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Author Topic: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?  (Read 1320 times)

rieann

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Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« on: April 15, 2020, 02:01:58 PM »
We are a younger couple, currently renting, so we don't have that house that we could sell for a huge boost in cash.  We each have a little saved up, but would most definitely need to find work while out on the road, if we chose this lifestyle.  Is there anyone out there who chose to live in their RV without being retirement age or with a huge nest egg?  I've read a lot about workamping, and even seen resources for 'seasonal' type jobs for RVers (amazon camperforce and resorts).  I think the most important thing I've read is to have an 'exit plan' and that is definitely what is most concerning for us.  While we could probably scrape by and do the RV thing for a year..what comes after that?  We will have a depreciated rig that we sell for less than we bought it and no savings at all.  We are so far away from actually doing this, just kicking around crazy ideas while we're cooped up in quarantine..but I wanted to see if there were any success stories or words of wisdom?  :)

LarsMac

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2020, 02:15:57 PM »
I know several people who have made a decent living at traveling nurses, and live full time in RVs.
They have been doing that  for a few years.

My job was working from home for the last few years before I retired, and with a good, reliable WiFi, I could take my home office wherever I wanted.
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ChasA

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2020, 03:00:16 PM »
There are many younger couples who full-time. Some work in their RV, computer wizards and such. Some are itinerants who work at many different jobs. Many also have children.
Apex, NC
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Isaac-1

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2020, 04:37:12 PM »
A lot depends on your skill set, there are people that travel full time in RV's that are not retired, though most have either work from anywhere jobs, where all they need to work is a decent internet connection or they have highly mobile temp job options, such as some types of doctors and nurses.  Most of the work campers I have met, use work camping to bridge difference between their retirement, or other fixed income and cost of living while full timing.  Also RV cost of ownership and cost to travel tends to be much higher than most newbies estimate.

p.s. there are also the RV hippies, for lack of a better term, minimalist who buy an old RV and go camp out on federal land and other "free" camping places, and make money doing whatever.  Most of these people travel with no safety net, many buy 20-30 year old dilapidated RV's and just hope they don't break down, or if they do hope they can get them fixed, often due to people taking pity on their situation.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 04:40:29 PM by Isaac-1 »
2002 Safari Trek 2830

donn

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2020, 06:53:31 PM »
What do you do for a living?  Telecommuting is a common method.  Workcampers.com I believe is the online jobs postings forum for full timers.  Paid jobs are generally at minimun wage, but many will come with a site and hookups.  So it works out in the end. As for the RV, buy used and dont go overboard on some fancy class A and you can buy a decent setup and have it paid for.  So costs per month are minimal.  Food, fuel, insurance, a monthy budget for maintenance and repairs. Heck I have seen people do it for 1500 a month easily

UTTransplant

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2020, 07:26:39 PM »
Traveling costs a lot of money. Staying put a month or more at a time is much less expensive. Monthly campgrounds range from $250-1200 a month plus electric, depending on the amenities. Daily is $30-70. Work jobs usually are looking for a few months at a time at least. Fuel gets expensive if you travel a lot too.
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2020, 07:45:07 PM »
I started "full timing" in an RV 25 years ago, but until I retired it was mostly parked in one location while I worked at a fulltime job.  I was in an area where I could live in my RV year round (not too hot in the summer and no snow in the winter) and monthly space rent at an RV park cost less than 1/3 compared to renting an apartment.  I was able to bank the difference to finance breaks in the work routine.  I hitched up the RV and took it on weekend and vacation trips, in 1999-2000 I took a year long midlife break and on several other occasions took a month or more off from work for extended travel.

There are lots of ways to RV, ranging from staying in expensive RV parks every night, spending time in national parks and other established campgrounds, to boondocking for free on government land in the West.  Or any combination of the above.  How much you travel vs. stay in one spot also impacts how much you spend - you don't buy gas for the RV while it sits on one place.

If you haven't already, take a look at Xscapers (https://xscapers.com).  It's a community for working age RVers inside the Escapees RV Club, which has been supporting RVers for over 40 years.  Lots of good information and examples from people who are able to travel while supporting themselves.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 08:33:55 PM by Lou Schneider »

Isaac-1

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2020, 07:51:04 PM »
I have to question what $1,500 covers, there are a lot of hidden expenses in RV ownership, though some of those expenses would exist if one were living in an RV or not.  Lets assume someone is talking about living and traveling in a motorhome, as cost of travel trailer gets more complicated given the addition of a tow vehicle most people don't already own.

First we have the cost of the motorhome, with a bit of shopping one can find a used motorhome that has been well maintained, is not rotting to pieces, and is not so old as to be considered an antique for around $20,000, maybe $15,000 if you are lucky, though on average the less you pay the more things that will tend to need maintenance and repair.  I paid a bit over $20,000 for my 2002 Safari Trek in 2016, and have since put something over $12,000 into it in maintenance, with probably another $4,500 planned in the next 12 months, doing a fair amount of the work myself.  Though I admit a lot of the stuff has been optional upgrades, such as adding GPS nav system, TPMS (tire pressure monitors), but there has also been a fair amount of necessary stuff, alternator, fan clutch, failed automatic parking brake switches, and some stuff in between like, new shock absorbers, new front ball joints, and coil springs, sway bar bushings, ...

Upcoming repairs are going to include getting the dash air conditioner fixed (estimated at $1,700), new tires as mine are aging out at about $2,200 (good off brand tire), ....

So lets work from the numbers I have for my coach, which gets used about 75 days per year on average.
I financed it over 4 years with payments under $500 per month, lets assume with current low interest rates someone were to finance over 8-10 years, a reasonably life expectancy for a coach that is now 15 years old if continued to be maintained, we could hope to lower the monthly note to around $250-$300 per month.  Amortize in the typical replacement cycle on longer term items like tires, refrigerator, air conditioner, batteries, etc. which we can safely bet will average another $200 minimum over time (there is a reason that the 15 year old $20,000 motorhome sold for $100,000 when it was new).  So before we even get to insurance, fuel, oil changes, roadside assistance plans, we are already looking at something on the order of $500 per month.  Then comes travel cost, I generally calculate my cost of travel at about 35 cents per mile, which is probably low as it does not take into account drivetrain wear, and of course then you have cost of a place to stay, campgrounds are not free, and there is only so long you can camp out in the middle of nowhere on federal land.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 07:54:00 PM by Isaac-1 »
2002 Safari Trek 2830

rieann

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2020, 08:56:25 AM »
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies!  Especially Lou, thank you for sharing your experience!  He is currently in sales, and although he can do many aspects from home it is not something he could do while travelling.  We both hail from hospitality experience (restaurant management, bartending, etc) so I was thinking we could apply those skills to some seasonal type work for a resort somewhere.  I've only barely researched the feasibility of that.

I also have somewhat crazy RV hippe dreams of travelling to harvest beets for a few weeks, then going to do maple syrup, then workamping, etc.  Having a new and different job every couple months or so.  I think it would make for an interesting tale one day.

Now, conversation has shifted to buying a plot of land somewhere, getting a TT and using it to live in while we build our own (modestly sized) home.  Once finances look okay, maybe we can then take the TT out for a spin and do the travel thing.  That way we will have put our money in something that we can atleast have something to show for.

Thanks everyone for being a part of my crazy quarantine dreams & thoughts! lol.  I have a lot of research to do yet!

SeilerBird

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2020, 08:58:44 AM »
I have to question what $1,500 covers, there are a lot of hidden expenses in RV ownership, though some of those expenses would exist if one were living in an RV or not.
I full timed it for ten years on a bit less money. Never worked, visited all 50 states, had a ball.

Isaac-1

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2020, 09:05:39 AM »
The practicality of living in an RV of any type while building a home, will greatly depend on the climate, as the vast majority of RV's are at best 3 season designs, with only a very few being considered 4 season designs even in much of the milder climate parts of the US.  There is more than one reason why Snow Birds with their RV's flock to south Florida, south Texas and southern Arizona during the winter.  To put this more simply if where ever you are considering to build a house has a chance of having a white christmas, forget the idea of living year round there in an RV unless you want it to be a survivalist experience at best.

p.s. Tom I am sure it was possible in the past, but from what I have seen $1,500 does not go nearly as far as it did just 5 or so years ago.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2020, 09:07:17 AM by Isaac-1 »
2002 Safari Trek 2830

SeilerBird

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2020, 10:08:55 AM »
p.s. Tom I am sure it was possible in the past, but from what I have seen $1,500 does not go nearly as far as it did just 5 or so years ago.
You are absolutely correct. However I could still live quite well full time on $1500 a month, no problem.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2020, 12:13:28 PM »
One can live frugally or expansively, e.g. eat in vs dine out, watch tv vs paid entertainment, etc.   Traveling extensively costs more  in campground fees and fuel. Things like that are in your control and probably similar to your current lifestyle costs IF you do similar things.  But if your vision is idyllic lakeside settings and visiting the wondrous sights across the USA, your lifestyle is probably going to get more expensive.

The hidden costs are the RV itself, its maintenance and insurance. Both the vehicle and the house part.  This will be especially noticeable if you are a currently a renter, with someone else responsible for maintenance and repairs.
Gary
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Isaac-1

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2020, 01:34:10 PM »
What Gary said is true, an RV side at a ran down rv park next door to the local meth dealer may run you only $250-$300 per month, vs $500-$800 per month to stay at a mid to upper range "RV resort" with club house, swimming pool and hot tubs"  The point is that it all adds up, even living for "free" on BLM land, or camping out in remote national forest, only goes so far as you still have expenses like insurance, note payment on the RV, food, health care, and of course the above mentioned long term prorated maintenance costs.  It is important to remember that few of the places where one can camp out for free are within commuting range of places where you are likely to find jobs, though there are always exceptions.  I have not used my coach since last November, and just to sit in its shed, that I thankfully get to use for free costs money, about $85 per month for insurance, so nearly $500 in insurance alone, which will add up to who knows what before we travel again with the current stay at home order.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

donn

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2020, 09:06:52 AM »
You are absolutely correct. However I could still live quite well full time on $1500 a month, no problem.

The key to frugality is to start totally debt free with new enough equipment that it wont nickle and dime you to death.  BTW motor homes are the number one most expensive form for RVing.  Break downs could mean you stuck in hotels until you can get it repaired.  At least with a towable if the TV breaks down you can still have a place to sleep while its being fixed.  Repairs can usually be handled at any auto repair shop.  Whereas a broke down MH could need a truck shop.  Amd that might be hard to find.

NY_Dutch

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2020, 12:19:27 PM »
The key to frugality is to start totally debt free with new enough equipment that it wont nickle and dime you to death.  BTW motor homes are the number one most expensive form for RVing.  Break downs could mean you stuck in hotels until you can get it repaired.  At least with a towable if the TV breaks down you can still have a place to sleep while its being fixed.  Repairs can usually be handled at any auto repair shop.  Whereas a broke down MH could need a truck shop.  Amd that might be hard to find.

Over the years we have had an engine, a transmission, and a differential replaced in various motorhomes, along with a number of lesser issues. At no time have we had a problem finding a competent repair facility, and the only time we didn't stay in the motorhome was by choice when we had some paint work done and wanted to avoid the smell.
Dutch
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Boat Addict

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Re: Is full-timing only for retirees or those with a lot of $$?
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2020, 06:16:31 AM »
The key to frugality is to start totally debt free with new enough equipment that it wont nickle and dime you to death.  BTW motor homes are the number one most expensive form for RVing.  Break downs could mean you stuck in hotels until you can get it repaired.  At least with a towable if the TV breaks down you can still have a place to sleep while its being fixed.  Repairs can usually be handled at any auto repair shop.  Whereas a broke down MH could need a truck shop.  Amd that might be hard to find.

I am a believer in starting out new. Of course this last adventure of buying new has been an exception as it relates to breakdowns.  And we looked at used Class Cs and dug into the details of replacing internal working parts with new bits and pieces.  Upon hearing many horror stories with low mileage units with some age on it, they are no deal when you look at the aggravation of nickel and diming you to death and even being broken down with brakes, belts and hoses that seems to be the norm.  And with most motor homes there is always the issue of owning a tag vehicle. So that's an expense unless you want to deal with unhooking all the time and go fetching or sight seeing.

So our choice was to go cheap with the travel trailer. They surely have their limits and are not as easy to make miles. But then again we are not in any hurry. I would prefer a TT if I was a full timer, since we carry loads of extras for water related fun. So a truck works better too where we can use our bed when considering the alternative of a 5th wheel.

Our insurance is around 500 a year for full coverage and last year we did around 6,000 miles for around , 3,400 bucks, gas and campgrounds. Of course our truck does double duty for boats and is our regular vehicle most of the time whether we are camping or going to get groceries. So we cannot figure the cost of that into the mix.

So my conclusion is that we could live and travel the country for about a third of the cost of what it takes to live in a house and maintain it just for insurance and land taxes for our simple life styles. And for sure start out debt free. Liquidate if you have to. The downside is if you have some age on you, there may come a time that you do need a land base in which to be close to doctors.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2020, 06:20:05 AM by Boat Addict »