A couple of years ago, my wife and I decided that we were going to travel to the United States in a semi-retired state. We kicked out the kids (all over the age of 21), sold our home, and bought an RV. Well, live situations change and we didn’t hit the road, at least not yet. We ended up staying in the area and taking full-time jobs. But we decided at that point to stay in the RV as full-time workers.
The purpose of the article is to offer an idea of the possibilities of using RVs instead of apartments and the advantages of Rving. First, some background for those unfamiliar with recreational vehicle (RV) terms. Recreational vehicles are classified into several different categories.
Class A are the bus-type vehicles that you see traveling on the highway. These are also called motorhomes and for good reason. Class A’s are the cream of the crop, so to speak. They are the most expensive in terms of cost, but have the most storage and convenience. I’ve seen some really nice A-Class and when it comes time to upgrade or trade-in our current RV, we’ll be looking at A-Class again. However, my tastes start in the $ 250,000 range, which is a bit hard for me to justify.
Next are those of Class B, these are mini motorhomes. They are built on a light to medium truck chassis and can be identified by the appearance of the vehicle’s truck cab. In my opinion these won’t be suitable for full time use unless you really like small venues. Some newer B-classes include what are called slides, which are sections of the RV that ‘slide out’ from the body, giving you more room to live inside. Living space is what you will be looking for in the long run.
After Class B comes Fifth Wheels. Fifth wheels are trailers that are pulled by pickup trucks. So to get a fifth wheel, you will also need a truck of the right size. I imagine at least one ¾ your truck. Fifth wheels offer an advantage over Class A and Class B in that once you have the fifth wheel installed in a camp, the truck is detached and can be used as a means of transportation. With Class A and B RVs, you will need to tow or bring another vehicle to get around. Fifth wheels come close to the Class A RV in amenities and, in some cases, have more room. Dollar for dollar, you’ll get more living space in a fifth wheel than in a Class A.
However, you need an expensive towing vehicle (truck) that should be considered as part of the purchase. The fifth wheel is also part of a class considered ‘Towable’. The next ‘towable’ is the travel trailer (TT). These are similar to the fifth wheel except for the connections to the tow vehicle. With TT it connects to a hitch that is located near the bumper of the vehicle. So almost any vehicle has the ability to tow a TT depending on size and weight, of course. Class A, fifth wheels, and travel trailers are the top 3 RVs you will find people living full time in. After the TT comes the camper class. These are light RVs that aren’t really suitable for full time, however I have met people who work full time in pop-ups, motorhomes, and even tents. The top of the line for the class of motorhomes are probably truck motorhomes.
These are units that slide into the bed of a truck. Generally the maximum length is no more than 12 feet front to back and maybe 10 feet side to side. They are very compact. These offer the ultimate in freedom as they are quick to install and disassemble so you can move quickly from place to place. However, like classes A and B, your home is also your means of transportation, unless you bring another vehicle. The last group of towable trailers are pop-up or tent trailers. These have a study box frame and, as the name implies, they open or lift to raise the ceiling over the frame. This class of campers usually have soft sides made of fabric. I’ve used pop-ups for years as an alternative to hotels while on missions across the country. I even camped in the middle of winter with snow on the ground in a pop-up window. Needless to say, a heater was required and it ran all day and night. At night he couldn’t stand the cold, so the morning was a bit of fun getting out of bed. It was 20 degrees outside and about 50 inside.
That’s a basic overview of the types of RVs available. As mentioned above, Class A fifth wheel travel trailers are the units that most people will find suitable for full-time living.
Our experiences of living full time in an RV.
We currently have a fifth wheel. Ours is from Jayco and is 38 feet long with 3 slides. One slide is in the bedroom, the other two slides are in the living room, one on each side of the trailer. After almost 3 years in the RV as full-time workers, we both love it. My wife likes to say that it takes less than an hour to clean from front to back, from floor to ceiling.
Let’s start with the financial aspect of living in an RV. You have the cost of the RV. These should be treated like cars. If you buy new, you will take a beating in depreciation. However, just like a home, interest is tax deductible. So the best offer seems to be a unit that is one or two years old and financed. If you want to buy a new one, calculate a discount of approximately 25-30% of the list price. Our unit was a 2003 still on the lot in 2005 with the 2006 units delivered. The sticker price was over $ 65,000. We pay $ 40,000 saving about 38 percent. Now at the time we didn’t have a towing vehicle, so the dealer delivered the fifth wheel to a nearby campground.
Oak Grove in Hatfield, PA, is a year-round camp. This is important. You want to find a camp that offers year-round operations. You don’t want to have to move in the winter. Many camps are closed from November to March or early April. When we started there, the rent was $ 375 a month and it included water and electricity. Our only other expense was propane for heat and hot water. Oak Grove supplied 2 tanks of 100 pound propane and they automatically changed the tanks for us. This is really nice, like automatic oil delivery when you have a house. During the warmer months, we use almost no propane, maybe a bottle every two months if so. However, in winter we will use 3-4 bottles a month due to the heater. Currently, propane costs around $ 50 a bottle. So from the point of view of renting an apartment to living in a motor home, the expenses are usually cheaper. My daughter pays $ 750 a month for an apartment near us and we pay an average of $ 425-450.
Other benefits of living in an RV: the people! The people you meet in the camps are the most wonderful you have ever met. They are friendly, helpful, young at heart, and just plain personable. We have been avid campers since before we got married. I used to sneak out to DE, where my wife (my girlfriend at the time) and her family were camping and pitching a tent, then I became part of the family. In the nearly 40 years we’ve been together and camping, we’ve never met anyone who was rude, a thief, or unwilling to help out if asked. In fact, we have received more offers of help without asking than when we live in a house or apartment.
It’s funny, but when I was traveling and staying in hotels, you almost felt like a ghost or a leopard or something. God forbid if you said ‘hi’ to someone in the elevator or in the hallway. But when you camp, everyone says hello as you walk, some will offer you drinks or have you sit by the fire and chat for hours. It’s like we are all family.
Speaking of fires, what is a campfire about? Sitting around a nice fire at night is very relaxing. No need to say anything, just watch the flames and it seems like all the stress just floats away. But bonfires have another benefit, food. Nothing tastes better than food cooked over an open fire. Try doing that in an apartment.
Rving has another benefit, vacations. If you live in an apartment, your vacation consists of going to a destination, finding a hotel / motel, eating out at all meals, and wearing enough clothing for the duration of the vacation. When you live in a mobile home, your home is with you. 30-40 minutes to pack the RV, disconnect the utilities, and connect the truck and you’re on the road. When you arrive at your vacation destination, another 30-40 minutes and you are ready to enjoy the sites. Meals are not a problem, you have a full kitchen already stocked as at home, since it is your home. Do we have a special diet? No problem, your normal routine is uninterrupted. Clothes get dirty, many RVs come with washers and dryers so you can wash your clothes while relaxing at night or before you start your day. Rving is also usually cheaper. When you compare the expenses, you will find that the RV trip is much cheaper than the trip to the hotel / restaurant.
These are just a few of the things to consider when looking at apartment living in an RV. I hope the information has been useful to you.