We know that some die-hard ‘full-timers’ will laugh their heads off at what we called ‘full-timing’ ... that is, living in an RV full-time in a climate controlled garage ... and traveling in it part-time. Nonetheless, there were several concerns we carefully considered when we decided to live in an RV. Our purpose in sharing them here is to help you evaluate alternative living possibilities, including our 'hybrid' RV lifestyle.
These were our MAIN concerns ...
RV's are much fancier and more fully equipped today than in years past but they are still not built to outlast a conven-tional home. To make sure your RV will last as long as you want to use it, plan from the start to keep it in a garage or shelter if you do not plan to be on the road all the time. Also, consider the weather conditions of where you will likely be using your RV most often. Search any of the forums on this site about RVing in the winter or in 100+ degree heat and you will find lots of tips and tricks ... and some regrets! Of course, RVing in a heated and air-conditioned garage eliminates all of these problems. :)
There are a number of attendant expenses that go along with RVing that you should anticipate — fuel, personal property taxes, insurance, and routine maintenance expenses, to name a few. Also, if you ever have to visit a manufacturer’s factory service center, repairs can become a major expense very quickly. (Do you know how much it costs to replace all the tires on a 8-wheel ‘big rig’ motorhome?!) Be sure to budget for these items to make sure that your RVing lifestyle doesn't come to an end quicker than you planned. Search the discussion forums on this site for plenty of great advice.
The type of RV you pick — truck camper, travel trailer, toy hauler, fifth wheel, motorhome — doesn't matter provided it's well built, meets your needs, and you can afford the ‘after the sale’ costs. But, the amount of depreciation you will incur may matter. The simple rule — in most cases — is the more you spend, the more you will lose. That's not necessarily a negative but it is prudent to think about how this fact of RV ownership —especially the motorized variety — may impact your budget, retirement, or even estate plans. Of course, depreciation is much easier to stomach if you are actually using your RV often. If it just sits, deteriorating in your yard or at a storage lot, then prepare for a little indigestion.
Do you have a 'go-along, get-along' personality or do you freak out when you can't control everything? Have you settled into a daily routine that is so ‘routine' that you cannot tolerate any deviations? That's a red flag for sure! A self analysis of who you are, and how flexible you are is more important than you might think. Read our caution note below. Then re-read it. As an ancient Greek sage once said, “Know thyself.” Every day may not be blissful in your RV home. There will be breakdowns from time to time, some may even be emotional. But, if you can handle life’s usual challenges, and a few extra bumps on the road, you should be fine.
There will probably come a day when you will desire a more permanent, easily accessible home or — at the least —a base camp where you will spend most of your time. This could be because of age, health, or financial reasons. If you’re planning on living in an RV in a building, and traveling part-time, you’re one step ahead in your planning. But, you will still want to think about what you’ll do with the building if you later decide to stop full-time RVing. Think ahead about converting your RV garage into a small home. If you’re not planning to build a garage, then you may want to at least consider a home-base property, or a location where you think you may want to spend your final years. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover the perfect place during your years of RV excursions. Many people do exactly that.
CAUTION! ... Do not rush out and sell your home unless you know — without reservation — that the full-time RV lifestyle is right for you. Think long and hard about the financial aspects of abandoning your ‘conventional’ housing, and what makes you truly happy.
A Few Final Thoughts …
Some folks attach an unflattering label to anyone living in a home with wheels. If labels bother you, you may not be a candidate for this lifestyle. (You may exclude yourself from this advice if you have so much money that you can afford RV ‘labels’ that cost much more than a full-size ‘stix & brix’ house.)
Some folks feel more comfortable with a lot of ‘things’ around. If you're one of them, buy a bigger house and put more things in it. In an RV, your #1 daily task will be figuring out how to get rid of 'things' because you have no room for them. Also, some folks are clueless when it comes to even the most basic of maintenance tasks, such as taking out the trash. If that describes you, stay home with your maid.
Are you the envious type? If an RV fancier than the one you are planning to buy pulls into the parking space next to you, and you turn any shade of green, keep your house. Trying to keep up with the Joneses in an RV will put you in the poor house nearly as fast as burning your money.
If you have a phobia of flying insects or a little dirt, stay home with your Swiffer® mop, vacuum cleaner and hermetically sealed windows. You will not like nature. It is definitely not as sterile as your whole house HEPA air filtration system. But be forewarned! Your phobia will mean you will miss out on experiencing some of the most thrilling and satisfying moments of your life. On those days when the weather is just right, the RV is running great, you’re feeling great, and you’re experiencing and seeing things you have never before experienced, you will thank your lucky stars that you decided to give RVing a try. We have certainly never regretted our RVing decisions and consider our time together while RVing as some of the most satisfying years of our lives.
Finally, if your ‘better half’ annoys you most of the time, by all means keep your house. Living in less than 400 square feet will not make a bad situation better. :)