A family of 4 moved into a 350-square-foot RV that they transformed into a dream home on a budget

The Norris family moved into their RV in August. Teighla Norris
  • Adam, 30, and Teighla Norris, 31, sold their house and moved into an RV to save money and pay off their debt.
  • They said they don’t know how long they will stay in the RV, but they wanted to make it homey and turned it into a dreamy abode on wheels.
  • There’s a spacious living and dining area, a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom with a queen bed, and a bunk room for their two kids.
  • Adam and Teighla said they bought the 2015 RV for $US28,000 and spent about $US6,000 on building supplies and furniture.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

While many people move into RVs to hit the open road, Adam, 30, and Teighla Norris, 31, moved in planning to stay put.

Their goal? To get out of debt and quickly save as much money as possible.

The two started dating in high school. They got married four years ago and have two kids, Emerson, 8, and Cohen, 5. They told Insider that they got to a “stagnant” point with their finances, in which they kept paying off only the minimum amount of debt, and decided they needed a change.

They put their house on the market in late May, bought an RV in June, and moved into it full time in August, transforming it from dark and drab to bright and modern.

Keep scrolling to read about their financially motivated move and see before-and-after photos of the stunning renovation.

Thanks in part to school loans, Adam and Teighla found themselves struggling with debt.

They built themselves a cosy deck with a fire pit. Teighla Norris

They followed Dave Ramsey’s budgeting program for about a year while living in a rental home. Soon after they married they bought a house, which they fixed up themselves. But renovation projects, a new mortgage, and a baby on the way meant more debt.

“We don’t want to live with debt,” Adam said. “That was really the main driving force behind the decision to move into the RV.”

The spacious kitchen island (pictured before, left, and after, right) is one of Teighla’s favourite things about the RV. Teighla Norris

Adam, an engineer, and Teighla, a wedding hair-and-makeup artist, figured they could either aggressively pay off debt by setting a strict budget or sell their newly renovated home in North Carolina’s real-estate market; they had seen houses get snatched up within hours of being listed.

“We did some research, crunched numbers, and realised if we sold our house at where we wanted to sell it, that would basically wipe out the majority of our debt and pay for an RV,” Adam said.

They put their house on the market in late May, bought an RV in June, and closed on their home on August 6, which is when they moved into the RV full time.

They put in a residential-sized fridge. Teighla Norris

Neither of them had any experience with RV life. “I had never set foot in an RV until we went to look at them to purchase one,” Teighla said.

Working their way through Craigslist, they knew only that they wanted a bunk-room setup for their two kids and a separate room for themselves.

They ended up buying a 2015 Coachmen Chaparral 360IBL for $US28,000. It has a spacious living and dining area, a kitchen with a large island and a residential-size fridge they added, a bathroom with a full-size shower, a bunk room for the kids, and their separate bedroom, which features a combo washer/dryer and a queen bed.

They had spent about eight to 10 weeks renovating the RV when they moved in, though it still wasn’t done.

The living room, before and after. They painted everything white to brighten the space. Teighla Norris

Adam, who taught himself how to fix things when renovating their brick-and-mortar home, said he was surprised by how different the plumbing in an RV was.

He noted other differences, such as the large number of screws required to keep everything in place in an RV – a hassle when you’re trying to take things out and replace them.

Adam and Teighla replaced practically all the cabinets, painted everything white, and put in open shelving and built-in seating.

They said they spent about $US6,000 on building supplies and furniture.

“We were trying to do this all via cash and didn’t want to go back into debt for an RV,” Adam said. “So we were just really being intentional about what we bought, where we spent our money.”

Teighla, who said she loves Target and makes most of her purchases there, said she wanted to bring the vibe from their old home to the RV.

The RV is about 350 square feet. Teighla Norris

She said her goal was to make the RV as homey as possible, describing its style as farmhouse modern.

“When we purchased it, it was very dark, everything was brown, and it had a funky smell. So we went in and painted everything white, top to bottom,” she said, adding that she likes clean lines and avoids patterns.

They removed a bunch of overhead cabinets to make the ceiling look taller and the RV more spacious – but then they had to find creative ways to store their stuff, like a little storage unit they put in under a built-in seating area in the living room.

They also built a wooden deck outside.

The two are staying on a friend’s property in Burlington, North Carolina, meaning they don’t have to spend money on campground fees.

The kids share a room with a bunk bed (pictured before, left, and after, right). Teighla Norris

“I know a lot of people will get RVs to travel – that was never our intent,” Adam said. “What really was the driving force behind this move was financial: to pay off debt and to try and save a lot of money while determining what our next steps are. And if we travel in the meantime, great.”

Not paying campground fees is one perk of staying put that they’re grateful for, they said, but another is having their belongings close by; they kept a few of their things in storage nearby. They said that it was convenient to grab stuff if they need to and that it meant they didn’t have to get rid of as much – for example, they will be switching their summer clothes for their winter wardrobe soon.

They haven’t decided how long they will stay in the RV. All they know is that they want to save money and figure out their next move in the meantime.

The bedroom, before and after. It’s home to a combo washer/dryer. Teighla Norris

They said they hope to buy some land and build a place.

“If we don’t like it and it happens to be three months, it’s very low risk, because we paid off our debt,” Adam said. “If we get to a year, great, because we were able to save a bunch of money in that year. So it’s kind of a win-win scenario for us.”

However, Adam said that it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision and that he and Teighla put a lot of thought into the move.

The bathroom, before and after. It has a full-sized shower. Teighla Norris

Adam said that while things happened fairly quickly once he and Teighla decided to sell their place and buy an RV, they didn’t make the decision lightly.

“A lot of times people just see videos: ‘Oh, family of five sold their house and moved into an RV,'” Adam said. “And the perception is they just up and did it, they just made a rash decision and went for it, which is awesome if you can do that. But for us, there was a little bit more thought process behind it. We had to make sure it was right for us.”