It was late 2019 and Karen and Sylvester Akpan knew they had to make some changes. The couple collectively owed over $ 110,000 in student loans and felt they were unable to build wealth for their son Aiden, now 8 years old.
They also made a $ 4,200 per month mortgage payment on a five bedroom California home. Owning a home had always been her dream, but these monthly payments felt more like handcuffs than a path to financial freedom.
A trip in a mobile home earlier in the year gave her the idea of selling her house and trying life on the street. They bought their own RV on the Facebook marketplace in early 2020 for $ 14,000 with their savings (they have since received a new RV from Camping World). This brought their housing bills down from $ 4,200 a month to $ 0 (they pay about $ 600 in gas).
“We were house poor. That’s the honest truth,” Karen tells CNBC Make It. “I thought to myself, why are we living this life and trying to keep up with it all?”
What was initially intended as a month-long journey has now expanded over a year. The Akpans say they have no intention of returning to a “normal” home anytime soon.
“There’s no way we’re going back to a house or a career or anything,” says Karen. “We love the freedom that working for ourselves as entrepreneurs has given us.”
Living in a RV gives the Akpans the opportunity not only to save thousands of dollars a month – they paid off all of their student loan debt last year – but to show Aiden the world. They have traveled across the US and used their savings on international travel as well (they leave the RV in locked parks when they leave the country). Karen’s niece and nephew Avery (6) and Ethan (8) often accompany her.
It helps that Karen and Sylvester don’t get into traditional 9-to-5 jobs. Karen was already making money on her blog, Mama Trotter. Since switching to the full-time motorhome, the family has also earned income by creating Instagram and TikTok campaigns for Camping World, Circle K Stores, Hilton Hotels and Disney, among others.
It’s not a lifestyle that everyone would enjoy, but the Akpans revel in the ability to travel anywhere, anytime. The savings they’ve built don’t hurt either.
“To be honest, living in a motorhome was the best thing for our family,” says Karen. “There is no way we are going back to a house.