One million American “modern nomads” live in RVs

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    One million American "modern nomads" live in RVs
    Robert and Jessica Meinhofer and their two children in front of the RV. (Courtesy of the Meinhofer family).

    One million Americans live in their RVs, says The Washington Post in an article about the “modern nomads” published today. The Post profiles some of these nomads, and what motivations drove them to abandon their stick homes and become RV “fulltimers.”

    When Robert and Jessica Meinhofer told friends they were moving into an RV in 2015, most thought they were crazy.


    The questions poured in: How could they go from living in a 2,000-square-foot home to living in a 250-square-foot trailer? What would they do with their stuff? What would their children, ages 6 and 9, do for school? Was this a midlife crisis? The hardest people to convince were Jessica’s parents, who grew up in an impoverished Latino neighborhood in the Bronx and worked hard so their daughter could have a better life. They couldn’t understand why the couple wanted to live like migrant laborers.

    The Meinhofers are doing this by choice, not financial desperation. They are part of a movement of people ditching “sticks and bricks” homes that have long embodied the American Dream and embracing a life of travel, minimal belongings and working when they want.

    “We’re a family of four redefining what the American Dream means. It’s happiness, not a four-bedroom house with a two-car garage,” said Robert Meinhofer, who is 45.

    The Meinhofers and a dozen others who spoke with The Washington Post about this modern nomadic lifestyle said living in 200 to 400 square feet has improved their marriages and made them happier, even if they’re earning less. There’s no official term for this lifestyle, but most refer to themselves as “full-time RVers,” “digital nomads” or “workampers.”

    Most modern nomads need jobs to fund their travels. Jessica Meinhofer works remotely as a government contractor, simply logging in from the RV. Others pick up “gig work” cleaning campsites, harvesting on farms or in vineyards, or filling in as security guards. People learn about gigs by word of mouth, on Workamper News or Facebook groups like one for Workampers with more than 30,000 members. Big companies such as Amazon and J.C. Penney even have programs specifically recruiting RVers to help at warehouses during the peak holiday season.

    Read more.

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    Liz

    Many factors contributing. Spiraling house costs, heavy student education debt hindering house-buying, population pressures as the US fills up, slowdown in housing construction increases prices for available housing stock, growing mobility and internet-based employment, advances in technology freeing people from big cities or stationary abodes, climate disruption, floods, fires, and ‘the new WX normal’ which makes many formerly safe places (e.g. coastal cities, New England, SE/Texas, woodlands of CA/OR/WA) risky and unpredictable.
    Unfortunately, homeless is also skyrocketing, and many of these have latched onto castaway RVs which become city-based eyesores, drug-filled mobile shooting galleries, filled by denizens who follow no rules, dumping waste everywhere, ruining public perception of RVs and RVers.
    Campgrounds are caught between these two tidal waves of new and contradictory demands for their facilities — plus higher taxes, water, electric, septic fees with few ways to quickly accommodate them or meet tighter ordinances by encroaching stick-built neighbors wishing to eliminate “all those trailer people.” Made worse when CGs allow seasonals to move in and allow rigs to deteriorate. And indefensible when it is an encampment of drunk, drugged, crazed homeless.
    Despite the above, for responsible owners, RVs are an increasingly sensible “family security” option for unexpected evacuations (if notice adequate and RV kept at-the-ready), as a secondary abode if stick-built home loses power or area damaged, and also something one can use and enjoy every weekend, for extended vacations, or full-time.
    Crowding and growing weather unpredictability suggests demand for RVs as optional FT residences will increase and grow in acceptability but tightly regulated with more taxes and rules RVers enjoyed bypassing in years past. So there will be many gains as RV living and FTing is codified and accepted, but also losses in freedom, carefree nature, and cost-savings of the lifestyle.

    john a smith

    I wonder what the total of trailer trash is included in that its getting so some of the campgrounds look like trailer parks

    Sandy Frankus

    With houses selling in the 3 & 4 hundred thousand at least range and RVs with such nice living spaces plus the advantage of traveling it’s easy. The stress of house payments is crippling. Now the local hoity-toity HAVE to get on board and start planning