By Bill Tuttle, Explorer RV Insurance Agency
Whether you live in an apartment, a house or an RV, the greatest impacts on your ability to save money are the choices you make every day in your chosen lifestyle. So should you be a full-time RVer to save money?
It depends. Are you cooking your meals at home or eating at restaurants? How about renting pay-per-view movies or enjoying a free concert in the park? Are you hunting down the best fuel prices along the way or just filling up whenever your tank is low? These examples represent a few of the choices that make a big difference in your monthly budget, regardless of your address.
For a true comparison between living in a residential property and living in an RV, start with a cost-comparison table. Make a table with three columns. The first column is for name of the expense. The second column is for current costs associated with a typical residence. The third column represents costs incurred living in an RV full-time. It may take some time to fill in each cell of the table, but once you do, you should have an accurate snapshot of the difference living in an RV full-time would make. Keep in mind that some items will be relevant to an RV but not a residence, and vice versa.
Besides expense difference, consider the other factors associated with full-time RV living. With limited space, some people may feel uncomfortable, especially when it’s their only home. Will you be living alone, with a companion, children or a pet? Interactions between people can become quickly strained in close quarters. It might be wise to try a trial period in the RV before making a final decision to go full-time.
RV parks can save you money
One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is where to park your RV and for how long. Here are a few tips for minimizing your parking expense:
• Available services — Not every RV park has a full range of services. Electricity, water, sewage/dumping, cable, and Wi-Fi may be available but, as a rule, the more provided services, the higher the cost.
• Volunteer or part-time work — You may be able to eliminate your parking expense altogether if you help out. Assisting with reservations, repairs or grounds maintenance can often significantly reduce your expenses.
• Access — If you intend to travel far and wide, you’ll likely lose cell phone coverage or Wi-Fi access at some point. If your livelihood depends on connectivity, arrange for Internet access that is not dependent upon your physical location.
• Length of stay — Many RV parks limit the amount of time that you can stay. Some parks include utility costs in their monthly fee but only if it falls within a certain number of nights. If the stay extends beyond their preset limit, utilities may be billed separately.
• Gratis — There are free RV parking sites available. Doing a little research to locate them will definitely help reduce costs.
Overall, many full-time RVers say their only regret is that they didn’t full-time sooner. If you’re budget-conscious and willing to consistently choose options that result in cost savings, then living in an RV full-time may be a good way for you to save money. But, if you haven’t had RV experience, you may find close quarters to be challenging at first. Be sure that you closely evaluate your current and projected expenses, including your insurance needs and your lifestyle preferences. If you can, take a month or two to try it out. Then decide if you can be a full-time RVer to save money.
• Full-time RVing: Do you have the right insurance?
• Full-time RVing: Sell the house to hit the road?
Here are a couple of books on the topic of full-time RVing:
• A Practical Guide to Full-Time RV Living: Motorhome & RV Retirement Startup.
• Secrets of RVing on Social Security: How to Enjoy the Motorhome and RV Lifestyle While Living on Your Social Security Income.
Your article doesn’t mention having a plan for “Post RV” life. When/If life circumstances change and I have to come off the road, do I have money to buy or rent a place?
If something happens to the RV, what is my living plan? I have heard horror stories of folks not having the funds to live if they have an RV fire. The insurance money they received did not fully cover the cost of replacing the RV, the contents, AND living expenses while making the new purchase.
RV’s don’t appreciate in value like most homes. I have known folks who sold their house and put the money into an RV. But 20 years later, there were health issues that made them stop RVing. The RV wasn’t worth enough for them to afford the “buy in” to a decent “continuing care facility”. If they had kept their home, or only spent part of it on the RV and invested the rest, they would be in a much better situation now.
Sometimes people get wander-lust and jump in too quickly but long-range, contingency plans are a must.
Consider your health insurance will it travel where you wish to go/live?
Will you have an address to list for voting, receiving mail etc?
You may save on real estate taxes, and some home owner costs, but consider rv or trailer/tow vehicle costs and maintenance expenses too.
There are likely many other topics that I haven’t thought about.
Research and read lots of information before taking the leap.