I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
Is an RV Lifestyle Right for You?
Living year-round in a motor home, travel trailer or camper may not appeal to some people, but others like the idea.
However, whether this is a lifestyle choice that will work for you requires serious thought and investigation because there are many variables that play into making this type of decision that include but are not limited to your
- family situation,
- mechanical ability,
- financial situation,
- understanding of the sacrifices that might have to be made and
- emotional and physical ability to adapt to a totally different way of living.
Why People Want to Live in RVs
Millions of people live in RVs because they like the idea of being able to
- travel without having to pack or make reservations,
- move from one place to another easily and less expensively,
- have more freedom,
- have more flexibility,
- live for less and
- have more free time.
These all are good reasons for choosing this lifestyle, but people also think they want to live this way as the result of assumptions rather than facts.
Assumptions Are Not Facts
Individuals must be careful about making assumptions because they may or may not be true.
- Some people automatically assume that RV living is less expensive than owning a home or renting an apartment, but depending on the choices people make, this lifestyle can cost significantly more.
- Many believe they will be able to adapt to living in small spaces, but doing this can more difficult than people realize.
- Others think that RV life will not be labor intensive, but the truth is that recreational vehicles need constant care.
These all are examples of why it’s important to understand the cons as well as the pros of full timing before deciding if this lifestyle will work for you.
Below are some points to ponder.
If your main goal is to save money, you should take the time to learn the best methods for buying, maintaining and traveling in a coach.
One of the best ways of doing this is to read books such as my favorite, Finding, Buying and Using the Perfect RV and using it as a reference. I've owned a copy for several years and have found it to be extremely helpful. I really do think it is one of the most concise RV owners' guides on the market.
It has helped my husband and I learn about the hidden costs of owning and traveling in a recreational vehicle and how to deal with them.
In addition to this, you should check out some of the videos on YouTube that deal with various aspects of full-timing. This will allow you to gain valuable information from real people who, for better or for worse, are "living the life".
How Much Does It Cost to Live in an RV?
People who stay in campgrounds do not pay property taxes or homeowners insurance and only pay for electricity (water and sewer are generally included in site fees).
They also do not have to purchase furniture, appliances or television sets.
However, they must pay for their campsite, vehicle licenses and any financing payments.
Here is a breakdown that gives a good idea as to the costs you might incur:
- Purchase prices for new travel trailer units can be as low as $8,000. A good used motor home can be bought for $20,000 or less. A new high end luxury motor home can run as high as three million dollars. A High end luxury Fifth Wheel travel trailer can cost upwards of $70,000.
- A new tow or pull vehicle will cost the same as any other car. You can purchase used ones for less than $20,000.
- Annual RV insurance will average $500 or more depending on the price you paid for your unit.
- Utilities for a medium sized coach will generally be less than $100 a month. In large luxury units, it can go into the hundreds of dollars.
- Living year round in a decent campground can cost as little as $225 or upwards of $700 per month depending on location and amenities.
There are many variables so it's important to understand that your decisions often determine how much you will pay.
The bottom line is that some people do save money living in campers, travel trailers and motor homes, but others do not.
It's About More Than Money
Just about anybody can afford to full time, so the issue of whether living this way is workable depends on more than costs.
Some people simply cannot tolerate living without a standard home address, and others don’t do well when separated from their peer groups for periods of time.
Conversely, many really enjoy the many amenities offered by campgrounds and love having expanded opportunities for meeting and socializing with new people.
Each person has different desires and needs, so these should be taken into consideration when making plans for year round RV living.
What Can Go Wrong?
While RV salesmen would have you believe that RV living and travel are Valhalla, the truth is that many things can and do go wrong. Here are some true-life examples of problems people have had to deal with:
Accidents can and do happen. I was parked in a campground when another owner hit the rear corner of my coach and drove off. He left a huge hole in the side of my fifth wheel that cost hundreds of dollars to repair. This article about RV Accident Stories That Will Blow Your Mind gives further insights to these types of problems.
One owner who purchased a new and very expensive coach that had frameless windows reported that half of them fell right out of their slots. It cost him thousands of dollars to replace them with standard, framed windows.
Another owner purchased a used unit. Right after his first trip the fiberglass exterior fell off of the side of his unit. He couldn't find any dealer or manufacturer who would replace it, and the cost of doing so was huge.
Another buyer discovered that the air bags on his new unit were the wrong size. As a result, his coach rolled over. It cost him $5,000 to get the correct ones installed because the manufacturer had gone out of business.
I've known a few people who bought coaches whose floors fell in because the joists were not strong enough to hold them. Bill? $6,000.
As you can see, there are many things that can and do go wrong for people who own RVs, which is why individuals need to take great care when making their purchases to make sure their units are well constructed, have good warranties and are well insured.
Cons of Living in an RV Full-Time
- You must be in good health to live or travel in an RV.
- RVs deteriorate and lose value over time.
- Most RV living areas are usually less than 400 square feet.
- Campground fees can be quite high.
- Finding long term campsites can be difficult.
- It can be difficult to control internal RV temperatures in extreme weather.
- Owners must limit the number of possessions they keep on board.
- There is only minimal space between units in an RV Park.
- WIFI access can be limited.
- There generally is only one bathroom and one bedroom.
- Privacy is almost non-existent.
- Showers must be brief due to limitations in hot water supplies.
- Owners must empty and sanitize sewer water tanks regularly.
- RVs require constant repairs, many of which are expensive.
- Owners are only one accident away from being homeless.
- Slide rooms are problematic and often need costly repairs.
Pros of Living in an RV Full-Time
- You are safer in a travel unit than in a house because you are surrounded by others who live close by. Furthermore, campgrounds usually have good security.
- In the event of a crisis, such as a hurricane you can simply hook up and drive away from the danger.
- Many campgrounds offer spacious lots and have nice amenities.
- Today's coaches have slide rooms which make them more homelike and comfortable, but can also cause problems that require costly repairs.
- Most recreational vehicles are more beautiful than the average home.
- Motor homes and campers often come with luxury amenities such as washer/dryer combinations, big-screen TVs, satellite dishes, side by side refrigerators and even king-sized beds.
- Most residential parks offer organized activities.
- If a neighbor is bothersome, you can simply hook up and move to another site.
- If you have a problem with your campground, you can simply hook up and leave.
- Other than washing and waxing your unit and taking care of general maintenance and cleaning, there is very little physical labor.
- If you want to work, you can easily move to take advantage of job opportunities.
- Units can be used for living as well as travel.
- Those who travel in their coaches do not have to worry about leaving unoccupied property behind because everything goes with them!
- You have total flexibility because your lifestyle allows you to live where you like and go wherever you please.
- Although living quarters are small, they are also much easier and less costly to care for.
- You have more free time to enjoy daily living, events and socializing.
- In the event you need hospitalization, many medical facilities now offer on-site hookups for patients whose families own RVs. This is not only convenient, but it can also save a fortune in hotel and restaurant bills.
Interview With Arizona Retiree Full-Time RVers
Is RV Living for You?
The bottom line here is that while full timing may not be for everybody, it may work for you.
What will make this happen will be the fact that you have been realistic about making your plans and understand the pros and cons of this lifestyle.
It is not perfect, by any means, but if you want a more flexible way to live and are willing to make some sacrifices to have it, you should give full timing a try.
Millions of people are living the life and loving it because it removes many of the problems people with homes must deal with and opens up all sorts of opportunities for travel and adventure.
I’ve been there. I’ve done it.
I can honestly tell you that the years that my husband and I lived full time in our RV were the best we ever had.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to say the same.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do you handle receiving your mail from an RV?
Answer: I wrote an entire article about this that you can find by clicking on: https://hubpages.com/@timetraveler2, and scrolling until you find it. There are several ways to receive your mail depending on your circumstances. In our case, we always used a mail forwarding service, but if you have someone you can trust, they can receive and then send it to you as needed.
Question: Is there a list of full time RV parking spots nation wide?
Answer: No. However, if you buy a Good Sam Camping Guide, you can call individual campgrounds to see if they allow year-round parking.
Question: How does someone who is on a controlled substance medication for a health condition handle getting their meds while traveling with the current laws?
Answer: That's a tricky question. if you have a good relationship with your doctor, you might be able to get him to prescribe a 3 month supply on an emergency basis that will take care of your needs until you can get home. Barring that, you may have to find doctors along the way who will see you and prescribe new one month meds for you. The new laws have made controlled substances a problem for people in your situation, however, I have heard from several sources that people are starting to use medical marijuana because it actually relieves pain better than the prescription meds. They are now legal in many states, so do a bit of research and see if you can come up with places that sell this stuff in various states so that you can find some relief. Good Luck.
Question: What insurance policy and company should I use as a full-time RVer with permission to live on private property?
Answer: If your RV is not secured to the land, you will need auto insurance. If it is, you will need homeowner's insurance and possibly auto insurance also. I am assuming you own the land. If you don't, then it is unlikely you would be securing the RV to the property. The best company I know of for RV insurance is the Hartford, but do some research as there likely are others who insure RVs.
Question: Can you use a cover over your RV while living in it?
Answer: You can, but this is not a good idea because if you seal your coach like this living in it would be miserable AND if there are any leaks a cover would increase the chances of mold and mildew forming which both are dangerous to your health. Also, you would not be able to run your engine or generator and getting in and out would be very difficult. Have no idea why anybody would want to do this. Covers exist to protect coaches from weather, but even when used for that purpose, can increase mildew and mold issues. So while you "can", you should not!
© 2012 Sondra Rochelle