I guess I did enough research about other full-timer's experiences and what exactly I would need to do money-wise to support the lifestyle before I hit the road, that it really has been pretty close to what I expected it to be. There have been a couple surprises of course, but I kinda figured that would happen too.
The first six months were the hardest as I adjusted to being comfortable with myself and the vastly different social scene and how 'working' works when you travel (I'm young, and not independently wealthy so I still need to earn my living). The small living quarters and less "stuff" didn't bother me a bit, I never was big on Stuff anyway and only used a fraction of my shared apartment when I was living stationary.
The second six months were enlightening and quite frankly a blast. Now I'm heading into my second year and stoked for what the future might hold on the open road. :)
This is such a tough question, because everyone's ideal full-timing lifestyle looks different and no two people go about it the same way or have the same needs regarding it.
I'm young, single, and have had wanderlust from a young age. I bought my RV with the goal to be living in it in less than a month having never RVed before in my life. I made the switch to full-timing over a year ago now, and love it a lot more than my old lifestyle. :)
I think the biggest key is to accept that unless you're wealthy or retired and receiving a good pension, it can't be like an endless vacation or you won't be able to afford it for long. Also it's not all butterflies and roses: RVs are complicated and things will break on them. Frequently. Your well thought out plans will get thrown to the wind occasionally by forces out of your control (congress, I'm looking at you!). Bad days still happen, just like in real life. In fact it is just another real life, just a different kind of one.
I have a 14 year old travel trailer with the original water heater and sometimes it makes loud popping noises after it's been running for a while and the flame gets irregular. It doesn't happen when lighting, it happens after it's been running a bit. It's enough to keep me from using the thing - I've done all my showering in the facilities of the campground I'm staying at so far (and I've been a full-timer for over a year, so that's a lot of showers ;) but eventually I'd love to do some boondocking and I need a working water heater so I can shower to do that. Very little technical know-how here, so I'll have to take it in somewhere to get looked at eventually - I can only hope that when I do someone who knows what they're doing will look at it.
I'm pre-retirement age (waaay pre-retirement age) and like many I used ehealthinsurance.com to find a high deductible policy, mine is $5000 so I have an emergency fund set aside with that much in it, just in case. I am healthy and not on any medications. It'll be interesting to see how options have changed when my renewal comes up next year but I'm not going to be stalking the new sites until then. What I have now works.
I didn't realize you were getting off the seas and back on the road full-time. If we ever happen to be in the same area at the same time we really should try to meet up - how I'd love to meet two of my original RV heroes. :)
While I certainly had my ups and downs preparing to go full-timing (although excellent advice from people who were already on the road like you sure helped!) downsizing was much less of a hassle for me than it was for a lot of folks because I'd lived in apartments all my adult life and never accumulated as much "stuff".
Having been on the road as a full-timer for a year now, I think I can safely say that I don't miss all of the things I use to have. Like others have said, the things that really meant a lot to me I sort of 'loaned out' to friends and relatives with the understanding that if I ever get off the road I might want them back. Everything I own fits into my 17' travel trailer, and it feels great!
I woke up this morning to mooing and watched the sun come up over the badlands in a clear blue sky with the cows from the field behind the Inn. Sometimes it still amazes me: I'm working at Badlands National Park. I was near Savannah, GA on the ocean this past winter, this coming winter I'll be in either Texas or Florida. Man, I love my life!
My first summer living in my RV was in South Carolina. I got bit by spiders inside my RV twice (one bite turned black and purple like a bad bruise, was kinda scary), and also had several fire ant colonies in my site and got bit by those multiple times (red swollen pustules, still have some scars). Do the sensible thing and if your going to camp in the southeast for any length of time, do so in the winter when colder temperatures hold the multitudes of insects in check. :P
On the other hand, when I first arrived at Badlands National Park this spring a herd of mule deer would frequently travel through the campground, they'd get quite close and it was neat. When I was at Mt. Rushmore two days ago a mountain goat was mowing down grass not 15 feet from the trail, also cool. I also got to see a coyote driving home from my work camping job one night, waiting to cross the road.
I have insurance with Blue Sky, but I found them through Poliseek which works with a bunch of different insurers. Haven't had a claim yet but the prices were good and the policy is a true full-timers one.
Well, I have a high deductible policy that just covers emergencies and is more cost effective than full coverage. But now I see that you need the full coverage I guess that won't help you much. It seems like affordable health care is one of the biggest hurdles keeping folks from getting on the road. My best friend would have loved to have gone full-timing with me, but due to pre-existing medical conditions she simply couldn't afford to.
I'm currently working for Forever Resorts, which holds the contract for Badlands National Park.
Pay is minimal, but my RV site is only $2 a night with utilities and the meal program at $35 a week is cheaper than me cooking for myself. After living expenses I have managed to save about 100-150 a month working here which since I'm not retired and getting money from SS or a pension isn't bad - a lot better than holding a retail job at a 'normal' company. With these kind of jobs it's definitely the location more than the pay which is considered the biggest draw.
I work 40 hours a week and enjoy spending my weekends exploring the Badlands and the nearby Black Hills area. As already stated, how much you like the job depends a lot on who you're working with and for - and how easily you can forgive the small annoyances that pop up working at any kind of job.
Coolworks.com is where I go to find these kind of gigs. I've written a more extensive review of this place and more about working at National Parks for both concessionaire companies and with the NPS (much harder to get into) at the site in my signature, which I probably can't link to directly on here or I'll get in trouble for advertising. :P
I worked at the Coffeyville location last season and will be going back this October.
As Jim & Betty said, Big Chief is right across the road and within walking distance (that's where I stayed last season and where I'll be again) - although once it starts getting colder later in the season it won't exactly be a pleasant walk.
Yes, you do need to pay state income tax. When you get your forms in January, you can file in Kansas as a non-resident and get some back (for me it was $83 dollars), but you do still need to pay some. Considering the rate of pay and the fact that Amazon pays for site + utilities, it's still a great deal money-wise. I've done a pretty extensive review about Amazon, it can be found in the site in my link.
I'm going to be adopting a cat to travel with me once I'm more secure in my financial ability to do so. I've already lived in my RV with my best friend and her cat for about 3 months last year although we weren't doing any traveling at that time.
As a certified Veterinary Technician with experience working in a vet clinic, I'd be real nervous about letting a cat ride in a TT while in motion. If you were to have to step on the breaks suddenly and the pet isn't secured in a carrier the poor thing could go flying and get hurt. Likewise, there's not a good way to keep a TT climate controlled while driving, it could get real hot inside in the summer with the sun beating down on the TT, and you can't really keep a window open without road debris getting inside.
Just my two cents.
Hello, and welcome. :)
A lot of people recommend the RV Consumer Group (http://www.rv.org/index.html) for non-partisan ratings of various RV models. It does cost money to join, but from everything I've heard they really do keep the ratings independent and fair. I'm sure others who've used it will be speaking up on it's behalf soon enough.
What I personally did when I was hunting around for my rig was locate online clubs for that particular kind of RV (Casita) and read through their forums to see what people who already had one thought of it, what kind of problems were likely to crop up, etc. Overall, the results were positive, so I felt confident when I made my purchase that I was going to get a decent rig, and from reading about them online from other owners I knew what to look for in a good one when I was doing my shopping.
Whatever you decide on, good luck!
I'm a full-timer work camping in Badlands National Park this summer, and I game.
I've played and enjoyed several card and board games, Munchkin is very amusing. I've done some 4e D&D but have generally gotten help from more experienced players for character creation. I also MMO, but I do GW2.
I won't be making it to the West coast this year, but if you happen to swing out this way maybe we could set something up. Otherwise there's always next year. :)
Everyone has said this before, but I'm going to say it again because it's very true: no one can give you an accurate dollar amount because no one else is you.
Generally, if you don't change your spending habits you'll probably find that it costs you the same to RV as it does to stay still, unless your taking on a loan for your RV, or getting rid of one by selling a house, etc. Instead of rent/property taxes you're paying for RV sites/fuel to travel. Food will be about the same, entertainment costs will be about the same (as long as you don't treat it like a perpetual vacation - if you do that it'll be more!). It'll also cost money to maintain your RV, it's a house on wheels that undergoes earthquake like forces every time you move it - things break down faster than on a regular house.
I'm a young solo full-timer in a 17' molded fiberglass trailer. I have no debt whatsoever, and I live modestly. I've had months where I spent under $700 (work camping where site and utilities were paid for, didn't fill up gas tank the whole month, didn't spend a single dollar on entertainment, didn't have any maintenance issues crop up), and months where I spent over $1,600 (lots of traveling, going out to eat more, spending money to see the sights, going to the dentist, etc).
Also as others have said, things cost more in Canada than they do here, the dollar is weaker than their currency, so keep that in mind. I also second having an emergency fund, because RVs are complex and at some point something will go wrong, it's inevitable.
Whatever you decide, good luck!
As others have already stated, several of the smaller 'molded fiberglass' trailers have a GVWR of 3,500. I have a 17' Casita Spirit Deluxe at that weight, but I tow it with a Dodge Dakota that has a tow rating of 6,500. Most will say that you want the max trailer weight to be 80% of the vehicle's tow rating because you'll be putting stuff in the tow vehicle too.
My Casita works very well for me as a solo full-timer, but it all comes down to what you two are comfortable with.
Had about 4 inches last week here in Badlands National Park, least it melted pretty fast. Highs in the 70's the last couple days, but then later this week the weatherman is saying lows below freezing again and a chance for more snow.
I've come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as spring weather. During the period of time known as 'spring' a coin gets flipped every day. Heads, it's winter. Tails, its's summer. :P
KC and Wendy, I'm working at Cedar Pass Lodge in Badlands National Park through the summer. I've been here a week already and am loving it so far. If you're in Wall KC we're less than an hour from each other. :)
From what I've seen and heard it does sound like parks in the east charge more than the west, I had an RVing friend from Texas drive out east up into New England and she couldn't believe how much more everything cost. I'm a full-timer but I've spent a lot of time in SC recently and prices here compared to when I went up to South Dakota were more expensive.
As others have said, state parks and state forests (and national forests) tend to be cheaper, chains and resorts cost more. I tend to balance time spent in a full hookup park with nights in Walmart and at truck stops for free to keep expenses under control since I'm on a budget. I can't wait to really get out west and experience some of that fabled cheaper camping I've been hearing about. ;) Looks like it'll be this summer!
I think you are very wise to not take on debt to buy your TT. Like you I saved up until I could afford to buy mine outright and it's such a relief to not have to worry about balancing monthly payments along with everything else.
That being said, mine was only $8,995 and is a '99 17' molded fiberglass trailer. Most people wouldn't touch a TT that old, but since these things have no seams they hold up a lot better than standard built trailers.
I bought it last March, moved into it in April, and started traveling full-time in September. I'm still working out the kinks, but really enjoying myself so far. :) The waiting is hard, but it pays off!