By Chuck Woodbury
In 1790, only about one out of 20 Americans lived in urban areas. The ratio had dramatically changed to one out of four by 1870, one out of two by 1920, two out of three in the 1960s, and four out of five in the 2000s.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association predicted this past week that 600,000 RVs will be shipped to dealers in 2022. If you combine that figure with those of the past three years, it adds up to more than 2 million RVs on the road that were not there before. And if you look at the number of large, comfortable RVs being sold, it prompts the thought: “How many of these RVs will people live in full-time?”
Remote work is more common today than ever before. Living in one town, even one country, is not necessary. Countries around the world are offering incentives for road warriors to move there. At least 45 communities are currently offering incentives to attract remote workers, some upwards of $20,000, according to USA Today.
Heaven knows, the RV industry is promoting the idea of working remotely, suggesting an RV is one great way to do it.
I believe in the next ten years we will see a significant shift in how we live. We will not long define where we live as urban and rural. It will be urban, rural and mobile.
Retires will sell their homes to live in a comfy RV. Remote workers will buy RVs to work from anywhere. Work campers will find more and more temporary jobs to help fund their mobile lives. People displaced by wildfires, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes will choose to move to a home that can move when disaster threatens. “No way am I rebuilding when the next wildfire could just burn it up again,” they will say. The fact that their fire or flood insurance jumped five-fold is definitely a downer, too.
Poor people will discover that living on the street or in a cheap RV park in a $500 junker RV is a lot more appealing than living in a tent by the side of a freeway. The number of these RVers will jump significantly very soon among the millions of people being evicted from their apartments and rental homes. Buying a home for these people is out of the question; even putting together a last-month and security deposit for a cheap apartment is impossible. At least a junker RV has a roof and a bed, and offers some privacy. An “RV rancher” will rent down-and-out folks such an RV for $100 a month, and offer to move it if the cops order them to leave.
When I started this newsletter 20 years ago, “RVing” was almost synonymous with “camping.” Very few people lived in RVs year-round back then.
Now, go to any RV show and check out a few 40-foot fifth wheels, trailers or motorhomes. I have stood in such RVs at big shows and observed those who entered after me. I can’t tell you how many times I heard one of them say, “I could live in this.”
The move to mobility from stability has begun. It’s hard to see because the change happens day by day. But it is happening and, one day, living on wheels will be considered a very normal thing to do.