I have lost or given up by choice or necessity almost everything I’ve owned many, many times, and each one of these losses led me to this Nomadic life which I enjoy so much. When people ask how I became a Nomad, I can’t really give a straight answer, and have to say “Well, it’s complicated.”
I didn’t sit in my home and watch a few YouTube video’s online and read a few articles about how to leave a life of drudgery, and actually plan a life on the road as so many are able and smart enough to do these days. No, it was life’s circumstances that led me to where I am now; a solo female, living a full-time Nomadic life and loving it. Like myself, some of you may be living in vehicles, but it may not have happened completely by choice, but because of some unfortunate event in your life instead.
In this post I wanted to share my stories not only to answer the question I get asked so often, but to offer up some hope and inspiration to those who may be struggling with some major change in their life, that is perhaps unplanned, or unwelcome or very unpleasant.
As you read these please keep in mind, that each and every time some major change happened in my life, and each time I lost so much, instead of going forth in fear and sorrow I latched onto it as a new adventure.
Each time I had a chance to start anew and hopefully not repeat past mistakes,
Each time promised new and exciting adventures,
Each time led to new roads and horizons to explore,
Each time I met new people and made new friends,
Each time there was new hope,
Each time left me with less stuff, and stuff can be a burden,
Each time taught me life skills such as self-sufficiency,
Each time I learned to fight fear and become braver, stronger, and more capable.
Nothing bad has come from these changes and losses, and I have no regrets.
And, even though some of these circumstances didn’t really happen by choice, it was always my choice to leave them behind and start anew, so ultimately, I have become a Nomad by choice.
Leaving England for the United States ~ 1986
The first time I gave up nearly everything was in November 1986, when I decided to leave England and follow my dream to travel to another country. At that time I’d already owned and sold a house (because I was supposed to be getting married, so I sold my house. I was age 21) and I was renting a room in a house with two other young women, in Macclesfield, Cheshire. I had recently taken voluntary redundancy from a company I’d worked at for eight years. I got another job but didn’t like it much, so when I was at a pub one night with some friends and one of them asked if I’d like to go to the States with them, I said yes. A month later I had sold my car and everything I owned except what I could fit into two suitcases and a shoulder bag. I had $1,000.00 to start my new life-adventure on. I lived out of these suitcases for about two years, before I rented a stick and brick home, and started to accumulate stuff again.
Leaving an Abusive Relationship ~ 1996
The second time was when I left my abusive husband in October 1996 (I got married in America). Harry and I rented a three-bedroom house from Harry’s parents (not his real name). I had invested a lot of sweat into the house; I’d helped to re-roof it, build a vegetable and flower garden, painted the entire house inside, re-built walls, stripped the floors, fixed up the shed into a workshop for myself, the list was endless. I owned a lot of lovely antique furniture, and had beautifully decorated the home and helped to remodel the kitchen. In 1996, I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with him much longer, so I started to sell some things off in garage sales. I couldn’t sell too much, lest he got suspicious. One night in November, things got ugly, and I knew I would leave him the next day (I’d left him six or seven times prior to this time, but always returned for various reasons). However, this time I was truly ready, and more importantly, prepared. (See the Category ‘A Year Without a Kitchen Sink,’ for the first few chapters of this story).
When Harry went to work the next day, I immediately started packing my car with what I could. I didn’t have much time. I grabbed the essentials, which were clothing, family heirlooms, camping gear, and some other stuff I had room for. I drove away and never looked back, leaving behind all my furniture, tons of clothes and personal effects, most of my handcrafted woodworking and tools, and the list goes on… Everything I had in the world was in my car (a Buick Skylark) and a car top carrier. From there I drove aimlessly for a month looking for a new home and narrowing down my meager belongings even more as I traveled. After a month of travel and 4,400 miles, I found myself in Colorado, where I settled in a motel room for the winter, and camped in a tent for a summer and learned a whole new way of living. Leaving this situation was a choice, and in the immediate weeks after leaving Harry I found that camping for the first time on my own, and being free to do as I chose was exciting if a little scary. It only got better from there.
There was also a time during my time with Harry that he destroyed pretty much everything I owned. After one particularly nasty argument (he hit me repeatedly, with me crawling around the house on the floor) I returned the next day with a police officer to find that nearly everything I owned had been destroyed. He had smashed things, shredded them with a knife, torn them to shreds, burned them, or taken stuff with him).
Selling a Home & Business and Ending Up Still in Debt After the Sale and Moving to Oregon ~ June 2004 (A Nomadic Life Begins)
In July 2000 I got married again to a very nice man and we bought a house together. Our living room became a gallery and gift shop and we lived upstairs. It was a tiny town and we learned that having a year-round business was impossible, and the struggle too hard. After a few years, we decided to sell. The sale of the house was a nightmare. Everything you can imagine went wrong, and more… We had seven closings on that house, all because of ONE selfish person who would not work with us, and in the end, had to leave before the final sale was completed just to keep our sanity. We ended up owing $10,000 at closing. My (then) hubby and I sold everything we owned, and he cashed in his retirement, all to raise enough money to get away from there. We left Colorado with a vehicle each (a truck and a jeep) and what we could fit in them and moved to Oregon for a one-year commitment working at a hotel. We were looking forward to a change of environment, and it was exciting. (By the way, the person who had made it almost impossible for us to sell our home died about two years later. He did so much to hurt us, and then died with meaness in his heart).
Moving from Oregon back to Colorado for a few month, and then to Washington State in an RV ~ 2005
After the year in Oregon, we moved back to Colorado which required us to sell all our furniture again (it would have cost more to move it) and rented a little cabin, which we purchased used furniture for again. We stayed in the cabin for about a year, then decided to try living in Washington State. This time we purchased a small RV and kept the truck and I sold my jeep. The RV was our full-time home, and everything we owned was in there. We lived in Washington State for about a year together before we decided our marriage wasn’t working anymore. He wanted to live in a damp climate, and I suffered from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and needed a sunnier climate, plus we had both changed. We decided to part ways and get a divorce. We sold the RV (for about $200 because the roof had caved in) and split our belongings in half, three forks for him, three for me, and so on. I narrowed things down to the bare minimum to fit in my newly purchased, used, SUV (GMC Jimmy) which became my home, and I returned to Colorado alone. It was now the spring of 2006. Although ending a marriage is sad in one way, being on my own again and free to live my life as I chose, wherever I chose, was full of possibilities.
My Second Divorce and Third Year of Being a Full-time Nomad Begins (this time, alone) ~ April 2006
Since my divorce in 2006, I’ve pretty much lived out of my vehicle in the summers, and house sat in the winters in a variety of different ways, or traveled part of the fall, winter and spring as well as worked part of some winters. In recent winters I’ve just traveled. In the summers, I’ve worked in a tourist town while living out of my vehicle. That is with the exception of part of 2013:
The Colorado Floods ~ 2013
In 2013, I got (what I was told would be) a year-round job, and decided to try living in a home again, purely to appease my family and with a promise that if it didn’t work out they would stop bugging me about living a traditional life in a stick and brick and accept my fated Nomadic lifestyle along with me. Once again, I furnished a rental cabin and purchased some things to make my home cozier. When the Colorado floods hit in September 2013 I lost my job because the town was cut-off for months, and was no longer able to pay rent. I gave up the cabin and moved into my vehicle again along with everything I owned, bar one very small box of family memorabilia I left at a friend’s house.
The above circumstances have been major happenings in my life that have led me to where I am now. There have been several other incidents that have left me with little more than the very basics (clothes and some camping gear) and a vehicle, and I have been stone-cold-broke more than once. However, the words “This to shall pass” and “All is well in my world,” have become my chant, and I know that it will be so because I’ve accepted my Nomadic fate, and I know that it’s far easier to get back on track financially when my overhead is so small, and I need so little, and living in a vehicle is a lifestyle I love and not a hardship.
What I’ve learned from all of these incidents, is that it’s so easy to lose everything you have in this world. You can work hard all your life, follow all the rules, prepare yourself for the worse, and live the way society says you should, but even though you may do everything ‘right’ you can still lose everything overnight. It can happen to anyone, but I feel that it’s especially sad when it happens to an elderly person, who has worked their entire lives and given up travel, and adventure and dreams, and so much more in order to save for their retirement; then a flood, or fire, or heart attack comes along, and takes it all away. That is sad, to have worked hard all their lives, and lose it all in a heartbeat.
What I’ve learned is that if you have very little, you have very little to lose, and by having very little and keeping things to a minimum, you can have more money to enjoy life with now.
I’ve learned that experiences are far more precious than things. Life has taught me this, and I’m grateful for the life I have, one of travel and adventure, friendships on the road and a promise of more of the same down the road.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature
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