(Response to Daily Prompt “There’s No Place Like Home”.)
America is full of nomads, aka retirees. They live in RVs, some moving around from one beautiful spot to another, others staying in one place.
I imagine that there are various reasons why retirees live in RVs that I don’t know about. But here are a few I’ve figured out. America is huge and beautiful, so having your home on wheels allows you to finally see it, after a lifetime of virtually no vacations to speak of. And being a retiree here doesn’t mean you have a decent pension that allows you to keep on living the way you were accustomed to when you had an income, so selling your home and downsizing to an RV can give you a lot more spending money. And spending money is important, because when you’re old, you might have to spend a lot on medicines and healthcare, even with insurance. Which is also why many retirees spend time in the Rio Grande Valley: they can hop across the border and get their meds and healthcare a lot cheaper in Mexico.
Either way, I have always found it an attractive arrangement, retiring in an RV. Especially if the kids end up living on opposite sides of this vast country, we could just wander all over the place, visiting them whenever we’re in their neck of the woods.
Living in an RV would also give us a tiny carbon footstep, providing that we didn’t drive too much. RVs use a lot of gas while on the road, but other than that, they’re tiny living spaces which are easy to heat or cool.
But most of all, I’ve always loved being nomadic and living with a minimum of things. It’s what I loved about hiking and wild camping–unpacking my backpack and having the tent up in five minutes, and starting the water from a stream boiling for tea. And packing up within fifteen minutes the next day to go wherever I felt like going next. It’s also amazing how few things you need when you really figure out all the different purposes one item can serve. For instance, I was always either wearing my long-sleeved T-shirt if it was cool or having it folded on my head and down my neck if it was hot.
American RVs have all the comforts of home–important when you’re getting older–and you can still feel adventurous.
So my ideal nomadic life in the future will be to retire the American way, with a big-ass fifth wheel pulled by a pickup truck that will serve as our daily driving vehicle–that or our bikes. Fifth-wheels typically have a nice bedroom in the part that goes over the truck bed, a little bathroom, sometimes even a washer-dryer, which would be great, because when life gets shorter I want to spend as little as possible of it waiting around in laundromats. They have kitchens with almost as much cabinet space as ours has now, and a living room with a couch and two easy chairs. What more do you need? And nowadays RVs even come with small outdoor kitchens, consisting of a gas grill that folds out on a shelf so you can cook outside as much as possible to keep the inside cool in summer.
The only downside is that the decor is usually butt-ugly. The eighties and early nineties are still the norm for RV wallpaper and upholstery, for some reason. So I would paint the walls white, covering all the burgundy and gray and beige semi-stylistic flower patterns, and get couch and chair covers for the furniture. Throw down a few brightly colored cushions from Ikea, sew curtains from a tasteful fabric, stick some of our favorite framed art and photos on the wall and Bob’s your uncle.
Labradoodle number III would be a mini, probably, and I couldn’t live without a cat, so the cat will learn how to use the toilet because an RV is big, but not big enough for a cat litter box, and I wouldn’t risk letting the cat roam outside. Fortunately there are toilet-training kits for cats and I hear they work.
Would I need a home base? I don’t know. I think I could do away with everything at some point. I feel I should be able to do that. And then the RV is home. When we get to the point that we can’t travel anymore, we can just rent an RV spot somewhere for $200 a month and then that will be home.
I’ll let you know how it works out when the time comes. If it ever does come, that is. Because the most American thing about retiring is that it’s not at all a given. But if, somewhere in the future, you ever do see a big-ass 5th wheel, probably painted teal on the outside, with colorful curtains, a mini Labradoodle at the window, a bald guy with a white beard by then throwing some chicken legs on the barbecue and a weird woman with a T-shirt on her head stepping out the back door , it’s probably us.