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Things to Consider if You’re Planning to Retire in an RV

Things to Consider if You’re Planning to Retire in an RV

February 13, 2020

Do you dream of retirement and the days when you can relax and travel? You’ve worked the majority of your life, maybe raised a family, and your desire of travel and seeing the sites got lost in life’s shuffle. Well, retirement typically means it’s time to live your dream! There are many ways to reach destinations you’d like to see. But, if you have a quite a bit of wanderlust and don’t feel the need to be tied to a home, you might consider planning to retire in an RV.

According to the RV Industry Association, over a million people in the United States live full-time in an RV. Keep in mind that the term “RV” covers everything from trailers and pop-up campers to 5th wheels and motorhomes. We bet you probably don’t envision your golden years in a pop-up camper even though it’s the least expensive option. But, even if you think you want to retire in a more stylish and accommodating motorhome, there are things you must consider first.

Perks of Planning to Retire in an RV

One of the main reasons people decide to retire in an RV is that’s it’s an easy way to travel. A motorhome is completely mobile and allows you to pick up stakes at a moment’s notice to travel to another sight to see. You can visit our country’s national parks, historic sites, vacation destinations, and even enjoy many off-beaten paths. From east to west and north and south, life in an RV means you can travel in the comfort of your own home and never have to unpack! You can visit family and friends without having to displace children from their rooms or rent a hotel.

You’re not tied to one area for any longer than you want to be. There is no yard to tend to or flowers to water. No real estate property tax to pay. You’re able to freely travel destinations you’ve always wanted to see.

For many people, this is the perfect lifestyle. It suits their needs, strengthens their relationships, and allows the kind of nomadic roaming that some enjoy. However, before you make the decision to sell everything you own and downsize into an RV in retirement, explore the cons so you’re fully prepared.

Living in an RV Full Time Isn’t for Everyone

Are you a person who craves structure, stability, and space? Do you have to be in control at all times? How about having friends over for a dinner party? If this describes you, living in an RV probably isn’t going to fulfill your retirement dream. As you can imagine, life on the road can be unpredictable. And tiny spaces with your significant other 24/7 limit your time for privacy as well as your ability to entertain. 

The value depreciates just like a car.

New RVs are priced anywhere from $60,000 - $600,000. Unlike a traditional home that can appreciate over time, RVs lose their value as soon as you drive them off the lot. Of course, used RVs are available. They can be less expensive, for sure. However, you may need to repair and update things to suit your design tastes and physical needs. 

Where are you going to park?

Motorhomes and 5th wheels aren’t small. So, if you don’t have reservations at a campground, parking on the road can challenging, to say the least. Especially if you plan to park overnight. Places like Walmart offer RV friendly and free overnight parking. But, what if the town you decide to stop in doesn’t have a Walmart or a campground? Additionally, you’ll need to map out places where you can dump your sewage tank as needed (and yes, you have to do this yourself!).

Also, once you reach a destination, how will you scoot around town? You’ll need a separate, more practical vehicle to run around in unless you want to rent a car. You can tow your car behind your motorhome for the convenience. If you choose a 5th wheel trailer instead, the truck you pull it with can be used for this purpose.  

You’ll still have expenses!

And, here are a just a few:

  • On the road expenses: such as gas, campground fees, maintenance, etc.
  • Insurance costs for vehicles. This includes but is not limited to general liability, total loss replacement, replacement for personal items, and vacation/campsite liability. If you tow a car or use tow a 5th wheel behind a truck, you’ll have insurance expenses for that vehicle, too.
  • Routine maintenance. Just as a house needs routine maintenance, so does any RV. You’ll have electric wiring, a generator, multiple water tanks, and other things to deal with, not to mention the maintenance under the hood.
  • Towing if you break down or have an accident. Yeah, these things don’t fit on the average tow truck so this can be expensive.

Figuring out health care on the road is a must.

Many people forget to consider policies that limit you to a certain area. You need to budget for costly out-of-network expenses. Even parts of Medicare can be limiting depending on the plan.

And, where will your mail go? Check with your insurance companies, both auto and health to see what their requirements are for your physical address. Health insurers can be particular about this. So, perform due diligence before moving forward.

Your Takeaway

Take your time, and don’t rush into this decision. Today, it’s much easier to find information about living in RVs full time than it used to be. Check out RV blogs such as RVshare and other publications by the industry. Think about renting an RV to see if it’s your thing before you take the big step of selling your home. But, also, don’t overthink, either. If you can relax and go with the flow, planning to retire in an RV may just be the adventure of your lifetime!