With more and more people questioning the traditional North American Dream, the one where you buy a home, save for retirement and then travel in your golden years. Millions of people are realizing that with widespread changes in the economic, political, financial and employment landscapes their dream retirement is not guaranteed. Instead they are redefining their retirement plans and looking for more options such as RV Living.
More than a million people have already found a way to live, with less stress and more freedom. They have more time for family and fun, lowered living costs and have the time, energy and means to explore and travel North America and the world. They are RVers.
This is why we asked experienced full-time RVers, Marc and Julie Bennett, co-founders and course instructors at RV Success School to share some of their insights into the RV Living world.
RVing is Not New to Most Americans
Almost 9 million U.S. households currently own an RV, most of these are used just a few weeks in the year for recreational purposes only.
But there is another lesser known subculture of the RVing community. Full-time RVers are a large and fast growing community, currently estimated to be around 1.5 million. These people choose to live, travel and even work from their RV full-time and use it as their primary residence.
Others (often known as snowbirds) travel three-to-six months at a time by RV, escaping the cold winters in the north and the hot summers in the south.
Who is Living the RV lifestyle?
The largest percentage of new RVers is from the baby boomers reaching retirement age. Many of them still enjoy great health and have found an affordable and exciting way to enjoy their retirement and see the country.
There is also an increasing number of younger RVers who have decided to step off the treadmill. By harnessing the power of technology they can take their jobs on the road and work remotely.
There are also families spending more quality time together while exploring the countryside. Some view RVing as a more temporary lifestyle, as a way to take a sabbatical or to travel before they choose a new place to live.
Some folks live in small, basic or older RV’s with tight quarters and limited amenities. Many more, live in highly attractive and comfortable spaces. In fact, some are downright luxurious and more advanced than many traditional homes. And of course, there’s just about everything you can imagine in between.
How You Choose to Design Your RV Lifestyle is Entirely up to You
They range in price from just a few thousand to a couple of million dollars and vary in length from 16 to 45 feet. It’s all a matter of your personal tastes, needs, preferences and your budget.
Perhaps simplicity, low cost living and freedom are your goals? Maybe it’s your time to enjoy the rewards of your labor after years of hard work. Regardless of what you decide to spend, the RV lifestyle offers you the adventure of a lifetime. Whether that adventure is for months, years or decades is again, all your choice.
Why Travel by RV?
Traveling by RV is a wonderful way to live like a local wherever you go, giving you a real feel for an area while you stay there. When you have your home with you, you sleep in your own bed, cook in your own kitchen, and keep the things most important to you with you as you travel and explore. You can spend days, weeks or even months in as many areas as you wish.
Where Do You Stay in Your RV?
Campgrounds & RV Parks:
Campgrounds have varied levels of amenities and services. Some are very basic and only include a space to park; some have water and/or electricity and some offer resort-like accommodations. Campgrounds with full hookups to electricity, water and sewer system can make your RV feel very similar to living in a traditional home.
The cost varies widely ranging from $10-$100 or more per night. The average nightly rate is around $30 to $40, but by booking weekly, monthly or longer stays, you often get a lower average price. There are also camping associations and memberships that offer discounts on campground fees that can save you thousands more.
Camping / Boondocking:
Most RVs come equipped to allow the option to ‘dry camp’ – that is, camping off grid without hookups (also known as boondocking).
If you plan to do this for extended periods, with the conveniences of electrical power, you will need to spend money on solar power or fuel to run a generator and conserve your water usage. Camping is generally very affordable and there are many free public lands available around the country. These are typically in less populous areas and many allow free stays for up to 14 days.
How Affordable is RV Living?
Just as with any major life decision, it’s important to spend time assessing the financial viability of buying and living in an RV. The financial impact will vary depending on whether you plan to RV just a few weekends/months a year, or plan to live in your RV full-time.
Naturally, if you decide to keep your traditional home and live in an RV part time or seasonally, it’s going to cost a lot more than selling or renting your home and living full-time in an RV. If you keep both, and don’t rent one out when not in use, you will essentially be maintaining two homes, and have two sets of expenses.
When comparing the cost of RV living with that of a traditional home, you need to factor in things like property tax, home mortgage interest, repairs and maintenance, insurances, HOA, utilities, decorating, furnishing, landscaping and so on. You may be surprised at how ‘the hidden costs’ of home ownership really add up. This makes the RV lifestyle even more affordable than you might imagine.
If you decide to sell or rent out your house and live full-time in an RV you will be saving on many (if not all) of these expenses. And if you don’t currently own your home, you may simply decide to switch your monthly rent payment for RVing instead.
Some of the Benefits of RV Living
- Less expensive way to travel as a group or family as travel and accommodation are included for everyone and you can cook your own meals
- RV living can be more affordable than a traditional home
- Greater flexibility allows you to move slower and see more or faster when you want to move on to somewhere new
- Flexibility also allows more control over your finances the RV lifestyle has fewer fixed costs, and more variable expenses than a traditional lifestyle
- Your home goes with you everywhere you go. You are able to sleep in your own bed, have your own bathroom and all your clothes (instead of just what fits in a suitcase)
- Get closer to the outdoor activities you enjoy, and have your own equipment with you
- Get away from it all, reconnect with nature and find more quiet and tranquility
- Your furry friends (or other pets) can come along on your journey
- Visit friends and family all around the country, with your own place to stay
- The RVing community is typically a very helpful, generous and warm group of people
- More engagement with others than you will find in hotel travel, RVers spend more time outside and engage in conversation
- No more yard work or shoveling snow.
- Many campgrounds have pools, hot-tubs, mini-golf, pool tables, and other entertainment for you to enjoy without having to maintain it
- Less stress and fewer household responsibilities
The Potential Downside of a RV Lifestyle
As with everything there can be downsides with RV living. These downsides revolve mostly around two things, cost and size.
The size of your RV will greatly affect how much living space you have, especially if the weather is inclement and you have to spend extended periods indoors. The size of your rig will also directly affect your cost to purchase, to maintain and to store, if you don’t use it full time. A large RV will also cost more to fuel, especially if you plan on covering a lot of ground.
There are a couple of other things that you need to be aware of. Reservations are necessary for many campgrounds in peak season and you do have to deal with waste water at some point after it has gone down the sink or the toilet.
When you decide to give the RV Lifestyle a try, you might come up with an entirely new list of pros and cons.
One of the greatest gifts of the lifestyle that few would disagree with is the FREEDOM! So much of what we work so hard for in our lives is in search of freedom. This lifestyle offers more of it than any other way we know of.
How Do I Learn More?
Although it is true that anyone can buy an RV and hit the road, there is a lot to learn and understand. The RVers who have done it successfully didn’t get there by chance. It takes a ton of planning, education and research to avoid the common and costly mistakes made by many inexperienced or ‘newbie’ RVers. While some mistakes and learning’s are inevitable once you’ve actually hit the road, you can certainly minimize them by increasing your education ahead of time.
RVLove has a wealth of invaluable, inspiring and educational information on their blog www.RVLove.com and YouTube Channel. You can also reach out to them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, they would love to hear from you.
Marc and Julie have also developed a series of enjoyable, in-depth, step-by-step video and online courses that help wannabe/newbie RVers fast track their learning, without having to learn the hard (or expensive) way, like so many others do. You can find more at www.RVSuccessSchool.com.