Although we had a pretty good idea about all the steps we needed to take to get us to full-time RVer status, the real challenge was figuring out the sequence and timing for each of the steps. The biggest unknown was how long it would take to sell our house. It had taken us seven months to sell the last one. Since we weren’t allowed to park an RV in our driveway in our subdivision, we really didn’t want to buy it before we felt confident that the house was sold.
Buying the Truck
Phil had been analyzing truck options for several years. Since the DRV model we had decided on has a gross weight of 19,000 lbs., the truck was going to have to be a 1 ton diesel dually, regardless of brand. After looking at Ford F450’s for a long time, Phil finally decided to go with a RAM 3500 instead. He had planned to buy a slightly used truck but couldn’t find one for the right price. Since the truck will be used almost solely for towing and we don’t plan to move very often, we didn’t need a truck that was loaded with options but did need some very specific specs for towing. Phil used the ramtrucks.com website to build and price the dream truck with exactly the specs we wanted. In early May, Phil began to search the nationwide inventories of RAM 3500’s with our desired specs but with no success. He had decided to simply order it from the factory but then discovered that RAM was no longer taking orders for the 2015 model year and the 2016 models wouldn’t be available until the end of August at the earliest. After an unsuccessful trip to the RAM dealer in Schaumburg, on May 20th Phil found a listing for a 2015 RAM 3500 with nearly the exact specs we wanted in the city of Chicago. Test driving a dually on city streets was a little scary but ultimately Phil decided to buy it on the spot. He did get the dealer to deliver the truck to our home, though, rather than have to drive it through the city himself.
Phil spent the next couple of months getting comfortable driving the truck on city streets and soon began driving it on the tollway to work. Jan, although reluctant to drive the truck on the street, did enjoy driving it around the empty parking lot at the Schaumburg school district office. Jan nicknamed the truck “Rambo.”
Selling the House
After doing some cosmetic improvements to our house in the spring, we decided to list it for sale in early June. Although both brokers we interviewed expressed optimism that the house would sell quickly, our last experience made us skeptical. Actually the prospect of a quick sale was somewhat daunting since we hadn’t even ordered our fifth wheel yet and didn’t know where we would live in the interim. Boy were we surprised when the first person to look at our house (even before it was actually listed on MLS) made us an offer that was too good to refuse. The buyer requested a close date of July 20th and, although we were able to push the close back to July 24th, our timeframe accelerated in a hurry.
Buying the Fifth Wheel
Based on comments found on various fifth wheel forums, there were two DRV dealers that regularly came highly recommended. One was Rolling Retreats in OK and the other was RVs for Less in Knoxville, TN. We made a side trip to Knoxville while on our way to attend one of our daughters’ graduation in Nashville. We really liked what we heard from Ken Rife, the sales manager, and got a very reasonable quote from him. He let us know that the lead time on ordering a DRV Mobile Suites was about 13 weeks.
When our house sold, we quickly finalized our order with RVs for Less in mid-June. Based on the 13 week lead time estimate, we estimated that we get it around Labor Day.
Getting Rid of our “Stuff”
Even though we had downsized quite a bit when we had moved from MN to IL six years earlier, we still had a lot of things that we knew we couldn’t take with us in our new 400 square foot home. We returned all the keepsakes we’d been storing for our children and tried to talk them into taking more of our things (with limited success). Phil had begun exploring estate sale companies even before we had a buyer on the house. We knew that we would get a fraction of what our things had cost us but kept reminding ourselves what we had heard from other full-time RVers, that it is only “stuff.” We also realized that the timing of the estate sale was a bit of a Catch 22. We didn’t want to try to sell our home furnishings until we were somewhat sure the sale would go though. On the other hand, there would be only a short time window from when we felt comfortable selling everything to when the house had to be vacated. We didn’t want to move a lot of things into storage and have to try to sell them from a storage unit.
We did rent a 5 x10 storage unit to hold those things we planned to take in our RV and some of our personal possessions that we decided to hold onto long-term.
Our realtor was a big help in selling our furniture at good prices. Even after we accepted the offer on our house, she held a couple of open houses and got offers on a number of pieces of furniture with the understanding that the buyers would wait until early July to pick them up. She also listed our furniture with the other realtors in her office. We also listed quite a few pieces of furniture on Craigslist and were able to find buyers this way. It was with great optimism that Phil sold his snow thrower.
When Phil began contacting estate sale firms in late June to schedule our estate sale, we learned that the calendar was not our friend. Since July 4th fell on a weekend this year, none of the estate sale firms were scheduling sales for that weekend and everyone was already booked for the following weekend. The earliest sale we could schedule would end on July 19th and, at that point, the buyer was still wanting to take possession on July 20th which would not have given us time to get rid on any unsold items. We decided to contract for a four-day estate sale from July 16-19 and negotiated with the buyer to push the closing date back to July 24th.
The estate sale firm had given us the name of a charity who supposedly would come and get our unsold things after the estate sale ended. Unfortunately this also turned into a Catch 22. The charity wasn’t willing to commit to sending us a truck on the day after the estate sale unless they knew what we had for them to pick up and, obviously, we couldn’t predict what would remain unsold. Fortunately, the estate sale went very well and we boxed up the unsold items and delivered them to Goodwill ourselves.