My Personal Paradise in Palm Beach

So for those of you that have read Allegedly, you’d know that Matt and I rode off happily into the sunset in the last chapter. Well, technically we headed East, into the sunrise, and sadly, Maya didn’t make it with us.

Matt and I have been wanting to move to Florida for so long now, and after I left my job, we just stayed in Victoria, Texas because we were comfortable. We had already sold the house in San Antonio, but we were still close to the ranch. We liked the other people in our RV park, but it was a hassle for Matt, because it was over 2 hrs to the closest airport, and he travels almost weekly. Then, our friends started to leave the park, and Matt’s work started talking about dividing his territory. He could stay with Texas/Louisiana/Oklahoma, or get Florida/Tennessee/Georgia. It was just the push we needed. We had no reason to say in Victoria, and I dreaded the thought of moving back to San Antonio. So we spent forever looking for a new RV park we liked. We had sold our house already, and lived full time in an RV. People think this means you can just pack up and move anywhere. In theory it does. In reality, not so much.

Matt really wanted to live somewhere between Miami and Ft Lauderdale. Each has a good airport, and both are big cities with lots of stuff to do. So that’s where we started looking. I’m amazed at some of the RV parks in Florida. Most were built back in the days before RVs had slideouts, so the slips are tiny. Then, in winter, they pack them in like sardines. Some RV parks double people up. The amount they charge in winter is astronomical. Some RV parks in South Florida charge as much for a tiny RV slip as an actual apartment. It’s literally just a tiny piece of land. Many of them aren’t even concreted. Miami and Ft Lauderdale fill up with French Canadians over winter. People reviewing parks said if you don’t speak French, forget it. They’ll actively exclude you. Then, the majority were either right next to a train track, or in super sketchy areas.

Matt and I drove to almost every single RV park from Islamorada in the keys to Boca Raton, and didn’t find anything we both liked. We almost gave up. Then, I found a place online that wasn’t listed in the RV guides. It was up further north in Palm Beach, which Matt had originally considered too far north, and he wasn’t sure of the airport there. But I knew it was meant to be. It was right off Australian ave. It was literally a sign. I had him look at the flights in and out of there, and he was satisfied it would work as his hub.

I had just finished reading “The Official Preppy Handbook” and it assured me that Palm Beach was THE place to be. At least in Winter. Apparently I’m supposed to summer in the Hamptons, or Europe.

So on his next trip to Florida, Matt checked out the RV park here, and it was ok. So we set a date, and we moved. We miss our friends, but, I’m so happy here. I’m glad we didn’t find what we wanted in the other cities first.

We are actually in West Palm Beach, which someone told me I should never mention to anyone out on “the island” but in reality, no one has battered an eyelid when I tell them we’re in West Palm, and not in Palm proper. Most are fascinated that we live in something smaller than their pool house. The island is absolutely gorgeous. Apparently it contains the top 1% of the nation’s money, and the top 2% of the world’s money. I told Matt I could see why. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. I said “If I was a billionaire, I’d live here” to which Matt replied, “you’re not even a millionaire, and you DO live here.”

He’s right. We might not live in a $50 million dollar house on the beach, but I live in an RV that I love only 5 minutes away from it. I have no desire to live in one of those huge houses. Or any house again for that matter. The RV life is so simple and easy. It has everything we need, and nothing we don’t. I don’t have to spend hours cleaning (or hire a maid) and the little bit of gardening I do is because I want to, not because I have to.  We got lucky and have the biggest RV slip in the park, and I have a veggie garden, and even made a tiny zen garden. We’re so close to the airport that Matt calls me as he lands, and I make it to pick him up before he’s even outside. Thankfully, as close as we are, we’re not under the flight path. Some of those big houses are though…

I drive out to the island everyday to go workout. I found a beautiful place that does barre, yoga and pilates. They do spin too, but me and cardio aren’t friends. I try to go to a class everyday Monday to Friday. The people are super nice, and even though they all drive Land Cruisers and Porsches, they all think my lifted Jeep Wrangler is awesome. (It is) I’m not trying to get a supermodel body, I just want to get healthy, and it’s happening slowly. Barre is so much harder than I ever expected it to be. It’s harder than CrossFit was. I really enjoy it though, and Matt thinks I always look happier when I go. I’ve met some really cool people there. Even some that I have weird small world connections with. (Who would have imagined two people in a pilates class in Palm Beach would have both been interviewed by Tracy Grimshaw!) There’s also a bunch of expats here, and I’ve even made friends with another Aussie. One that I would have been friends with even if we both still lived in Australia. -Hey Maggie!

The restaurants here are amazing. There’s every kind of food you could think of, and it’s all good. Downtown West Palm Beach has CityPlace and Clematis St, which are both super busy and filled with shopping and restaurants. We’ve found a few favourite places, but are still trying everything else. We even found a cute little hangout we both like called Camelot. It’s a bar, but they also do a member’s thing. Palm Beach is full of members only clubs. We can’t afford The Breakers or Mar-a-Lago, (seriously, they’re both over $100k just to apply, then there’s the yearly fee) but I totally joined Camelot, just cause I could. (It was $100 a year) They gave me a fancy metal membership card, and now I feel totally preppy, belonging to a club in Palm Beach. 😉 While Palm Beach is very seasonal, and almost empties out in Summer, (everyone really does go to The Hamptons) West Palm Beach is buzzing all year long.

We still enjoy going down to Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Matt has to go down all the time for business, so I’ll go along some days. They are both fun to visit, but I don’t think I’d like living full time in Miami. Miami is super fast, flashy and very nouveau riche. Also, the traffic sucks. Palm Beach is old money, and everyone is super laid back and totally charming and chilled. Bonus; no traffic, unless you get caught by the drawbridge as someone sails their mega yacht through the intercoastal…

So even though we majorly downsized our life materialistically, I think we did a major upgrade spiritually. My quality of life here is so much better. I’ve never been happier. I’ve never enjoyed living somewhere so much. I absolutely love it here, and I’m grateful that Matt was able to move us here. The dream of living in Florida not only happened, but turned out so much better than I ever imagined it would.

So, if there’s something you think would make you happier in life, do it. Just go for it. Maybe you adjust your expectations, or make compromises. You might find that you give up something that didn’t make you happy anyway, in return for something that gives you so much more pleasure. I have zero regrets about giving up our big house in San Antonio. I’m living large while living tiny. The trade off is totally worth it. I’m not suggesting you move to Palm Beach, but go find the place that makes you happy, and just make it happen. Be flexible with your expectations. The thing you might have thought of as a compromise might end up being the thing you end up loving the most.

And just for the record, even if I was to become a millionaire, or even a billionaire, I’d still pick Palm Beach. It’s my happy place. I think the only difference is I’d pay off someone in the council to let me park the RV out on the island. Or build an RV park out there… Or live in someone’s pool house. Then again, I’m so close right here where we are, there’s not much point. Except to make Matt happy cause then he could walk to the beach instead of driving there.

Most of these pics below are from my Instagram, but since some people don’t use it, I figured I’d share them here, so you could see how awesome this place is. If you are on instagram, go follow me (@Shrimptank) so you can see all the other amazing stuff I didn’t include here.

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Tiny Living Laundry

I bought a Laundry Pod.

laundry pod box

I’ve been living in an RV for a while now. I was originally in my vintage Airstream part time while I was working, and I would go home on weekends. Last year, we sold the house, and we bought a much larger toy hauler fifth wheel RV, and Matt is now enjoying tiny house living as well. We really love it. We live in an RV park, which is a tiny gated community, with a pool, spa, rec center and on site laundry. You know when you were a kid and you went on holidays to the caravan park, and how you could just relax and enjoy life, and you didn’t have to mow lawns, or clean the pool, or do any hard work, you just sat around playing with the other kids, and life was awesome? Well, it’s basically that. Except we’re adults, and we drink and BBQ with the other adults. (And no, it’s not a trailer park. There’s one of those down the street.)

The only thing I don’t love about the RV is doing laundry. We actually have a space in the RV for a washer/dryer combo unit, but we’d prefer to have the closet space. Besides, the RV park has a coin laundry. It’s not so bad in summer, when it’s just the other full timers who live here, plus, you know, people who are vacationing, but in winter, it’s crazy busy. (We’re in South Texas, and in winter all the Yankees flock to the South to get away from the cold. We call them Winter Texans, or Snow Birds.) Anyway,  there’s 4 washers, and 6 dryers in the laundry room. When Matt and I go away, we generate a fair bit of laundry, but I only ever do 2 loads at a time, because I don’t want to be that asshole that hogs all the machines. Without fail though, every time I go down john deerethere, there’s an old lady who is on her phone, slowly spraying all the delicates, and hogging all four machines. It’s become a running joke. Then you have to trek up and down the park, waiting to put your laundry in. Then walk back down again to move it over, then come pick it up. I normally walk. Matt hops on the John Deere gator to go down there…. (It’s more fun than a golf cart 😉 )

I love the tiny house movement, and all the efforts people make to downsize, make a smaller footprint, and generally go green. Most of my clothes I hand wash anyway, so I decided to get a laundry pod. I’d seen quite a few different little off grid washing machines online, but this looked like the easiest to use.

I was super excited when it arrived today. (I had ordered it online) I had just put two loads in at the laundry when it arrived. It was Matt’s cargo shorts and the towels, so not stuff I would wash in the pod, but I opened it up right away and did a couple of loads of my own clothes to try it out. I’m a fan of the Meyers Clean Day laundry soaps, especially after the owner of the park said she always knows when I’m doing laundry because the scent goes upstairs. (Thankfully she said it was a good smell!) The small bottle is easy to store in our tiny space too. It’s not super sudsy, and does handwashing very nicely, without leaving a bunch of residue.

laundry podlaundry pod inside

So basically, the Laundry Pod is like a giant salad spinner. I put the soap in, added some water, added the clothes, some more water to make sure they were covered, and gave it a spin. I let the clothes soak for a while, then gave it another spin. It’s kind of a workout, and if you spin for long enough, it’s like doing cardio. When you think they’re done, turn the knob on the bottom, and water flows out of the hose, which comes out from underneath. You can tuck it away when you’re not using it. Then, add a little bit more water to rinse. Spin again, open drain, and then spin like crazy to get all the water out. Just like the spin cycle on a regular washing machine.

I hung my clothes on one of those folding clothes dryer racks. Thankfully, I can set it up behind one of the RV slideouts so nobody else can see my laundry. The other cool thing about being in a toy hauler RV is I can put the rack back there in the garage to dry clothes even in the rain.

I wouldn’t say it was easier than washing and drying clothes in the regular laundry, but it did mean I could gently wash all my clothes and hang them to dry like I prefer to do anyway. I’ll probably still do most of Matt’s clothes, and of course the sheets and towels down there. But at least for my clothes, I’ll be saving a shit tonne of water. I only used a couple gallons of water to do a load. Apparently a regular machine can use 30 gallons of water for a load. That’s a crazy amount of water. I tried it out today in my tub, but I could also do it outside and use the grey water on my plants. So double green points. It also saves me some green. Doing laundry is expensive. It’s $1.25 a wash, and another $1.25 to dry. With this, I don’t even pay for electricity. Just the water I need to quench my thirst afterwards! (and the small amount of water for washing)

It’s probably not practical for large households, but if you’re like me, and doing the tiny living thing, or need something for camping, your holiday house, or the inevitable zombie apocalypse when we all have to go off grid, this seems like a pretty useful little gadget. It’s small enough for apartments and dorms, and probably even people fulltiming on boats. I’ll have to do laundry more often, instead of letting a whole pile of clothes build up, but that’s ok. I need to cull a bunch of my wardrobe anyway.

I know, I’m easily amused, but it’s always the small stuff that makes me happy.