Our first blog post - wait, are we bloggers now?
Hi. I am Matt Best. My wife Tabitha and I are the proud new owners of ditchingsuburbia.com. As this is our first blog post on this site, we decided it would be most prudent to have our first post be just about who we are and how we got here. In the future, we will be posting regularly about our travels, family dynamics, and our perspectives on the 'hows' and 'whys' of RV travel. I enjoy writing but haven't had opportunities to write much in the past - so hopefully this goes well.
Together, with our seven children, (yes you read that right, there are seven of them - 5 boys & 2 girls) we have followed in the footsteps of many who have chosen to live a life outside the suburbs. We moved into our 5th wheel RV and launched out of the suburbs recently after more than two years of planning and research. Ditching Suburbia embodies many forms of leaving suburbia behind no matter if you go by land, sea, or I suppose even space if you can hitch a ride to the international space station. We love the idea of starting afresh in a dramatically different way and wish we'd done it sooner.
Here's our story (starting at the end)
The last half of 2018 for us, was full of preparation for “the RV trip”. We had postponed leaving until our 7th child was born at the end of July. Post birth complication recovery took longer than we had planned but eventually I was painting the house and getting it ready to sell. We had already bought our 5th wheel trailer from a small local dealer months before and our tow vehicle (a big orange stretched truck) from a very nice guy off ebay a year before. We had been through rounds of de-cluttering and yard sales to whittle down our belongings for the RV. This proved to be an emotional challenge as I think I have a genetic predisposition to holding onto things I don't need. For some reason, the hardest thing for me to purge was cables. Power cables, audio cables, video cables. I love cables. Tabitha "made" me get rid of them ..... argh!
Though the baby was born in July, the house wasn't sold until November and then we stuck around at my parents' house for a couple months as we finished up some final financial preparations. We finally hit the road on January 23rd, 2019. Suburbia didn't want us to leave and sent a snow storm the night before we launched. I had to shovel 8 inches of snow off the RV and then struggled to tow it from of the snow covered gravel lot it was stored in – but we finally got out!
In the middle of the house being on the market, this website, ditchingsuburbia.com (along with it's Facebook group, Pinterest and Instagram), came up for sale. After RVing for 8 years, Michael and Crissa Boyink decided to hang up their keys and sell the site. We debated long and hard if acquiring it was right for us. We thought, we prayed, and finally decided to go for it. We love this site. It gave us the inspiration we needed to change our direction in life. We wanted to retain the wonderful content here for others to stumble on like we did. Our eventual goal was to use it as our traveling blog, but we knew that initially the most important thing was to keep the site going as it was - for other people like us. In fact, one reservation we had at the time was feeling we had nothing to write about after the acquisition as we had not yet left the suburbs. So we kept it as is while we worked to get on the road. Looking back, this was ridiculous thinking. I could have written about the sale of the house, “these countertops aren't granite – you need to lower your price”, how Tabitha almost died in childbirth, finishing things up at my job, or the challenges of 9 of us living in my parent's one bedroom basement for a couple months. I regret not posting now as it would have shown our struggles to get on the road - which is an aspect to life on the road. As I continue to post here I'm sure some of that history will get picked up from the cutting room floor of my life and put on stage.
But – how did we get here?
Our story, aside from the number of children we have, is not too dissimilar from many people who choose full time RV lifestyles. We had done what we were “supposed” to along the road of life. Attended University (both graduated from the University of Utah, but Tabitha also had done time at Boise State and Ricks College in Idaho), got degrees, got married, had kids, good stable job, house in the suburbs, struggled in the garden, kids in music lessons, church service, vacation when work allowed, etc. etc. etc. We had done these things, but with the exception of marriage and having children, we didn't feel they brought us much true happiness.
We were the typical suburban family, but we also were the misfits. We have lots of children - which isn't typical. We home school - and where we are from that's not typical. We don't go out to eat or to the movies practically at all as many of our peers do. Our kids weren't in sports (though they did do music with Grandma). We kept chickens and bees. I wasn't ambitiously climbing the corporate ladder like so many do. I'd rather spend time with my family than another hour at the office or on the golf course. We would simply rather drive up the canyon and throw rocks in the creek.
In speaking of our life before the RV, the most significant “my life isn't what I want it to be” factor was my employment. I have always been a creative type, but as my career progressed I continually took jobs that weren't creative. One line of work history on my resume would lead to the next, perpetually pushing me in a direction I didn't even like. And though they were “good” jobs and paid the bills, I started to feel like I was dying inside as the “fun” was corporate'd out of me.
With all of this loaded suburban life draining us from day to day, we began to look for a way out. Since we love being outside and had been doing the garden · fruit trees · chickens and bees thing, we thought we should buy a farm and be farmers. When push came to shove though, we weren't stellar gardeners and in the end we felt that being farmers would just be a bandage and not a fix to our feelings of being unsettled. Farmers are also strapped to their land, and we like to travel … so we didn't feel settled about it.
Then we found Ditching Suburbia
In truth, the idea to RV was already written down in Tabitha's journal as a pipe dream a few years before. She recently stumbled on it one day when looking for some detail about one of the kids' births. She noticed she had written something like, “I wish we could sell everything and go live in an RV and travel”. At some point after she wrote that we found ditchingsuburbia.com. As we read about simpler living, closer family, richer education and uncommon adventures, it spoke deeply to our souls. The fact that there were families actually living nomadically and making it work was eye opening for us.
The idea of living on the road resonated with us as throughout our marriage our favorite times together, both as a couple and as a family, were our vacations (which usually consisted of camping). Before the RV trip, we have enjoyed visiting: Goblin Valley State Park, Zion NP, Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, Mt Rushmore, Devil's Tower, the Oregon coast, San Francisco, Southern California, countless trips to Boise, and we even once drove from Salt Lake to Missouri to visit Tabitha's brother when he lived there. Through these trips, we learned that having uncommon adventures really brought our family closer. The stresses of our suburban life would melt away and we found deeper happiness as a family among foreign environments. But … we always had to come back to the unfulfilling life. Some might say, “well, that's a vacation, real life isn't a vacation” - but I think that life should be about finding joy – so if there is a way to change your life to mimic the happiness and joy you feel on vacation, then why settle for anything else? Sure there will be challenges along the way, but this isn't the '80's anymore and people have more options to choose how they want to live in ways that were far more difficult in decades past. Ditching Suburbia taught us that this is possible (and possible for a family our size) and that we can attain a freedom not available in the suburban form.
Fast forward a little over two years and we are finally doing it.
As I write this, we have only been living on the road for a little over 2 months. We have had so many wonderful, challenging experiences that have drawn us closer as a family and we have seen things I thought I'd never see in my life. With "we need to post something on the site" in the back of our minds the past two months and not being sure how to properly do that, we recently went to an RV Entrepreneur summit and got pointed in the right direction from good mentors. Now – after the long lead up time, we are ready to share our story here through the blog. Our take on things will be different from the previous posts here as we are a large family and young children bring their own complexities to any situation. We hope you will join us as we begin what I am (for now) calling “Chapter 2” of Ditching Suburbia.
Regarding the site's future look, my current thinking is to transfer the whole site to a Wordpress site without loosing search engine optimization. It's a great site and switching to Wordpress should make it easier for us to update - we just need to ensure during this process that people can find us on google as we once did. If you are good with this sort of stuff, please reach out to me as the task is huge and though I have a direction and experience with web design (experience that is over 15 years dated), I have never run a blog site, let alone transfer one to another format.
Thanks for reading and we'll see you on the Journey!
… on the next Ditching Suburbia blog post: a sum up of the first 2 months of our trip which include Dealth Valley, a day trip to Tecate, Mexico, the gulf coast of Texas and our journey to Alabama.