Where do you choose to live, when you can live anywhere?
I realised after revealing our decision to keep living on the road the other day, that I neglected to say that this was not one which was hastily made; indeed we did quite a lot of research into the subject. I think we both knew that this was what we wanted to do for some time, however I still was struggling with the thought of not having a permanent home. Even though Gareth would always remind me that we actually DID have a permanent home and this was it; the idea that this would be our only home from now on, rather than a fixed structure on a piece of land like a 'normal' person, still bothered me. I mean, could we actually even do that? We had met plenty of people before now who lived on the road permanently but had proper houses still to fall back on, even if they had been rented out for years. Were we the only nutters out there whose home on wheels was their only home, with no plans to change that? Was it really OK to be to be a grown up and NOT own a house? Would we be OK?
I started doing some research among fellow motorhomers. I figured this would give me a good idea quite quickly whether we were being ridiculous or not, seeing as there are an awful lot of us out there. I belong to a lot of motorhome groups; there are some great ones on Facebook and we do our best to advise and support one another wherever possible and share tips, wherever we are in the world. My favourite is a group called 'Living on the Road in NZ' so I put my dilemma to them. As hoped, the answers came back thick and fast. Even better, their responses were very reassuring. There were HEAPS of people just like us, who had sold their home and everything they owned in exchange for a life on the road. People from all ages, from all walks of life. Some had been doing it just a few weeks; others for decades but not a single one had any fears or regrets. Well, maybe one regret - they just wished they had done it sooner! Just like us, nobody missed living in a regular house, or any of the stuff they had gotten rid of. Also like us, after living so freely, none of them wanted to ever go back to paying high rents or mortgages, or power bills again. And once again like us, the thought of living in a proper house made them feel really sad and uncomfortable!
One interesting point which was made was by a lady who felt that it was actually wise to be mobile in NZ these days, given our tendency towards natural disasters. I had to admit, this has crossed my mind more than once before now. Just four days after moving out of our house into our van, we were awakened at 2am by the tsunami siren and the whole town of Whangamata was evacuated, bleary-eyed to higher ground. As we stood on a complete strangers deck, high above the town, looking to see if the lights were going to suddenly disappear below and listening for the wave that mercifully never came, I felt so lucky and relieved that all I'd had to do was jump out of bed into the driver's seat and whizz us up the hill. It's good to know that in a state of emergency, wherever we are, the majority of the time we can drive ourselves to safety in just a few seconds, whilst having everything we need to survive on board with us. It certainly gives us peace of mind, and if an area of the country looks dodgy or is having inclement weather or too many earth rumblings, we simply stay away and go somewhere else safer!
It's only a stretch of water between us and family after all!
My biggest concern when making the decision was of course, family. I really struggled with not having a place they could come and visit, like a normal mum and daughter. However the others were quick to point out that not having a permanent base was actually better, as we could move around and see everyone whenever we wanted, rather than be stuck in one place, waiting for them to visit us, when let's face it, everyone leads such busy lives these days. In addition, there was nothing to stop them from coming to meet us anywhere they wanted and enjoying a welcome wee holiday at the campground, or a motel near by at the same time! Admittedly, that didn't sound too awful at all! Thinking even longer term though, I had to voice my other big concern. What about in years to come, when my children had kids of their own? How would I be able to look after them and be involved in their lives, like the grandma I wanted to be? The answer it seemed, was simple. 'You go to where they are and be the coolest grandma ever in her mobile home! You can take them away on trips and give them amazing experiences and create precious memories they would never get anywhere else'. Well that was a good point. I thought of my dear friend Sue, who always took her three grandsons away with her when they were younger. They went all over the place and had a wonderful close relationship. If I could be anything like her, then I would be very happy.
All in all, things were sounding very positive. There was just one more fear. What would happen one day when we got old, or our health wasn't the best? Wouldn't that be scary, not having a house to see your days out in? Apparently not. 'Let's be realistic. If needs must, you can always park your mobile home and rent', one lady said. 'If something happens and you can't go on any more, you just park up where you want and stay put', said another. Well that was true enough, there were plenty of places you could do that. It wasn't any different really than a lot of people who travel throughout the summer months and then park up somewhere through the winter, just as we are doing right now! Nobody else seemed remotely concerned; in fact all the options seemed incredibly easy.
The final clincher was talking to Bevin, our caretaker and himself a motorhomer. 'Of course you can do it!' he said. 'Plenty of people do. Margaret and Ivan in that motorhome over there, for example, they don't own a house'. Well that was a surprise - they were certainly doing alright! They had been coming to the campground for years and would park up for six months or so, then take off again when the warmer weather arrived. Even after a heart attack a year or so ago, Ivan was still looking great and they were both enjoying life. Hearing how long they had been living on the road, and having come to know them these past months, I felt greatly reassured. 'Don't forget Brian and Evelyn too!' he went on, referring to our neighbours in the bus. They had already been staying here two years, simply because they loved the place so much. With Brian in his mid seventies and Evelyn a few years behind, neither of them were at all worried about any age or health issues. 'We'll just park up somewhere when the time comes', smiled Evelyn when I talked to her about it later that same day. I realised looking at her, so happy and content with her life, that I really didn't have anything to worry about.
Lake Tekapo. That'll do for starters!
So I guess for now we'll just go with the flow! We've got a couple of big work projects to get out of the way first and then we'll be setting off for a fun and travel-filled summer, ticking off a heap more places on our 'to do' list. First on the list is Mackenzie Country, can't wait! What a brilliant country we live in, measles and all!