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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




Tiny House Movement

Joining the tiny house movement, kinda.

I’m pretty excited to see that there’s about to be a TV show starting called Tiny House Nation on FYI channel.

John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin of Tiny House Nation

I’m a huge fan of the Tiny House movement. I also love Earthships, Eco Domes and other forms of natural building. I love the idea of being off-grid, and leaving a smaller footprint. I’m not into stuff. I don’t collect designer handbags or watches. I don’t covet expensive things. I don’t need a mega mansion. I’d rather use my money to travel, or have experiences. I’d rather collect memories than stuff that will just sit on a shelf somewhere.

I first got interested in Earthships several years ago. I was wondering what we could build down at the ranch. It’s pretty remote, and I love the idea of being completely self sustained. If there ever is an actual Zombie Apocalypse, I want to be somewhere far away, and not be relying on anyone to save me. I’ve always said if there’s ever a major glitch in the system, while ATMs are down, and everyone is freaking out about no internet, or electricity, the Hamish will be fine. Well, until the guys with guns show up and take their stuff…


The Earthship is a pretty hefty investment, and one has to live in it full time for it to really work. So then I was looking at eco-domes. I thought about building one of those, until I started an earthbag kitchen at the ranch. It’s a LOT of hard, heavy work, and the summers here are just too hot for any kind of manual labour.


While I’ve been deployed, I have been living in a vintage Airstream. I loved her. She is old, and was pretty gross when I bought her. I’ve done lots of work on her, but she’s really small.

My 23' vintage 1972 Airstream Safari
My 23′ vintage 1972 Airstream Safari

I absolutely loved living in her. She was small and cozy, and had everything I needed. It’s perfect for the dog and I. However, when Matt would come visit, it wasn’t fun. It’s got twin beds, so not so romantic. It’s also very small, and Matt is claustrophobic. He would hit his head on the door every time he stepped inside, and he grew to hate it with a passion. I think it set back my quest to get Matt to join the tiny house movement.

One day though, Matt woke up, realized that since he works from home, and could work from anywhere, while I work in a city 2.5 hrs away, he decided he’d rather live small with me, than live in our 2400 sq ft house in San Antonio without me. We knew we couldn’t live in the Airsteam together, and so we started looking at more practical options.

5th wheel toy hauler

We didn’t build a tiny house. Matt is a Texan and I just don’t think I’ll ever get him in a true tiny house. We did however end up with a 5th wheel toy hauler. We wanted something to be mobile, because we still like the idea of traveling. When I’m tired of working here, we can pick the next place on the map, and just move our house there. We love the idea of moving to Florida, but not packing boxes and unpacking boxes. We ended up getting a toy hauler, because it has the garage in the back, which Matt uses as an office. After traveling in a Class C motorhome for a couple years, we understood it was important to have a separate room for him to work. Plus, when we do finally move, we can put all our outdoor stuff back there while we’re moving.


It’s not really all that tiny either. At 44′ it’s actually pretty damn big. Probably the biggest one in our RV park! But it’s certainly way smaller than our house. In fact, it’s probably smaller than our Master Bedroom at home. It’s got everything we need though, and find we are actually way happier in it than we are on the weekends we go home to our stick house. I’ve even got veggies growing in pots down here. We’re still on the grid, but figure we’ll get off grid eventually. Baby steps. At least it’s got a big generator in it for if the power goes out. It’s even got it’s own gas tank with pumps near the back.

Lots of room inside
Lots of room inside

So now we’ve got our house in San Antonio for sale, and we hope it sells quickly so we can just enjoy being full time RVers. We love living in the RV park. No, it’s not the same as a trailer park. There’s a trailer park up the street. They are “mobile homes” but there’s really nothing mobile about them. RV parks have a great mixture of people. Where we are, there’s full timers, who are mostly retired people, and there’s a bunch of oil field workers. Then in winter, we get all the snow birds, or “winter Texans”. There’s also regular travelers who pass through for a few days while exploring the nation. We don’t have to mow the lawn, or clean the pool. Everyone is social, and people get together for pot luck dinners, or a beer after work. We pay a monthly slip fee, but it includes everything except electricity. No more property taxes, water bill, cable TV bill or trash collection fee. Being fully self contained, we got a traditional mortgage, so it’s not even a huge monthly payment for the RV. This one is high end, but my airstream was under $7k, with repairs. It was cheaper to live in that than an apartment. (Yes, I’m very frugal)

We love the RV life so much, I’m actually thinking of buying an RV park if we ever do move to Florida. Even more than that, I’d like to start a tiny home community. I’d buy some land, or an existing RV or mobile home park that has lots of green space. Then set up a tiny home park, with communal vegetable gardens. – I must sound like such a hippy!

Anyone else dream of getting rid of their solid home, and living small? Or anyone already gone off grid? Do you love it, or hate it?