/ #Texas 

Still Homeless, But Living in an SUV

Recently we wrote about [escaping the system][1] and some of the difficulties we’ve faced.  One obstacle that we faced was simply time itself.  Late last year we began fine-tuning our strategy and a target time-frame for quitting our jobs.  Eventually we settled on late March.  We drew up a timeline and marked off all of the things we needed to do by that date.  Initially this included purchasing and moving into a travel trailer.  We eventually decided against that, which had both positive and negative results.

The main reason for dropping the trailer idea was that we decided to start traveling overseas sooner.  The expense and hassle of a trailer doesn’t make sense for a seven month journey, but ditching the trailer had some unexpected consequences.  One thing we had not fully appreciated was just how much room even a mid-sized trailer has.  Moving from 750 square feet to less than 200 sounds challenging, but it is nothing compared to moving into a passenger sedan!  The Hyundai Sonata has an amazing amount of cargo space, and Glenn is quite the packing genius, but we were still discarding items up until the very last minute.  Rear-view visibility was minimal but workable.  But the one thing we didn’t even consider was weight!

After spending a wonderful evening at a bed and breakfast we scooted off to Denton to deliver a gun and some proofreading work in exchange for money.  But on the drive up a couple of things became obvious.  First, the rear suspension in the Sonata was almost fully compressed.  Minor dips on the highway caused it to bottom out with a slightly disconcerting dull thunk.  And with the bulk of the weight behind the rear axle, the front end was raised slightly and this caused a lot of extra sway.  We foolishly believed that all we needed was some beefier suspension, but in fact no one makes those for sedans.  And why would they?  Sedans have weight limits that kick in regardless of how low the vehicle rides, and we were probably over that limit.  The solution to this dilemma slowly dawned on us.  We needed a bigger vehicle!

It seems pretty obvious now, in retrospect, but it took some time for us to reach this conclusion.  We’re stubborn like that sometimes.  We didn’t want any extra delays or expenses, but there is just no way that car was going to make it over the Rocky Mountains and through the deserts for 9,000 miles.  So we began the search for a compact SUV.  We initially targeted the Hyundai Santa Fe for cargo space, cost and familiarity reasons.  Trips to west Dallas and Denton proved fruitless.  We did get a nice deal on a Mercedes but decided to pass on it due to the finicky and costly maintenance issues.  Finally we found a Mitsubishi Montero Sport at a fancy-shmancy luxury sports car dealership near the Addison Airport.  The manager/owner is Arwaan, and he and most of the employees appeared to all be from Pakistan.  The Montero was a trade-in, and it was pretty much just what we needed.  They gave us a fair trade-in offer and Arwaan pointed out that it would have been more if our speedometer still worked.  He also pointed out that we would pay much less on taxes since the end result was a purchase price of only $2000.  They got it inspected and changed the oil and we proceeded to fill up the cargo bay while the heat reached 92.  Glenn almost got heat stroke while Bryn was lining up the insurance over the phone.  But soon all of our possessions were in the back of the Montero, and we came to some startling realizations.

The first realization was that we still have a lot of stuff!  The fact that we filled up the cargo area and still had difficulty maintaining rear-view mirror visibility was sobering.  The second realization was that the Sonata has a crazy amount of cargo space!  The Montero has more, but if you want to see out of the windows it doesn’t have that much more than the Sonata.  But we also knew that we could take our time and repack in cooler weather and probably make things fit better.  So we did.

We also replaced the nearly bald rear tires with new ones that match the front tires.  The front tires were fairly new, so now we are all set for a road trip.  Glenn also cleaned the glaze off of the headlights and cleaned the interior a bit and replaced the air filter.  Everything else seems to work fine.  So we’re almost ready to go, finally!

In one sense, it seems obvious that we would need something as big as an SUV to do what we are doing.  But considering all of the things we have done this year, from selling most of our possessions to selling two vehicles to quitting our jobs to moving out of an apartment — well, we were bound to miss a thing or two.  And we did!  We probably should have included more transition time in our initial plans.  It is frustrating to still be here in Texas when by now we were expecting to be traversing the plains in search of the elusive tornado.  But our original timeline was probably a bit optimistic, so we’re not going to beat ourselves up over it.  We still have one more issue that we need to resolve that is partially preventing us from traveling too far, and we will write about that in greater detail in the near future…

[1]: {{ Site.BaseURL }}/escaping-system



Retired I.T. nerd - expat in Mexico