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FrankM

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Hi, I'm Frank, and I'm brand new to pretty much every aspect of all this. I've decided to become a full-time RVer, and I'm starting from scratch, vs graduating from part time. I'm looking at a driveable class B+ or C, that much I know. I've got $20k to work with, plus $1300/mo income. This needs to cover everything, from initial purchase to living on the road (so we're talking used here).

I've done minimal research, enough to get an idea of just how much I need to know (about), both before and after purchase. A Lot!! figure a couple good books may be valuable at this point, any recommendations?? No doubt there's lots of books out there.

There's going to be lots of preparation, and I have some time, though the sooner I can launch the better. Thanks for reading this, and feel free to ask questions, as well as as any suggestions or advice.

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One concern--I hope you have some savings for repairs and things like tires, as a backup.  Living in an RV is not cheap, although there are ways to save money.  One way is to workcamp and get a free site and another is to boondock, but you will need a good generator or roof full of solar energy cells. 

Buying used, at the budget you describe, means that you will have things that need repair, plus you will probably need a set of new tires, which will cost about $200 each.  Things like hot water tanks and refrigerators are a lot more expensive than you think.

You might want to look at forums that mention something like RVing on a budget.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! We are here to help and support new folks and we will do all that we can to help. At the same time, I believe that it is best for us to be completely honest with you, even when the news is not good. The first part of this is that an RV which sells in that price range will probably need significant investment before you start to travel. Things like tires, belts & hoses, and all fluids should be changed before use, even if everything in the RV is working. If you visit RV Trader, class B you will find a range of them,  and RV Trader also has class C RVs in your price range. If you are not familiar with RVs then you need to get someone who is to go with you when you shop and getting an RV professional to inspect it before you buy would be even better. RV appliances typically have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years if used much so you could very easily find yourself needing to repair or replace the appliances soon after purchase. Do not spend all of your capital to buy the RV because you will need repairs and some of them could be expensive. That same thing is true for the chassis and running gear. 

Living on as little as $1300 per month is possible, and there are a few who manage to do so and still enjoy life but most of us spend much more. The question here is not if it can be done but if you can do it. Most RVs get fuel milages of 10 mpg or less with a few in the teens, so extensive travel is expensive. In California last March we saw gasoline priced above $4/gallon and all states prices seem to be rising. My first suggestion is that you keep very accurate records of what you spend on every category now as your daily needs will not change significantly in an RV. RV sites can cost anywhere from around $25 to $80 and more, depending on where you happen to travel. The coasts and tourist areas are at the high end of things and rural areas with few attractions are at the other. Amazon has many books on RV living and you can probably find some at your local library. 

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I'm pretty new here too, so I'm not sure if this is okay or not (if not, please remove, moderators), but since you specifically asked about books, we've found Marc and Julie Bennett's book, Living the RV Life, to be incredibly helpful when it comes to making the transition from a house to full-timing in an RV. They explain things in such a way that I come away from it feeling confident I can handle the basics, and some of the not-so-basics.

I'm a huge fan of forums too (this one is particularly friendly), and the book makes a great starting point from which to form some questions and then get real-life opinions and experiences on the forum. The two together have really helped me a lot.

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2 hours ago, FrankM said:

Hi, I'm Frank, and I'm brand new to pretty much every aspect of all this. I've decided to become a full-time RVer, and I'm starting from scratch, vs graduating from part time. I'm looking at a driveable class B+ or C, that much I know. I've got $20k to work with, plus $1300/mo income. This needs to cover everything, from initial purchase to living on the road (so we're talking used here). I've done minimal research, enough to get an idea of just how much I need to know (about), both before and after purchase. There's going to be lots of preparation, and I have some time, though the sooner I can launch the better.

Sign up on this forum as well https://www.cheaprvliving.com/forums/index.php As the heading explicitly states, it is cheap RV living with the vast majority of folks in vans, Class B, Class C, as well as a wide variety of conversions. The budget restricted as well as those choosing to live simply and small frequent the forum and between this one and that one your questions will be answered. 

Start in Newcomer's Corner over there. Good Luck & Happy Trails!

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Welcome, Frank. It sounds like you have done some research, which puts you ahead of quite a few people. You have several things that you can do more or less at the same time. While you are researching your RV you should also research your domicile and mail forwarding service. Unless there is a good reason to remain in your current State, you will probably want to change your domicile to Florida, South Dakota, or Texas. Why? Those three States have no income tax AND let you use your mail service address as your legal domicile address. Other States have no income tax, but require you to use have a physical address in the State that will be your official domicile address. All three States have several mail forwarding services that offer various services. Find the one that best fits you and your needs and set up your new address. Once that is done you can start telling those people who write to you what that address is.

Second, set up as much on-line stuff as you can. Get your bank statements online and set up online bill paying. This will cut down on the amount of mail that is going to be forwarded to you while on the road. Hint: if you are getting "begging letters" from entities that you don't want to hear from, don't tell then your new address.

Might I ask why you are focusing on Class B or C units? Yes, people can and do full-time in these, but they aren't for everyone. Class B units, especially, have much less storage capacity (NOT necessarily space) compared to others. If you are thinking that you will have only one unit to take care of, you are correct. You also have only one unit to take to the grocery store, laundry, sight-seeing, etc. A Class C has more interior space than a Class B, but that's about it. Being larger, it will be heavier, more subject to the effects of passing trucks, side winds, etc. and will use more fuel.

As I said, people can and do full-time in these units. We know a couple that full-times in a 1973 (yes, 1973) Dodge Conversion Van. They aren't small people, but they are minimalists. They carry a screen Easy-Up type device that they set up at their campsite. A folding table, dorm-size refrigerator, microwave, and a couple of folding chairs and tables go into that. That's their living space. They use the campground bath house. The van is used only for sleeping and trips for various purposes. Since they have something set up at the campsite all the time, there is no question that the site is occupied.

Any time that you move your vehicle you will have to pack what's inside for travel. That doesn't mean that you have to pack up your lawn chairs, bbq, etc. to go to the dump station, but anything that can fall or shift will have to be made ready to travel every time you move the vehicle.

What, if anything, can your current vehicle tow? Can it be towed four-down (all four tires on the ground, not on a dolly or trailer)? If your current vehicle is too small to tow anything, but can be towed four-down (see http://www.remcotowing.com/Towing/Store.php) you can make your life much simpler because you can take it on all of the running around, towing it behind the RV. If your current vehicle can tow something, your budgeted amount can go MUCH farther.

Earlier I mentioned several things you can do while you are researching the perfect RV. One of them is to visit as many dealers and shows as you can. Go into EVERY vehicle - no matter the condition or price - and imagine living in that for three days straight without setting foot outside. Why? eventually you are going to run into weather that will keep you inside that long. Imagine doing the dishes, taking a shower, making the bed, watching television, etc. It won't take you long to get to the point where you can stick your head in the door, look around, and know whether you could use that rig or not. There are only so many ways to arrange the interior of a box to make it livable, so you will see the same floor plan from many different manufacturers. Yes, there will be differences in quality and price, and minor differences in details, but you will see the same thing over and over.

Hope this helps. Ask lots of questions here, and we'll try to answer them. Don't be surprised if answering one question raises five more. That's the way it works. Once you find some brands that interest you, join their owners' forums and ask specific questions there. Don't be afraid to ask the GEE WHIZ owners if the Whiz Bang 1000 is suitable for your purposes. If it isn't they will tell you. Why? They don't want an unhappy owner badmouthing their brand because he bought the wrong RV.

Enjoy the research and the hunt for the perfect RV.

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I was going to send you to cheap rv living but rm.w/aview beat me to it. They are another friendly, helpful group but they are focused more closely on the type of RVing you want to do. So many Escapees have no idea about living small or cheap that we don't always give good advice here regarding that. I'm good at small but not so good at cheap. :)

Linda Sand

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10 hours ago, Bigthinkers said:

Thank you, Kirk W. I wasn't quite sure what the rules were on that, if someone asks specifically, so I appreciate your providing the link!

I suggest that you read through the Guidelines so that you know what the rules are. There aren't very many so it will only take a few minutes to do. If you look at the top of the page, next to the word forums, Guidelines, Staff, Online Users. 

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3 hours ago, Kirk W said:

I suggest that you read through the Guidelines so that you know what the rules are. There aren't very many so it will only take a few minutes to do. If you look at the top of the page, next to the word forums, Guidelines, Staff, Online Users. 

I read them when I first started here. :) I've noticed there a fine line on some other sites when it comes to "promoting" books or other forums. Glad to know that isn't the case here.

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Welcome to the forum!

A not so new pickup truck with shell on back, lots of storage room pulling a not so new 20-30ft travel trailer a possibility?  With this set-up, drop camper and have independent transportation.  In your price range I think your going to need the ability to turn a wrench on minor repairs.  A repair account as mentioned would be needed.  Boon-docking is a possibility for you, some or most campgrounds offer basic no frills camping spots.  Work-camping would certainly be a very good option (I have no personal experience in this but lots on here do).  A light (small) solar setup, or small genset would give you basic but limited power.  Big set-ups for lots of power = not cheap.  You can get a genset little under/over 1k, or a 200 watt suitcase solar panel ($5-600 or so) and a couple batteries (don't go cheap here) for about the same range total.  I'd vote the solar depending on where you want to stay, some campgrounds don't like the noise.  But then, if you stay at a campground in a camper you can connect to power/water/sewer but pay for the full hook-ups over bare camping.

Just a thought, you can listen or ignore, I could be out in left field as usual... LOL  You say you have ~20k to work with.  I'd try to spend only $15k and stick the $5k left in the bank as an emergency repair fund, it will happen eventually.   That would tend to put you in an older vehicle range, but if the newer one you purchase needs repair, you could be stuck in the middle of ? with no way to repair said vehicle, then what?

I see older class-As (lots more internal space) in your price range too but would need lots of .... wrenching ability.  It all boils down to, do what makes you happy!

IMHO

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19 hours ago, FrankM said:

...I've got $20k to work with, plus $1300/mo income. This needs to cover everything, from initial purchase to living on the road...

One thing I have not seen mentioned is healthcare/health insurance. If the $1300/month has to include healthcare/health insurance, I suggest you do a lot of research on the issue. While the individual mandate has been eliminated, depending on your age, not having any health insurance or healthcare coverage may not be a wise decision. 

On edit: Zulu posted the same time I did.

Edited by trailertraveler

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5 minutes ago, trailertraveler said:

One thing I have not seen mentioned is healthcare/health insurance. If the $1300/month has to include healthcare/health insurance, I suggest you do a lot of research on the issue. While the individual mandate has been eliminated, depending on your age, not having any health insurance or healthcare coverage may not be a wise decision. 

 

I agree with your post completely.  However, it is true whether they are living in an rv, in a house or apartment, or under a bridge.

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2 hours ago, NDBirdman said:

Welcome to the forum!

A not so new pickup truck with shell on back, lots of storage room pulling a not so new 20-30ft travel trailer a possibility? 

It can be done.  My current rig is a 1999 Ford F350 single wheel pickup with the 7.3 Powerstroke engine and a camper shell pulling a 27 ft. Sunnybrooke superslide trailer.  The truck is overkill for the trailer, but this means it's not heavily stressed, which makes the combo handle very well and aids long term reliability.

I bought these 3-4 years ago and live in them fulltime.  Both the truck and trailer are in very good shape.  Total cost was less than $15k, and except for replacing a water heater that broke during an unexpected cold snap, neither has required any work other than new tires and routine maintenance.

Both of these were found on Craigslist, and since I dealt directly with the owners I was able to get their histories.  You can't do this if you buy from a dealer selling them as-is, where is.

Edited by Lou Schneider

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3 minutes ago, Lou Schneider said:

 7.3 Powerstroke engine

Darn good engine, Ford should have stuck with it!  IF you go this route and get a Ford, DO NOT get the one with the 6.0, it can be VERY expensive and a nightmare (my engine did a meltdown at 60k miles and cost $18k for dealer to replace).  Otherwise, great choice. 

(Don't get upset ford fans, I was a diehard ford fan until this engine, it's the reason I now drive a RAM)(yes, they too have their problems)

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29 minutes ago, NDBirdman said:

Darn good engine, Ford should have stuck with it! 

I know, that's why I didn't buy a newer truck, but looked long and hard until I found a good 7.3.  Dodge trucks with the Cummins diesel were out of my price range unless I wanted to work another year before retiring.  It  was the personal truck of an older couple who also owned an over the road big rig.  They were selling it because they inherited their son's Dodge Cummins pickup when he was killed in action in the Middle East.

They were very open about the truck, even letting me drive it over their big rig's service pit so I could give it a good going over.

I didn't try to haggle over the price, just expressed sympathy for their loss and paid their asking price.

Edited by Lou Schneider

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3 hours ago, chirakawa said:

I agree with your post completely.  However, it is true whether they are living in an rv, in a house or apartment, or under a bridge.

Not exactly, in my experience. If you are living in an RV and actually traveling around the country, there may not be as many choices depending on the state of domicile/residency. HMOs and Medicare Advantage plans which are often the most economical often have networks that are relatively small geographicly. They may impose additional costs for out of network services. Medicaid, for those eligible, is administered by the states and I am not current on how portable it is these days. Thus my suggestion to do research.

Edited by trailertraveler

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On 5/23/2019 at 4:01 PM, FrankM said:

Hi, I'm Frank, and I'm brand new to pretty much every aspect of all this. I've decided to become a full-time RVer, and I'm starting from scratch, vs graduating from part time. I'm looking at a driveable class B+ or C, that much I know. I've got $20k to work with, plus $1300/mo income. This needs to cover everything, from initial purchase to living on the road (so we're talking used here).

I've done minimal research, enough to get an idea of just how much I need to know (about), both before and after purchase. A Lot!! figure a couple good books may be valuable at this point, any recommendations?? No doubt there's lots of books out there.

There's going to be lots of preparation, and I have some time, though the sooner I can launch the better. Thanks for reading this, and feel free to ask questions, as well as as any suggestions or advice.

 

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Not sure exactly how to maneuver around in this forum. I can't reply to each of you individually, so I'm attempting to reply to my original post, an "umbrella reply" if you will. Thank you so much for all of your replies and feedback, and especially for telling me what I need to hear. All of this is very valuable information for me.

So apparently I'm underfunded. I sure thought 20k would be enough for what I want to do. This is rather disappointing and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. Don't have a plan B in my pocket. I figured 10k for the initial purchase and repairs, modifications and additions. And 10k for everything else, including reserves. 

Thank you for bringing up medical care, I think I'm pretty  well  covered here, with Medicare plus Medicaid. I just have to find out how portable Medicaid is between states.

Thank you very much, Frank

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9 hours ago, FrankM said:

So apparently I'm underfunded. I sure thought 20k would be enough for what I want to do. This is rather disappointing and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. Don't have a plan B in my pocket. I figured 10k for the initial purchase and repairs, modifications and additions. And 10k for everything else, including reserves. 

If you highlight a section it will open a small window saying "quote selection" that you can click on and cause it to appear in your next post just as is showing above. That way you can quote a small section of a post and then put your cursor in the area just below and start to type as I have here.

Before you completely give up, read the replies very carefully as we didn't say that it can't be done, only that to do so will take much research and study of the used RV market to be sure that you find a good one and that you will also need very careful money management to live and travel in it. Most of us do spend significantly more to live and travel than the budget you have but there are those who manage on what you do. Before you give up on your dreams, take the time to read this column that was written by the late Gaylord Maxwell back in 2001. The facts of his column are as true today as they ever were.

What Does It Cost to Live in an RV?

 

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10 hours ago, FrankM said:

I figured 10k for the initial purchase and repairs, modifications and additions. And 10k for everything else, including reserves. 

Thank you for bringing up medical care, I think I'm pretty  well  covered here, with Medicare plus Medicaid. I just have to find out how portable Medicaid is between states.

I am not an expert on Medicaid having only dealt with it in helping aging parents over a decade ago, but I would do serious research on the impact retaining $10k (or other amount) would have on the assets determination. If the RV is your home, it seems it should be exempt from the asset test as would be the tow vehicle if you chose a trailer as your RV. If you decide on a motorhome and some other type of motor vehicle for local transportation, I would do some serious research on whether both would be exempt from the assets test.

If your Medicaid coverage includes a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will need to research the extent of their network(s) and out of network coverage. If you change your state of domicile/residence the rules may be different depending on which state you choose.

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