Full-time RVing: Sell the house to hit the road?


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

One of the critical issues for those considering the full-time RV lifestyle is whether or not to sell the “landlocked” home. It’s not only a financial and physical question, it also touches deeply on the heart. After all, you may have raised the kids here, cultivated friendships, and seen important milestones. Much must be weighed in the balance.

Many have found “selling” to be helpful. They point out they no longer have property taxes and insurance to pay, no worries about maintenance and upkeep while on the road. They don’t fret about what vandals or burglars may do in their absence. Sale of the house for some makes the purchase of a traveling rig possible.

On the other hand, some point out that keeping the home has its advantages. If good quality renters can be found, keeping the house can serve as an investment and provide needed income. Others leave the house empty, but for their furniture or other possessions they have no room for in the rig. Some feel safer, always having a “home base” to return to if something doesn’t pan out on the road.

Making the move to the full-time lifestyle is not something to be considered lightly. Individual circumstances vary. Some take a middle-of-the-road approach and hang onto the house for some time, seeing how they adjust to road living. Then, if things are going well, they eventually sell their old homestead and stick with the road life, tucking away the proceeds from their home sale in a safe investment, hedging against life’s uncertainties.

Here’s one way of looking at this whole equation: If you’re planning on using the house as a home base, you’ll most decidedly not want to sell out. Are you going off full-timing with a partner? If one of you isn’t quite so sure about it, then you’ll probably want to think twice before selling the homestead. Plan on full-timing for a few years, but figure you’ll want to come back to a sticks-n-brix lifestyle? That’s probably the toughest decision position of all. You might be ahead to sell the house – freeing up your life from complications. But on the other hand, who can predict what the real estate market will do – will you be able to buy back in down the road? You’re in the best position to make the call, as you’re the one(s) that have the most “inside” information.

Sometimes the call is simpler. You’ve got full-timing in mind, but don’t have the money to get a suitable rig without selling the house. Herein lies another hitch: Can you sell the house soon enough to meet your plans, without “taking a bath,” by cutting the price back too far? On the other hand, perhaps the market in your area is on fire – what if the house sells before you’re ready to hit the road? Can you negotiate a turn-over date with your buyer that will work for you both? Or might you be stuck moving temporarily into an apartment or (gasp!) in with the kids?

Finally, if you do decide to divest yourself of your home, there’s all those “things” you own to take into account. We’ll tackle that in a future piece.




4 Thoughts to “Full-time RVing: Sell the house to hit the road?”

  1. James

    Been thinking about full timing for awhile. & all of the possible scenario’s. Everything mentioned is good food for thought. My idea is to keep my home & travel seeking where I like best before selling. & one idea I have is to buy 2 piece of land. 1 in the north & the other in the south & build an rv port with an upper room approx. 16×40 +or-. & also build a pole barn on both of them. & when I get to old to drive. I can just travel to either one or the other. just an idea

  2. P. Jane McRae

    I will always live on the road, live & die this way. It has been the best decision of my ENTIRE life. Been 3 years now, with just me & my Winnie class A, & I cannot possibly imagine living anywhere else. So, no, for me there’s no going back to “home base.” -Jane

  3. Tommy Molnar

    Your last sentence says it all, Bob.

    “where would you like to stay for the rest of your life once you can no longer live on the road?”

    Because at some point I think we all will arrive at the time when we can no longer drive. That kind of puts a clamp on your wanderlust.

    We will keep our house as a ‘base camp’ and head out on multi-month trips with our travel trailer knowing we have a place to return to – and PLOP for a while . . .

  4. Bob Godfrey

    Having sold off our “stuff” and moved into our motorhome full time in 2010 we have seen 45 states and 8 Canadian provinces and have loved the travel. However, I will state that there are times (for me not my wife) where I just want to return to a “home base” and have a garage again and workshop, so I see one of the considerations as “Can you afford to purchase again?” when you return from your adventures and since we are all aging, where would you like to stay for the rest of your life once you can no longer live on the road?

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