It began in the 1980’s with occasional visits of US-customers of the German chemical company I was then working for. In 1993, I started a US affiliate of another German chemical company, together with a US citizen who lived in Hilton Head Island, SC. The purpose of the business was to import chemical materials from the German mother company, warehouse them, and sell them to customers in the US and Canada. I had to run the company and grow the business by visiting potential and existing customers for technical support and advice (I am a chemist by trade). Because the customers were scattered all over the country, I had to travel a lot, and thus got a first impression of the sheer size of this country, or continent.
I remember that in the beginning I was having a hard time to explain people in Germany why I was not able to see more than 4 or 5 customers a week, whereas sales people back in Germany saw 12 or more per week. And why my travel expenses were skyrocketing, with very often at least one flight between customers! That was one of my first experiences with German lack of imagination how different it is here. But I got them educated!
Over the years and with growing business, I had to travel more and more from Germany, where I still lived, to my American customers. Sometimes, I would combine the business trips with vacationing in rented RVs to my favorite places in the West. This, and the simple fact that I increasingly liked being in the US, made my wife and me decide to buy a place in Hilton Head Island where we could live part time, thus reducing the travelling between Germany and USA considerably. After lengthy discussions and pondering pros and cons for months we decided to buy a house. There will be an article about that decision making process on this website.
This brought down our travels across the ocean to about 3 a year, but after our son was born in 2002, even that was too much, considering the added complication of travelling with an infant or toddler. So, there again came a time of decision making, between quitting the job in the US and giving up most of the travelling and living in America, or moving there permanently. Because my wife and I had different opinions about that, we tried a compromise: Moving to Hilton Head for 2-3 years, and then she would be the one who decides what to do and where to live.
Because our part-time house was too small for a permanent lifestyle, we again started looking for houses – and couldn’t find one we both could agree upon, considering all aspects that were important to us. So we decided to buy a lot and build one; this experience is going to be a subject of a another article.
Our son was raised bilingually and went to Preschool and Elementary in a local Montessori school. More about the language and schooling experience in another blog post.
In 2007, I sold my company and started enjoying more time in our Hilton Head home. One year later, a 13 year old girl, a distant relative of my wife, came to live with us for the rest of her school years, from 8. grade all the way up to High School graduation. That, of course, implied staying in America and not moving back to Germany.
Around that time, because after a while simply enjoying life wasn’t enough for me, I started online day trading. There is an article on this website explaining what that is and how it works. Over the years, I spent a lot of money for training courses, trading software and the like, but the bottom line is that I wasn’t consistent enough to make it work. I guess it’s a personality thing, because there are day traders out there who are able to make money consistently, albeit not many. I even learned the programming language necessary to develop my own automated trading programs, but none of my programs made money longer than a few days. But it was a fascinating experience.
Between 2006 and 2012, we went on several vacations into the West with rented RVs – a way of spending time we all enjoyed more and more. So over the years the idea ripened to try living fulltime in an appropriately big RV. This is called “fulltiming” in RV circles and is being practiced by an estimated couple of million people in the US. This lifestyle is aided by the availability of really big RVs and hundreds of thousands of campgrounds and RV parks across North America that are able to accommodate these big “rigs” easily.
So, after long and thorough consideration, in 2012 we decided to sell our house and buy a so-called “fifth wheel” trailer and a truck to pull it. Our son, then a rising 7-grader, would be homeschooled primarily by my wife (see the articles about homeschooling on this website). I used the months before our actual departure to enhance our RV with lots of technical additions and gadgets, trying to make sure that we wouldn’t miss too much of the comfy life style we’ve grown accustomed to. On August 1, 2012, after our foster daughter returned to Germany, the three of us started into our new life, full of expectations.
A whole section of this website is dedicated to the many aspects of our RV experience: the criteria for selecting an RV, the purchasing. the upgrading, the travelling experience itself, including the aspects of family living in a narrow space for a long time, and blog-style logs of our three long journeys which brought us to more than 40 states, including Alaska, with lots of pictures.
Our plan was to try fulltiming for one year, but we cut it short after two trips of 5 months combined – it didn’t work out. Our three personalities simply aren’t made for living together without sufficient personal space. So, after returning to Hilton Head, we bought a new, much smaller house to live the “conventional” but compatible life again.
After having settled, our son attends a local private school, and my wife completed an education in Eating Psychology. For many years, healthy nutrition is one of the top themes of her life, probably induced by her health issues that are most likely food related. Eating Psychology is a new and very exciting approach to heal eating disorders that are hard to cure otherwise. The world is full of people who have unsuccessfully tried to change their eating habits because of nutrition related health or weight issues. My wife started a coaching practice in 2015 to use Eating Psychology as a viable solution for many of those people. So far, very successfully.