What a Difference a Year Makes

22 Apr

I have to apologize since it’s been a bit over a year since my last post.  Last March, I was going down a route of designing and hopefully building our custom expedition vehicle.  My plan at the time was to try and downsize our home life by pairing down and selling most of our “stuff” and then selling our house and getting a much smaller, more practical home, closer to work.  Basically living a much more frugal lifestyle in the vein of Mr. Money Mustache  or Go Curry Cracker.  I still think that there’s a lot to that, and there are certainly some life lessons to learn in living a frugal lifestyle.  I think that this is the only option that we would have to be able to afford for me to retire within the next few years as well as build the  camper.  The main idea being that if we could cut back our annual spending from the current level to something much smaller, then we should be able to live off considerably less total savings which in the end would allow me to ultimately retire.  Then we could then spend the next 10-15 years Roadschooling Overland around the world as a family.

Well we’ve tried to cut back our spending for the past few years unsuccessfully, as my wife and I frankly enjoy our current standard of living a little too much. So unfortunately after some conversations with my wife, we decided that due to a multitude of reasons, we really didn’t want to move out of our house.  The rural area where we live never quite recovered after the Great Recession, and looking at comparable housing values in our area, although we do still have equity in our home, it just didn’t add up to try and sell our house.  To get a much smaller house much closer to the area where I work and commute to daily would result in a home value about equal to where live now.  Except our house now is much larger, much more wooded with privacy from neighbors, pastoral rural landscape, within 1/2 mile walking distance to our community private beach on the Elk River, and seemingly a much better situation.  The trade off of only being much closer to work, in laws (child care) and most other places we drive to (which would be quite nice)  didn’t seem worth it for a smaller house, closer to neighbors, at the same mortgage payment we’re paying now.  As a result, we decided to rethink our situation.  Ultimately Joanne told me she didn’t like the idea of eventually becoming wholly nomadic in ROAM either, and wanted to keep our house as a home base no matter what we did next.

Maintaining our home as it is and long commutes and drives back to libraries, shopping, schooling, etc means maintaining near our current levels of annual spending.  Which then by association means we’ll need considerably more funds in our nest egg to live off of with our family of 5 on my single income before I could retire.  We need a new plan…

How can I scale back my vision of driving our Global Expedition Vehicle around the world fully nomadic into something more palatable to our current lives and budget?

Instead of a 4×4 Go Anywhere Expedition Vehicle, and waiting for years to be able to afford it and potentially then missing my kids growing up and camping all the way,  what if we got a more traditional RV.   We could use it to tour domestically around the US for a few years.

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Sunriser features exclusive matte orange paintwork, in addition to a host of Mopar accessories, such as bumpers with a double tow hook on the front, a 4-inch suspension lift kit and half doors.

We’ll need some type of dinghy to tour locally while the camper is set up, so how about if we flat towed a 4×4 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon!  If we had one of those, then we could get by with a more typical RV and use the Jeep for exploring the backwoods and forest service roads and Canyonlands and other National Parks, etc.   Of course you get back to the original premise of more typical Class C RV’s not being powerful enough to haul the 5 of us, all of our stuff, and tow our Jeep.

I believe we’ll need a Class C Type RV with the Cabover bunk, in addition to bunk beds, and a rear bedroom.  With that setup all five of us would at least get our own full time bed.  I don’t think planning on folding out couches or dinettes into beds would be a good long term solution.  Larger floorplan C Class RV’s with the bunks are typically built on a Ford E-450 Chassis.  That chassis has a GVWR of only ~15,000lbs.  By the time you put a bunk model Motorhome on that chassis, you get very close to exceeding that Rating before the unit is loaded with all of our belongings and fluids and forget about the Jeep.  Even with the Ford V10 I don’t think it would have enough power to successfully tow that Jeep u and over any real mountains out West.

One potential solution here would be to upgrade to a larger Class A but I’m not a big fan of many of those layouts and seating arrangements, and compromises away from a traditional truck chassis.  Seneca I’m leaning more towards a niche model “Super C Class”.  The Jayco Seneca is based on the same Freightliner M2 Chassis that I was hoping to build ROAM on.  It’s rated at ~24,000lbs.  That is more than enough to carry everything we’ll need for extended trips and all fluids, as well as towing that Jeep!  The problems come back in though with the purchase price.  MSRP is listed over $220k!  But I’ve seen street prices for 2016’s of around $180k.  Unfortunately that’s still quite a bit out of reach here.  But when you look back historically, they first began using the Freightliner M2 Chassis for the Seneca in 2012.  2013 was the first year for the rear air suspension, which could be found used for around $120k.  We’re getting closer…