I’m ashamed to say it’s been almost 4 years since my last post (don’t judge… okay, you can judge a little). So what the heck have we been up to during all that time?! In my last post for Where We Decided to Live, I mentioned that our full-time RVing days had come to an end.
After RVing full-time for more than a year through each of the 48 Lower States, we were ready to settle down. Denver made the top of the list for where we wanted to live long-term, and we decided to make Colorado our new home base! If you’re curious why we picked Denver, check out the Top 3 Reasons We Chose to Live in Denver.
Moving to Denver
Right before moving to Denver in July 2015, we sold our previous truck (a GMC Sierra 1500… loved that truck!) and 35-foot Travel Trailer (a Crosroads Sunset Trail model ST30RK, which we do NOT recommend based on our experience with a massive leak!).
We were homeless (literally!) when we pulled into Denver in a moving truck with the few items we still owned. As we visited apartments, the leasing agents asked us how soon we were looking to move in. We pointed to the moving truck and said: “Right now!”
Luckily, we found a great apartment in the Denver Tech Center (DTC) area and got moved in within just a few days. It was SO NICE to have a full-size kitchen and bathroom again along with our king-size bed after dealing with a cramped RV kitchen and bathroom, just 6 gallons of hot water, and sharing a queen-size bed with the hubby and our two fur-babies (even though they’re small, they liked to sleep horizontally and take up half of the bed!).
Starting Over and Starting Businesses in Denver
We were officially back to the real world. First things first, we needed to start working again to make some money! We knew we didn’t want to go back to the typical Monday-Friday 9am-5pm work schedule and get burned out again. That was one of the main reasons we left California in the first place.
We also knew we wanted to do something together. After all, we had gotten used to spending every day together for over a year already. So we decided to start our own related businesses – me in real estate and the hubby in mortgages. This allowed us to work together but not too closely together (catch my drift?). It also enabled us to help other people be able to live in Denver and call the Mile High City “home” too.
We’ve done very well with our businesses and are incredibly grateful for our success. But, health insurance for two self-employed people is not cheap. Not to mention, my real estate deals/paychecks were very inconsistent. And on top of all that, I thought (keyword: thought) I missed the stability and routine of a full-time job.
So I decided to get a traditional job going back to work full-time while still doing real estate here and there. Easier said than done though with actually getting a job, let me tell you! Nobody told me that a gap in my employment history would make it nearly impossible to get an interview. Forget about actually getting hired!
Before leaving California, I was making six figures in medical sales as the top sales rep for my company. I was promoted in less than a year of employment and consistently broke company (i.e. my own) sales records. None of that seemed to matter though with my job applications and the few interviews I managed to get. I was either overqualified, or they couldn’t get over the fact that I had taken time off to travel.
Back to Work
After countless applications, I fiiiiii-nally got a job back in medical sales with a start-up company. I was relieved and excited, but that quickly faded, and I became resentful towards my job. I was being paid salary plus commission, but I ended up only earning HALF of what I was making back in California 5 years ago. Ouch… that hurt.
I tried to tell myself it was better than nothing and stuck it out for over a year, but it just wasn’t worth it. I was making the same if not more in real estate and had more free time with real estate.
Plus, I realized that I simply didn’t want to work a full-time job anymore. I hated having my weekdays completely consumed, not to mention the commute time with my job on top of that. Sometimes it took me 2 hours to get home!
That’s no way to live, at least not for me. On top of my full-time job, I was still doing real estate on the side. Between the two, I was spread thin and utterly drained. Something had to give. So I quit my job, deciding to go back to real estate full-time.
While we were full-time RVing, we were lucky enough to not have to work. There are a lot of full-time RVers who live the digital nomad lifestyle by working remotely from the road. But that wasn’t as prevalent back when we were full-time RVers. And to be honest, we didn’t even know that was a thing at the time.
Had we known, would we have first found remote jobs to fund our travels before taking off in our RV? Perhaps. But taking that year off from working to travel full-time was the best thing ever!
We had had our fun though, and it was time to get back to work. In fact, we were burned-out from constantly being on the go with our full-time RV life. We were ready to have the conveniences of conventional life once more. But we didn’t realize how challenging it would be to go back to the standard life we had been accustomed to.
Full-Time RVing Ruined Us
Full-time RVing was an incredible experience and took us to so many amazing places. In a sense though, RVing full-time ruined us. A full-time job working for someone else just isn’t an option for us anymore.
RVing full-time gave us complete freedom and flexibility. The hardest part of readjusting back to the real world has been having to be on other people’s schedules again. Despite the fact that we’re working for ourselves, we still have to answer to people. We still have to be available when our clients need us and rely on other people to get our jobs done.
Luckily, with real estate and mortgages, we don’t have to work standard full-time schedules. We get quite a bit of random free time here and there, but it’s not consistent at all. We’re pretty much always on call, making it practically impossible to make plans or go on vacation. You’ll find us working most weekends and lots of late-night hours.
It’s not ideal, and we don’t want to do it forever (hence the reason for this blog and trying to earn a living from blogging). But we remind ourselves that at least it’s better than being full-time employees for someone else. We do miss how freeing and flexible full-time RVing was though. #Adulting (and all the responsibilities that come along with it) has been quite challenging.
Back to RVing
We’ve been focused on our businesses, getting established, and replenishing our funds. But nearly 2 years after settling down in Denver, we missed having an RV and got the itch to hit the road again.
We realized the best situation for us is to have an RV and a traditional home. That way we can take the RV out when we want while still having a place to come home to when we need a break from RV life. Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too? It’s all about balance!
For our first RV, we decided to go with a Travel Trailer as it was the most cost-effective option for us. We decided to go that route again for the same reason, but that meant we’d need another truck to tow it.
This time though, we wanted a shorter/smaller set-up, something that would be easier to tow and get around in. It’s not easy (or even possible) to pull into some places like gas stations towing a 35-foot Travel Trailer. It can even be quite challenging trying to fit into some campsites.
So in May 2017, we opted for a smaller set-up for Next Destination Unknown version 2.0. We ended up getting a Chevy Colorado truck and a 22-foot Rockwood Mini Lite 2109S Travel Trailer. If you want to know why we chose a Travel Trailer (both times) over other RV types, check out my post about it here: Why We Chose a Travel Trailer vs. Other RV Types.
We bought our Travel Trailer from an online RV dealership with the lowest price we could find (RV Wholesalers in Lakeview, OH). But part of saving money involved driving from Colorado out to Ohio to go pick up our new RV.
Our pups were with us for the road trip, so we needed dog-friendly hotels to stay at. We had always seemed to have pretty good luck with La Quintas and liked the fact that they don’t charge extra for dogs, or WiFi, or parking (score!).
Unfortunately, we weren’t so lucky on this trip. Out of the three different La Quintas we stayed at on the way out to Ohio, one of them ended up having bed bugs. I got eaten alive, covered in massive red, itchy welts while Justin didn’t get a single bite!
This is one of the many reasons we love traveling by RV (in our own bed and bedding)! Plus, when you’ve got dogs, RVing with dogs is the best way to travel and bring them along with you!
First Trip with the New RV
For our inaugural trip with our new RV, we decided to go to a place we had been dying to visit … Telluride, CO! We RV camped at the KOA in the town of Ouray (known as the “Switzerland of America”) about an hour from Telluride.
The campground location was convenient, allowing us to explore all the nearby sites:
- Box Canyon Waterfall & Park
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (our 23rd National Park!)
- Orvis Hot Springs in the neighboring town of Ridgway (no pics allowed of the “clothing optional” facility)
- A scenic drive along the Million Dollar Highway
- And, of course, Telluride with a dog-friendly gondola ride and a hike to the top-secret Little Hawaii waterfall!
Taking the RV Out for a Long-Haul
As a Real Estate Agent and a Mortgage Broker, our slow time of the year is winter. So we took advantage of the down season later in the year. We headed out on an extended RV road trip for nearly 2 months from November 2017 through December 2017.
On this trip, we were able to cross 4 more National Parks off our list, putting us at 27 out of the total 60 U.S. National Parks! Since this is just a recap, I’ll have to write more about this trip later. But here’s a map and breakdown of our route along with pics of some of the highlights.
Winter 2017 RV Road Trip
- Arches National Park
- Zion National Park
- Sedona, AZ
- Saguaro National Park
- Carlsbad National Park
- Guadalupe Mountains NP
- Big Bend National Park
- San Antonio, TX
- New Orleans, LA
- The Forgotten Coast, FL
- Savannah, GA
- Charleston, SC
Buying a Home
When we returned from our RV road trip, we started working on a goal of ours. We wanted to make Colorado our official home base by putting down roots! After living here for 3 years, we finally made that goal a reality in the summer of 2018. We bought a house and moved in on July 4th, celebrating our freedom from renting and apartment life!
This was a momentous dream of ours, but especially for me since I had never owned a home before. After moving about a dozen times, renting for years, and full-time RVing for more than a year, we longed to have a [full-size] home of our own.
When we set out on our full-time RV adventure back in 2014, RVing was never meant to be long-term for us. We had no idea that RV life would become a lifestyle.
Besides seeing the country, the main purpose of our extensive road trip was to find the next place we wanted to live. We reached that goal, but we also fell in love with RVing and the freedom it allowed us.
Sometimes, I feel like an RV failure for not full-time RVing for years on end as other people do. But, we realized it didn’t have to be one or the other – RV living or stick-built home.
We can have the best of both worlds! We now have an RV to travel and explore when we’re jonesing to hit the road. And we also have a house to come home to when we get burned out from road life. Life is good!