By Chuck Woodbury
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.
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.”