Former Californians share their experience traveling the United States in an RV and discovering their new home in Ohio.
Written by Cheyann Neades | Published on Midwestliving.com January 2020
Melisa and Joseph Sterner and their dog Gracie spent two years roaming the United States in a 30-foot RV—joining the trend of modern nomads who choose to live full-time in RVs. They fell in love with the Midwest, however, and recently decided to trade their RV for a rental house in a Cincinnati suburb.
The couple has documented their adventures on a YouTube channel and blog, where they also share simple living lifestyle tips. Here’s what Melisa said about their journey—and their decision to settle in Ohio—in an interview with Midwest Living.
Why did you and Joseph opt for the RV lifestyle?
We were newlyweds living in Los Angeles and were exhausted from the daily grind, traffic and high cost of living. We thought about relocating, but we didn’t know where we wanted to live. We only knew that we wanted to spend more time together and travel. I came across a YouTube video of a family who travels full-time in their RV. I sent Joseph the video link in a text along with the message “This is it. I found what we should do.” One year later we hit the road.
What were some of your favorite Midwest stops?
We spent a month living in Hollister, Missouri, and fell in love with that area right away. It’s a small town made up of some of the friendliest people. We then moved on to St. Louis and this only solidified our love of southern Missouri. We also traveled through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas and were impressed with the unique landscapes and history that each place offered.
Why did you decide to end your RV trip?
One of the main reasons we hit the road was to find where we wanted to settle down. We stopped RV-ing because we found the right place to call home. Within a couple of days of being in the greater Cincinnati area, we turned to each other and agreed we had finally found what we had been looking for.
What influenced you to settle in Cincinnati?
We like the large number of small- to medium-sized towns within a short drive of the bigger cities like Cincinnati and Dayton. This gives you the opportunity to live in a small town while having access to the amenities of a larger city. International airports are not far, cost of living is reasonable, the people are friendly, healthcare services are top-notch, public schools are highly rated, and there are a lot of safe places to live.
What places in Cincinnati would you recommend for visitors?
We love visiting the Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati. They have dozens of vendors that sell everything from seafood to gourmet spices to local ice cream. They even have a farmers market year-round on the weekends. We’ve also enjoyed seeing a Reds game at the Great American Ballpark, a Cincinnati Ballet show at the Aronoff Center for the Arts and live jazz music at various downtown restaurants. Joella’s Hot Chicken has also become one of our favorite food spots!
What advice would you give those who want to travel like you did in an RV?
Our two biggest pieces of advice are to plan ahead and don’t go into debt. Make sure you’re picking the right RV for how you want to live and travel. Patience is key. It took us a year to make it happen. We had to sell/donate 90 percent of our possessions, pay off our debt and save money. We also had to get remote jobs so we could live and work on the road.