Howard and Linda Payne were living high on the hog – six-figure income, 4,000-square-foot home, country-club membership. But in January, the Louisville, Ky., couple decided to give all that up for a midlife adventure.
They quit work, sold their house and moved into a 400-square-foot RV that will carry them on an extended road trip across America.
According to an article in the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal, the Paynes are representative of a growing number of Baby Boomers unhappy with their careers and looking for stress-free lifestyles.
As Howard Payne, a 42-year-old real-estate lawyer, explained it: “The corporate world is always a little bit stressful, and Linda and I tend to connect with each other better when we’re traveling and out in nature. We just want to pursue what we enjoy, work on our passions. I like to write, do a little photography, just wanted to be outdoors. So, in January I gave six months’ notice, we sold the house in May, and that’s basically it.”
According to a recent Gallup poll, 77% of Americans hate their jobs. And more Americans are jumping off the corporate treadmill, pursuing simpler, less materialistic lifestyles – about 15% of Baby Boomers, according to the New York-based Trends Research Institute.
The Cincinnati, Ohio-based Family Motor Coach Association says full-timers like the Paynes make up about 13% of its 129,000 members.
Book-length testimonials include “First We Quit Our Jobs: How One Work Driven Couple Got on the Road to a New Life” by Marilyn Abraham and “Cutting Loose: From Rat Race to Dream Lifestyles” by A. Louis Ripskis.
The Paynes said their work lives were affecting their personal lives. “Basically what happened is through 19 years of marriage, we would get so caught up in our own world of work that our lives tended to be co-existing with one another,” said Linda Payne, 41, a saleswoman and purchasing manager.
Then last year, the Paynes took a vacation in Alaska that changed their outlook.
“We were cut off from everything – no cell phones, no computers, no TVs, we didn’t read the newspapers, and some places didn’t even have electricity,” Linda Payne said. “And what happened is that we bonded with each other so much that when we returned home we went into a depression because we had to disconnect because of work.”
The couple tried to figure out how they could travel for a living, but couldn’t. “Then we researched the possibility of living on the road with less expenses, and we made a decision,” Howard Payne said.
With no children, and a nest egg saved for retirement, they decided to leisurely tour the U.S. in an RV, working odd jobs along the way to pay expenses.
“We get e-mails every week from Workamper News about jobs for RVers, like campground managers, tours guides at national parks, working in souvenir shops, low-paying jobs,” Linda Payne said. “But when we’re living this kind of lifestyle, we really don’t need a large income, just money for food, gas and lodging, and a lot of the jobs will provide you with lodging.”