Monday, December 4, 2023


Full-time RVing — Can you afford to keep working?


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Some who dream of the full-time RV lifestyle never get further than the dream. Some are halted in mid-stride by the thinking, “I can’t afford it — I have to work!” But here’s a question — Is it really paying you to work? For some, “maintaining a career” is actually costing them more than they think. Here are a few areas to consider:

Do you have to live near your workplace? High-employment areas tend to have high rents and high home prices. How much does it really cost you to have a home?

First, there’s the actual cost of a home. The average home in the U.S. is now valued at $360,000 — not a small piece of change, particularly when compared to the cost of, say, a relatively new fifth-wheel and pickup to pull it, or even a nice motorhome. But hang on, once you have your home, what does it really cost to maintain it?

The typical homeowner has seven maintenance cost areas: Home insurance, mortgage insurance, snow removal and lawn care, property taxes, utility bills, homeowner association fees, and finally, repairs and general maintenance. The website estimates the average homeowner spends $1,204 per MONTH on these costs, that is, $14,448 per YEAR. Now tack on the cost of your monthly mortgage payment and you’ll have a close figure to what the average American spends to own a home.

What else does it cost you to work? How about getting there? If you’re like a lot of Americans, you probably own a second car to do the commute. Insurance, gas, and maintenance and repairs all add up in a hurry and, of course, every year or so the government also has its hand out asking for registration and taxes. And if you’re financing your second car, tack on what the bank collects. According to a 2015 AAA study, the average driver doing 15,000 miles per year spends $8,698 to keep a sedan going. If your wheels are an SUV, bump that to $10,624.

Now, what about the work you do? Does your job require you to keep up some sort of image? Jewelry, upper-cut clothes (and dry cleaning charges), shoes, brief case, manicures, haircuts, iPhone? How about country club membership fees? Gym trips to keep you buff? Do both of you work? Tired out at the end of the day — too much trouble to cook? How much do you spend on “take out” or dine-in restaurants? And in the end, how do you “recharge” from the career? Vacation time a bit costly?

Take a few minutes to add it all up. Maybe it’s really costing you to hold down a job. For some, retiring now and divesting themselves of the sticks and bricks makes more sense than head-banging the 40 or more hours per week that the typical American lifestyle calls for.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Wayne Justice (@guest_12238)
6 years ago

Dear John
Travel any chance you get. My wife and I have owned 2 class C motorhomes over the last 14 years. We have traveled to all but 5 states in these USA. Like you I still worked. We owned our own business and built it up to where we make a decent living. We were able in the last few years to travel south for the winter, making many great friends. Last year we took 2 months and left our home in NC to travel west to CA and all places in between. We decided to sell the business and our home, build just a small place on our property, just a home base so to speak. All plans were going well until last January. One day I found a lump in my chest. Yes as you might guess the C word. From this time on we have used the motor home to travel to far away hospitals and stay in those areas so I can be treated. But unfortunately they say 6 months even with all they have. Let me say travel, do it. I was healthy as a horse last year, and now——- I will tell you I do not regret 1 minute of the thousands of miles we traveled and all the places we have seen, all the super great friends we have made and all the fond memories we have. Please don’t wait, enjoy the time you are given. We just don’t know when it will end.

RV Staff
6 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Justice

We’re so very sorry to hear of your condition, Wayne. But your thoughtful words are a very important message to everyone, RVers or not. Thank you for sharing. We’re glad that you were able to travel when you did so that you and your wife now have those wonderful memories. Wishing you peace and comfort on your difficult journey. —All of us at

john stahl (@guest_11345)
6 years ago

Well I was hoping this article would give me more to hang my hat on. But we do not want to full-time RV. We just want to go when we want to go. Which is often for me. We like to have a home and place to ‘spread out.’ Our motorhome is big but not as much space as our home. We work close to home (2 miles) and we like having 2 cars. One we tow on trips. And we love the work we do. We want our cake and eat it too. We hope we can continue to spoil ourselves. Only time will tell when we are fully retired. But Steve Barnes in Canada made a good point. That is, ‘do it now – incapacity comes without warning.’ As we age the window of opportunity gets smaller. We never know how much time we have left health-wise. We hope we figure out how to strike a happy medium.

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