We thought living in an RV would be a wonderful way to spend the summer, seeing the great USA. We were in the habit of hauling the boat out of the water for hurricane season and returning stateside for the summer.
We started looking at RVs. We looked all over the country, I mean from Florida to Oregon, for 2 summers.
We are big believers in doing your homework before taking the plunge with any big decision.
In October 1998 we purchased a 40' 1992 Foretravel.
Before we start we need to say that by living in an RV you can see the same scenery in a pop up camper trailer that you can in a million dollar Prevost. If you want to RV buy what you can afford and go. For more on this great lifestyle.
If you drive a pickup, start looking at fifth wheels. If you have a car, look at a camper trailer you can pull. There is a solution to everyone's situation if the desire is there to enjoy RV/camping.
We want to retire but,...we are waiting until we can afford a Brand X with the super duper ramashama option. Waiting until you obtain the "perfect" RV, house, car, boat, or bank balance is the death of the majority of dreams.
Nike says it the best...JUST DO IT! Our strong advice is not to fall into this trap. You will find yourselves years down the road in the same situation, waiting.
We speak from experience, if you wait for circumstances before you take action on your retirement dream you have a tendency to stay put. Retirement is fun, especially living in an RV, don't miss out
Research, research and more research. To get a feel for what types of RV's are available, you can't beat an RV show. They are all over the country and usually have everything from a $3,000 pop up camper to motor homes costing a million bucks.
Since this site is about Frugal Retirement Living, I am going to assume that you will not be interested in the pricey coaches...it's free to look inside however.
Pick the brain of the salesman or saleswoman. They are usually glad to spend the time with you answering questions and showing of the features of their product. Because there are so many different companies represented at these shows it is a great way to start defining what you want in a home with wheels.
If you pull up to a dealership to start looking you will be subject to sales pressure and restricted to the lines that they carry. A show, bigger the better, is the way to start the search.
Take your time, living in an RV is a major change for most folks...for us switching from the boat to living in an RV meant a tripling of our living space! For most folks it's a major downsize.
Visit a Camping World near to your home. They are the RV toy store and all RVer's will find them sooner or later. Check out their bulletin boards, peruse the book sections, ask questions.
Go to your local bookstore and look at magazines on RVing as well as the books they have on the subject. To whet your appetite go to the travel section, they have large sections on camping, national parks, etc. It will fire you up and get you going on this way of life. Living in an RV is like a permanent vacation.
If you can afford a new RV, great it's a good time to be a buyer of any kind. If you are going to keep the RV for several years it is easier to justify a new rolling home. The fact is that a new RV will lose 50% of it's value in 3 to 4 years.
That means that you should be able to pick up a 3 year old used model of the unit that costs $60,000 new for $30,000 used. That would seem like a good way to go to me, something 3 to 4 years old with 20,000 miles or so is hardly broken in.
If you are looking at a diesel engine don't let high mileage scare you, they are the same as truck engines that go several hundred thousand miles before needing an overhaul. We bought ours with 99,000 miles on it put another 43,000 miles on it before we sold it without any maintenance expense on the engine, transmission, generator, etc except for oil changes.
Speaking of oil changes, you will be in for a shock the first time you change it in a diesel engine. Those babies hold 25 quarts and an oil change with new filters can run $200. A gas engine holds 5 quarts, and is fairly easy to change by yourself.
RV trader on line is a great place to look once you know what you want. NADA and Kelley's Blue Book are good sources to determine what your unit will cost you. Any way you slice it though, living in an RV is a way to enjoy a great, fun way for frugal living.
The short answer is living in an RV is a lot less than living in a house. Assuming the Frugal Living advocate has purchased a used coach with no mortgage, there is no monthly note. There are no utility bills, other than a cell phone. There are no property taxes living in an RV.
If you buy your coach in Montana or Oregon, there is no sales tax on the coach, this a no brainer folks. No need for a second car. Less clothing cost, not much call for the suit or dresses with stockings in the RV lifestyle. Your main expense will be park rental.
In the summer months you will find very nice parks for $500 a month for your longer stays. Fulltime RVers tend to join a club, like Good Sam, RPI, or Thousand Trails. If you stay in the Thousand Trail system for annual dues of around $1,000 a year you are all set, if you move every 2 weeks.
Who knows what gas and diesel will cost. Ballpark you should get 12-15 mpg in a gas unit, 7-8 mpg in a diesel (these are general estimates, talk to owners of your specific coach, to get better figures). Your fuel costs can be a major component of your budget if you travel a lot. When we were full time living in an RV, 6,000 miles a year was our average yearly mileage. Yours will vary.
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