needs. With a little bit of TLC and making it ready for the colder months, we are excited to turn this vehicle into a cozy home. And after the winter, we have the freedom to travel, or stay, or re-sell it, hopefully, at a similar price.

Having the freedom to wake up in the setting that you want To wake up into nature, in a safe refuge tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the resort is refreshing and grounding. Whether you choose to live on the road, or stay at a same place for a period of time, the advantage of RV living is to have the possibility to choose your backyard.

RV living seems like an attractive lifestyle. But before stepping into anything serious, there are a few THINGS TO PUT INTO CONSIDERATION:

Can you live the compact life? Depending on what size and type of trailer you choose, it is most likely to be slightly smaller than your previous accommodation. Getting used to a smaller space is something to think about, especially if there is more than you living in. As for us, we left a 300sq ft bachelor to move into a 280sq ft trailer. We should be fine.

Can you get rid of things you don’t need? Downsizing, downsizing, downsizing. I’ve been downsizing every time I’ve been moving, but this time is crucial for this new lifestyle. I had to get rid of things I didn’t need, or haven’t used in the past year. I donated TONS of clothing to my local women’s shelter and gave stuff to friends. As much as it was hard to give away certain items, it felt good and refreshing to own little, living off the essentials.

Are you a fixer-upper, or have a friend that is? Having a trailer is like having a car: if you buy new, less work you’ll have to put in it right away. If you buy used, there are always things that need to be fixed. Either way, regular care and maintenance is needed. When we purchased our trailer, we had to fix the leaks on the roof, rip the moldy carpet, put a new floor, and now we have to winterize it and possibly build a roof for the winter. Luckily, my partner is very handy and that helps a lot. A community at a RV Park is usually very tight, and everybody will most likely be happy to help out.

Are you ok with living further from town, but closer to nature? RV parks are most likely to be nestled in a natural surrounding. It is a return to the basics, living off-grid, away from the hustle and bustle. You might trade the cable TV to a good book, the gym for a walk in nature, and the nightclub to a bonfire with neighbours. I guess I was always meant for this!

Are you willing to acclimatize to a smaller space in order to have an incredible backyard? Are you willing to own less to be able to live more? Are you a fixer upper and are looking to save money on rent, own your home and stop paying for someone else’s mortgage? Are you looking for an adventuresome lifestyle, away from the crowds, and closer to nature? Then look no further. RV living is just what you need.

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My new neighbourhood and backyard.

RV Living: I Bought A Trailer

The insurance lady handled back the papers to me: “Congratulations! You are officially the owner of a trailer.” I looked at her, a most satisfied smile spreading from my face to my whole body. She had no idea what this meant to me.

After living predominantly in the beautiful resort town of Whistler for the past 12 years, it was time for a change. This small town has done amazingly for me during all those years: incredible nature hiking trails, quiet lakes, immense snowboarding terrain, tight community, inspiring people. But things have started to develop: The town has grown into becoming one of the most popular four season resorts in the world, hosting millions of visitors every year. Not only the village, the town and the hills are busier, but the trails are crowded, the lakes populated and the secret spots no so secret anymore. I get it. This is how resorts work. If it wasn’t for tourism, this town wouldn’t be what it is today… That’s what we wanted right?

This past summer was the busiest season in Whistler’s history. Of course that’s great, for businesses and for employees to bank on some good money. But the labour shortage brought exhaustion to locals stretching crazy hours and loosing sanity. This labour shortage was, in part, a result of a lack of accommodation. With more and more outsiders buying properties, and Internet platforms such as AirBnB attracting money hungry investors, it left Whistler with barely any accommodation to rent for long-term tenants. And for the lucky ones that found a roof, they could expect to pay 70% of their income just on rent. With a labour shortage, laughable steep rent, and more tourists to cater to, a 10+ hour day, 7 days a week schedule wasn’t surprising to hear. We don’t live in this beautiful town solely to work: we are here to live an experience. How can we do so in such circumstances?

A couple months ago, I received an email from my landlord. They told me that the house was sold and I had a month and a half to move. When I was advised, I was assured I would be able to finish the 7 remaining months on my lease. But the new owners didn’t want tenants, and rather do a nightly rental business with the place. I guess when you buy a million dollar home you do whatever you want, even if it is to dump people in the houseless streets just before winter. It is the second time this year this happened to me. I am a mature and professional adult, and a clean and quiet tenant with great references. That was it: I was done with landlords. I was done with their unbelievable restrictions, greediness and paucity of compassion. I was ready to have my own place, but I wasn’t financially ready for Whistler’s outlandish real estate.

So I bought a trailer.

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Stay tuned as I live the RV life and share my experiences with you!