By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Some who dream of the full-time RV lifestyle never get further than the dream. Some are halted in mid-stride by the thinking, “I can’t afford it — I have to work!” But here’s a question — Is it really paying you to work? For some, “maintaining a career” is actually costing them more than they think. Here are a few areas to consider:
Do you have to live near your workplace? High-employment areas tend to have high rents and high home prices. How much does it really cost you to have a home?
First, there’s the actual cost of a home. The average home in the U.S. is now valued at $360,000 — not a small piece of change, particularly when compared to the cost of, say, a relatively new fifth-wheel and pickup to pull it, or even a nice motorhome. But hang on, once you have your home, what does it really cost to maintain it?
The typical homeowner has seven maintenance cost areas: Home insurance, mortgage insurance, snow removal and lawn care, property taxes, utility bills, homeowner association fees, and finally, repairs and general maintenance. The website gobankingrates.com estimates the average homeowner spends $1,204 per MONTH on these costs, that is, $14,448 per YEAR. Now tack on the cost of your monthly mortgage payment and you’ll have a close figure to what the average American spends to own a home.
What else does it cost you to work? How about getting there? If you’re like a lot of Americans, you probably own a second car to do the commute. Insurance, gas, and maintenance and repairs all add up in a hurry and, of course, every year or so the government also has its hand out asking for registration and taxes. And if you’re financing your second car, tack on what the bank collects. According to a 2015 AAA study, the average driver doing 15,000 miles per year spends $8,698 to keep a sedan going. If your wheels are an SUV, bump that to $10,624.
Now, what about the work you do? Does your job require you to keep up some sort of image? Jewelry, upper-cut clothes (and dry cleaning charges), shoes, brief case, manicures, haircuts, iPhone? How about country club membership fees? Gym trips to keep you buff? Do both of you work? Tired out at the end of the day — too much trouble to cook? How much do you spend on “take out” or dine-in restaurants? And in the end, how do you “recharge” from the career? Vacation time a bit costly?
Take a few minutes to add it all up. Maybe it’s really costing you to hold down a job. For some, retiring now and divesting themselves of the sticks and bricks makes more sense than head-banging the 40 or more hours per week that the typical American lifestyle calls for.