Just thinking: for those who dream of going fulltime in a RV

PHOTO_20140922_162438.jpg No one knows just how many fulltime RVers there are. For one thing, there’s no official definition of just what a fulltime RVer is! It’s obvious that there are a lot of us who are, as it has been called, “living the RV dream.”

Since I post a lot of fulltime budget information my blog has attracted folks who are still in the “dreaming” stage and researching information on the lifestyle. While I’m no expert and there are lots of people who know more about this stuff than I do I’m glad to share what we are learning. This post is directed to those dreamers who want to sell everything and hit the road in a RV. (It isn’t for people who have jobs that require or allow them to travel or people who have lost their jobs and are thinking of getting a RV as a source of housing, etc.)

Recently one of the better known fulltiming couples had a health emergency. I’m glad to have received good news on the immediate prognosis but this crisis will quite likely change the rest of their lives. Some folks have concluded that one lesson to be learned from this is that they should stop dreaming of going fulltime and jump to it while the jumping is good. On one hand, I agree that for some people this is a good takeaway. For instance we met a couple who actually retired and went fulltime. However, his previous employer made the man an offer he couldn’t refuse so he went back to work for a short stay. That short stay has now lasted three years! It’s their business but I can’t help but wonder if the day will come when they will wish they had returned to the RV dream rather than stay in the 9:00-5:00 environment.

Frankly, though, I’m not sure “just do it” is the right message for everyone. Again, these remarks are in reference to those who see fulltiming as pursuing a dream and not for those who are considering the RV life as alternative housing and such so please read this from that point of view.

  1. First, “now” isn’t the right time for everyone. There’s a right time and a wrong time for all the stages of life. While I’m not saying that you need millions of dollars socked away before you go fulltime you do need an income that will support the lifestyle and that includes a source of health care insurance. Put more directly: if you can’t afford to go fulltime then don’t. Instead, continue working toward a fulltime RVing retirement by planning, preparing financially, and taking care of yourself physically.
  2. Second, don’t get in if you don’t have a way out. Don’t mortgage your future for the present. You may not have an exact plan but have a way to conclude your fulltime life and move to the next phase of life. Aside from those who suddenly pass away, sooner or later everyone has to hang up the keys. Hopefully, that will come as the result of the decision that you’ve “been there and done that” but it may come in the form of a trip to the emergency room. As you contemplate entering this lifestyle be sure to include at least a basic framework and capability for leaving it. Also, related and worth mention, is that your vehicle(s) and RV have a limited lifespan. While you don’t need money to replace them hidden under your mattress there needs to be at least some thought given to what you will do if and when your need to upgrade these vital items.
  3. Third, remember that life is uncertain but is also a blessing. Don’t squander today dreaming only of pie in the sky. Appreciate what you have right now: family, friends, health, and other good things. Make planning for the future part of the joy of this day.
  4. Fourth, know that real life continues even out on the road. Hitting the road in your RV means leaving a lot of things behind. However, a lot of stuff will follow along too, some things good and some things bad. Fulltime RVers get sick, as did the person I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Vehicles break down and accidents happen. If you think that pursuing the RV dream means everything will always be wonderful you are in for some big disappointments.

Don’t get me wrong, we love being fulltime RVers. It’s our chosen retirement lifestyle and we would do it all over again if we had to choose. If this life appeals to you then we’d say come on in, the water’s fine. Still, remember that part of moving to this lifestyle is preparing for getting into it, maintaining it, and then leaving it. Don’t forget that being a fulltimer doesn’t exempt you from real life problems. Beyond all that, remember that life is precious. Appreciate the blessings of each day even while dreaming of the next big thing coming down the road.

2 responses to “Just thinking: for those who dream of going fulltime in a RV

  1. I was curious about my situation. I am 40-husband is 48. We have never owned a home and always dreamed of living tiny. My mother owns 5 acres and her health is getting bad. She has suggested giving us a acre and half to park a rv on. She wants us to have some financial freedom and help her with the land, etc. Has anyone just lived like this until they can travel? My husband and I both would still work for probably 5-10 more years. There will be enough land for a garden, small out building for crafting, man stuff. Just wondering if there is any one else out there who has lived in one and not move it? We would only pull out every now and then.

  2. Scott and Jackie — Just found your blog… what great photos — and advice! My hubby and I have been full-timing since 2009, fullfilling a long-time dream and many years of planning. We immediately found out that no amount of planning could have prepared us for the learning curve we ended up climbing, mostly because we’d ever RV’d before. We were B&B vacationers — so adapting to an RV was a real adjustment. My suggestion, above all others, is to travel in an RV awhile BEFORE you sell everything and go on the road. Now that we’ve settled in a bit (we’re sure that learning curve will never really flatten out), we can’t think of any other retirement lifestyle we’d prefer, but…. as you say, it’s not perfect. Nothing is 🙂

    To Angela I’d say that if you’re planning to live in a stationary RV for five years, don’t plan to travel in it after those five years are up — once an RV has been sitting a long time it will need a lot of work to get it road-ready (new tires, maybe seals, maybe repairs to slide-outs that haven’t been operated, sewer issues, etc…. ). The best thing to do is talk to a lot of people who’ve lived a lot of different ways with their RVs and see what will work for you. Good luck!

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