We will be spending our first year in the “Lone Star State,” the first stop on our journey. The extra time will allow us to establish our Texas residency, RV projects, and even some exploring. We are thankful for both our jobs that allowed us to start and live this dream.
Choosing Texas and establishing residency
Tony and I discussed different options when selecting our home base, but a Texas residency won for many reasons. The two essential qualities about Texas was their homeschooling laws and no income tax. We are homeschooling both our girls the entire time we are traveling, and I didn’t want a lot of regulations to complicate the process. No income tax is an obvious plus!
The first step after moving was establishing a domicile in Texas. It made things easier that Tony was transferring and we would be staying in Texas for a year before traveling. However, we still needed to set up a mailing address with Escapees. Next, we headed to the Department of Public Safety for our new driver licenses and voter registrations.
Texas has a convoluted process where you need to get your vehicles inspected before getting them registered. It’s not hard or expensive but it’s another step in an already long process. Michigan is a lot easier and you can get driver licenses and registrations done in the same place. After we had our new drivers licenses and inspection stickers we registered our vehicles at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
Finally, the last thing we needed to get was a license to carry a concealed pistol in Texas, Michigan’s license is only valid for residents of the state. Tony also wanted to get his certification to teach the License To Carry course in Texas (he’s also certified in other states), and the next class was at the end of September. Spoiler, he passed both the written and shooting sections with 100%.
The cash flow
Tony works at a company that has locations in both Michigan and Texas. After sharing our dream, his company agreed to transfer him to a location in Dallas, and we were thankful. The transfer allowed us to have two incomes while we accomplished everything on the list. They were able to transfer him to a different location in Texas after a few months to accommodate our travel plans. However, Tony does plan on leaving by the end of the year. I wish his company had a position for a full-time traveler (HAHA), but it’s not that type of business. We are incredibly blessed for the opportunity and thankful they are so accommodating to our needs.
After Tony leaves his fulltime job, he will be doing corporate photography. He will also have group and private firearm courses. I currently work from home and will continue throughout our travels. We will rely on hotspots and wifi more than the typical full-time RVer, but it’s allowing us to do our dream now and not when we retire.
Within the first month of traveling to Texas, we took a day trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards to see the famous cattle drive. Tony and I visited the Stockyards before, but we were thrilled to let our girls experience this fun event. In addition, we were most excited to see how Kylie (our animal lover) would react when she saw the longhorns walk right in front of her.
The history of the Stockyards
I love reading the history of the places we visit, and this place has a great story. For instance, the city of Fort Worth was nicknamed “cowtown” and established in 1849. The town was also known as the last “civilized” place for cowboys because there were five hundred miles of unsettled wilderness between Fort Worth and where the railroad began in Kansas. The cowboys would round up the cattle that were roaming wild across the Texas plains and drive them on the Chisholm Trail to Kansas.
After the railroad came, Fort Worth became a primary shipping location for cattle. For that reason, the city built the Union Stockyards. However, the city didn’t have funds to buy enough cattle, and the Union Stockyards later sold. Soon after they sold the Stockyards started losing business with the decline of the railroad.
The real Texas cowhands drive a herd of Texas longhorns down Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards National Historic District two times every day. To find the dates drives are not held you can check the Fort Worth Stockyards website.
Kylie was amazed when the cows and cowboys on their horses walked right in front of her. It was great to see both of their expressions. Lexie still talks about the Longhorns to this day.
I think one of the coolest parts of the Fort Worth Stockyards is the very authentic old brick roadway where you can enjoy browsing all the fun shops. We also really enjoyed the gunfight between the sheriff and some rowdy cowboys.
It was a great way to introduce the girls (and us) to the history of Texas’s famous livestock industry.
Kristen: ★★★★☆ Tony: ★★★★☆ Kylie: ★★★★☆ Lexie: ★★★★★ Cost: We didn’t spend any money and watched the cattle drive and the gunfight show. Recommendations: You need to get here early to find a parking spot. You should also wear good shoes because you will be walking on many different surfaces.
On a road trip to our camping spot, sometime before we were married, Tony and I first discussed how fun it would be to travel the country and be a fulltime RV family. It wasn’t new for me to daydream about this lifestyle, it’s something my dad and I discussed on our family road trips. However, when Tony was just as excited about doing something like this I knew it was in our future.
Buying our new home
Fast forward a few years later, we started getting more serious. We looked at RVs, went to an RV show, and thought about ways we could make this work. In October of 2016, on a whim, we drove to the RV dealership and asked to tour some RVs. The salesperson was good at his job and sold us on a brand new Fleetwood Bounder.
Now what?! We have a 36ft RV in our driveway with no plans of making this crazy dream a reality. One thing we did know – it was happening.
Since we lived in Michigan we needed to winterize it shortly after we bought it. This was a tad heartbreaking to have this large piece of our next chapter sitting in the driveway. We still didn’t even know if we could actually live in a small space and survive. HA!
Testing out living in a small space
May of 2017, we temporarily moved into the RV with plans of moving back into our home in the winter. This was just to see if we could make it work. We still took most of our showers and baths in the house but didn’t spend much time in our home. That summer we went on camping trips including a week-long adventure in the Upper Penninsula and the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin.
In the Fall when we moved back into our house, we knew Fulltime living was happening and honestly we couldn’t wait. We spent the time waiting for summer with house projects, including new siding, room painting, and floorplan changes.
We’re now a fulltime RV family
In May of 2018, we permanently moved into the RV with plans of NOT moving back into our house. The part that took the longest was time spent going through everything and moving our belongings into our RV. We purchased an enclosed trailer to hold the stuff we wanted to keep but not take with us. We ended up donating and selling almost everything we owned. Going from 2000 sqft to almost 350 sqft is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but one of the most rewarding. There was only so much room, but I wanted to keep everything. Everything had memories or feelings and I didn’t want to let go yet. Needless to say, the enclosed trailer is full. Thinking about this now I already know I can let go of probably half the things we kept.
We put our house for sale in October, almost exactly two years after we purchased the RV. Three months later our home was sold and we were traveling south to Texas. It was the most amazing feeling, we are now a fulltime RV family.