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Preparation time?


dnr

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I have dreamed of living in an RV full-time since I was in 7th grade and fell in love with my Social Studies teacher's VW with a pop-top camper. Everyone told me that it seemed like something that you had to be "crazy" or "retired" to do so I let go of the dream.

 

Now, I'm 46 and find myself unemployed for the first time. I have a chunk of money in the bank so could pay my bills for a year or so. I have a couple small contract projects lined up (I build eLearning for a living) and could probably pick up a few more. I feel like this is my time to take the chance, before I get trapped in another full-time position.

 

Of course, my fantasy has me running out tomorrow and buying a used travel trailer or 5th wheel and hitting the road. But, I know I have to be realistic. I don't think I need to sell my home right away.

 

I was hoping some of you could chime in with advice or encouragement.

  • Realistically, how much prep time does one need before full-timing it?
  • What kinds of things do I need to consider?
  • Have any of you just kinda jumped into the life?
  • Any suggestions on books, blogs, etc., I can read to help me prep?

Thanks,

 

Nancy

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Nancy,

IMO this is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many multi-faceted questions that would need to be answered. Complicating the equation further is that everyone is so different (risk tolerance, what they are looking for out of the lifestyle, type of camping / RVing (resorts, campgrounds, RV Parks, boondocking, etc), need requirements, wants, etc).

 

As for us, we took 3 years to plan and execute our plan - but we are quite risk adverse. Selecting the right type and quality of an RV is a really big decision and that took us quite a while. I very much recommend taking your time with this step - do your homework and research, spend several hours in any RV that you are seriously considering. Picture how you will "live" in it - go through the motions. Personally, we treated it like a house purchase. Our strategy has always been, when we find something we really like we wait at lease one day and go back to look a second time and try to nick pick all the things we don't like about the unit. Try to think of every aspect of your potential RV life.

 

Secondly, the next most difficult thing was getting rid of all of our belongings that we had acquired over 34 years of married life. We chose to attempt to maximize the sale price of every item. We first sold items on EBAY. Items that could not or would not be sold on ebay were sold on Craigslist or Facebook garage sale pages (Respectively). Remaining items were donated or consigned. This process took us well over a year (which it sounds like more than what you have).

 

Thirdly, is your work will require (I assume) really good internet. With RV Life this is "metered" and not your home style which is unlimited. Quite a bit more costly than household. Other costs are Rig insurance, Health Insurance & Healthcare costs, Fuel, Campground Fees, TV (Satellite - if desired), etc.

 

Best Wishes as you explore this lifestyle. This forum was a fantastic resource for building knowledge. There are a many who have had many years of experience - it just takes time to explore the forum to find it all. Another of my favorite resources was http://www.rv-dreams.com/ . Howard does a excellent job of walking you through the decision making process and includes real-life budget examples and a lot of great information.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! You have come to a very good place to get help with your plans, but we won't be able to give specific answers since there are many different ways to approach the same issues. We are very happy you have come so do contribute, ask questions,start new threads, and whatever else may best serve your need. Support is what the Escapees are all about. :D

 

Realistically, how much prep time does one need before full-timing it?

That is a very personal thing. After many years of RV experiences and nearly 20 years on RV forums I have seen many people who announce that they are selling the hose to go fulltime and it is very difficult to say how many of them were successful, as no two of us define success in quite the same way. I do believe that the average length of time to stay out with only an RV as home is probably no more than 2 or 3 years, but there are many who do so for 10 years or longer and it is very difficult to know just what makes some stay out longer than others. I believe that planning is a significant part but the time taken in planning is probably of less importance than it is to cover the important areas. Pam & I were into RV use for many years before we ever considered one as our only home, and we also had some good friends who went fulltime at least 15 years before we did so and watching them lead us to start thinking of it more than 10 years before we made the move. Actual forming of plans began perhaps 5 years out but the defining of our plan was no more than 1 or 2 years. At the same time, we know a couple very well who spent less than a year after the first heard of the lifestyle, buying the first RV they had owned at about 6 months of planning and getting on the road in less than 1 year. I'd consider them to have been successful since they were actually on the road with no real estate at all for 9 years and they still travel for extended periods, in only the second RV they have owned, more than 15 years after they discovered the RV lifestyle. It is really a very personal thing and depends upon the personality of the one going through it.

 

What kinds of things do I need to consider?

The best way to answer this is to do some serious reading on the subject. Most public libraries will have books on the subject of living in an RV that you can borrow or you can get a wide range of them from Amazon if you wish to purchase one or two. There are also many of us who contribute to these forums who keep websites that have a very wide range of information from our own experiences and you can find those quite commonly by links in the signature line, such as I have in mine. I suggest that you spend some time exploring them, and invite you to start with my own, but don't stop there as some of us do our best to not repeat what friends have already posted. There are also quite a number of people where who keep a daily blog that may be interesting and helpful and those are also usually found in signature lines. The important thing is to use the resources to find the kinds of issues that must be considered and also a range of different options for taking care of them. There is no single way that fits everyone nor is there any best way.

 

Any suggestions on books, blogs, etc., I can read to help me prep?

I used to suggest the book "Full-time RVing" written by Jan & Bill Moeller, which we used and which has been updated several times over the years, but since we did our research in the 90's there are many newer books out there so others who have been through this more recently probably have a better answer. As to favorite websites for such information, I suggest you look first to those involved in these forums, since by using those you can easily ask questions of the author of the site. Outside of that, I yield to those who have made this conversion more recently than I.

 

You are on the right track as research is the place to start and your guide to a time line should be your acquisition of the knowledge needed and your own comfort level in the transition. We first became aware of full-time RV living back in the 70's when we met a few campground hosts in national forest service campgrounds and it is impossible for me to say what the minimum time might be.

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Sounds to me like this is an opportune time for you to dip your toe in the water so to speak and give a seasonal or periodic trial some thought. You mention you are unemployed at this time however imply you could fairly easily go back to full time work or use regular contractual work. That's a good thing. The plus is that you have a home base and don't need to cut all ties immediately.

 

So effectively now is the time to do the research, identify the type and style (trailer, 5th, motorhome class A,B, or C) you feel most comfortable with. Perhaps consider scaling down and as I said, do some trial runs either by buying small or even a rental. Use this employment down time to explore.

 

As with anything there are caveats:

1) Full timing is going to cost as much as or possibly more than your current expenses and you can probably count on a higher initial budget for the first year or so.

2) As already mentioned, prep time is highly variable and until you have determined type and style of your rig and your living goals, you won't be able to accurately timeline it out. Example: We had already acquired our rig before making the decision to quit and go full-time. Once we did make the decision it was 7 weeks (time to clear out, prep and get house on the market).

3) Timing can be critical. Obviously this time of year is not optimum for those living north of the Mason/Dixon due to weather so prep times can be considerably longer. Location also plays havoc with determining type and style of rig. NYC downtown probably doesn't offer much in the way of choices of rig.

 

Forums and blogs are big helps. A little bias here but Escapees is one of the best and as you can see, we're all willing to assist you as we can.

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We have just done this but we are planners. We budget, plan and review the performance to the plan. Everyone fulltimes differently.

Planning:

Research took us 5 years which included online reading of forums, going to RV shows/dealerships to see first hand each RV we were considering, attending rally's and discussing the lifestyle with people in parks we happened to run across.

Action:

It was 10 months from the time we decided to pull the trigger until we could have hit the road but we purchased new and knew exactly what we wanted.

Ordered DRV in Jan, Ordered Truck in Jan, Prep to sell house Jan - Mar. Put house on market in April. Purchased Smart in April. Sold house in April. Gave everything to our daughter. Modified truck in June - Aug, punch list for 5th wheel in July, Picked up Truck in Sept. Picked up 5th in Sept. Shakedown trip in Oct.

Result:

We are excited about all of our selections and would not change a thing. We feel very prepared about the lifestyle and haven't run into any "gotcha's" yet.

 

It is definitely a process though. Enjoy the road and the ride.

It's a blast.

David

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Moving into a full-time lifestyle can go as fast or slow as you want it to do. Once we decided on what rig to buy ours went pretty fast as our house sold quickly and we hired an estate sale company to get rid of our furnishings. We bought a tiny rig so the only things we could bring with us were those we truly needed to live--that made decision making easier. I will say it is easier to buy a rig before you sell the house because lenders and insurance people are happier with that scenario. We took out a home equity loan to buy the rig then paid it off when we sold the house leaving us debt free. I'm sure you will find a way that works for you.

 

Linda Sand

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As has already been said, folks on here can't tell you what you should do or what will make you happy, they can only tell you what made them happy / unhappy. Here's my story....

 

When the kids got out of school, I suggested to DW that we get an RV and travel - see the world and try to make it a better place, wherever we were. Not for her! I forgot about the idea until some years after she died. My neighborhood had become unsafe and I decided I needed to move and as I considered what I really needed in the way of a home, remembered the RV idea.

 

After a lot of research, I decided I would prefer that my house and vehicle were separate entities. I started looking at travel trailers that I could pull behind my existing 1/2 ton pickup. I couldn't find one that I felt I would be happy living in for the rest of my life. I really learned to hate laundromats and my trailer HAD to have a W/D. That pushed me into a 5th wheel trailer and would require an upgrade from my pickup to at least 3/4 ton.

 

I looked at hundreds of floor plans and found what would work best for me. I wanted a quality all-season trailer and decided NuWa HitchHiker was my choice. I began searching for used 35FKTG HitchHiker Premier model. Found one in New York state that was sold the day after I found it. Found another in Nebraska and went to look at it. The perfect unit for me! A 2003 but very gently used and well maintained and had been customized and optioned with things that were important to me. The price was outrageous (above blue book), but when I asked what they would really take, they took 1/3 off. I said "Sold" and signed the papers.

 

Stopped at the truck dealer on the way home and traded for a pickup just the right size for the trailer.

 

Went home and called the Realtor on Friday, Saturday someone came and looked at the house. Monday morning early they came back and offered me what I was asking for the house. I agreed, provided they would allow me to park the trailer in the yard while the sale was closing.

 

Picked up the trailer and parked it next to the house. Made a spreadsheet of those things I thought I would want to move to the trailer including the weight of each item. Coffee maker 10#, toaster oven 10#, groceries 50#, bedding 50#, clothes 100#, etc. Although I could take 2,550 #, my list turned out to be less than 900#. Moved into the trailer and lived there 2 weeks while I made some adjustments. A few things back into the house and different ones into the trailer.

 

Called the kids and told them to come with trucks and get anything they wanted, the rest (if anything) would go to the auction or dump. They were delighted and hauled most of it away.

 

Being out from under the weight of all that stuff was one of the greatest feelings of my life. I am no longer a slave to all those THINGS. Now I seriously resist adding any STUFF. Anything additional has to pass an absolutelymusthavecan'tlivewithout test.

 

I found an RV park as far south as I could go and still be in the USA with wonderful neighbors and friends. My living expenses are about 1/4 of living in the house in town. I'm a happy camper.

 

I suppose I was extraordinarily lucky, so many things could have gone wrong, but none did. The trailer has been wonderful, I wouldn't want anything different about it. The new pickup has been great, wouldn't change a thing.

 

My only advice is to give a lot of thought to what will make you happy. Map out a path to get there. Do a lot of research and take it a step at a time. Be happy, it will all work out just fine.

 

Si

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We decided to fulltime in April and hit the road in October. Although we had camped extensively and knew we enjoyed the outdoors and could stand each others company for months at a time we had never owned a trailer and had never towed anything before. We emptied our home and rented it out to provide some of the income for our adventure, the rest comes from pensions. I did extensive research both online and from friends and family who did own trailers. Our main objective was to avoid winter (although sitting in Yuma with overnights below freezing I am not sure we succeeded) and to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle while we were still young enough to do it. What to look out for? The amazing people you will meet on the road - I never expected how wonderful our times spent with people we just met would be.

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