The blog OpenRoadRVNomads.com recently posted an article that makes a claim and asks a question:
In the post the (unnamed) author provides statistics about life in America and how little time we actually get for ourselves. After the statistics, the post provides an answer to the intial question:
Sadly, for many of us we’re trying to get away from our lives.
Get Away, Or Move To?
Yes, I know.
You’d think we’d agree.
You are, after all, reading a website literally called “Ditching Suburbia”. Those two words conjure up visions of families scrambling to escape their suburban lives.
It’s a fun catchy phrase. It leads to a cool logo.
It’s not true.
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At least, not based on the dozens of interviews we’ve done for our book and podcast. Many of the people we’ve talked to speak of a good life in the suburbs. They had friends. Were members of churches. Coordinated play groups. Had great homeschooling support. Knew their neighbors.
So why leave that life for something else?
Means, Motive, Opportunity
Do you read mystery stories? There are always three things police detectives look for when trying to figure out “whodunit”:
Ditched families aren’t criminals (that we know about anyway), but they had the same three factors leading to their decision to ditch.
They either had or found a source of income that was location independent.
- We want our kids to learn less from books and more from being there.
- We want more time together as a family.
- We want more time enjoying life rather than working to buy and maintain stuff we never use.
- We want to have memorable stories to share as a family
What we didn’t hear was “because the suburbs suck”.
The same ideas were expressed so often in our interviews that we boiled them down to a manifesto with four tenets:
- Simpler living
- Closer family
- Richer education
- Uncommon adventures
Means and motive aren’t enough, however.
An opportunity lights the fire under the means and motive.
For some it’s an unexpected offer on their home. For others it’s an employer suddenly open to remote work.
Other families create their own opportunity through long-term planning. Years in some cases. They retrained for a location independent job. Or they built a house to flip and finance a few years of travel. They might pull kids from public school a year early to start homeschooling.
Reaching for More
Sure, in our interviews and conversations we’ve heard regrets for spending so much time and money on a suburban life. Many felt like the American Dream narrative was really just crass consumerism wrapped in the American Flag.
Suburbia ditchers don’t talk about “escaping”. They talk about reaching for more. And teaching their kids not to settle for a life that doesn’t suit you.
Travel was the answer for many of them.
But not all.
Others bought tiny houses. Some started self-sufficient homesteads. Some found more intentional communities that design living environments that depend on sharing and teamwork.
RVing = Meaning?
The OpenRoadRVNomads.com blog post goes on to suggest:
RV life, a method of nomadism, gives the act of living significant meaning.
If you think jumping into an RV is suddenly going to bring meaning to an otherwise meaningless life, you are going to be disappointed.
It might work. For a while.
Or at least the newness of learning to live on the move in an RV will distract you from worrying about having a meaningful life.
But RVing for the sake of RVing?
That’s nothing more than entertainment. And it might be more fun and more memorable than watching a movie or scrolling through your social media feeds.
But eventually, like all entertainment, it will become passé.
The RV parks will start to look the same. That next National Park? Just another pile of rocks to look at, take a photo of, then move on. Another visitor center. Another scenic lookout.
Means To An End
You’ll need a reason for your travels that’s about more than just seeing the next sight.
You might use your newfound mobility to:
- Provide disaster recovery.
- Help friends and family.
- To spread awareness of a cause.
- To minister to those in need.
- To provide your kids an education.
Fulltime RVing is a means to an end. Not the end.
A life of quiet desperation is as easily lived in an RV as a suburban home.
Nomadic life isn’t a cure-all. It’s not a long-term solution for depression. It won’t magically solve relationship issues.
Quite the opposite - it will reveal challenges that a suburban life smoothes over with conveniences.
I don’t know who is behind OpenRoadRVNomads.com or the related movie effort - they’ve taken deliberate steps to remain anonymous. It’s not clear what their actual experience with fulltime RVing or fulltime RVers is.
All I can say is that based on our years on the road and interacting with other current or potential ditchers of suburbia, this group isn’t nervously checking the rearview mirror as they drive away from a life they aren’t happy with.
They are too busy pointing at something on the horizon. Pressing the gas pedal to get there. And using travel as a way to learn, volunteer, build relationships or educate their children.
What Say You?
If you are nomadic sort, do you think of yourself as “escaping”? How have you found meaning in your travels?