Do you ever get fed up with paying bills? Does the constant effort to keep up with the mortgage, rates, insurance, and all the other outgoings drain the fun out of life and stop you actually living?
While most people know how that feels, not many actually do anything about it. For me, however, the turning point came last Christmas. Four days a week, I was selling bait, tackle, LPG refills, and general hire, while every other moment was spent tending to my real business as a professional picture framer.
The realisation that I would have to keep working like this for another 20-odd years in order to pay off the home loan was sobering. With my two fledgelings having flown the nest, my three-bedroom house was now far too big for me, and I tended to live in just two rooms. In reality, what more did I need?
I had never imagined living anything other than a ‘normal life’, but as I carefully considered the alternatives, I found myself leaning towards a mobile lifestyle. It meant giving up my precious studio and selling the business but would also mean fewer bills and I could still work freelance. Decision made, the search was on to find a new home—a home on wheels!
The search begins
With stacks of information available and a budget in mind, I began looking online into the huge variety of motorhomes and all their pros and cons. After intensive research, I had narrowed my shortlist down to three. Funnily enough, upon going to see them in person, I stepped into what I thought was going to be my prime contender, only to be disappointed with the build quality.
In the end, I decided upon a TrailLite motorhome. Not the cheapest on the market and hopelessly over my initial budget of $120,000, but when you’re living in it full time, you have to get it right—something that won’t need upgrading or tinkering with in the near future and comes fully warranted and guaranteed.
In March this year, I signed on the dotted line at the Covi Motorhome show for the all-new TrailLite 300+ Oakura on the VW Crafter Chassis.
Liquidating my assets
By June 2018, my house was sold, along with my business and all my stuff. I found my local Buy Sell page on Facebook to be the easiest way of finding a new home for everything.
Listed one minute, gone the next! Sounds daunting but it was all easy and absolutely liberating, like the sloughing of an invisible skin. Maybe that was the shell of normality going, going, gone. No more sticks and bricks. Walking away from my house for the last time was invigorating. I had escaped the rat race.
Haven’t had this much excitement since 1972!
I left my Coromandel home early on the morning of 4 October with a single car key. No house key, no work key, no other keys. Just all my chattels and worldly goods crammed into the back of my dear old Toyota Surf. A short while later, I traded her in for a new bunch of keys and a whole new way of life. I was now the proud owner of a brand-new apartment on wheels.
When you mature—you know, get old—there isn’t that much to get personally and proper excited about. That tiny frisson of excitement at the local club or RSA raffle, maybe? The odd Lotto ticket?
Opening a parcel all the way from my mum in Wales that still smells like her kitchen? Since becoming a motorhomer, however, I’ve sure had my share of excitement. Even better than Christmas 1972, when my brother got a new bike and I got to have his hand-me-down Raleigh Chopper!
A bunch of firsts
October marked a whole series of firsts, not the least of which, my first time owning and driving a motorhome. I’d done the caravan thing way back in the mists of time with the kids, in a matchbox flimsy, entry-level Bailey Beachcomber caravan with a Meccano chassis, but this was a lot different.
Kerstin, my lovely TrailLite mentor, showed me the ropes, but also thankfully a pile of manuals (you have heard the mantra ‘RTFM’—Read The Flipping Manual). In another first, I now had the leisure time to actually read them.
First drive. That first drive felt pretty scary and exciting all at once. I was amazed at how car-like it was. After my crusty old ute, my new cab was like the command deck of the Starship Enterprise. No kidding, “Beam me up Scotty!” Navigation was a first, too.
I just plug in my phone and it talks to my VW on a big screen with surround sound navigation. It’s awesome! Like having a co-pilot but they don’t argue or answer back. While it may not open and close gates for you, it can watch you back up with the help of dual reversing cameras.
The all-new 300+ on the new VW Crafter was also a first for TrailLite. Two lovely chaps from VW showed me all the features of the vehicle, telling me this was the first VW Crafter (new version) motorhome conversion in New Zealand. I love the lane assist and huge infotainment screen. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also a first for Redarc, being the first Redvision control system instalation in a TrailLite.
It’s got a cool app, which allows me to monitor my batteries, solar, and tanks remotely and turn things on and off from a distance.
First night. This was spent in Pukekohe at the A & P Showgrounds—pleasant surroundings, with friendly staff and neighbours. Next followed my first NZMCA park at Ardmore, where I met fellow motorhomers Colin and Nancy, who gave me a lot of top tips. So much to learn, but it’s all part of the adventure, and what an adventure it is. One month down already and I’m loving it!
Watch this space to read more about Christina’s adventures on the road.