Retirement travel and frugal living

Photo of a retro RV camper

Retirement travel is in. Out is the era of spending unending retirement days on a golf course in plaid pants and interminable games of bridge with the blue-rinse set.

The new generation of retirees is looking for more adventure, with more activity … and lower costs. Few strategies deliver like the recreational vehicle (RV) retirement lifestyle.

A few years ago, my wife and I got a glimpse of it in the most unexpected of places: the I-10 freeway somewhere in the vast, empty desert that is western Arizona. Interstates out there tend to be lonely, and the driving boring, except when you do “desert multitasking” — keeping your eyes on the speedometer while scanning the roadside for black and whites.

You can imagine our surprise, then, when, far out in the nothingness, we began encountering more and more traffic — slow traffic. Soon, we were down to around 50. The culprits? RVs of all sizes and descriptions, from old school buses done up in vivid hippie colors to snazzy million-dollar mobile mansions, towing a double garage’s worth of luxury vehicles. Every turnoff brought more. On a rare chance to see ahead of us in the relatively fast lane, we could see them: an endless phalanx of behemoths, as far as the eye can see, all trudging west. What was up?

Our answer came when we passed the exit for Quartzsite.

The freeway after that exit cleared up like fog before the hot desert sun, and then we saw the oncoming side of the freeway, solid with another crawling phalanx of big white ants, this group trundling eastward. When we got home, we googled Quartzsite and discovered that the sleepy town in the middle of nowhere has a population of just over 3,000 in summer, when temperatures can hit over 120 degrees. In winter, though, that population swells to around 400,000 every year. Excuse me? That’s almost as large as Miami, Oakland, Omaha or New Orleans, according to the latest census numbers. A sliver of exaggeration may have slipped into that number, but there’s no doubt that the real population is quite large.

Related >> Retirement Checkup: How are you Doing?

Who can stay in the desert for months at a time? Retirees, that’s who. Their numbers are growing as the Baby Boom population reaches retirement age. According to national media like the “New York Times” and “Forbes,” two main reasons fuel the growth of the RV retirement lifestyle:

  • A desire to capitalize on the freedom retirement
  • Surprisingly low cost

I decided to interview an acquaintance named Mike to get an up-close glimpse into the RV retirement lifestyle. He sold his house last year, bought a motor home, and hit the road with his wife.

Finances

RVs can be had for anything from $3,000 to $3 million. The live-in models tend to go from around $40,000 to over $200,000, depending on age and features. Mike and Karen bought theirs used for just over $50,000, less than the equity most people have in their homes when they retire.

Then they joined what amounts to a campground chain called Thousand Trails. Mike: “There is an up-front/one-time fee of $4,900 to join and fees/dues of $499 per year. We can stay in the campgrounds for up to 21 days and move to another campground and start over. There are campgrounds all across the U.S. The campgrounds have full hookups and facilities with WiFi, etc. There is no daily fee for the stays as they are covered in the yearly dues. During the stays, we visit the area around and take in the culture and sites of that area. With the motor home getting nine to 10 mpg, staying somewhere long term is a help. We tow a Toyota Matrix that gets 31 mpg so that is how we save money on fuel. In retirement, we have an income of almost half of what we made prior and we seem to have more money. There is no rent or utilities.”

Preparation

Few people embrace the RV lifestyle for retirement on a whim. Most who do it grew up camping with their families or took up camping along the way. Mike, again: “What we are doing is called ‘full-timing’ and my parents did it for 12 years. I have been wanting to adopt this lifestyle for as long as I can remember. We lived in Texas for 35 years and vacationed in Colorado every other year. When I retired from my job in Texas, I wanted to move to Kansas City. After 5 years in KC, I got the opportunity to move to Denver, where I always wanted to live. Six years later and on the third retirement, we got the motor home and started to travel.”

Challenges

According to Mike, phones and WiFi have been the biggest problems in most of the campgrounds. They discovered they need a smartphone for its hotspot capability and bandwidth because most campgrounds do not have good WiFi at the actual sites. You have to go to their office to get Internet access, which prompts many to get smartphones with 4G and hotspot capabilities. They cut the cord and use Internet-streaming for their TV-watching, which “eats up the gigs,” as they quickly discovered.

Another challenge is space. By the time you retire, you are likely to have accumulated a lot of stuff (or “sh-tuff” as someone said, correcting herself mid-word). Karen is the packrat, while Mike found himself eager to get rid of things. A compromise is a storage unit “somewhere,” for the day when the RV lifestyle will end … which it usually does at some point.

Pleasures

Isn’t that what retirement is all about — being able to do the things you want to do? Back to Mike: “Our main desire is to see places we have not seen and to revisit our favorite places, spending more time where we stay and really see, not just look and run. We learned this while … visiting Estes Park, experiencing the place and meeting the people. It was so much fun coming back to a place and having people greet us by name and us knowing their names. Being able to bless and being blessed.”

Related >> Are you Behind on Retirement Savings?

Their family grew, too. “While we were in Lake Whitney, Texas, we found a female cat under our RV. So we checked around and found that she belonged to no one. We had a vet check her out and found out she is about 8 months old. Shots and spayed, and now she is a part of our family. We named her Whitney. She has become our joy to watch and love on. We have talked to other RV’ers who have cats and they say that after time their cats adjusted and traveled without any problems. It is amazing what joy a little four-legged animal can bring to a family.

“We enjoy the freedom and people we meet. I am very outgoing so I am in hog heaven. Karen likes her (spiritual time on the Internet) and walking and listening to me visit with others.”

Downsides

Not all is moonshine and roses. “Least enjoyable is dumping the holding tanks and driving in cities. We try to plan a route that takes us around big cities. This may be hard when we go to the coast in Southern California. Another problem was finding a doctor that we like. While in Colorado, we had Kaiser. Now our mailing address is Texas, where Kaiser has no coverage. We finally found a great doctor in Fort Worth and love her.”

As I said above, this is one person’s view and experience, but it does offer a glimpse into something you may not have considered for your retirement.

Have you given any thought to what you want to do when you retire? What do you expect your version of retirement to cost?

More about...Retirement, Travel

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There are 51 comments to "Retirement travel and frugal living".

  1. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says 17 February 2015 at 06:29

    I really like the idea of RVing for slow travel. I can see us going on an extended RV roadtrip. Who knows, maybe that will be our retirement too!

  2. Brian says 17 February 2015 at 06:42

    The RV lifestyle isn’t just for retirees. My wife and I left our day jobs at the age of 38, took up freelancing (my wife had an already established freelance writing career) and moved into a 34 foot Winnebago.

    We lived in the motorhome full-time for four years while criss-crossing the U.S. while working from the road. Here are some things I’d add to the article above:

    1) We spent less living in the motor home and traveling the country than we did living in our one-bedroom NJ apartment while mostly seeing the inside of an office. ( http://everywhereonce.com/2014/01/31/yes-full-time-travel-really-is-less-expensive-than-staying-home/ )

    2) We never paid for a campground membership like 1000 Trails. You don’t need them. There are plenty of national parks, state parks, and BLM land where you can park cheaply or even free.

    3) We rarely had a problem with WIFI. Verizon coverage was really good all over the country and most of the private campgrounds have decent WIFI.

    4) Instead of streaming TV we’d usually wait until a season came out on DVD and went on sale. When we were done with it we’d sell the DVD to a second-hand dealer. I don’t think we ever paid more for TV than we used to pay for our cable subscription when we had a full-time place.

    5) When thinking about costs, make sure to factor in depreciation on your motor home, especially if you buy new. Those things depreciate like cars, or worse. And if you’re planning on living in the thing forever, also make sure you have budgeted for replacing the motorhome at some point.

    • William says 17 February 2015 at 16:28

      Good points! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Patrick says 17 February 2015 at 07:36

    ….And if anyone who reads this is currently living the RV lifestyle, I work at a Corps of Engineers lake in South East Texas named B.A. Steinhagen Lake and I’m always looking for park host volunteers!

    • Dianecy says 17 February 2015 at 13:56

      Check out Hitch Itch, a clearinghouse for RV bloggers. One request there and your calendar will be filled in no time!

  4. Sara says 17 February 2015 at 08:13

    This lifestyle does not need to be full time. Once you have your RV the only costs are fuel and camping ( often very inexpensive or free). We retired a bit early and travel several months of the year. Your food costs are the same whether you eat at home or you eat in the RV, your fuel costs are helped by the reduction in utilities and such in your ” stick and brick” home, and you get to experience some of the greatest places in the country for a fraction of the cost. In the last 3 years we have toured Jasper, Banff, and Lake Louise; the Maritime Provinces including Newfoundland, and last year we spent 3 months traveling through the South, Southwest, and Pacific Coast. We often have oceanfront campsites and rarely run into crowds. While not for everyone, it works beautifully for us! We will be heading to Alaska this summer for 3 months, and will spend far less for the entire trip than we did for our one and only cruise ten years ago. RV travel can be very inexpensive.

  5. Beard Better says 17 February 2015 at 08:28

    This was an interesting, if a bit overly rosy, perspective to read. It’s silly to say that you aren’t paying for rent and utilities; they may be less than what they would be for a house, but you also have a much smaller living space. I don’t need a ton of space, but that downside needs to be considered if you’re going to mention the upside of cheap rent and utilities (which are just rolled up in the dues).

    It’s also worth noting that you need to dedicate a good deal of time to the RV lifestyle to see significant savings. Based on the given fees and dues, at year 1 you’re paying $5399 per year, year 5 is $1479 per year, year 10 is $989 per year, and year 20 is $744 per year. Dividing it up by month, this goes from $449.92 per month at year 1 to just $62 per month by year 20. Clearly there are savings to be had, but only if you can stick with it.

    I also thought that discussion of fuel costs was conspicuously absent here. While I’m guessing that you still save money compared to renting/owning a house, I would be interested to know how much of the savings in rent and utilities is eaten up by the cost of fuel. Also not mentioned was the cost of maintenance and repais, which I expect could be quite significant for RVs.

    The author certainly did a good job of pointing out the highlights of RV living in retirement, but I think that a better financial analysis would have been appropriate. I would have been especially interested in the tax implications of living in an RV. For instance: can you just claim to live in whatever state is most convenient for you tax-wise, or would you be stuck with residency wherever your last address was?

    • Jeff says 17 February 2015 at 08:43

      Memberships can be purchased used and resold.

      • Beard Better says 17 February 2015 at 10:34

        That wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the article, but it certainly changes the situation.

    • William says 17 February 2015 at 16:31

      Good point about the fuel cost. However, that varies all over the map: road warriors will pay a fortune, while those who camp out in a single place for two months will obviously pay a whole lot less.

      • Beard Better says 18 February 2015 at 09:12

        Of course it willy vary based on your travel habits, as would the fees and dues for parking somewhere, but since you were giving the numbers for a specific situation I think it would have been appropriate to ask about the interview subject’s fuel budget. It seemed suspicious to me that it was not mentioned at all, especially when other financial specifics were discussed.

    • Brian says 17 February 2015 at 19:21

      The difficulty in providing a financial analysis for the Fulltime RV lifestyle is that nobody knows how you’ll want to travel. You can camp for free on BLM land or pay $100 per night for a luxury RV resort. You can live in a $3,000 beater or a $1 MM Provost. People live both ways and everything in between.

      On our site tried to outline an approach for figuring out your unique full-time travel budget. You’ll find it here: http://everywhereonce.com/2012/11/16/how-much-does-long-term-travel-cost/

      And yes, as a fulltime traveler you can pretty much chose to live in whatever state you want. There’s lots to consider, though, beyond which state has the lowest taxes. We wrote an entire article on the subject of how to get a fixed address when you don’t live anywhere ( you can find it by searching our site for “How to Become a Global Citizen” )

      • Beard Better says 18 February 2015 at 09:14

        I’m not asking for an analysis for every possible situation, since of course everyone will be slightly different. I was asking for specifics from the subject of the interview. The price of the RV was vaguely mentioned, and the fees/dues were given, but no mention was made of maintenance, repair, or fuel costs. These seem like huge gaps to leave, especially when the article is aimed at explaining this lifestyle to an audience interested in personal finance.

    • phoenix1920 says 18 February 2015 at 09:37

      Another factor to consider is whether you use a Fifth Wheel or travel trailer. My aunt and uncle moved to this life-style and found a darling Airstream to tow, so vehicle repair costs are the same and they can use most any shop.

  6. Chelsea @ Broke Girl Gets Rich says 17 February 2015 at 08:40

    I think it’s really cool when people set off traveling across the country (or the world) staying where they want to, for however long they want to, enjoying and soaking up the place.

    Both sets of my grandparents have camping trailers they use to travel across the country with – hooked onto the back of a truck. They love the freedom it gives them, and I love seeing them take these trips. It’s definitely not a lifestyle I’d be opposed to pre- or post-retirement.

    I love slow travel myself, but have yet to do it across the US… maybe some day. 🙂

  7. Laura says 17 February 2015 at 11:16

    For me, this sounds interesting, but I must admit that I’m a homebody, so it’s not for me. I enjoy spending time with my friends, my family, and my church family, so I wouldn’t want to be gone for months at a time. I’d just feel too disconnected.

  8. Meg says 17 February 2015 at 12:21

    My husband and I lived in a 5th wheel to save money while he went to school in an expensive town for 3 years. Honestly we had a ton of problems with our new trailer and I would definitely recommend a strong emergency fund because trailer repairs are very expensive.

    We were ‘tapped’ while driving and the fiberglass repair was 9k AND we needed to find a place to stay while it was being repaired. Our fridge went out and it turns out the 10 cubic square RV fridge cost $2k.

    Our electrical box went out, another $500. It rained heavily and sprung a leak that needed to be repaired. The truck went through expensive tires faster because it carried such a big load. We had insurance that covered many of these expenses but all these repairs were incredibly inconvenient because at the end of the day these vehicles are not meant to be lived in full time and repairing them usually means leaving your home until the repair is done.

    Again we weren’t retired just living in an rv but eventually the small space began to wear on us. We enjoy some home hobbies that need space like quilting, brewing beer, making tamales, having family visit and throwing larger parties. The trailer was just too small! Eventually we sold the trailer for half of what we bought it for and moved into a 900 square foot home. This new house feels like a mansion. It is better in every conceivable way.

    • BD says 17 February 2015 at 21:06

      I lived in a 5th wheel in Florida for a few years. You’re right…trailer repairs are expensive, and they always need repairs of some sort. I had to seal my slide-out after it started to leak in the rain, replace shelving when it broke (shelving in RV’s tends to be extremely flimsy and cheap due to weight constraints), replace the black-water line when it cracked, replace the anode rod in the water heater (a routine thing), etc. I’m sure the fridge would have eventually given out in my trailer too, but I ended up selling it before that happened.

      And space rent tends to be pricey too. I was paying around $500 for space rent until I struck a deal with the camp owner to maintain their website in exchange for them cutting my space rent in half. Still, living in a small apartment would have been about the same price.

  9. Old Guy says 17 February 2015 at 12:22

    This is pretty much our plan, except change “RV in the USA” to “apartments all over the world.” Six months in each country, and move with the weather so its always warm.

    As far as money goes, what difference does it make whether you stay or go as long as the math works? The goal isn’t to live as cheaply as possible, but to live inside the lines while enjoying life.

  10. barb@livingrichlyinretirement says 17 February 2015 at 12:49

    I’ll agree with both Sara and old guy here. In my retirement I spend lots of time on the open road while maintaining a home (albeit in a car and in hotels). That said, most of my retirement friends who RV do so part time, maintaining a home as well, often a downsized home. Were I to RV personally, I imagine six months is the absolute most I could be gone, and would prefer to make those trips about three weeks. I know retirees who take small pop ups to florida and those who have large units as well.

  11. SAHMama says 17 February 2015 at 12:56

    Nope. No way. Not for me. First of all, it’s not sustainable or environmentally friendly. Second, how do you establish a strong social network if you’re always on the go? How do you handle chronic health conditions that necessitate having a pharmacist who knows you and a doctor who is there for you? The constant gas cost would be akin to utility costs. Breakdown of the RV, then what? Live in a tent? What’s the insurance run on those things? Because our Hyundai Elantra and our Mazda 5 cost us $600 every 6 months in our large city (no points, not responsible for any accidents, no claims).

    • Sara says 17 February 2015 at 14:47

      I think that if you check out the carbon footprint of most full time campers you will find it a lot less than a 900 sq foot house. Most have solar, drive infrequently, walk or bike where ever they may go, conserve water and use as little battery power as possible.

      • Sara says 17 February 2015 at 14:51

        Forgot to say that the insurance is about $800 per year with collision. But you can remove it, and save$ , when you are not using the motor home.

    • phoenix1920 says 18 February 2015 at 09:58

      My aunt and uncle who travel have a really close network of friends who they meet up with each year–they plan to be at the same park at the same time. If you camp at certain campgrounds, you can see it firsthand, with RVers who are clearly stationary for months at a time. Seeing them at the campgrounds, they are having an amazing time with groups of other RVers. Many of the people who adopt this lifestyle are social butterflies, but with my aunt and uncle travel only for 6 months out of the year, spending the rest of the year closer to their children and grandchildren. I think you’re right that this lifestyle is only for the healthy who are not chronically sick.

      However, there is not a constant gas expense. They drive to the RV park, keep their travel trailer there, and use their truck that carried the travel trailer down for use around the area–so the only expense that is different is the drive down and the drive back. In fact, my uncle and aunt now work part-time at the park when they are there so they actually earn money in their retirement.

    • ABSMIL says 10 December 2015 at 07:45

      WOW, sounds like you should keep a casket close by. Don’t forget your food cost to continue living. Oh, and I forgot, some think that cattle ranchers are a threat to the environment. Maybe better to crawl under a rock and just live in chronic fear.

      Or on the other hand, while in tire with good health, seek adventure, live. When we all pass, we all will spend eternity however or wherever we are planted.

      Regarding insurance, it is really about the same as a house and your automobile. In some cases even less.

      I do not think such harsh and ill informed comments serve you well. This applies to the others with similar comments about the environment as well.

      GOD BLESS and may the force be with you.

  12. Dianecy says 17 February 2015 at 14:10

    I realize that the editors write the headlines and not the author, but this one’s just a bit too condescending for my palate. What I know about the RV lifestyle is a LOT, including that Thousand Palms is pricey and limited. A good mention, sure, but number one on the list? How about mentioning that camping at most BLM sites is free? Or that the IRS rules allow an RV to be written off as a second home?

    This article is not bad, but better headlines right off the top of my head could have been:
    Is the RV lifestyle for You?
    Have You Considered Retiring In An RV?
    Is There an RV In Your Future?
    Thses may not be shimmering pearls, but note that they’re not condescending either.

    • i12gohome says 05 February 2017 at 16:20

      Just offering a quick thanks for both of those tips, about the second home and about the BLM! I was unaware of either of those

  13. Laura says 17 February 2015 at 14:36

    “Have you given any thought to what you want to do when you retire? What do you expect your version of retirement to cost?”

    The real answer is, it depends. Since family members tend to live till well into their 90’s, barring unforeseen illness or an accident, I probably will too, and since I don’t have FI (yet), I plan to work as long as I’m able. My job provides 4-5 weeks/year of vacation time and frankly, I hate to travel and like where I live. So the RV life, while intriguing, is not for me. While married, I expect to continue to live in the home we currently have, probably outfitting it to be multi-generational or rent space to a young(er) student in exchange for help around the house. Should DH predecease me, which is statistically more likely than not, I’d be happiest staying around here but living in an apartment close enough to walk most days to the beach. As I grow older, time whips by so fast that I doubt I’ll have any trouble filling my days with whatever I want to do.

    • i12gohome says 05 February 2017 at 16:18

      I’ve always dreamed the lifestyle, but like you’ve mentioned, my family lives well into their hundreds on both sides. I have living uncles and aunts who are literally twice my age and I am 54 years old. I’m more afraid that DH will pre -decease me by decades while we’re out on the road somewhere, as his family does not have such good genetic health. Has anyone here actually continued this lifestyle as a widow or widower? And was it difficult? I guess what I’m asking is, does it get too lonely to continue to be on the road as a solo flyer? Because I am fairly certain that I will be without my spouse for a good 3-4 decades barring a catastrophe at the end of my lifetime.

  14. Fervent Finance says 17 February 2015 at 19:12

    I worked at an RV campground all through high school and part of college. It was the best job ever. I got to meet people from all over the US and Canada and people from all different types of careers from blue collar to bankers. Some people drove around terds on wheels which would break down constantly while others had 40 foot mobile homes with 3 A/C’s and a matching trailer towed behind it to pull their luxury car. The people who I met loved the freedom. Some would spend a couple months with their grandkids, then travel a few months then visit more friends and family. I can definitely see the benefits, but don’t know if it would ever be my cup of tea.

  15. Debt Hater says 17 February 2015 at 19:13

    This is actually something I have thought about, as I really enjoy camping. Even if weren’t to be a full time endeavor you can always do something like this X months out of the year. And I know there are plenty of state and national parks that would probably end up being cheaper than that membership fee!

    Thanks for sharing the interview.

  16. Big-D says 18 February 2015 at 12:30

    I love the open road, going town to town, and love to travel. I an definitely looking at doing something like this long term. However my options might be different. Get a pickup truck and a trailer. Getting a full RV might be a lot more expensive. When you get to town, drop the RV off and then you are in a pickup truck around town. I am looking at renting one this summer to see if I want to do this longer term.

    • Rail says 19 February 2015 at 15:00

      I’m on the same page as Big D as far as what type of trailer/RV to have. I’m about 15 years from retirement (hopefully) and while I don’t want to be a constant traveler or sell my home and move to Florida, I would like to have a 20-25 Ft. trailer to tow behind the pickup. I could see going to Texas for a month or so after the Holliday season and with a bumper hitch trailer one can put a motorcycle, bicycles, and other gear in the box of the truck and still haul the trailer. Get to where you are going and park the trailer, unload the truck and you have a truck, bikes, etc. to use. Traveling is fun, but I still like to have my “fort” to come home to. Cheers!

      • Julie says 20 February 2015 at 20:37

        We owned a trailer for 10 years and totally agree. It is much more affordable than an RV, depreciated much less and our overall gas mileage was better. We took our 3 kids to the 48 continental states in our beloved trailer, then sold it. Hoping to replace it with a new model in retirement.

  17. SavenoSpend says 18 February 2015 at 16:58

    Wow, a bunch of gas hogs churning out the CO2, ruining the delicate balance that is the topsoil/crust on a desert, and patting themselves on the back for doing so.

    Ugh.

    Horrible article.

    read:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/belnap-degradation-desert-topsoil-human-havoc-environment/

    I can’t fathom how frugalism/savings condones any serious investment in a vehicle that is overpriced, depreciates, and isn’t designed for long term habitation.

    • Fred says 31 March 2016 at 22:10

      Trucks deliver goods to where you shop. You are likely buying all of your needs delivered by a diesel engine.

      SAVENOSPEND, are you completely self sufficient?

  18. Sarah says 19 February 2015 at 10:45

    This was EXACTLY the article I needed to read today! My husband and I are actually considering doing this for 6-9 months next year with our two kids in tow! We’re not retired so it would just be an extended vacation. We haven’t fully committed to the idea – still in the brainstorming phase – but we are definitely highly considering it.

    For us, the downsides are putting my husband’s career on hold and traveling with our two little kids, who might not do well with the traveling lifestyle for that long of a time. Definitely some things to consider. Thanks for the article though – loved it!

  19. JDS says 19 February 2015 at 14:02

    Speaking as a Floridian who gets to see LOTS of those RV’s on the road and in campgrounds, there is one thing I’d like to mention: do you realize how many folks with limited abilities are driving those things when they shouldn’t? Moseying along I-10 at 45-50 miles an hour in an RV while cars cruising at 70 to 80 mph are trying to avoid a collision when they round a curve and suddenly come upon the RV; pulling across lanes and running cars on their left off the road; pulling into parking lots and realizing too late that they can’t make that turn but now they are stuck half in and half out of traffic….
    RV’s can be fun, but far, far too many people driving them don’t realize they should not be doing so — they think they are doing just fine. This may sound “age-ist”, but I’m old enough to retire soon myself, and I have no intention of driving something that large as I get older, not after what I’ve seen. I wish more people would get an honest evaluation of their driving skills before taking up or continuing the RV lifestyle. Some are fine RV drivers even very late in life; far too many are not.

  20. Rita says 26 February 2015 at 11:46

    What about renting an RV for travel? Then you could see if this is the lifestyle for you instead of committing. Does anyone have an experience with doing this?

  21. Nick @ Millionaires Giving Money says 02 March 2015 at 03:42

    I must confess that this RV retirement lifestyle seems very appealing. The freedom to roam while not having to worry about lots of payments seems to make an ideal retirement. This has definitely planted a seed in my head. Thanks for sharing.

  22. It's a lifestyle says 10 April 2015 at 21:26

    We love RVing in our 20 year old class A motor home, our first and in about a year we will upgrade to a newer unit and go full time. What many commentors seem to not understand is most RVers enjoy the lifestyle and it’s not about saving money, although that can be done. Just like apartments or houses you can live within your means while enjoying the RV lifestyle if you make good decisions. PS-we tow a car to use when the RV is parked.

  23. QWERTY says 05 October 2015 at 07:18

    Appreciate all of the great input here – my wife would love to retire and I can work anywhere there is Internet, so the lower cost of RVing is a great fantasy. Motels are cheaper and don’t require the buy-in but I have anxiety about sleeping in a bed 1000 people have already occupied.

    “Buyers clubs” are BS. Anything that demands thousands down is either an outright rip off or akin to time-sharing (meaning you never get your money’s worth and can’t sell the darned thing)

    I think the truck/trailer combo is the right compromise. You can resell or upgrade either independently, and you can drive the truck to a restaurant with ease. “Underbuilding” (built to look nice in the sales lot, but after thousands of miles it starts falling apart) seems to be an endemic issue with trailers however.

    My biggest worry is: retiring, selling the home, then staring 24/7 into the same person’s eyes in a space the size of my living room. At least now with a house I can retreat to my office, she can watch TV in the spare bedroom, and we both work – which means we are glad to see each other at 5:15. There is no way even in my fantasy that sharing a modest aluminum box forever works.

    Costs are fully covered here if you choose to accept the reality. RV buy-in can be reasonable, but depreciation is horrible and repair costs unknown. Actually traveling 100,000 miles (not just camping for months on end in the same spot) will put a sizable dent in your nest egg:

    -depreciating asset
    -fuel
    -site rental
    -repairs/upgrades

    In the end I suspect RVs belong in the same category as boats, planes, and motorcycles: they are best enjoyed when a friend owns one.

    • Brent Shetley says 16 December 2015 at 15:06

      The RV lifestyle, whether fulltiming or weekend warrior, can be fairly inexpensive and cheaper than a second home or staying in a motel and eating out all the time. Insurance is super cheap and the nice thing about having an RV, you are never shut out for accomodations when attending a big event, like a bowl game or college graduation. RV parks, Walmart parking lots, don’t normally fill up, even for the biggest events we have attended.

      Just remember though, you are trading your motel cost, with higher travel costs, like gasoline.

  24. Part timer says 16 October 2015 at 12:32

    We are about 6 years out from retirement, but hubby can retire anytime and I can go early in 2016. We purchased our 5th Wheel in 2007 and are weekenders/vacationers right now in anticipation of possibly becoming full timers or snowbirds. Someone spoke of going through expensive truck tires, but really when you are driving the truck to work and back every day anyway, and family vacations, etc. etc. the tires really haven’t worn out any quicker. Gas costs? Well, with a truck and a van that we currently maintain and drive daily since we both work different directions from the house, going down to only fueling one vehicle sounds wonderful! I agree memberships aren’t worth it unless you like that stuff. We have found the State/County/Federal parks to be much nicer than most of the private parks (other than resorts). Many are now reserveable online so you are guaranteed a spot when you arrive. My advice – try it part time before you make a decision. You can calculate your costs based on your part time expenses, learn how to fix the rig, see if you really do like the spouse or not in close quarters, and determine if it is for you or not. Why anyone would just jump into full timing without some previous experience is unrealistic for most people,just as retiring and moving without preparation first is unrealistic. The key is planning ahead and knowing your own limits and expectations.

  25. Kate says 01 January 2016 at 09:08

    As a trucker approaching retirement, I was considering a small house. Then, I thought how much I like this life and how much more I would like it if no one chose my itenerary for me. I fully understand the challenges of herding a large vehicle through streets that do not accomodate them! I can live comfortably in a small space and am considering an SUV with a small trailer. A tip for internet: 2 phones, different service providers; at least one with unlimited, no throttled service. I keep a “burner phone” prepaid that can make a phone call from very remote areas. I just buy minutes if I need it. I think a good antenna is a benefit on the road, especially with a signal booster. There is usually something on. Thanks for the tips.

  26. Jane Taylor says 25 March 2016 at 10:00

    I am a 67 year old widow and it one year I am planing to sell my home (manufactured) and hit the road. I have traveled a lot since my husband passed just me and my wolfhound mix. We have never had problems and I have driven an 17 ft. U-Haul cross country pulling my PT Cruiser. My children are very upset about my decision so that is hard but I have worked all of my life and cared for others so I feel I should do what I want. I need to know if I have to stop at every border and show them my pistol. It is licensed and I have a conceal carry permit?

    • sandra Jones says 25 April 2016 at 16:18

      To Jane,
      No you dont have to show your concelled carry permit at state borders. I assume you meant state and not national, like Canada or Mexico.
      You do need to check for each state you travel in or through, if you are following their laws. Some states I have to unload and put gun and ammo in separate areas of my car, out of my reach. Its you responsibility to know and follow the laws.
      Also make sure if you get pulled over by an officer, that you give both drivers licence and CWP to him or her. Then if they ask you will want to let them take control of your weapon during the stop…if they ask for your gun, as you learned in class? hand it over unloaded.
      If your not comfortable it would be a great use of your time and money to take a second class. Please don’t let the time you need your weapon be the only time you have used it, other than in the class you took.

  27. Greg says 07 June 2016 at 09:57

    Nice information,thanks.I retired to Mexico over 7 years ago at 60,now,the idea of traveling the highways back in the states is
    appealing.The over all cost looks like it will be a lot more than living south of the border.Is there a site that can break it down.

  28. Team Gillis Realtor says 31 October 2016 at 02:49

    Wow, that is something! Adventure seems like someone we all want when we retire. So, RV living can be ideal for those who want some adventure on their old age.

  29. The Holiday Retirement says 30 January 2017 at 04:56

    Steve thanks for sharing your experience about retirement in Malaysia and fact why you considered reiring in south east asia. I like how you have compared your experiences in different countries there and why Malaysia seemed like the best place to settle.

  30. Bryan says 22 January 2018 at 14:06

    We had several RV’s while our children were growing up. Buying our first RV (Pop Up) was one of the best decisions we ever made. We camped in state parks in many states over the years. We made some great memories that my now grown children still talk about today. Now they are interested in buying their own RV’s so that their children can have the same experiences. Now that we are empty nesters we are looking forward to expanding our travels touring the country at least part time. I have to say that if you haven’t experienced the RV lifestyle don’t assume anything. It’s up to you how affordable or expensive you want to make it. Don’t knock it till you try it.

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