Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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Why many more Americans will choose RVs as their homes

By Chuck Woodbury
PUBLISHER

I

am starting to wonder if the next “big thing” for countless millions of Americans is to buy an RV to live in rather than live in a sticks-and-bricks home—the kind with a permanent foundation, that cannot be moved—which is what most people live in today. The same applies to residents in other areas prone to natural disasters—floods, tornadoes, hurricanes…

Here’s why I’m thinking this.

In the past few weeks:

News stories discussed a new program in California that helps homeowners in fire-prone areas afford homeowners insurance. Apparently, premiums in some areas have tripled or the insurance has been canceled altogether—the fire risk is too high. Some residents can no longer afford to stay.

So why not just buy an RV? That’s my question.

Face it, today’s larger rigs are as comfortable as most homes. When a fire or other disaster threatens, head outta town. Marcus Lemonis, Camping World’s celebrity CEO, will sell anyone with some level of creditworthiness a cheap RV with low 20-year payments. Buy it, drive it away—home sweet (affordable) mobile home. Hey, if your finances get really bad, default on your payment. Ya think the Repo Man will find you?

Soaring apartment rents

Another news story discussed soaring apartment rents around the country. Associated Press reported that in the 50 largest U.S. metro areas, median rent rose an astounding 19.3% from December 2020 to December 2021, according to a Realtor.com analysis of properties with two or fewer bedrooms. In Miami, the median rent exploded to $2,850, 49.8% higher than the previous year. How can people just getting by afford that?

High home prices

Yet another story discussed the incredible increase in home prices. A new housing development about two miles from me—about eight homes on postage-stamp-sized lots—is advertising price tags “starting at $2 million.” Just a month ago, the sign at the entrance said “starting at $1.6 million.” When the project was announced a year ago, prices started at $1.3 million. I’ll bet three years ago similar homes would have gone for half of that. If you don’t own a home now in the Seattle area, you’ll pay through the nose to get one (after a bidding war that will send the price soaring). And it’s the same all over the country, at least in the big cities.

Could you live in this? Most people, we believe, would answer “yes.”

RVs: Everything you need in a home

My daughter, Emily—the editor of this newsletter—attended the recent Seattle RV Show. “Everyone was gathered around the Class B motorhomes and vans,” she told me. That makes sense, we discussed, with the high interest among Millennials and younger folks in stealth camping, boondocking and “overlanding.” Emily said she was struck at how livable the big fifth wheels were. “They have everything you’d find in a nice home,” she said, mentioning recessed lighting, big-screen TVs, heated floors, washers and dryers, and wine coolers!

And then there’s street camping

And then there are the unfortunate people who are among the poorest of us, who can’t begin to buy an inexpensive home or even pay modest rent: They’ll scrape together $500 to buy a junker RV they can park on a street or in a city-sanctioned “Hooverville” where they can squat for months on end, sometimes, alas, in squalor. If I were one of them, I’d praise the Lord for a roof over my head—a whole lot better than sleeping in a tent on a city street.

In 1900, at the turn of the 20th century, 40 percent of the U.S. population lived in an urban area, while 60 percent lived in a rural area. By 1990, only 25 percent remained in a rural area with 75 percent living in the big city. If more and more of us start moving about in “mobile homes” instead of staying put in a city or the country, will the Census Bureau need a new category called “Both”? Don’t laugh: There are a lot of folks out there right now (we know them as full-timers), who can live in the boonies one day, and in a big city the next.

What do you think? Please leave a comment. Be civil, please.

Why RVtravel.com exists and where you fit in: “RVs don’t break down. RV roofs do not leak.”

##RVT1042

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John Baggett
3 months ago

My wife and I purchased a RV in 2010 and while we have upgraded to a nicer one we have never ever looked back to buying another house. Once our kids left to either get married or go to college we no longer saw a need to keep our house. Our RV is a 40 footer with 3 sliders and is plenty of room for my wife and I. We love RV living because it offers freedom to move to another state or neighborhood if you need to. No more houses for us.

LMH
4 months ago

I consider what I live in as a mobile apartment. I do not consider myself to be an “RVer” or a “camper”. Most of the folks in the park I live in think the same way. We live for months or years in a park/campground holding down a “regular” job. My last job was as a cashier. Prior to that I worked for Home Depot. My daughter is a supervisor at a local store and has been for 3 years. For me, like many others, “RV” does not mean “recreational vehicle”, it means “RESIDENTIAL vehicle”.

Walter Ross
5 months ago

I bought a RV 2 years ago, just for that very reason. It keeps me from being homeless, I own my home but with the rising utilities cost compounded with rising cost of property taxes. These at home cost are around a $1000 dollars a month. And I don’t even have a mortgage. I can see why people are switching to RV living as I will in two years when I retire. The cost to own a home or pay rent superceded the average American citizens ability to sustain. The American dream has changed to just surviving. So sad.

Beth
6 months ago

To suggest anyone default on payments and commitment is shameful. People that default cause prices to rise for the next honest buyer so dealer can make up the loss. Cannot believe you wrote that.

Joe
6 months ago
Reply to  Beth

I agree with Beth. Let’s keep our conversations “above board”. RVers already take a lot of negative criticism from their families and so-called “friends”. Imagine if we started reading that RVers default on RV payments. I know you meant well and you are forgiven.

LANCE P
6 months ago

My wife and I have been full-timers for almost 9 years. We love it! It’s simple, cheap, low maintenance and very flexible. We have no desire to go back to a stick built home.
We live in a Northpoint by Jayco. It’s about a 45 foot long 5th wheel with 4 slides. We started in a cheap 32 footer with 3 slides we purchased used for $16k. We loved that also!

Julie Cox
6 months ago

We see this happening more and more. I run an RV Dealership. Interesting change over the last couple years. We don’t see it changing back. There are certainly still plenty of weekend campers with expendable income buying and financing RV’s but the full-time living RV buyer is growing.

Jim
6 months ago

We sold our house April 21 of 2021 for 40k over asking. Got into being full time rving and haven’t looked back at housing or seeing about getting a apartment. We enjoy the more freedom of an rv. We have an 42′ 5th wheel with 4 slides, 2 bedroom, kitchen island, washer and dryer.

Torrey
6 months ago

I’m disabled. I lived in Nashville TN renting house until the city decided to “add density”. So I bought a nice travel trailer and suv right before 2020 covid19 summer travelers turned to rvs. Right in time to find a good long term camp ground. The rent here has gone up 2 hundred dollars. I’m looking for a new Campground before the next rent rise prices me out. I love the community I have found on the campgrounds and I love the minimal lifestyle. I’m being forced by my caregivers to apply for low income housing which two is extremely sparse and the very last thing I ever wanted. I do have a good support system but for those who don’t well it’s got to be horrible.

Joe
6 months ago
Reply to  Torrey

Torrey, if you like Arizona weather, there is a place called Caballo Loco Ranch & RV Park, outside Tucson, Arizona. The rent is about $1,000 a year for dry docking, NO KIDDING, and for electricity, sewer, and water it’s about $500 a month, or less. This area would be perfect for a retired veteran since the big base Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is just 45 miles north of this place. I was stationed there many moons ago and I still like the weather there (instead of Florida) and the surrounding areas! It’s on Youtube.

Uncle Swags
6 months ago

De-urbanization – a good start to living like civilized humans again.

Joe
6 months ago
Reply to  Uncle Swags

I agree!

Kris Campbell
6 months ago

I think the price of renting an apartment and the price of buying a home, those prices have become outlandish, ridiculous, incredibly expensive. I think it is terrible. So, yes, I do see an increase in RV living as an alternative to those high prices. From squatters in cheap old RV’s to ultra high end RV’s, it seems like the popularity of RV’s will increase. I think it is incredibly sad, the high expense of housing.

Ginger
6 months ago

I spent several months in Quartzsite in my car, camping. I met a number of people in vans, RVs, and cars. Yes the nomad life is appealing to many more. I am back home to sell my house and buy a van. I don’t want to use over half of my income for house payment and bills. It is pricey to be on the road (gas, fast food, incidentals) but not as bad as house payments. And how much do I need? I have 1000 sq feet, a garage and a big yard. It’s just me and my Yorkie. We don’t use most of that. In my van I can carry my 12v fridge, my porta-potty, my butane stove. My recliner (where I sit and sleep even at home). A duffel vag of clothes. My computer. How much do I really need? Not much.

Joe
6 months ago
Reply to  Ginger

Ginger, you are 100% Correct. Too many people continue to chase “the American dream” which is just really a cover-up for, “how much money can owners of properties get away with!” No thanks! I will be joining the RVers group pretty soon. I hope it’s sooner rather than later. There are just so many beautiful places to see in this country. Most people that are tied to their “careers” will work until they die and miss out.

Libby
6 months ago

We are newbies with two residents in SC & FL, still not ready to completely downsize. The plan was to downsize and immediately move to FL. Not quite ready to give up our hone of 24 years, even though we are empty nesters. Our RV experience helps to feel comfortable about where we want to end up.

Sherry
6 months ago

I have lived in my 2005 33.5 ft Keystone Montana g(with 2 pull outs) going on 3 years now. I LOVE IT! Last year I decided to upgrade and remodel it to be more bright, open and feminine. It took me four months but the results are amazing. I’m single and have a large dog. It is perfect for the 2 of us. I live in a nice mobile home park that accepts RV s. My two neighbors beside me also have campers. I originally wanted to build a tiny house but then thought, why? It was a lot less expensive to buy a camper that has plenty of storage space.

Ginger
6 months ago
Reply to  Sherry

I lived in a park model home in an RV park. 380 sq ft. It was plenty. I like your idea!

Harley Gramma
6 months ago
Reply to  Sherry

Sherry, Please share photos of your upgrades!

Elizabeth
6 months ago
Reply to  Sherry

I’m so encouraged to hear about your experience. Property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities and HOA’s are my reasons for looking into living in an RV with my small dog. I’m in my 60’s and the last thing I want to do is leave my kids with a house to have to clear out and sell when I’ve passed away. I haven’t been able to find the right model but am looking for something similar to yours. Thank you for your comment!

Patriotic Gigi
6 months ago

I have questions. I am now doing the mobile home and gave up the brick house. Currently we are renting land from someone local. Are there any groups or websites of people who are renting land with hook ups to people like us? I would like to find out how to get in that network. Do you have any websites of groups who do this? Thanks in advance for your help.

Michael
6 months ago

I have chose this route! No regrets at all. It’s been 5 years now. The down sizing was the biggest surprise as I live more efficiently.

JAMES
6 months ago

This is what happens when we depend on foreign oil instead of our own oil.

Me too
6 months ago

Almost every neighbor in my area owns a mobile home. I would love to have a mobile home. I’d leave my house in a second if I could live in a mobile home! No rent, go wherever you want, and have a roof,and a door, and a bathroom!?! Sounds like home.

Sam Crabtree
6 months ago
Reply to  Me too

Me Too – Please do a little research. A mobile home and a trailer are two different beasts. A mobile home is a housing structure that may or may not be permanently on wheels and usually it takes a large truck, like the big diesel trucks you see on the highways, to move it. A trailer is something that can be moved by a SUV or pickup.

LMH
4 months ago
Reply to  Sam Crabtree

I think “Me Too” means a mobile home in the sense that it is a home… that is mobile.

Sondra Avellino
6 months ago

We have a fifth wheel. It’s nice to know we could pick up and leave when and if we want or HAVE TO. All the comforts of home. The problem right now is the cost of fuel. Yikes!

Libby
6 months ago

Which we should be happy that we are not in the Ukraine. We owe them a sacrifice, as we would hope they would do for us!

Lola Harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Libby

Why do we owe Ukraine a sacrifice?

Judith
6 months ago

It’s a huge housing nightmare for the average family. I completely understand why a home on wheels is appealing to more people. Another financial storm ahead is how busy the roads are going to get as more people can’t pay the insane rent and mortgage fees.

Judith
6 months ago
Reply to  Judith

As an idea for people who may need the information: Incredible Tiny Homes, Newport TN are built to last and priced well.

Ginger
6 months ago
Reply to  Judith

Great company. Nice, affordable small homes. They have some fir $25K!

Michele
6 months ago

If homeowners could make available places for you to park on their property and maybe offer electric and water for a lot cheaper than an RV park would people be interested in this?

Vesta
6 months ago
Reply to  Michele

Yes! I’m moving to San Diego next month and the house I’m trying to buy is $830k and the appraiser didn’t find it valued that high. My 2015 Landmark 42ft RV is $1300/mo rent in a decent park, but due to size, there’s no available space for longer than a 3 month stay. The housing market is a mess!!! I’ve looked for homeowners offering what you’re suggesting, but haven’t found one yet.

Rhalene DeGraff
6 months ago
Reply to  Vesta

Now that’s something we could have done when we owned our home as we had a setup for our RV but to rent and have someone living in an RV on your property was illegal. That’s in the city of Santee, outskirts of San Diego