Finding Peace

A Transition To RVing Provided This Family The Joy They Were Missing.
October 17, 2018
By: Team Keystone

In May, 2017 Ashley and Adam Auerbach took the biggest, craziest, and most rewarding risk of their life. Within 30 days, they packed up their essentials, sold most their belongings, bought an RV and hit the road, permanently. 

A New American Dream

 For years Ashley and Adam Auerbach worked toward the classic “white picket fence” American dream. They were just about to take the first steps in achieving that dream, nearly buying a large piece of property in the country, when Ashley was introduced to an unconventional, alternative way of life; full-time RV living.

“Something just didn’t feel right, the American dream didn’t quite fit our budget and didn’t really align with our values,” Ashley said. “I was following a family of nine on Youtube, (Knorpp and South) that lived full-time in an RV… I just couldn’t shake the idea of taking a risk and doing the same thing.” One day when Adam came home from work, Ashley sat down with him and started the conversation that would soon change their lives, “I told him, I have something absolutely crazy to ask you…and casually mentioned RV living. My husband is very practical, so for me to say, ‘let’s sell everything and buy an RV’ was kind of crazy,” Ashley said. “We both decided to take the risk. I told him, ‘ok’ let’s do it, and let’s do it 30 days—and so we did.”

The Auerbach’s four children; Delia, 4, Cadence, 7 and twins Seamus and Tristan, 5 were off the walls excited to start exploring. “We are all huge adventure seekers, so this was no big deal to them. In fact I remember asking my eldest daughter if she remembers the first night we stayed in the RV and she said, ‘Yeah! You were freaking out mom’, and I was, I couldn’t believe we were actually doing this.”

The plan was fairly simple; they would travel over the summer, on weekends and during the three, two week school breaks that Adam (school administrator) and the kids both share. Ashley’s profession, social media market and staging/designing, allows her to work from anywhere—a perfect fit for their new full-time RV lifestyle.

The Auerbachs chose full-time RV park about 30 minutes from the kids’ school, located in Northern California to be their “home base.”

Choosing the Perfect RV

Before the big transition into RV life, the Auerbachs had never towed an RV, stayed in one, or even owned a vehicle with towing capability. After selling their house and nearly all of their belongings, the Auerbachs had no choice but to learn all the facets of RVing, and fast! Ashley said almost everything she learned came from YouTube research—from general RV info, to DIY RV projects.

The Auerbachs already had Keystone’s Montana brand in mind for their new home, “my brother had one and we absolutely loved it. The main reason we chose a Keystone Montana was the company’s reputation—not to mention that when the kids jumped around, it was the one that shook the least,” Ashley said. They found one single Montana near them, and it just so happened to be the perfect fit (3665RE 2011). “Our main goal was to find an RV with a large living room, washer and dryer hook-ups, a separate bathroom, and a large kitchen. We opted not to have a separate bunkhouse because it sacrificed the main living area,” Ashley said.

Extreme Makeover RV Edition

Ashley had big plans for the new Montana, but she decided that before changing anything, they needed to hit the road, and discover what would be practical.

“I am so glad I didn’t change anything before our first trip in the RV, because any decision I would have made beforehand, would have been wrong,” Ashley said. “For us, it was about taking the time to discover what our family needed and what our goals were. I wanted a space that brought us coziness and peace; it had to feel like home.”

The first item on Ashley’s renovation list was to repaint the walls. She rid of the original brown and hand-painted the interior to reflect the brightness of the outdoors. “Bringing the outside in was important—adding some plants and calming colors. I wanted it to feel like a sanctuary. It had to be a place where we could come in from a busy day and just curl up on a warm couch full of tons of throw pillow and blankets,” Ashley said. The Auerbachs re-vamped and customized the entire interior of the coach to fit the needs of their family. When it came to more complicated changes, The Auerbachs turned to internet research and their trusty YouTube videos.

“The joy about an RV is that is has very basic plumbing and electrical, so you can re-wire things and change out different amenities pretty easily. For example I learned all about how to swap out light fixtures from Mountain Modern Life on YouTube. I may have electrocuted myself a couple times, but it all becomes part of the experience!” Ashley said the one piece of original décor that she will never touch from a design standpoint is the Montana’s “beautiful wood cabinets,” “I have RV friends who have redone or painted their cabinets, but I just can’t! They are so great and super heavy, whatever I did in the space, I planned around the cabinets.”

As for kids space, Ashley suggested building custom beds, but her daughters surprisingly preferred a sleeper sofa “so they had a place to read.” They are all stationed in the multi-functional main living area and their clothes are stored under the dining-room table bench. The Auerbach’s one-eyed cat was lucky enough to get an entire layer of RV all to herself; the Auerbachs built her a custom cat door in the side of the steps that leads to the underbelly storage of the unit.

Ashley knew she achieved success in bringing comfort into their sanctuary when the family returned to their RV after it had been in the shop for two months, “I remember my daughter saying, ‘FINALLY some peace and quiet,’ I was shocked! We had just stayed at my friend’s house who had five bedrooms, and here’s my daughter saying this 350 square foot RV brings her peace and quiet? Then I knew I was doing something right.”

Ashley said that sacrificing the type of storage space you would have in traditional homes was pretty difficult at first, but now slimming down their possessions regularly and only keeping what is essential comes second nature.

“While we still find ourselves holding onto a few ‘frivolous’ things here and there, we find ourselves bending and growing more and more toward becoming content with less,” Ashley said.

Failing Gloriously

Living full-time in an RV is not simple, but Ashley Auerbach beams with joy when talking about road bumps along the way, “On our maiden voyage, within in the first 100 miles, we knew something was terribly wrong when we heard a loud BANG, we pulled over to check, Adam saw that we had ripped off the driver’s side of the rig, and blew a tire.” The Auerbachs had to unhitch on the side of the road and walk to the nearest town. With no luck, they ended up “freestyling” it and managed to change the tire in the 100 degree heat by themselves. By the time they arrived at the first campsite, it was dark and the Auerbachs were battered and drained. “It was so worth it, everyone reached out to help us when we arrived. They offered me a glass a wine and to park our RV for us,” Ashley said. “I still have a note to this day that a woman next to our campsite gave me. She must have seen the panic on my face that remained from earlier in the day. The note said, ‘this will get better, you will have the best time of your life. I wish I would have done it sooner—and now I’m the one that wishes I’d done it sooner.”

The Auerbachs have gained a new perspective on failing; instead of feeling bad and complaining, they become the ultimate problem solvers and it brings their family closer together. Ashley also mentioned that they’ve flooded their RV, and lost their cat in the underbelly storage quite a few times. To Ashley, every mishap and bout of bad luck becomes a valuable learning experience, “Failing can teach you so many things. It teaches me about our endurance, our perseverance, and our determination. Taking risks into the unknown will allow your roots to grow deeper and your confidence to soar. Then, when you choose joy, let go of what you can’t control and tame what you can, you will find peace—if we ever fail, we fail gloriously.”

The Road Less Traveled

Strict “planning” is a thing of the past for the Auerbachs, and that’s just the way they like it. All of their adventures lead to another, and most of the places they visit come from the advice of locals, the camping community or from Campendium (an app that lists rated RV parks and boondocking spots all over the US). Ashley also stays in touch with the RV community on social media and often reaches out to find the best local places, “I can randomly post something like, ‘hey we are going into town, where should we go?’ And I will get dozens of responses; ‘go to this donut shop! Visit this place! Eat at this restaurant! Tell the owner I sent you!’ The community is something to be so treasured, we never want to throw that away, and we’ve only just scratched the surface,” Ashley said.

The Auerbachs are only a year into their adventures, but they've already said that full-time RV living has changed their lives for the better. Ashley said she never realized such a simple change would have such a huge impact on her family, “it has transformed our way of thinking, our way of living and even my way of designing. I honestly believe we were truly prepared for this to come into our life.” The RV community is like no other, and makes the Auerbachs feel more connected with their neighbors, “At our old house we would wave to people as the garage doors closed and that was it, but when you’re living in an RV park or boondocking, and another RV pulls up, you want to meet them, you want to say, ‘hey! Tell me about your life! What are you doing! Where are you traveling!’ it’s exciting,” Ashley explained.

Thinking About RV Living?

Ashley Auerbach said there are three simple ways to discover if full-time RVing is right for you and your family—identify your needs, values, and goals. “First find out what you need, and if those needs are possible in an RV environment. We needed a big living space, and we needed something that would bring us adventure,” Ashley said. “Then you think about your values. If you value your personal space, and your kids having their own separate bedroom, RV living may not be the best bet. Finally, have goals. Really take the time to list them out, it will help you avoid purchasing mistakes. We decided one of our goals was to do whatever it takes to continuously give us a positive outlook on life.”

The Auerbachs have found their happiness within the RV community and have left their mark all across the United Sates. “I want anyone looking into RV living to know that you absolutely can go out and see the entire country at an extremely low cost. The choice to downsize to an RV has made it so we never have to say ‘no’ to traveling somewhere because of the cost,” Ashley said. Right now the Auerbachs are headed to Portland, OR, the entire 11 night stay will only cost approximately 215 dollars.

Although the Auerbachs have only just begun their adventuring, Ashley is sure they are never turning back. RV living has turned out to be the most rewarding risk for Ashley and her family. “We never want to transition back to ‘normal life.’ We have caught the bug of being closer together and having less. It has brought more joy to our family. We will continue to keep traveling,” Ashley Auerbach said.

After Portland the Auerbachs will explore the Washington coast, and then eventually to Canada.