You Made The Decision

Ok, so you have made the decision that you are going to live the full-time RV lifestyle. You’re going to get rid of your house/apartment and move into your RV and travel. That’s great, but there’s one small problem. If you’re like everyone else, you have accumulated way too much stuff over the years. You know, all the things you just had to have.

More than likely, once you got them they eventually wound up in the basement, garage, or tucked away in the back of a closet. That’s ok. If you approach this methodically, I promise you will survive. You actually have quite a few options. If you break it down into steps, it won’t feel so overwhelming.

We Were Preparing For The Lifestyle But Just Didn’t Know It Yet…lol

Chris and I had each been divorced and moved on into apartments before we even met. That meant that our downsizing had already begun. After we dated for a while, we decided to move in together. When her lease was up, she moved into my apartment. She went through her stuff and wound up selling some stuff and giving some away. What was left we took. We were preparing for the lifestyle but just didn’t know it yet…lol.

Pick A Date

Pick the date you will be moving into your RV permanently. We decided in the winter of 2015 that we were going to move into the RV in the spring of 2016. We had picked a date in the spring even though I was not leaving my job until later that fall. This way we could “practice” full-timing and make sure everything in the RV was working properly. It also put us in a different mindset because now we would actually be living in the RV. This helped us get a grip on what we would really need.

Sometimes when you are selling your house it can be hard because you have to wait for closing dates and such but when you have your closing date, pick your “move into the RV” date. Also, once you decide to put your house on the market, that’s the time to start downsizing.

Once your house is sold and you are ready to go, try and book a local campground before running around the country. Remember, all your contacts (mechanics, banks, friends, relatives…etc) will still be close by. This can help make the transition go smoother.

It Should Be A Breeze

When we decided to go full time and had to downsize, (even more), we figured it would be a breeze. After all, we only had a 1 bedroom apartment. How much stuff could we possibly have had? Right? Well, I will tell you. We were a little shocked at just how much stuff we did have. We also had a storage unit that housed the motorcycle, a roll away toolbox, and numerous other items.

You Need To Make A Plan

On top of that, we had decided to get a Travel Trailer which has the least amount of storage of all the units we were looking at. We were a little overwhelmed at first, but once we thought it through, we came up with a game plan which I will share with you. Whether you are in a huge house, a condo, or an apartment like we were, we believe the best way to downsize is by making a plan and staying organized throughout the downsizing process.

Where Should We Start?

Before we started, we made the decision that no new items get bought unless they are to be used in the RV. Therefore if we bought something, right into the RV it went.

  • Take A Room By Room Approach/Pick One Room To Start In And Complete That Room Before Moving On
  • Take Each Item And Decide If That Item Will Be Necessary To Have While RVing/What Function Will It Serve. Be Honest With Yourself
  • Does This Item Have Multiple Purposes?
  • If It Has Two Inches Of Dust On It You Can Probably Let It Go…lol
  • Separate Items Into Piles. The Piles Can Be Garbage, Move To RV, Donate, Sell, Or Give Away

Before Moving To The Next Room

Take the “garbage” pile and take it all out to the trash. Take anything designated for the RV to the RV (if it won’t be needed for everyday living). Bring everything in the “donate” pile to wherever you decided to donate it to. Everything you decided to give away should be brought to whoever you’re going to give it to.

Finally, the section you are going to sell should be listed on e-bay, Craig’s list, or whatever program you will be selling it on. This will keep you from procrastinating!!!

Look at that. Your First room is complete and you are ready to move to the second room. Your downsizing and making money too! See, not so bad.

You Need To Be Organized

Being organized is what will keep you from stressing out. You need to neatly stack the stuff you’re selling in a corner of a room so you’re not tripping all over it. Did you take the throw-out pile to the curb? Nice job!!! Is the selling stuff listed online? Great!!! See, not so bad. You need to do the same for each room. No excuses.

Depending on how much time you have, take a break in between each room. Not too much of a break though…lol. A little each night goes a long way. As time goes by and you’re giving stuff away, selling things, and throwing things out, you will notice more and more empty space in your home.

No, This Is Not An Opportunity To Go Out And Fill Those Spaces With More Stuff!!!…lol

You will find yourself doing each room in phases. Some items were easy and got tossed right away. Do we really need that flux capacitor? Chris and I called it the first cut. It was all stuff we hadn’t used in years or things that would have absolutely no purpose in an RV.

Go Through Each Room Once

The first cut was pretty easy, right? Go through each room once and do the easy stuff first. This will help you get a system started. Now, you get to do it all again. Back to each room. This time, really take a look at the items you have left. Are you ready to let go now? Come on. Do you really need that?

We bet you have more piles. We bet each room you go back to, you will make more piles. We called this our second cut. Do as many “cuts” as necessary to get rid of that stuff.

We Lived Out Of Boxes

We had listed our dressers thinking they would take a while to sell but they sold almost immediately. That meant we just put our clothes in boxes. We had 2 recliners that we put up for sale a little early thinking we would need time to sell them. You guessed it, gone 2 days after we put them up!!!

That meant on one of those trips to the RV I was telling you about earlier we had to bring 2 camping chairs back to the apartment to sit on. See, no worries. Don’t worry about letting your furniture go a little early. It was nice to get rid of some of the big stuff early. You know what? The camping chairs were not so bad either.

Needed To The End

Obviously, there will be things you will need right to the end. A bed would be a good example…lol. Even though you will not be getting rid of some stuff until the very end, think about your plan of action with these items. Our bed was way too big for our RV and we didn’t want to sell it. Our luck, it would have sold way before we were ready and we would have been sleeping on the floor.

Last Night In The Apt

We couldn’t line up a donation company to come that fit into our schedule and no one we knew needed a bed. We wound up bringing it to the curb the night before we left the apartment. It was the last “bulk” garbage day before we left. So our last night in the apartment was on the floor. Who could sleep anyway!!! We were super excited to begin our journey.

The Kitchen Is A Tricky Room

The kitchen is a tricky room. We decided just how many plates, spoons, cups, knives, etc we were going to take/need and brought most of them to the RV. We kept only a couple of place settings for us to use. We had 2 blenders, a Mr. Coffee, a Keurig, a crockpot, and multiple can openers.

We kept the crockpot and Mr. Coffee, ditched the Keurig (big mistake…lol), ditched the older blender, and kept 1 manual can opener. Again, we kept the basic stuff we would need for the RV. If someone came over, it was Chinese food or pizza on our finest paper plates and plastic wear…lol.

Update: We bought another Keurig and ditched the Mr. Coffee. We love our new Keurig. As a matter of fact, we did a full review of it. Click here to read it.

One thing I should mention here. If you have family heirlooms you just can’t let go of, whether big or small, there are ways to deal with them too. Smaller items can be put into a safe deposit box or you can buy a safe and mount it in your RV and take it with you.

Larger items can be put into storage. Yes, you will have to pay monthly for it, but it will still be yours while you decide what to do with it. If you have a family member that has a little extra room at their residence, you can ask them if you can leave it there temporarily. Again, there are options. Once you’re on the road and a little less stressed, you can start thinking about a more permanent solution for these stored items.

We Were Golden Or So We Thought

By the time April came just about everything was sold, given away, or thrown out. We had sold or gave away everything (except for the motorcycle) in the storage unit so that was already gone. We had some kitchen stuff, a tv, our 2 living room camping chairs, and a computer. We were golden, or so we thought.

Somehow when we loaded the truck that final day, we looked like an episode of the old tv show Sanford and Son…lol. What was left was mostly bulky stuff we were going to throw out or stuff that people promised to pick up and didn’t.

Quick Tip

Good time for a tip. If someone says they want something and it gets closer to when you are moving and they haven’t picked it up, you might want to deliver it!!!…lol.

The last thing we did, and I highly recommend it, make your first reservation at a local campground. Stay a week or two. This will give you time to actually sit back, breathe, and realize, wow, I really did this. You will have time for what Chris and I called the final cut. After we got set up and settled in at the campground, we took a deep breath and just relaxed that entire rest of the day. We had a dumpster a few sites down that we knew we were going to be making some good use of over the next 10 days.

You Will See Just How Much You “Didn’t” Need

As you continue in your full-time adventure, you will realize just exactly how much you “don’t” need. You will be constantly going through your stuff and realizing what you actually need and don’t need. If you have those family heirlooms or other things that you absolutely couldn’t get rid of in storage or a relative’s house, you will now be much calmer and more relaxed to think straight and come up with a final solution.

The hustle, bustle, and craziness of downsizing are finally over. You are now sipping coffee and watching a sunrise on the chair that was once filling in for your recliners in the living room…lol. Now you can think straight.

Final Thoughts

Downsizing to start your new full-time RV life does not have to be stressful. If you take a systematic approach to it, you will actually find that you don’t need half the stuff you have.

We have been on the road since 2016. Somehow we still seem to have “stuff” creep into the RV. We go through our stuff about every 6months to a year. We call it purging. It helps us keep only the stuff we need.

I hope this helps a little to ease your mind when it comes to downsizing. If you have any questions or comments just leave them below.

Good Sam Travel Assist

6 thoughts on “Downsizing”

  1. Wow, I would have never even thought that much prep would have to be done, to move into an RV!  Very informative for those that want to live a Minimum lifestyle. How do you navigate the bathroom? That would have been the hardest room for me to pack. A woman has so many styling 

    • Nicole- Believe it or not, our bathroom has a ton of storage so you could bring everything!!! Also, you would be surprised just how creative you can get with utilizing any available space after a while…lol… Dennis

  2. To be very organized and articulate is the key to traveling and living in an RV. I have always wondered why older couples like to travel long distances whit their RVs, now I think it would be a lot of fun to try it out. Going wherever you want without the normal hassles of getting an accommodation is something to smile about and take seriously. I love to travel and I spend lots of money on accommodation while doing so. I’d love to save up some money and get an RV for my future trips. 

    • Samikingss- It’s not only older couples anymore. There are numerous families with kids that travel full time and homeschool. A big advantage of traveling with an RV is you never have to worry about whether your bedding or restrooms were cleaned properly 🙂  … Dennis

  3. Hello, a big thanks to you for sharing this insightful post about downsizing, it will really help those who are considering moving into an RV full-time. I really enjoyed reading your post. I must say this is really a  systematic approach you took here. Making plans and being organized is really important when it comes to downsizing. 

    • Sheddy Ovb- Most people stress over the downsizing more than any other part of full-time RVing. Being organized and having some kind of system takes some of that stress out… Dennis


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