Are you ‘living large’ — or do you want to be ‘living large”? I realized some years ago that I never wanted a large life. I didn’t want to be an engineer or a doctor, I wasn’t interested in a high profile career. I think in some ways I have lived my life so as to minimize my profile.
It’s odd that at times I have addressed large groups of people 500-1000 at a time, and small groups — 4-10. Talking (lecturing on some occasions and just communicating during other occasions) never bothered me; asserting authority never bothered me — it just wasn’t something I wanted to do more than I had to. For those years I did what I needed to do.
Even when I was creating images professionally – I never enjoyed the accolades of people I created for. I did my work because I wanted to do it. I was happy with the results and that was all that mattered — I just didn’t care if the customer really loved it — aside from the reality of wanting them happy enough that they paid their bill. Popular success has never been my thing. Had I been interested in acclaim, in more sales, in higher income I would have lived a very different life — and I doubt I would be doing what we are today. We wouldn’t be living a life unscripted.
The scale of one’s life has huge impact on how one lives and on how easy it is to live. If making an impression on someone else is a significant factor, or if your own ego is always pushing you, then you find yourself hemmed in on every side by the demands of that ego. From deciding whether or not to go RV’ing to deciding on which RV to purchase it’s not so much a matter of what you want, or need, as it is a question of how other people will react to what you decided.
I mentioned a while ago, that when we were at Guaranty RV we toured some of the new coaches. And it didn’t take long for me to get comfortable with the idea that I would never be comfortable in something like this. With a price tag north of $900,000 it isn’t in our budget, but more importantly I would always feel like a stranger in what is supposed to be our own home.
I find it interesting that the coach we traded into, our Serendipity, gets as much attention as it does. I don’t know if it’s the color or what, but more people come up to us to admire the coach and start up a conversation about how nice it looks, than I would ever have imagined. Whomever had her before us took really good care of her and that’s nice, but I don’t need the attention. Sometimes it makes me nervous.
Making a choice about the size of your life, and indeed about the size of your retirement, requires conscious thought. What you do, how you do it, when you do it. All of these are either conscious choices or they are decisions that happen by accident. Your retirement nest egg plays an important part in those choices — and some folks seem to ignore that reality and get themselves into trouble. Your friends and family may say, “come visit us” but they don’t realize the cost of moving your home down the road, of staying in RV parks in their neighborhood, etc., etc., etc.. Pleasing the people in your life might be nice — but it can also be very expensive. Or, you end up parked in their driveway using their electric, using their water, and pretending that you’re retired on your own terms when you’re really retired on their terms.
For the two of us, we are pretty careful about a lot of aspects of our day to day expenses. Our biggest extravagance is dining out and even there we are very careful about which restos we patronize. We don’t go to the high end RV parks. In fact, we normally don’t spend a lot of time in RV parks at all. We aren’t into doing touristy things — we did them over the last 47 years. We don’t worry too much about fuel costs because we may put on a couple thousand miles but we usually sit still for a while after arriving so our costs-per-day stay in a comfortable range. And if they rise too high or if we have larger than expected maintenance costs we do a little less than we might have chosen without those cost. Or we might take on a volunteer gig and drip our costs even further. Most of our volunteering thus far has been things we wanted to do, but many RV’ers do it because they need the help to stay on the road.
There IS no right way to RV. What works for us might not work for others. The fact that we aren’t super fussy about amenities makes it reasonably easy to stay within our budge. The fact that for 9 nights we have 20 some trains zooming past the Campground might not be ideal, but the compromise of staying at a Corps campground at rates reduced by 50% because of our federal Senior Pass make the trains less of an issue. When I was young my parents planned a road trip each year. I always wanted to go swimming and I would nag my parents almost every day about “Why can’t we get a motel with a pool.” But pretty much every day we would do something else that I thought was really, really, really fun and what I would be reminded of is, “If we had gotten a hotel with a pool we wouldn’t be able to do this today, which would you rather have had?” Most of the time I voted against the pool — but I learned a good lesson that has lasted all my life.
We really are having a good time. And each day I’m reminded as I look out around the campground and see some of the other RV’s how lucky we are to have the ‘home’ we have. That was true with we had the more modest Journey, it’s equally true today in our luxurious-to-us slightly newer but still 11 years old Ambassador. And, after having Michael and Kathryn with us last weekend we are both even happier that we made the choice to upsize to the 40’ coach from the 32’ coach. That extra size made it much more comfortable for 2 additional people to overnight with us. In Journey that would have been much more difficult.
I think that making choices about how large you want to live in retirement are important. Downsizing a house can be a solution; but if the house means too much then paying the extra costs for higher insurance, property tax, maintenance and upkeep may be ‘worth it’ to you. If you had a LARGE house when you were working, do you need a LARGE house in retirement — of is inertia holding you back from making a change?
And sometimes making those choices is best done over time. Making those choices in a rush right around the time you retire can be disastrous. We did just that, but we were fortunate and we have been really happy. But there are a lot of RV’s for sale right now that have had one or two trips on them, and were sold because the lifestyle just wasn’t right for them.
And of course SIZE is not just about the physical dimensions of your residence. Size is about your lifestyle, about your splurges, your economies. There’s a difference between living inexpensively, and being cheap. I think it’s a difference that everyone notices in other people but that the people themselves often think that they are doing the one thing, when everyone else thinks it’s the other. And being around someone who is cheap can be exhausting. Every single decision becomes painful.
So there you have it. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll talk with you tomorrow.