When Marc and Lisa Fitzroy told their family, friends and co-workers that they were selling their home and moving into an RV in 2018, there was more than a few dropping jaws.
The Newton couple had spent the last 13 years turning a dilapidated old 900 sq. ft. rental into a beautiful 2800 sq. ft home with a great view of Sand Creek. They had started a small side business, CaNewton, renting kayaks and canoes. They both had great jobs, Lisa at Adrian & Pankratz law firm, and Marc as the dining services director at Newton Presbyterian Manor.
So many questions: Why sell their lovely home? What would they do for work? What would they do with all their stuff, as they were trading 2800-square-foot home for a 300-square-foot motorhome. Why would anyone give up all of that for a “homeless” experience, living as modern-day gypsies?
“We sort of stumbled upon this by accident,” said Marc, who is 54. “We were sitting around one Sunday, talking about all of the changes we would have to make to the home we had been remodeling for 13 years to be able to not age out of the house. We realized, aside from the work needed to adapt our two-story home for older bodies, the amount of cleaning, lawn work, and general maintenance alone would be staggering.”
Marc’s wife, Lisa, said, “When Marc brought up the idea of selling the house and living full time in an RV or tiny house, I jumped at the idea. Some of my fondest memories were of camping with my grandparents when I was young. I love to travel, and the thought of spending my life traveling and working was very appealing to me!” Lisa started packing up things to sell that very night.
The Fitzroys’ original plan was to wait seven years until the house was paid off, then purchase an RV and start traveling, but the more they thought about it, the more they realized they would merely be throwing good money after bad by continuing to pay insurance, taxes and interest on a house they would not be keeping. The plan changed to two years, to allow time to sell most of their possessions and get the house sold. They purchased a 2003 Class A motorhome and started the monumental task of deciding what stayed and what went.
“It was surprisingly satisfying to start selling all of the stuff we had accumulated after 20 years of marriage” says Marc. “We didn’t realize how much money we wasted over the years buying ‘stuff!’ We realized we had space, so we bought stuff, until we needed more room for our stuff, so we added on. Just the amount of tools and equipment and materials we had to keep just to maintain our stuff was amazing!”
Lisa started selling anything not absolutely necessary. She had four booths at area flea markets, ran five garage sales, but surprisingly the most lucrative way to get rid of the more valuable items was to place them on Facebook. “We found that we were selling really nice items at garage sales for pennies on the dollar. Those we put on Facebook sold very quickly, and we almost always got full price for them. It’s amazing how freeing it is to let loose of our possessions and live more simply.”
By the end, the Fitzroys were using cardboard boxes for furniture until they moved permanently into their RV, which they are still renovating. “We are leaving for our first big trip throughout the eastern US on July 5th, and we still have a lot of work to do to the rig,” says Marc. “We want to have the ability to spend a lot of time outside of RV parks ‘boondocking’ at National Parks and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) spots out west, so we are installing solar batteries and a large battery system to allow us to live ‘off grid’ for long periods of time.”
Additional modifications were made to allow their two dogs, Buster and Kibbles, to join them on this trip, including kennels inside and a portable fence system.
“We are both going to miss our co-workers and friends, but we are excited for the adventures ahead of us,” said Lisa. “After our first big trip, we will be settling back to working in October, through a variety of jobs that will allow us to continue to travel and experience this country.”
The Fitzroys will continue to work at campgrounds and national and state parks. In addition, Marc will be working as an interim dietary manager for a company that specializes in supplying temporary foodservice professionals nationwide, and Lisa has started making jewelry that she will sell on Etsy and at craft shows.
“People are always asking if we will miss all of our stuff. Amazingly, we ended up with only two boxes of cherished possessions that we will store with my sister while we travel,” said Marc. “We thought that parting with our ‘stuff’ was going to be hard, but it is amazingly liberating. We feel like we have shed our cocoon, spread our wings and are ready for the freedom of a new, exciting life!”