So, you’re retiring soon, and you’re thinking about selling all your worldly goods and hitting the road in a recreational vehicle! You’re going to see the country! Think of the small towns, the antique shopping, the landmarks to visit, and the local festivals. Plus, you can visit with the grand kids any time you want, and you can even take them on short trips with you. It’s going to be amazing, right? But hold your horses for a second here. It’s best to do some research on senior RV living before you jump in with both feet.
I have done some research on RV living, because that’s one of the things I want to do in retirement. Also, I have lived for a time in an RV, and I think my experience can help others. I will share with you below what I have found.
Why Do Seniors Want to Live in an RV?
“The best estimates say 750,000 to one million retirees call RVs home, according to Kevin Broom, director of media relations for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.” From The New York Times
Why? There are hundreds of reasons for and against taking on the RV lifestyle. Here are a few pros:
Travel: Seniors were asked to list the things they wanted to do in retirement. “For nearly 95 percent of baby boomers, the number one thing on that list is travel.” From Senior Living. If you have spent 35 to 45 years cooped up in an office, or out in the weather, or basically planted in the same surroundings day after day, it stands to reason that you would want to get out and SEE things. Check out different environments. Find a warmer (or colder) climate.
Freedom: For the same reasons people want to travel, they want the freedom of RV living. My husband and I always talk about how we would go to an area that appeals to us, Google everything there is to do in that area, and once we have seen and done everything there, hitch up and move to the next appealing site.
Time: We wouldn’t be under any time constraints. If we wanted to rest, or run errands, or the weather wasn’t cooperating, we could always wait another day. As poor working stiffs, when we took vacations, we were always limited to a week or two. They were always whirlwind tours, trying to see everything, and having to skip some things because we didn’t have time. We are looking forward to hitting the road in our RV, so we can see everything at our own pace.
Flexibility: Living in an RV, you can pull up stakes in a matter of minutes and be on the road. If your family needs you at home, or you have other issues that could call you away from your trip, or even if you come across a new opportunity, you can head out and have your whole household there in a matter of days. If you decide you need to find work, at the drop of a hat, you can go where the jobs are.
Continuity: You wouldn’t think there would be any continuity while RV traveling. But think about it. Every night, you sleep in the same bed. You have your own bathroom. These are all things I think about when I travel. I want to get home to my own bed more than anything. In RV travel, you have your own bed every night, no matter where you go.
Adaptability: You can either live full time in your RV, spend parts of the year in the RV and parts at home, or you can just go on a lot of long vacations in your RV. It’s up to you how long you want to travel or stay in one place.
Special Diets: When you live in an RV, you cook in the same kitchen, where you always have your favorite drinks and snacks and meals. Finding restaurants that serve special meals is getting a little easier these days, but it’s still hard to find healthy food, let alone special food, when you are traveling. In RV travel, you pull your kitchen right up to the grocery store, and stock all your ingredients, so you are ready to cook a healthy meal anytime you want it.
Pets: Your furry friends can go with you. You don’t have to kennel your dog or get a house sitter for your cat. There are thousands of RV parks that welcome pets, and provide pet areas. There is nothing more fun that hitting the road with your best friend along for the ride.
It can be less expensive to live in an RV: If you go whole hog, and sell your permanent residence to live in an RV, it can be less expensive. No property tax or property insurance. Repairs are more expensive in a home, rather than an RV. No utility bills. You save money by cooking most of your meals. There are plenty of free places to park your RV, if you are set up to live off the grid. And, if you are a senior citizen, you can take advantage of thousands of senior discounts at RV parks and resorts across the country. Belonging to a club, such as Good Sam or AARP can get you some pretty nice discounts as well.
The Cons You Should Consider
Medical Emergencies: If you have medical issues, dealing with them while living in an RV can be quite inconvenient. You can buy RVs that are ADA compliant if you are already disabled before hitting the road. But if you develop a health issue while you’re on the road, that’s where it can be troublesome. There’s a lot of climbing. Some RVs have beds that you need to climb up into, and climb down out of. Also, entryways can be a steep set of stairs, and can be narrow. If you need help going to the bathroom, you’re sunk, because RV bathrooms tend to be tiny, and won’t accommodate you and your helper. Also you should consider that the RV might have to be moved while you’re sick, and you may need to find someone to help you move it, far away from your home and friends/family. So be prepared for this contingency if you want to live in your RV.
Repairs: If your RV breaks down, you are going to have to get it fixed or fix it yourself. Fixing your own RV is great, but hard to do if you are stuck along the side the road. Unfortunately there are plenty of crooked repair outfits that will charge you an arm and leg, just because they can. The nice thing is, though, you likely have your smart phone, and can Google a good repair garage near you that won’t rip you off. Towing an RV with a tow truck is much more expensive than towing a car, because they are generally bigger and heavier than a car. If you are lucky, you have towing insurance, but if you don’t, that cost is on you.
Fuel Costs: RVs are notorious gas guzzlers. They are big and heavy, and need big engines to move all that weight. You must budget fuel costs into your retirement budget if you plan on moving around a lot in your RV. Be sure to check your accounts regularly to make sure you have enough money for gas to get home if something goes wrong. Also, club memberships can save you a lot on fuel. We belong to a nationwide grocery chain that gives discounts on gasoline when we purchase groceries and prescriptions and gift cards.
Laundromats: This will seem like a trivial concern but it can be a big deal too. Some RVs can be set up with washers and dryers, and there’s even an appliance available now that washes AND dries, saving space, which is ideal for RVs and tiny houses. But I didn’t have a washer. When I lived in our 5th Wheel RV, I had to go to the public laundromat. It wasn’t’t bad if I went during off-peak times. But during hunting season, the laundromat was jam packed all the time, and people were washing God-knows-what in the washers. If you could get in, and get a washer to use, it was often really dirty and smelly, to the point of being nauseating. The next closest laundromat was 60 miles away, so there was really no alternative. Perhaps the best way to reduce this concern is to wash things by hand if you can. RV suppliers also have available manually operated clothes washers that might work, and you can hang your stuff to dry. It would be super small loads though, so you must plan accordingly.
Far from Family and Friends: Stuff happens in life. There can be the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or any number of accidents that can befall a person. If you are traveling out in your RV, and stuff happens, you are far from your home community, far from your family, and far from people you know. You don’t have your usual coffee shop or cafe. You don’t have your favorite grocery store or hardware store. You don’t have your own doctor or dentist. It can get tough, and you might get homesick. However, with the technology we have today, and airplanes flying all over, you can talk to, or be with your familiar people and surroundings in a matter of a few minutes.
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Concluding With My Advice
Living in an RV can be a blessing or a curse, depending on a lot of factors. Be sure you are ready to live with the good and the bad. My advice is to rent an RV for a couple weeks, and live in it exclusively. Take it out on the road to get a feel for how it drives, and how much your fuel will cost. Cook meals in it. Wash clothes in it. For sure, spend a rainy day in it. If you love that couple of weeks, chances are that you might like living full time in an RV.
Please put your comments and questions below, and thank you so much for reading!