Kirsten and Brett Doherty are an incredible family of three (including their precious pup Isla), that have discovered the true meaning of the phrase “less is more.”
The Doherty’s are a young military family based in South Carolina, currently living full-time in a Keystone 29FWRL 2018 Sprinter Campfire. Before getting married in 2011, Kirsten never thought in million years she would be living on the road, let alone, in an RV. In fact, when her husband Brett suggested living in an RV, Kirsten joked, “Don’t even think about bringing that up to me ever again.” Little did they know minimalist RV living would end up being so positive and fulfilling for them.
Because of Brett’s career with the Coast Guard, the Doherty’s constantly travel from place to place, never knowing where or when Brett might be relocated.
“Nowhere ever truly felt like home because it was so temporary,” said Brett. Before moving into an RV the couple had a home in Carolina, where Brett is currently stationed, but it was becoming impractical for their current fast-paced lifestyle. Kirsten was worried they would suddenly have to pick up and move, and the couple did not want to get stuck trying to sell a house last minute or find themselves caught in another hurricane season (according to Kirsten, they’ve had to evacuate at least once every year since living in Carolina). Kirsten’s first thought was to move to an apartment, that is, until she discovered that rent for most apartments in the area costs more than their house’s mortgage. After making a mental list of pros, cons and pricing Brett decided to put “the RV thing” back on the table.
“I guess Brett sort of smoothly tricked me into it,” Kirsten said. “We first talked about getting a ‘tiny home,’ but that was a no-go because of their weight and lack of storage space.” Suddenly living in an RV didn’t seem so bad… In fact, it seemed as though that might be a realistic move for the time-being. “I started really getting into it,” Kirsten said. “I followed all these awesome accounts of people living in fifth wheels on Instagram, and they just all looked so cozy and spacious.”
In May, 2018 the Doherty’s sold their house to some of their friends and moved into a new Sprinter Campfire. Surprisingly the transition from residential home to RV was fairly seamless.
“Because we moved so often, I had already started downsizing our possessions,” Kirsten said. “I found that we had moving boxes that had never been unpacked from our previous move, so I determined we probably didn’t need those things.” Both Kirsten and Brett grew up around camping. In fact it was Kirsten’s parents that inspired the couple to purchase a Keystone RV for their new home—they owned a Keystone Bullet. The Doherty’s visited their local RV dealership and after touring multiple RVs, they finally found the one.
“I am very aesthetically driven,” Kirsten said. “We walked into the Sprinter and it was perfect. I loved the colors, and immediately I told Brett, this has got to be it. I don’t care what we have to do, this is perfect."
When it comes to RV customization, Kirsten said she hardly changed a thing.
“We pulled down the valences to bring in light and added some peel and stick wall paper in the dining area and to our closet doors, as well as peel and stick tiles to the kitchen and bathroom,” she said. The couple also replaced some of the furniture and added a few personal touches, “Because I was starting school, I needed a desk to do work, so King StarBoard®, a marine-grade plastic designer made us a flip-down table that attaches to the kitchen island for an extended eating/work area.”
We walked into the Sprinter and it was perfect. I loved the colors, and immediately I told Brett, this has got to be it. I don’t care what we have to do, this is perfect." - Kirsten Doherty, Doherty Digs
A Renewed Sense of Adventure
In the beginning of their new RV adventure Kirsten had a strict end-date in mind for when she would like to move out of the RV. However, after weeks of decorating and travel, her thoughts are no longer so black and white. “I love this lifestyle so much more than I originally thought I would,” Kirsten said. “It’s funny because every month Brett checks in with me and says something like, ‘sooo how are you doing? Are you going crazy yet?’ and truly, I still love it!” So far, the Doherty’s have faced minimal challenges on the road, and the transition has made them stronger as a couple. “In a normal home you have the opportunity to sort of hide away in your own space, which isn’t bad, but now we see each other all time which is especially nice when Brett comes back from being deployed,” Kirsten said.
Brett said that living on the road in a small space has been a healthy push to go out and adventure more than they would living in a house. Now they have the opportunity to quickly pack-up, unhitch, and explore wherever and whenever they want. The Doherty’s mostly take advantage of the military campgrounds because of the discounted price and the welcoming environment of campers in similar situations.
When it comes to challenges, Brett and Kirsten both agree that hurricane season was and still remains the biggest challenge they have to face. “We are used to evacuating for hurricanes, but with the RV there is no anxiety about what could be happening back home or what we might lose in the turbulent weather,” Kirsten said. “Although, whether or not there would be any campsites to come back to was probably the only real worry, but I guess we could always bunker-down at a Walmart if we really had to,” Kirsten said she tried to decorate as smart as possible in order to pack up in a pinch if they have to.
Tiny Living Lessons and the Road Ahead
According to Kirsten, “the biggest lesson I learned was how to be a good, smart consumer and really taking note of what I’m bringing into a space. We’re no longer over shopping or trying to 'keep up with the Jones’s.' It’s crazy how much you don’t need—we took what seemed like 5,000 trips to goodwill.” Brett said he finally feels at home. “Life is about experiences not what you own. I used to never have that sense of real ownership, living in a house kind of took away from us being able to get up and out and do things on the weekends because we consistently had a home to maintain and it was restricting us from adventuring.”
As for the Doherty’s tiny-living timeline, Kirsten, although in no rush, would like to eventually settle in home that makes them both happy. “In reality, it just depends on Brett’s work and where we get stationed next,” Kirsten said. “The beauty of living in a RV is we can really take the time to explore different areas and figure out what we like before rushing in to a purchase,” she said. Regardless if the couple chooses to move into a permanent home, their Keystone Sprinter will always be along for the ride. “If we ever decide to start looking for a house, we will one-hundred percent stick to having less and getting out more,” Kirsten said. The Doherty’s are also considering using their RV as an Airbnb or a guest house.
Not long ago, RV living was barely an option for the Doherty’s, but now they agree It was one of the best decisions they have ever made.
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