This Family of 4 Left Home to Live in a Renovated 350-Square-Foot RV (There's a Fireplace!)
Kris and Andy Murphy have been on the road full time for nearly 3 years, living out of a spacious toy hauler where they work and homeschool their two sons
Kris and Andy Murphy know a thing or two about the upsides of down-sizing.
The high school sweethearts, both 32, sold their 3,000-square-foot home in Prosper, Texas, back in 2018, moving their family into a 150-square-foot RV. They've been on the road ever since with their sons Kieghan, 12, and Kinsler, 6, as well as their cat Luna and dog Jesse. The family documents their adventures on their blog, Where Wild Ones Roam, as well as on social media.
Speaking to PEOPLE over a Zoom video call from Colorado Springs, Colorado, the couple explain that they were inspired to seek a more mobile lifestyle while driving home from Illinois after an RV trip to see the solar eclipse in 2017. At the time, Andy was working a remote tech job and Kris was homeschooling their older son. They realized the only reason they needed to book it home was to get their younger son back to preschool.
"We were like, 'Why are we driving across the country for a preschool?' they laugh. "So we asked ourselves, 'What would it take to just do this all the time?' And we just worked through those questions."
They knew they were ready for a big change, but they weren't sure exactly what shape it would take just yet.
"We knew we didn't want to live in Texas anymore. We were done with that," Andy says. "We knew traveling, at least for a short amount of time, sounded like a lot of fun. We had lived in Dublin for three months for a job I had, so we knew the short-term living with less stuff was actually fun. So we knew we could do that pretty easily, at least for three months," the father of two explains, noting that the pair originally agreed to test out the RV lifestyle for six months.
After six months spent gutting and renovating their RV, the couple moved their few remaining "sentimental" belongings into a small storage unit, said goodbye to their house and hit the road. "We headed out and we said, 'We'll do this for six months and we'll see,'" says Kris. During that time, they traveled from Texas to Maine and then down the length of the East Coast, all the way to Florida.
"That's all we signed up for. We said, 'If we can get through six months, we'll figure out what we're going to do at the end of that.'"
When the six month mark hit, the couple were very clear about where they stood on the matter. "We were like, 'Yeah, we're not ready to stop.'"
Committed to their new adventure, they took stock of the lessons they'd learned by that point and how they could improve their day-to-day in the RV.
"We figured out what wasn't working and then changed that process. Getting groceries was really different, because you just don't have a ton of space. So once you figured out some of those complications, you're like, 'This is kind of working out and this is how this works.' Then it really got fun."
Kris, who runs the family's blog and teaches a Masterclass course on roadschooling (homeschooling on the road), says part of the allure for her is the "excitement of going somewhere new all the time while having your home be the same. The inside of the RV space doesn't change, but the outside does, and that was really exciting for us."
However, the inside has changed since they first started out — and all for the better. After a year in their first RV, the family decided that they needed a bit more space, and upgraded to a 2019 Keystone Fuzion 424 toy hauler, which is 60 feet long, bumper-to-bumper.
"We're slowly renovating this one," they share of their current space, which measures around 350-square-feet and features homey additions like an electric fireplace and a washer and dryer.
The main bedroom was the first big project they undertook. Originally a garage meant to store motorcycles, ATVs and other outdoor vehicles, the space is now an airy, earth-toned bedroom with office space for Andy, a half bath and a small deck.
The bedroom that was built into the RV is now the kids' room, where they share a bunk bed and a small area to play. The model also features another full bathroom, as well as a kitchen and dining space.
While this trailer needs far fewer renovations than the last one — which was part of the initial draw — the couple are still planning to tweak a few more things. "I'm voting the bathroom, she's voting the kitchen and we just haven't decided," Andy says.
When it came to renovating the space, Kris and Andy did it entirely on their own — and with a little instruction from YouTube.
"Even when we were living in the house, we just learned that we liked making things our own and we're not afraid to change the things that aren't working," Kris says.
Andy chimes in, "We went to YouTube university." Whenever they couldn't figure something out, they would watch videos about it. They also drew inspiration from Pinterest, "taking home design and making it a very small version of what you see," Kris explains.
Not only has the smaller space freed up the Murphy family's ability to travel: it's also freed them from clutter and impulse buying.
"We don't buy things anymore. We don't have room," says Andy. "We would go to Costco, in the big house, and be like, 'Oh, that's cool. Sure, buy it.' Now, anytime we're buying something we're like, 'Okay, I'm most likely going to have to give something up because this is going to go in its place.'"
A good rule of thumb is that whatever "is on board has to have multiple functions or be very important." He says that having less stuff has been "a really nice adjustment."
That's not to say it's all been smooth sailing — er, driving. Particularly with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the family has had to navigate the "new normal" along with the rest of the world — although they acknowledge that their day-to-day life didn't change enormously, since they already worked remotely, homeschooled and spent a lot of time inside together.
Still, Kris says, "We did have an adjustment period." Smiling, Andy adds, "Oh, yeah. We had one."
"We're all together all the time, so it's making sure that we have our individual space, even in a small space, and allowing everybody to spread out when they need that space," they say. "Ensuring everybody's mental health is very stable and it's being supported is really important too."
While travel has been largely restricted due to the ongoing pandemic, the couple have found safe ways to stay on the move — they travel every Sunday for up to five hours — and are planning to hit all of the lower 48 states this year. They're at 42 now, and will be "going to pretty unpopulated areas for most of it."
"We're pretty self-contained. Now that we have the washer-dryer on board, we have basically our entire house. We can go most places and really stay in our own bubble. We don't have to worry about airports and buses and hotel rooms."