My posting frequency has been much less over the last three months, and I hinted in my last post that the reason was due to some big news for our family.
After much prayer, thought, and family discussion, I have decided to retire at the end of the year.
In this post, I'll briefly outline the motivations for my plan and the changes this will bring to our family.
My satisfaction with my work as a professor has declined tremendously in the last several years. Things were going fairly well until COVID and the resulting fallout hit. Enrollments plummeted, and most public universities are now very reliant on tuition dollars, significantly more so than they were before the financial crisis of 2008-2009. In response, administrators laid off a big proportion of the university's support staff and pushed many of their responsibilities onto faculty, increased my and my colleague's teaching loads, and replaced tenured faculty who left or retired with untenured lecturers. The university cut a few programs a couple of years ago but did not eliminate the worst performing programs (i.e., in terms of cost, enrollments, and students' employment prospects) because they are considered to be 'sacred cows' in academia now. All this and more have combined to make my work quite unpleasant, and I've heard very similar experiences from many faculty across the country in many disciplines and universities.
Two years ago, we bought a 24' motorhome that we have used for extensive travel. Despite being in a very small space, we thoroughly enjoyed visiting new places, meeting new people, and trying new foods. We spent more than four months touring the country in the motorhome in 2022, and none of us were ready to return at the end of the trips. While I was able to arrange my work schedule accordingly last year, I will not be able to do this again anytime soon.
The cost of holding our mortgage-free home dramatically increased over the eight years we've owned it. Property taxes have more than doubled, insurance costs nearly doubled, and maintenance expenses have also gone up. We've also had to pay a gentleman to mow the lawn as my allergies don't permit me to do so. In 2022, these costs plus utilities totaled approximately 20% of all our spending. Also, we don't feel comfortable leaving our home unoccupied for months at a time due to the increased potential for maintenance issues and burglary, and we don't want to hire a house sitter.
You probably know where all this is going.
After carefully evaluating all our options, we decided to sell our house and live full-time in a fifth wheel RV designed for full-time living. From a financial perspective, this allows us to cash in on the equity tied up in our home, providing us with enough capital to allow for me to retire, and to eliminate most of the house-related expenses. From a lifestyle perspective, this means that we can continue to do the travel that we all love and I can get out of a career that I no longer enjoy.
When many people hear 'full-time RV living', they envision unending travel, but that's not true for most folks in this lifestyle and won't be true for us either. We plan on spending at least half the year in the same area, traveling the remainder of the time. This allows us to stay connected with our church, my parents, and our daughter's homeschool co-op group. It's also less costly to stay put rather than constantly move with an RV. While in the area, we're 'leasing' a spot on a farm owned by some close friends.
We fully understand that this lifestyle is not for most people, but we're not most people. And we also know that many look down on those who live in RVs, but this doesn't bother us because we aren't seeking others' approval. Rather, it is God alone Whom we answer to, and we believe that He has called us to this change.
In the future, I'll post about our experiences selling our house, most of our possessions, and our SUV, and buying our fifth wheel and truck, as well as how we've invested most of the proceeds from selling our house.