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.
Are you cooking your meals at home or eating at restaurants? Are you 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.
Cost comparison — 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.
Confined space — 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 — 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, cable, dumping and Internet 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 WiFi 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. 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.