Fulltime RVing – Plan ahead for “hanging up the keys”

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Fulltime RVing is great, with so many places to explore, people to meet, things to learn. Sadly, the clock continues to run during the adventure, and eventually you may need to “hang up the fulltime keys.” So how do you leave the fulltime lifestyle and return to a non-nomadic life? You might think this information doesn’t apply to you, but beware! It’s never too early to think about it – “retiring” from the lifestyle could require some advance planning.

Many RVers find the process of going off the road easiest on the heartstrings by handling it in a “staged” manner. No jumping direct from the RV to a fixed place – rather, they find a suitable place to call their new home then “drop in” for occasional stopovers, spending a little time in the “new place,” then going back out on the road. Some become snowbirds again, chasing the sun south in the wintertime then heading back north to a fixed base thereafter.

Many fulltimers never really stop the RV lifestyle – they continue to own and use an RV. Granted, their time on the road might not even be equivalent to that of a snowbird, but “keeping their hand in” makes the change more tolerable.

But where will you call the fixed place “home”? Some have gone back to their roots, hanging up the keys at the spot where they first began fulltime RVing. Others who, after seeing many regions of the country, have found one of those places they traveled in to be more appealing. Health concerns may have a big share in this: What kind of weather will your body tolerate, and where can you find suitable medical care?

If you’ve hung onto your old “sticks and bricks” home, don’t think you necessarily have to return to it. Some have found it best to “go home” and put the place up for sale, then move to where life is best suited. If you already sold your home, if you’ve parked the money in the bank or in some kind of investment, then you’ll have the resources to buy a new homestead.

Still others, like members of the fulltime RV club Escapees, have found buying into a club-related co-op just the ticket. Friends of ours spent many years on the road and knew they’d eventually have to “light somewhere.” So they got on the waiting list for an Escapee’s co-op near Yuma. They called the co-op home, but spent the summers as camphosts in northern California. Then they reached the point where that was too much. They sold their big Class A and retired. We couldn’t believe it! Well, sure enough, a few months later they picked up a much smaller motorhome, and now spend their spare time happily touring wherever they wish.

What about family? Some figure one of the best things they could do would be to settle near their offspring. That might not be a bad idea, but bear in mind, things can change. Where Junior or Princess are settled today with solid-seeming jobs can change in a hurry. Job transfers or downsizing layoffs can change things for family members. Might not be a bad idea to visit the kids and have a family conference to a have a real heart-to-heart about your future. Nah, the kids don’t want to imagine the folks getting old, but hey, it does happen.

And speaking of heart-to-hearts, like funeral planning, for fulltimers, talking about going off the road is not the most favorite topic. But unfortunately, right now – like death and taxes – these are the kind of subjects that really need to be talked about and planned for. The future just has a way of catching up with us – no matter how “young” we think we are.

##RVT839

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13 Thoughts to “Fulltime RVing – Plan ahead for “hanging up the keys””

  1. Elizabeth L.

    My hubby and I did put money away for retirement and also get good social security income. We currently work-camp as we are both healthy and can’t imagine sitting around with nothing to do. We winter in Texas and are now family at that park. We summer up on the Hood Canal in Washington and are family there too. We cook at home and watch what we spend. We realize we are lucky … we have met and talked to many people who live in an RV and just make ends meet. While I may not be as strident as Mr. Bender, he makes valid points about how this country has changed from ‘good for most’ to ‘excellent for only a few’. All you have to do is drive through some small rural towns to realize that many Americans live in poverty. Politicians will never help you, they’re only in it for themselves and their ego; Democrat or Republican. Truly, things need to change.

  2. booneyrat

    I suggest a company like MASA for full timers.MASA is an organization that takes care of you,and your spouse,if you are far from where you call home base and something happens where you cant make it on your own.They will return you,if need be, and your belongings,including your RV,to a place designated by you no questions asked. We haven’t had to use them yet,but we are locked and loaded if and when the time comes.

  3. Bill T.

    Thanks everyone and especially LEE W, for the comprehensive information.

  4. Darrel

    Sell the house to fulltime
    Monthly Bill’s are no higher than living in a house in my experience
    And our eventual landing pad is a Escapees co-op until assisted living becomes essential

  5. Dr4Film ----- Richard

    Put away as much as you can afford into a tax deferred or ROTH IRA when you start your first job, hopefully in your early 20’s. Increase it every year and by the time you are ready to retire trust me you will be able to afford the RV Full-Time lifestyle plus have a good backup plan for when “that” time comes. Those people who don’t save for their retirements until it’s too late will never be able to afford the lifestyle on social security. In fact SS doesn’t even come close to covering the basic needs.

    1. Thomas Bender

      Most people in this country can’t even afford food clothing and shelter. Let alone put any money aside for retirement. People who blame others for poor planning saying they put themselves in that position are delusional. The greedy capitalistic system we have in this country with no job protections no pensions cutting Social Security Medicare Medicaid snap and all kind of social programs giving all the money saved to the top .1% in the form of tax cuts is completely inhumane and is not pro-life.

  6. Barbara Brooker

    Our expenses are nearly the same and often less in RV living. We full-timed for 10 years. Now we half-time. We are midwesterners and I will admit we could not survive on east coast or west coast costs of living. Then or now. The middle of the country is still very economical.

  7. Bill T

    Interesting article. I have a couple of questions. Do you have any advise or information for Canadian RVer’s who can’t spend more than 180 day in the US a year? and I guess my biggest question is, without diving into anything personal, how do people afford it? I see many articles from lots of RV folks who are having a great time with this lifestyle, but no on can seem to share how they financially plan for RV’ing. It seems like people have thousands of dollars to spare as well as own their homes. Again I don’t want to dive into anyone personal situations but I would like to know “How do you pay for it all?” Thanks.

    1. Lee Wenk

      Bill T. I’ve been retired for over 10 years and living in my RV for over 3 years. I live in an upscale RV resort in Bend Oregon where it costs on average $1100 per month for lot rental My electricity is free in the summer, but in the winter it is about $120 per month. I just moved into an AquaHot heated RV and my winter diesel bills are high – about $300-$400 per month, but these bills are only for the winter. Since I am full timing I don’t pay property taxes, but I do pay income tax; both state and federal, I also don’t pay for water or sewer.
      I ‘earn’ about $3700 per month from different sources and have over $200,000 in various tax deferred accounts.
      I am lucky in that I found a great park that lets me stay for a long time.

      I hope this helps,
      Lee W

      1. Thank you for sharing all of that information, Lee. I’m sure it will be very useful to our readers who may be “planning ahead.” 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

        1. Darrel

          And note that Lee states it is an upscale resort. Many places offer month rates much lower (plus electric on monthly stays), yet still nice parks.

          We just wintered in a Escapees co-op paying rental monthly rates of $340 per month, plus electric, plus our cost for diesel for our Aquahot. Large lots, WiFi in the park, excellent community center.

          This same park has a long waiting list to be a permanent lease holder that allows you to co-own the park. Around $12,500 buy in, then only a yearly maintenance fee that varies but averages $1,200 per year.

          So once paid in as a leaseholder, $100 per month for a large lot, storage shed, water, sewer, garbage, and WiFi. And while traveling, you can put your lot into a rental pool and pay off part of the annual maintenance fee. (Many of the SKP co-ops have similar costs and arrangements).

          RV clubs like Thousand Trails also allow economical RVing.

          1. Great information. Thanks, Darrel! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

    2. Thomas Bender

      They pay for it all by being part of the most fortunate in the USA. 3 people have as much wealth as 50% of the u.s. population. That 50% of the population aren’t buying an RV they’re lucky to be able to buy a used RV to live in. No where in this country can you rent a one-bedroom apartment on a minimum wage job. And that’s just trying to rent the apartment let alone buy food and clothing. This country is no longer the land of equal opportunity we have all become serfs to the Lords & Ladies of the American aristocracy.

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