How and Why I Quit My Job and Became a Van-Lifer

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Would you like to quit your job and follow your dreams? Do you feel life is passing you by and that you need to act sooner rather than later? This is exactly what Hobo Trudi did when she quit her job of 25 years.

This page tells the personal story about why she decided to quit and go full time as a writer for Motorhome Hobos and a brand new website she’s in the process of developing.

She speaks candidly about the stresses of the care industry and explains the reasons for her decision to walk away from secure employment and focus instead on following her dreams.

We hope the story resonates with you and perhaps gives you the impetus to take some calculated risks in your own life – before it’s too late!

A Welsh hill near Pencelli Castle - freedom after I quit my job!

How death saved my life

During my twenty five years working at a care home, I was privileged to speak to a lot of people during their final months – or minutes. And nobody regretted not having had more money.

As they neared death, people shared regrets about the things they wish they had done. Or had done sooner.

And I realised that I was going to be one of them. Sooner or later, I was going to be dying, and regretting not chasing my dreams.

So, on 31st December 2020, I left my secure job which more than paid my bills. I had no replacement employment, no income. Nothing.

My state retirement age was several years away and the personal pension…tiny! Full retirement wasn’t even an option. What was I thinking!?

Before I became a hobo…

After a quarter of a century at the same care home I finished up as deputy manager. The home’s ethos was compassionate care, which I loved.

I had trained as a Dementia Care Coach and, with a colleague, had devised a training course which was runner-up in the Suffolk Care Awards. We were promoting and influencing mindful elderly care – something very dear to me.

So now I sound even more crazy!

I had a job where I could make a difference to vulnerable people’s lives. I was earning enough to save for a comfortable retirement. Surely that’s all anyone could wish for? But I wasn’t happy.

It wasn’t just a week, a month…this was rooted. A deep sense of not being on the right path.  

Oh, I was close! I care deeply about the emotional well-being of people in care homes, people who could otherwise lose their voices. Much of my work supported that ideal. It resonated with my spirit.

But equally, there was too much box-ticking and mindless form-filling. It certainly didn’t make the residents’ lives any better. And it was on the increase; care should not be an industry!

Compassion fatigue and moral distress

My unease grew into frustration.

It wasn’t that I had stopped caring…maybe I cared too much. I just knew that I couldn’t take on the system and win.

Then there was the stress of management. I can sometimes be good at dealing with stress. But the times when I wasn’t good at it were mounting up. And affecting my health.

It was like I was walking beside the right path but separated from it by a huge fence.

To help manage my stress levels, I wrote poetic rants, pouring my distresses all out onto paper. I also found that, when I shared the poems with others, they provoked deeper thought in people. I really came to enjoy writing.

But my happiness and wish to write was not top of the agenda. See, I’m a cautious person. After my marriage broke up, I had been the sole bread winner with two teenage daughters to look after and a mortgage to pay. My son had already left home, so I just got on with paying bills as best I could. Even when things got easier, I was still careful.

Then life woke me up.

My new partner was self-employed. Self employed! That awakened something in me. I became more restless and felt that life was passing me by.

Time is something we can never get back. You cannot sell some family silver and buy time.

The birth of the Motorhome Hobos

Hobo Gav and I followed our hearts more than our heads and bought an old motorhome. A rare old beast, but our old beast.

I needed somewhere to escape to, somewhere away from the stress. Not an annual holiday, but something I could reach whenever needed.

why I quit my job: how to start an online business and follow your dreams

But working 40 hours a week, sometimes many more than that, was eating into my allotted number of days on this earth. My phone could ring at any moment as I was “on call”. The job made anything difficult to arrange and family got tired of my never being available. I was emotionally pulled this way and that.

I think Coronavirus was the last straw. Being in the care “industry” at that point was horrendous. Providing support to residents, their relatives and staff drained my already depleted resources.

I knew I couldn’t take much more. So, I worked. I paid that mortgage off. I cut out unnecessary luxuries, stopped buying “stuff” and put any spare energy I had into developing an online business with Gav…

Both of us had already built WordPress sites; Gav’s was professional but mine was just a platform for some writing. Both sites were the best we could do with our limited technical skills.

Fortunately we then found the help we needed, instead of researching our niches, we looked for information to show us how to do build a web site properly.

This is where my crazy leap of faith into the unknown begins to sound plausible…

Building Our Site

Making your own web site is not as easy as Wix or Go Daddy would have you believe. If you’re technophobic (like me), there are incomprehensible instructions shrouded behind initialisations and computer-geek jargon.

But we found that there are many pages and sites which offer comprehensive advice. We paid for some, but many others offer free information.

As I worked through the advice with Gav, we started writing our first ebook about our van life experiences. We soon realised that the website we were developing could actually earn us money. And the more we spoke about it, the more ideas we came up with.

We thought of a website name – Motorhome Hobos – with the aim to show people the possibilities of van life on a budget, the way we’d had to do it. The focus would be on the “Freedom” aspect. Emotional and spiritual freedom – and perhaps financial freedom too.

We didn’t want to take out another mortgage to buy a £50,000+ motorhome like some people do. To our way of thinking, freedom shouldn’t be another financial millstone round your neck!

A giant leap of faith into the unknown

The questions I now started asking myself were, “Can I get into a position where I feel safe enough to live without the secure comfort of a steady income? And importantly, was having a steady income my life goal?”

And so, eight months earlier than I had planned, I jumped. I still cannot always believe that I did it…but I did! Without the financial parachute those eight extra months would have given me, I jumped right over that fence and into the unknown.

I was leaving behind my comfort blanket and stepping into foreign territory like I’d never done before in my life.

But I trusted what others were teaching me: new skills, new hope. Perhaps even more importantly, a new belief in myself.

You see, people who have not grown up with technology can find this type of thing daunting! But bit by bit, the Hobos’ site developed and we’re now building a nice following on Social Media and getting new subscribers to our newsletter every week. People seem to like what we’re doing.

But a question arises here. Yes, I quit my job but am I going to earn any money doing what I love?

Earning money with an online business

Frankly, what I’m doing now is frightening; it has taken me right out of my comfort zone. And I had lived for many years in that comfort zone. I could have been buried in it. My mother is not at all impressed with my decision! However, my children have been amazingly supportive of my leap of faith.

After a few weeks away from the job and once my head cleared, I realised that my love of writing poetry could merge with my dementia training to create material which could spread dementia awareness out into the world – particularly in engaging children with rhymes.

I thought too of wedding, funeral and prayer poetry.

What I have learned – even with my limited technological knowledge -has given me the confidence to build my own site – It’s still in its fledgling state, but with the right help behind me, I believe I can make it fly.

I need an income now and later into retirement. I have bills to pay. But, perhaps more importantly for my inner-self, I still have a deep-rooted need to make some sort of positive impact with this life.

From dreams to reality

Would I recommend this leap of faith? Yes, if you have a back up plan! You have to dare to dream but realistically!

I have taken a risk, I know that, but my health was suffering. Dying with regrets was looming large. THAT was my biggest fear – never having tried.

I cannot retire nor take a long holiday. I either make a success of this or I find alternative sources of income – employment, selling the house perhaps. Neither appeal. So I’m going to give my dreams the best shot I can.

If you are considering a similar feat, think it through very carefully. I had done so – and had got a sensible time scale planned. In the event, the jump happened far too early financially. But emotionally, I was spent. I simply had to act.

For that, I have no regrets.

If I can make money from creative writing, talking about van life on a budget and spreading dementia awareness – along with whole life poetry – then I’m going to be living the dream. My dream.

A dream which resonates so much with our ethos here at Motorhome Hobos: escaping the rat race, breaking free from the system and reclaiming your own life!

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