36 Replies Latest reply on Jul 12, 2013 10:42 PM by combo

    Full-time RV

    combo
      I am a full time rver, though my rv is a travel trailer.  I've done this for three years and I love it. I winter in the Bay Area.  In March or April I move on.  The first travel season  I spent in the Southwest., the second in the Northwest and this past spring/summer/fall I went to Ohio and then back to the Bay Area of California through North
      Dakota.
       
      This is a great way to explore, and no schedules except those you impose on yourself.
       
      I am a single woman who enjoys the open-lness of this life.  A great releif from my work life which was all-the-time work and very scheduled.
        • Re: Full-time RV
          JerryD
          What are the economics of rv'ing? We have a small RV and I have run the numbers loosely in my mind and I think that it may be a cheap way to live when you consider taxes and housing costs. 
           
          Three years is a long time to live in such a small space IMO. I imagine the cooler temps are excluded due to the need to stay inside frequently, no?
           
          Have you ventured into many states, Alaska, Canada and Mexico or do you confine yourself to a smaller range?
            • Re: Full-time RV
              combo
              The economics work out into a series of trade-offs.  RV park fees are off-set my no mortgage (I sold my house before I started this), no utilities are off-set by spending more on gas.  My mail forwarding address is in South Dakota so I am a resident of SD and therefore do not pay state income tax.
               
              But the whole thing is about the travel, seeing new places, being free to make choices about where and how I spend my time.
               
              Some people do work-camping.  Often this means that they work 20 hours a week at a RV park in return for not paying the fee for the site.  Some people work camp at national parks or Corps of Engineer parks or wheaever.  There is a site that lists work camp opportunities (it's a subscription site and I haven't used it but I'm thinking about exploring this option).
               
              Combo
               
               
                • Re: Full-time RV
                  jkom51
                  One also needs to consider the possibility that this is merely one phase of your senior years, and that the future still needs to be planned for.
                   
                  Any serious illness/disability may make it very difficult, if not impossible, to continue living solely out of a trailer.
                   
                  It's great for the active phase of retirement, but may not be optimal when a person becomes elderly. I don't think you find a lot of 85+year-olds doing it, and that's the fastest growing segment in every industrialized country.
                   
                  The key to good financial planning is to have contingencies for when things go wrong, whether financially or physically.
                   
                  Best of luck to you, combo, and may your travels always be smooth!
                    • Re: Full-time RV
                      combo
                      I totally agree.  When I started this, 3 years ago, people asked me how long I would be doing this.  My answer was: maybe three months, maybe three years, maybe more.  I will know when it's time to change.  Every year I have asked myself, am I ready to quit?  So far, no.  After the holidays I know I'm still ok with this because I start planning the next travel season.
                       
                      It isn't a long term lifestyle for me but it has been a great transition from a highly intense and stressful work life to a gentler, less scheduled, and always interesting way to live.
                       
                      So far I am good with it but I will know when it's time to quit this, just as I knew when it was time to retire.  And I really knew that when the time came.
                       
                      I think that many of our choices should be thought of as temporary, but not momentary.
                       
                      Thanks for adding your thought to this dialogue.
                        • Re: Full-time RV
                          jkom51
                          I think one of the most positive things about RVing is the opportunity to make new friends. One of the most critical issues about aging is that one needs to widen social contacts. Old friends and family die off or move away, and it's crucial to remain connected to others.
                           
                          Our friends who have transitioned successfully to their elder years are very different personalities but all have continued to make new friends through the years.
                           
                          In contrast, my MIL who lives with us refuses to make new friends, yet constantly complains about being lonely. Five years of going to senior center classes and the local church, has netted her exactly zero new friends. The problem is she expects other people to make all the effort for her: calling up, organizing a date and activity, arranging for her transportation, etc. If she were willing to make more effort, she could have made many new friends; people like her and she's a nice person. But she won't make any effort, and so her social circle is getting smaller and smaller every year.
                          • Re: Full-time RV
                            Scorekeeper81
                            My folks did this for 13 years!!  They started out planning to do it for a year, then 5, then they just kept going and loved it.  Health issues  made it necessary to stop, and they miss it terribly.  It was cheaper for them than having a house with all the upkeep, taxes, etc.  yet the reason they did it was because it was an adventure,  one they still relive every day through pictures and conversations.  We installed a 30amp outlet for them for them to hook up to when they came to visit.  And you always get to sleep in your own bed.  My husband and I benefited from it because we were able to fly out and join them for a week or two in Yellowstone, the Everglades, Alaska, Lake Tahoe, etc.  My husband and I plan to do the same for a while after we retire.  Thirteen years??  Who knows?
                            • Re: Full-time RV
                              PAgramp
                              I hope there will be more posts about RVing.
                               
                              This is something we are just beginning to think about.
                               
                              Could anyone recommend a good newsletter, magazine or blog on the topic?  Thanks.
                                • Re: Full-time RV
                                  JerryD
                                  Doesn't Sams Club have one? How about Camping World?
                                  • Re: Full-time RV
                                    combo
                                    Trailer Life is a good magazine.  Read everything at the beginning because you don't know what will be useful.  A good organization is Good Sam -- you get a magazine from your membership (might even be Trailer Life) but if you haven't started traveling you don't need the rest of the benefits of membership.
                                     
                                    I haven't done this recently but you might just Google "full-time RVing" and see what you get.
                                     
                                    A visit to a big friendly RV dealer is another source of information.  They'd like to talk to you because they hope for an eventual sale.  They can tell you about pros and cons of different kinds of rigs, tell you what they hear from other full-timers about how they make the experience work for them.
                                     
                                    Another source of information is full-timers themselves.  Visit a RV park near you, ask at the office if there are full-timers there and go talk to them.  The person in the office may even be a full-timer doing a work-camper job (work part time and get the site free).
                                     
                                    When I started I found a couple of books and I read them but they turned out to be out of date on some issues -- mail forwarding services, cell phones, wireless internet connections were unknown to them.  I don't know if there are newer books out now.
                                      • Re: Full-time RV
                                        PAgramp
                                        Really helpful, everyone. 
                                        This was my first post to the TIAA-CREF site and the replies were great.
                                        • Re: Full-time RV
                                          Hershey
                                          Are you able to find "decent" rv parks to stay in?  My husband thinks they will all be full of loud, obnoxious, beer-drinking construction workers!
                                            • Re: Full-time RV
                                              austexred
                                              My late husband and I joined Thousand Trails in 1992 and though I have my membership on hiatus now, I really look forward to again "camping" at the many beautiful parks in their system. There are many websites where RVers post comments about a park so you can better determine where to stay. 
                                              • Re: Full-time RV
                                                combo
                                                Parks are mostly full of retirees, and some construction workers with their families, or workers who are too tired to move.
                                                 
                                                Use Woodalls or Trailer Life Directories and you will be fine.
                                                  • Re: Full-time RV
                                                    jbsmith
                                                    My wife and i belong to a RV association; we pay a matinance fee per year and we can stay 21 days; have to leave for a week then 21 more days. We have several different parks to visit in the South west, which we love. This is what we are going to do when I retier.
                                                      • Re: Full-time RV
                                                        combo
                                                        Amazing that you responded to my Full time RV post just as I was moving to owning a house and dreaming about more wandering.
                                                        Keep wandering -- the reward are great.
                                                         
                                                          • Re: Full-time RV
                                                            jbsmith
                                                            Thanks Combo,
                                                            I'm retiring in june and can't wait to hit the road, take my time no schedule to meet. I want to go visit my family units then come fall head back out here to the southwest, fly like a snow bird.
                                                            • Re: Full-time RV
                                                              Scorekeeper81
                                                              We sold the house and moved into our 5th wheel just over a month ago and are loving it.  We won't retire until the fall so are currently stationary but looking forward to being on the go.  The unit is 38' long so has plenty of space.  We've even had the grand kids spend the weekend and have plenty of space.  I was fortunate enough to find very helpful forums such as Escapees, Good Sam, rv.net and irv2.com.  There are many others as well as manufacturer specific forums.  How long will we do this?  Till we don't want to anymore!  And we are set up for cold as well as hot weather with dual pane windows, heated water and waste tanks, 2 A/C, etc. We'll easily take temps into the teens and although we don't plan to travel to cold climates you sometimes get caught.
                                                                • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                  marykegg
                                                                  Wow Scorekeeper81, this is exactly what my husband and I are doing. We have been planning this move for over a year, and our planned retirement date is end of August this year. We first bought our truck, a RAM 350 dually. Then recently bought our rig, a used 40' Heartland Cyclone Toy Hauler. The only thing holding us back right now is the sale of our house. It is on the market, but no offers yet. We are so excited about beginning this new phase of our lives. We have six kids between my husband and I and they live all over the US. It will be nice to show up near their houses and park for a few weeks/months, without being a total bother by actually living with them. We are also excited for them to travel with us if they choose. We bought a toy hauler, not because we have motor vehicles, but because we want to stay in shape and will be making it a workout room. It is so fun to read of other people's similar stories. Hopefully we will meet people such as yourself when we hit the road!
                                                                    • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                      Scorekeeper81
                                                                      Congrats!!  Yes, maybe we'll meet on the road.  My folks did this for 13 years and would park at our house.  We had a 30amp line for them.  We were very fortunate with the house and sold it in 13 days.  Yep!  The people who purchased it had been looking for a year and our house just happened to be what they were waiting for.  Right person, right time.  We didn't have our truck and were just picking up the rig when it sold so we have a very intense 5 weeks.  But now we're sitting back, enjoying the fire ring and the wonderful people at camp.
                                                                        • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                          marykegg
                                                                          I'm so jealous! We do go to our rig on the weekends, but can't wait to go full time. We took my husband's parents Class A down to a RV Rally last springs and fell in love with the lifestyle. We are so done with our current jobs and can't wait to hit the road.
                                                          • Re: Full-time RV
                                                            austexred
                                                            Hi, I'm on a 25 month count-down to a full-time RV life and suggest this website for its wide-variety of topics - http://www.rv-dreams.com/.
                                                            Another site designed to help those who wish to support their travel or enjoy the social aspects of work along the way is http://dreamers.workamper.com/  Happy Trails - Vaya con Dios!
                                                              • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                bj_hopeful
                                                                Insert theecstaticemoticon.  Your post excited me!  My hubby and I want to cell the big house and go RV for as long as our health holds.  We hope to do some Work-Camp stays to keep the $$ lower and leave our retirement nest eggs for when we have to give it up.  Your thoughts on that?  Also, as a full timer my man thinks we should go out for a 40' class A, but not something new because of the cost.  I think Diesel is prefered with a rig that size, although a year ago I would have jumped at a geogeous 36' gas engine RV we came across if the time had been better.  I think we could be happy in a 36' rig.  We don't want bunks, but he would like the nicety of the second 1/2 bath and I want washer/dryer inhouse.    So just how important is that 4' of length when your full time?  And does it really limit places in State and Nat'l Parks?
                                                                 
                                                                Does anybody out there work-camp.  Do you have to stay for a season at a time?  I think I would love to stay a place for a month or 6 weeks, then move on to another.  And when we can't do that travel anymore, maybe find a season at a time where we can stay put and still be active campers..
                                                                 
                                                                I always tell my son, with an RV, I can come and visit for a week or two and not get under his feet! But one of the comments tells how children got to go places and visit with parents as part of their vacations.  That sounds nice too.  Another plus on the "lets do it" column.
                                                                 
                                                                 
                                                                  • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                    JerryD
                                                                    BJ, you have said elsewhere that you are campers, but have you lived in an RV for an extended time through bad or cold weather where you are confined to it? We have had a small pull behind RV for many years, but it can get pretty small under these conditions. Another consideration is that our RV says explicitly that it is NOT designed for freezing weather so long cold periods might make it hard to keep he fluids from freezing.
                                                                     
                                                                    We have seen people with park models live in them for extended periods but they always could go home when they wanted. Also, even the "huge" park models are only about 400 sqft. Not a lot of space if you tend to get in each others way.
                                                                     
                                                                    Just some considerations before you buy something that is worth a lot less the moment you drive it off.
                                                                      • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                        combo
                                                                        I'm not sure what your question really is.  Economics?  Small space?  Cold climates and cabin fever?
                                                                         
                                                                        I travel alone so a small space works for me -- small is a 21 ft travel trailer.  Small for other people, especially couples, is bigger than mine.
                                                                         
                                                                        The economics work for me.  I'm not paying a mortgage to maintain a home base and I'm not paying state income tax.
                                                                         
                                                                        I winter in California, in the East Bay, because it doesn't snow here and my daughter and her family are here.  Beginning in March or April, I start to wander.  I try to stay out of freezing temps but have encountered them at night on a number of occaisions (but I still get out and do things because I have warm jackets).  Wet weather is more likely to keep me indoors than cold weather.  But I read and that works for me.  I have no TV but most people would use the TV or DVD player as entertainment in cold wet weather.
                                                                         
                                                                        I want to go to Alaska but have to figure out how to drive the distances without a companion driver -- long distance driving is not fun if you are the only driver, at least not for me.
                                                                         
                                                                        Maybe the best thing I can say to you is that this is about flexibility and a little adventure. 
                                                                         
                                                                        By the way, sorry about the delay in responding to you.  I entered that particular vortex called family land, plus a computer repair plus a reunion to attend, etc.  I'm more on it now.
                                                                         
                                                                        C
                                                        • Re: Full-time RV
                                                          cfp1205

                                                          Hi everyone, I just wanted to  comment about the RV life style.
                                                          I have a 37ft. Class A and it's very roomy I was planning to go full time RVING when I retired but my mother needed constant care and I have had to put my life on hold for the time being. What I can tell you is that I was able to take quite a few trips most of them on my own with no one to share the experience with but my golden retriever. It is very doable with one driver to go cross country and visit all the national parks in the west in one months time. I had a great time every time I took her ( my rig ) out. The people who do this RVING THING, full time or whenever they can get away are the nicest people you will meet. They can quickly become good friends and will be glad to lend a helping hand.  I believe it will be a wash economically with the price of gas but the memories you will have are priceless. There was never a time that I was lonely or a trip that something unexpected didn't happen. I always came away with a story. I imagine its not for everyone but if you are interested in a free style life with tee shirts and jeans as your regular attire and like the idea of pulling up stakes when the mood hits you this might just be the perfect thing for you.
                                                          When my family obligations are over I will be out there in the right lane looking for my next adventure.  By the way these campers are from every profession or work  even Judges on the Supreme Court seem to enjoy RVING. 
                                                          By the way I am 63 year old female who mostly travel alone and retired last year after 45 years working in hospitals and operating rooms.

                                                          So be bold enjoy your life and do what you dream about, time is not always on your side.
                                                          CFP

                                                            • Re: Full-time RV
                                                              combo
                                                              I was a full timer for 4 years and only stopped because my daughter, her family and I decided to buy a house together and then the perfect house came on the market.  I could have continued for a long time.  I loved it. I traveled as a woman on my own and met many great people.  People asked me if I ever felt unsafe or threatened or if I had a gun.  The answer to all is a definite no. It's a great life style.  I will continue to take long trips now and then because there are still places to go and things to do. One of the things I was fascinated with is how some topics of conversation came up so infrequently that, when they did, it was a shock.  Religion is obvious and I can't remember that as a conversation.  Politics came up twice in four years.  The first time was right after Barak Obama's first presidential election and the second was about  'the government taking over health care".  The first went ok, the send went very badly because the several people present when the topic came up disagreed loudly.  Bottom line -- avoid politics whenever possible.
                                                                • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                  aunt_tish
                                                                  My same-sex spouse and I are considering purchasing an RV and living on the road most of the time after I retire.  Our niece has a home where we are going to install a parking pad with hook-ups for those times we want to be "home".  I am wondering what people have found for internet hook-ups on the road.  We love the national parks and would also like to look at the "park for free and work" situations.  Does anyone have a resource for finding those opportunities.   We are still a few years out -- unless there continues to be threats to my employment, in which case it could be earlier rather than later.  How about advice on diesel vs gas?  Thanks so much...
                                                                    • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                      combo
                                                                      Many RV parks have internet connections but you can't count on it.  I use Verizon wireless which comes with a little device that connects you wherever you are.  In four years I rarely could not get a connection.  One of those places was in a narrow canyon -- I think the signal just couldn't get down there but as soon as I drove up top I was in touch with the world.  And once near the Colorado River near Loughlin, NV which exists only to allow people to gamble. There are mail forwarding services located in states that don't have state income taxes.  Mine was in South Dakota.  Texas, Florida, New Hampshire come to mind.  You have an address, you register your vehicles and you show up once to get a drivers license.  Piece of cake. there is an organization called something like Workkampers.  Google Work Camping and those organizations will pop up.  KOA also hires.  And the National parks love volunteers and I think some may provide hook-ups.  Also Army Corps of Engineers.  I didn't do any of this so I'm unsure of details. All of the work camping opportunities prefer couples because they expect each partner to work 20 hours a week. I don't know abut how easy same-sex couples will find it -- probably depends on parts of the country. Check out publications like Trailer Life and organizations like Good Sam.  They are helpful But most of all, have fun.  You will be amazed at the adventures you will have.
                                                                  • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                    tanguera4life
                                                                    Hi,  I am a single woman at the moment.  Not retired yet (still have quite sometime to go. But I would like to try to get a Class B to travel across the country.  I am wondering about parking in the city.  Since I like to check out night time happening in different cities.  Park in the park is not convenient for me.  Could you share some experience when you have to park on the street?  
                                                                     
                                                                    Thanks. 
                                                                    • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                      pamiski
                                                                      I have this dream to travel in an RV. I am divorced and turning 60. I would love to do this , currently I am still working. Not sure when I can retire. But it is good to know other seniors do this and not just married couples.
                                                                        • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                          StraitFan
                                                                          Are you a female? I am and have also thought about full-time RVing but have concerns about safety, finding people to mingle with, and the upkeep of the vehicle. I'd also like to hear from more people about this.
                                                                            • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                              pamiski
                                                                              Yes, I am female and like you I have wondered about safety and flat tires and maintenance issues. I also have wondered about spending time alone alot, although I would probably take my dog. I need to get a lot of info before I attempt to embark on a journey like this. I thought maybe I would rent an RV first and test it out.
                                                                        • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                          tulip123
                                                                          Isn't it difficult and lonely to travel as a single woman? How do you handle things?
                                                                            • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                              combo

                                                                              I don't find it lonely.  RV parks are full of people and a little friendliness is all it takes to start conversations.  I'm in contact with friends and family by email and phone.  One of the nice things is that when there was a problem with my rig, there was always someone who could problem solve with me.

                                                                              It's possible to rent an RV through Cruise America, Camping World and several others and take a trip.  You'll be amazed at how much fun it is.

                                                                                • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                                  tulip123
                                                                                  Hi. Thanks for responding. How big is your rv? I have a jeep wrangler 4 door, but it can only pull 3500 lbs. maximum weight, so I have to get a fairly small trailer. I don't want to invest in a truck, really like my jeep.  Also, do you belong to any rv clubs and such that you think are really good?  I'm 59 and live in Utah.  Regards.
                                                                                    • Re: Full-time RV
                                                                                      combo

                                                                                      I have a 21' Jayco Feather.  I pull it with a Toyota 4Runner.

                                                                                      Long before I retired I knew I wanted to explore the Full-timer life.  So I researched the pros and cons of having the living unit be an RV and pulling a small vehicle behind it, or having a smallish travel trailer and driving a vehicle capable of pulling it.

                                                                                      I decided on the travel trailer route because it was less expensive overall and because I didn't want to maintain 2 motorized vehicles.  Then I researched travel trailers but on-line research gives too many choices and many of them have miniscule differences.  So I went to the Jayco dealer and walked through every model on the lot, new and used, Jayco or not.  I liked the 21' Feather and then I went looking for a vehicle to pull it.  The Jayco's dry weight is ~3500 so I needed a vehicle to pull more like 5000# (dishes, clothes, small BarBeQue and all the other stuff you need to live full time in the trailer.

                                                                                      Once I had that figured out, I bought the car and a year later the trailer.  They were both paid off by the time I retired, sold my house and went on the road.  I make it sound straight forward but I did a lot of back and forth thinking and worrying.  But it has turned out to be a wonderful adventure.