I'm new to the whole idea of RVing. I thought it was something I might just do when I'm older and retired... but now maybe not.
So here is my basic story. I just got a job in a new area and will be starting in June. Rent around here is absurd (not to mention I have no actual income yet, though I can get family to temp. loan me money) and its extremely pet unfriendly (I have 2 dogs).
I was considering purchasing a much older RV (for less than 3k) and staying at an RV campground (there are a few to choose from here) for the 6 month season. Including water, sewage, and electric hookup this would cost an additional $1,100 - $1,500. After this 6 months I would store the RV (which I looked into, and is cheap) and hope to be in a better situation for more permanent living. I would consider selling at this point, but might also keep it for future trips (I've always wanted to go to Disney!).
My concern is buying an older RV, for instance this: http://ithaca.craigslist.org/rvs/2944141345.html
It sounds fine, but I really don't know what kind of problems to look for. And this sounds like it would be a smart money choice, especially if I sold it even at a fraction of what I purchased it for...
I already know I could downsize to RV living, and I love the outdoors.. so to be at park just sounds like an extended vacation.
So I just wanted opinions... is it possible to purchase a decent, yet very cheap RV? Are there any other costs I may be overlooking?
Depends on where "around here" is. Six months from June takes you into November - December. How cold is it going to be? For the part of the time it will still be summer, how hot is it going to be? How cold and how hot can you stand to be?
It might be hard to keep an older RV comfortable in sub-freezing temperatures, even putting a lot of LPG through the furnace. Unlike permanent-use mobile homes, most of these RVs aren't insulated for four-season use, and the furnace not sized to keep you warm when it is really cold. The travel trailer in the link has windows of a type that leak a lot of air, suggesting this one was not built for year round living.
You can skirt a permanently located RV (if the park permits) to dump heat under it and keep the plumbing going, providing you have enough heat to do that, on a mobile-home type site that puts those connections under the house. RV sites have plumbing connections off to the side, which are exposed to whatever the outside temperature, and will freeze up if it gets cold enough.
On the other hand, if you are going someplace that seldom freezes, what you want to do can work. People live full time in these by moving seasonally to stay ahead of temperatures that are too cold or too hot.
Then there is the park. $1100 to $1500 over six months is about $180-250 a month. In an area where land values make rents very high, will living in a park with rent that low feel like a vacation?
It is definitely possible to purchase an older RV at low cost, and it might be in good condition, and it might not. You want one with everything working, doesn't leak, has not leaked in the past, and has no structural damage from water.
The one you are looking at has no air conditioning (can be an issue in warm climates, RVs become hotboxes) and says "hot water disconnected" which might be something to fix. Other than fixing things, your costs beyond rent might include fuel (propane roughly follows gasoline prices, per pound of fuel, unless you choose to pay double for using convenient bottle exchange), and possibly charges for metered electricity. Few RV parks meter water, but mobile home parks will.
stargalcutie... My advice would be to remain with family, which would probably at least tolerate the dogs, until such time that you are on your own two feet, financially. If the job location prevents that, to keep costs down, I'd seek renting a room in the area of the new job. I'm only guessing based on long ago experience. But a room could be had for considerably less than $1100-$1500/mo. Just recognize that the pets may not be welcomed. You may have to give them up or temporarily entrust their care and expense to a friend or relative if available. While that blows, you're primary responsibility is to become a self supporting citizen.
The full time lifestyle is a pleasure for those who embrace it. And there are those of us who do so while still working on the road. But, I couldn't in good faith recommend borrowing money to purchase a 40 y/o trailer to live in an RV park for the next 5 months. Depending on the location, you could be facing similar problems you're facing now... 2 dogs and an old trailer to store over the winter. Good luck with your decisions.
Here is what I learned when shopping for a RV myself. I am not intending to scare you off from buying a trailer, but just warning you what lessons I learned:
1: Leaks. In the wrong area, it can completely trash the TT making it not even salvageable as a fixer-upper without thousands of hours of time in adding a new skeleton and insides. Grab a clued RV friend and when looking at a trailer, look at corners for discoloration, wallpaper for bubbles, soft spots in the wood, and other things. Best time to look is in the rain, so any leaks will be evident and hard to clean up. Once you get the RV, buy a couple rolls of Eternabond and a caulk for the edges, slap sunblock on (since the reflected rays will cook you), and go at it during a weekend.
2: Electrical/plumbing/LP gas systems. Rodents will shred a coach's electrical system in no time flat. The trailer mentioned in CL may have the hot water salvageable, or it may not be. It is likely that you will be out the cost of a replacement water heater at the minimum.
3: Appliances. There are going to be a lot of appliance upgrades/fixes. Older refrigerators may need fixes due to recalls (and if you have a recalled fridge, consider getting a SS-30 Halon extinguisher that mounts behind the refer, so if the cooling unit overheats, it won't take your rig, and possibly you, with it.) Furnaces will need cleaned out of soot, wasp nests, and other items. Water heaters need to have their anode rods replaced if they are Suburban models. If you are in a hot climate, one of the most important appliances will be the A/C, because if that fails, the RV will be unlivable. RV ACs tend to be replaced rather than fixed, so that might be a grand right there if the old one is faulty. Refrigerators are similar, although if the trailer is on shore power, you likely can get away with a residential fridge for a lot cheaper.
4: Be prepared to get really handy (if you are not already) very fast. RVs are a combination of both automobile and house issues all rolled into one.
5: Caveat emptor -- RVs are not up to the level of quality that cars are. You can easily end up buying a heap of scrap that is not habitable and has to be towed to the town dump. I highly recommend bringing some RV-savvy friends (or paying someone) to come with you.
6: You didn't mention what vehicle you are using for towing. Your selection of trailers will depend on what your tow vehicle's capacity is, unless you are using a service to haul the trailer to the location for you.
7: Don't forget propane, CO, and smoke alarms. I like having at least a pair of each.
8: The good thing is that you will have full hookups. You likely won't have to worry about a generator, house battery setup, and all the items a boondocker has to concern themselves with. However, it can't hurt to replace light bulbs with LEDs just to save on your electric bill.
9: Buy yourself a sturdy strongbox and mount it somewhere. Some people actually will bolt it to the frame using tamper-proof bolts (don't weld it, as that will ruin the hardening.) In that, you put your valuables. RVs are not like stick and brick houses -- it doesn't take much for someone to get inside. That way, your laptop stays yours.
10: I repeat here, inspect the trailer thoroughly. How are the slides working? Do the appliances/toilet work? I have had people lie to me, and they change their tune fast when I show them that a trailer has leaked so much it is just scrap, or the fact that the toilet is on the queen bed is not going to help sell the rig to me.
11: Smells. Enough said. If a trailer smells like mold, walk.
Good luck with this -- you likely can find a decent deal if you keep your eyes open, and your BS detector set on high. I've seen trailers for $4000 that were made in the mid 2000s with zero leaks, all appliances working, and otherwise quite camp-ready.
When they say good tires that means nothing on an RV. They will still look good on the tread after 6-7 years and be ready to blow out from not being used. Figure on new tires if you want to tow it. Being that old it most likely will be very heavy and need a good truck to tow it. I had a '69 Layton that was the same size and it weighed 4200# empty. If the hot water is disconnected I hope you like cold showers. It means something happened to the hot water heater or lines that was cheaper to disconnect and expensive to fix. On a 39 year old TT I think the price is way too high. $500. would be more like reasonable price. What size are your dogs? My daughter has 2 dogs but they are English Mastiffs with a combined weight of 400#. They won't fit in that TT. We, forum members here, are in this for the reason that we enjoy this way of life and not to save money.
2003 Newmar Mountain Aire, Workhorse W22, 2008 Saturn Vue, Falcon 5250, & US Gear Unified Tow Brake
The least expensive RV in terms of size and features (bath, shower, galley) are travel trailers. A 17' travel trailer in good condition can be found for under $2000. Many cars and most trucks can pull a trailer this size and you may be able to give the seller a little extra if they move the trailer to where you plan to stay. When you leave you can sell it where it is.
I would get rid of the dogs as they are a big liability when you are not fully able to even take care of yourself at this point in time. In your place I would find someone willing and able to take them both so they stay together.