Monday, September 25, 2023


Full-time RVing – Plan ahead for “hanging up the keys”

Being a full-time RVer is great, with so many places to explore, people to meet, things to learn. Sadly, the clock continues to run during the adventure, and eventually, you may need to “hang up the full-time keys.” So how do you leave the full-time lifestyle and return to a non-nomadic life? You might think this information doesn’t apply to you, but beware! It’s never too early to think about it—”retiring” from the lifestyle could require some advance planning.

Many RVers find the process of going off the road easiest on the heartstrings by handling it in a “staged” manner. No jumping directly from the RV to a fixed place. Rather, they find a suitable place to call their new home then “drop in” for occasional stopovers, spending a little time in the “new place,” then going back out on the road. Some become snowbirds again, chasing the sun south in the wintertime then heading back north to a fixed base thereafter.

Many full-timers never really stop the RV lifestyle—they continue to own and use an RV. Granted, their time on the road might not even be equivalent to that of a snowbird, but “keeping their hand in” makes the change more tolerable.

Where’s “home” for full-time RVers?

But where will you call the fixed place “home”? Some have gone back to their roots, hanging up the keys at the spot where they first began full-time RVing. Others who, after seeing many regions of the country, have found one of those places they traveled in to be more appealing. Health concerns may have a big share in this: What kind of weather will your body tolerate, and where can you find suitable medical care?

If you’ve hung onto your old “sticks-and-bricks” home, don’t think you necessarily have to return to it. Some have found it best to “go home” and put the place up for sale, then move to where life is best suited. If you already sold your home, if you’ve parked the money in the bank or in some kind of investment, then you’ll have the resources to buy a new homestead.

Buy into a club-related co-op

Still others, like members of the full-time RV club Escapees, have found buying into a club-related co-op just the ticket. Friends of ours spent many years on the road and knew they’d eventually have to “live somewhere.” So they got on the waiting list for an Escapee’s co-op near Yuma. They called the co-op home but spent the summers as camp hosts in northern California. Then they reached the point where that was too much. They sold their big Class A and retired. We couldn’t believe it! Well, sure enough. A few months later they picked up a much smaller motorhome, and now spend their spare time happily touring wherever they wish.

Should full-time RVers settle near family?

What about family? Some figure one of the best things they could do would be to settle near their offspring. That might not be a bad idea but, bear in mind, things can change. Where Junior or Princess are settled today with solid-seeming jobs can change in a hurry. Job transfers or downsizing layoffs can change things for family members. Might not be a bad idea to visit the kids and have a family conference to have a real heart-to-heart about your future. Nah, the kids don’t want to imagine the folks getting old, but, hey, it does happen.

And speaking of heart-to-hearts, like funeral planning, for full-timers, talking about going off the road is not the most favorite topic. But unfortunately, right now—like death and taxes—these are the kind of subjects that really need to be talked about and planned for. The future just has a way of catching up with us—no matter how “young” we think we are.


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.


  1. The RV full-time dream being sold by the industry, clickbait community, and particularly the mail forwarders, is a myth. A full-time RVer has no legal residence and will be labeled a terrorist, banned from using the U.S. banking system. You ever tried traveling without access to a bank account? This is the result of the USA PATRIOT Act, section 326, the banks CIP mandate. People are being victimized by this full-time RVing disinformation. If you sell your home and decide to live in an RV, then prepare to have all your assets frozen, your right to vote revoked, and your health insurance put in jeopardy.

    • I’ve been a nomad dealt that card by forced medical tourism in attempting to keep my mother alive. Managed to live in hotels since folks home was condemned during the 2008 disaster. Had to use numerous virtual bank accounts/prepaid type cards but did have several bank accounts closed due to “no permanent address”. My mothers Medicare/Medicaid has been trying to force her into a nursing home which has previously given her wrong medication or over medicated her stating the need because of having no permanent address. Highly suggest learning your civil/consumer rights and fight back. Yes you can sue the government or anybody who violated your rights if you learn. Checkout how developers setup mailbox for land that doesn’t even have home on it. Google states that can setup permanent address for RVers or even use mail forwarder or truck stop. Where there is a will there will always be a way. Never give up…. Just get up and keep on keeping on as my Dad always said.

  2. We totally enjoyed our 19 years of full-time RVing, starting in 1999. Traveling wherever we wanted, whenever! Sometimes introducing the grandkids to our great country, etc! Would never regret those wonderful experiences! Our son decided to buy our house in 2006 which was advantageous to us. However, we failed miserably, financially, by not having an exit strategy. After having three fifth wheel RVs that we loved, we decided at our ages of 77 and 74, that we should get a MH. We found one that we both loved and finally found financing (for our ages!). It was a year older than the fifth wheel we traded to in but it was a top-of-the-line model for its time. “For it’s time” is crucial here, as we bought it in 2017 and it was a 2006. “Was” turned into “is” as we are now 82 and 79 and not feeling comfortable driving this 44’ behemoth. We are now living in our son’s back yard and no way can we pay this off in our lifetime. I think we must be the epitome of a bad decision!

  3. This is an excellent well-thought-out article. It has really given me so much to think about. Thank you for putting so much thought into this; it is very well written.

  4. I bought my first house at 32
    had 3 jobs
    bought an income property at 46
    still had 2 jobs
    bought a second income property at 54
    that was a big job renovating it
    sold the first income property at 56
    invested the money , the time was right to sell
    high price and had lost my job so no income
    i haven’t held a full time job since
    getting ready to sell my first house
    while preparing a loft for our personal use in the second income property , it will be our free home base !
    the money from the house sale will supply for 12 years of funds of full/part time rving bringing us to the seventies and by that time the last property will be worth enough to sell and live off of that til death do us part !
    its our plan but plans do not always work out

  5. Time to hang up the keys? There is another option. Ey dumped the house and 78 years of stuff four years ago and hit the road in my Ford F-350 Diesel with a Fox on top. Having an incredibly great adventure in my new life on the road meeting some truly nice people. Like almost every human being in the world, Ey am addicted to fossil fuel. Ey feed my addiction with 40 gallons of diesel (No B-20, thank you). Ey thought to slow down a little after a few years, but have not. My goal is to enjoy this great country xxxxx. (bleeped)
    Have made the decision not to wither and die in an “old age facility “ by some disease in a puddle of my own mess like several of my friends. Have purchased a cremation contract for any place and any reason. Ey don’t subscribe to any spirits, imaginary deities, or goblins, religions, nor any existence beyond this one. So, when it’s time to hang up the keys, hopefully quite a few years from now, my plan is to take one last hike with my Colt 45 and die of lead poisoning.
    Til then, burn diesel and use paper plates. The one with the biggest carbon footprint wins.
    Ey don’t make big plans on where my travels take me. Ey will have reached my destination when my foot hits the accelerator. Just head out and enjoy the road.
    The Loneoutdoorsman

  6. My hubby and I did put money away for retirement and also get good social security income. We currently work-camp as we are both healthy and can’t imagine sitting around with nothing to do. We winter in Texas and are now family at that park. We summer up on the Hood Canal in Washington and are family there too. We cook at home and watch what we spend. We realize we are lucky … we have met and talked to many people who live in an RV and just make ends meet. While I may not be as strident as Mr. Bender, he makes valid points about how this country has changed from ‘good for most’ to ‘excellent for only a few’. All you have to do is drive through some small rural towns to realize that many Americans live in poverty. Politicians will never help you, they’re only in it for themselves and their ego; Democrat or Republican. Truly, things need to change.

  7. I suggest a company like MASA for full timers.MASA is an organization that takes care of you,and your spouse,if you are far from where you call home base and something happens where you cant make it on your own.They will return you,if need be, and your belongings,including your RV,to a place designated by you no questions asked. We haven’t had to use them yet,but we are locked and loaded if and when the time comes.

  8. Sell the house to fulltime
    Monthly Bill’s are no higher than living in a house in my experience
    And our eventual landing pad is a Escapees co-op until assisted living becomes essential

  9. Put away as much as you can afford into a tax deferred or ROTH IRA when you start your first job, hopefully in your early 20’s. Increase it every year and by the time you are ready to retire trust me you will be able to afford the RV Full-Time lifestyle plus have a good backup plan for when “that” time comes. Those people who don’t save for their retirements until it’s too late will never be able to afford the lifestyle on social security. In fact SS doesn’t even come close to covering the basic needs.

    • Most people in this country can’t even afford food clothing and shelter. Let alone put any money aside for retirement. People who blame others for poor planning saying they put themselves in that position are delusional. The greedy capitalistic system we have in this country with no job protections no pensions cutting Social Security Medicare Medicaid snap and all kind of social programs giving all the money saved to the top .1% in the form of tax cuts is completely inhumane and is not pro-life.

  10. Our expenses are nearly the same and often less in RV living. We full-timed for 10 years. Now we half-time. We are midwesterners and I will admit we could not survive on east coast or west coast costs of living. Then or now. The middle of the country is still very economical.

  11. Interesting article. I have a couple of questions. Do you have any advise or information for Canadian RVer’s who can’t spend more than 180 day in the US a year? and I guess my biggest question is, without diving into anything personal, how do people afford it? I see many articles from lots of RV folks who are having a great time with this lifestyle, but no on can seem to share how they financially plan for RV’ing. It seems like people have thousands of dollars to spare as well as own their homes. Again I don’t want to dive into anyone personal situations but I would like to know “How do you pay for it all?” Thanks.

    • Bill T. I’ve been retired for over 10 years and living in my RV for over 3 years. I live in an upscale RV resort in Bend Oregon where it costs on average $1100 per month for lot rental My electricity is free in the summer, but in the winter it is about $120 per month. I just moved into an AquaHot heated RV and my winter diesel bills are high – about $300-$400 per month, but these bills are only for the winter. Since I am full timing I don’t pay property taxes, but I do pay income tax; both state and federal, I also don’t pay for water or sewer.
      I ‘earn’ about $3700 per month from different sources and have over $200,000 in various tax deferred accounts.
      I am lucky in that I found a great park that lets me stay for a long time.

      I hope this helps,
      Lee W

      • Thank you for sharing all of that information, Lee. I’m sure it will be very useful to our readers who may be “planning ahead.” 😀 —Diane at

        • And note that Lee states it is an upscale resort. Many places offer month rates much lower (plus electric on monthly stays), yet still nice parks.

          We just wintered in a Escapees co-op paying rental monthly rates of $340 per month, plus electric, plus our cost for diesel for our Aquahot. Large lots, WiFi in the park, excellent community center.

          This same park has a long waiting list to be a permanent lease holder that allows you to co-own the park. Around $12,500 buy in, then only a yearly maintenance fee that varies but averages $1,200 per year.

          So once paid in as a leaseholder, $100 per month for a large lot, storage shed, water, sewer, garbage, and WiFi. And while traveling, you can put your lot into a rental pool and pay off part of the annual maintenance fee. (Many of the SKP co-ops have similar costs and arrangements).

          RV clubs like Thousand Trails also allow economical RVing.

    • They pay for it all by being part of the most fortunate in the USA. 3 people have as much wealth as 50% of the u.s. population. That 50% of the population aren’t buying an RV they’re lucky to be able to buy a used RV to live in. No where in this country can you rent a one-bedroom apartment on a minimum wage job. And that’s just trying to rent the apartment let alone buy food and clothing. This country is no longer the land of equal opportunity we have all become serfs to the Lords & Ladies of the American aristocracy.


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