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DannyE

Check my math on full timing?

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Hi all! I have been kicking around the idea of full timing for a while, and I need to bounce my logic off someone to see if my plans are realistic.

I sold my condo and had been renting for the last 12 months, living downtown in a larger metro and paying around $3500 all in (rent/parking/utilities). My lease is up shortly, and I’d love to move my stuff into storage, buy a higher end/rugged/teched out class B, and spend a few years exploring. 

I work a 9-5 but am 100% remote, and I have 6 weeks of vacation that I can use for flexibility. I’ll need to stay within cell data coverage or close to it, but other than that I’m limited only by how much gas/water I can carry. I’m aiming for something like last years Winnie Revel, upgraded with lithium batteries and enough solar to power my gear. So ~125-130K all in, based on what I’ve seen via rvtrader. I’d be purchasing in February.

Here’s where I’m looking for another set of eyes. By my logic, even considering the monthly (~$1500 depending on term/down payment), maintenance, depreciation, and the plan to sell in 2-3 years, I’m still saving money vs. renting and I'll have a much better view. 

Please tell me where I’m being naïve, or what I should really consider before making this sort of leap. Thanks!

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Before you get too far along in your plans I highly recommend you go to https://www.rvmobileinternet.com and learn about staying connected on the road. Lots of people are doing it but this couple will help you figure out your best way to do so. I am not connected to them other than being very happy to learn from them over the years.

Linda Sand

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! It would appear that you are in a good position to join the trend to working from the road. There is a growing portion of the Escapees RV Club who are doing similar to what you are thinking about and they now have a special section called X-scapers to better support them. I suggest that you visit the site and especially their community portion for some good advice.  

I do question the money you are looking at, but it is impossible for us to accurately predict what you will spend on the road without a lot more information on your lifestyle. One of our members just recently posted a their end of the year expenses for 2019 which is probably worth spending some time looking at. Keep in mind as you do so that these are retired people who do not spend time working and they live in a large motorhome, so their expenses probably be higher than yours but it should give you a starting point. 

The other caution that I would give is to realize the amount of depreciation that an RV typically has over the first few years of use. It will typically decrease by about 10% of current value each year, which after compounding means that in 3 years it will likely sell for between 70% and 75% of what you pay for it, and about 35% of purchase after 10 years. For this reason you might be wise to shop for an RV that is used but low mileage to save yourself those early, highest years of depreciation. Also it is important to understand that the depreciation will not be an acceptable deduction for the IRS. 

I hope that these thoughts do not deter you from pursuing this adventure as you seem to be an ideal candidate, but do so realizing that even though it probably won't save you a lot of money, it will give you a lifestyle of experiences that few people ever get to enjoy. I am now 78 years old and back to part-time RV travels, but as I look back I consider that our choice to retire and go full-time RVing at 57 and doing so for 12 years was one of our best life decisions. You have an opportunity to start before you actually retire!

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I think you could do it, not sure how much money you would actually save though.  It depends on where you stay, how much traveling you will be doing (higher fuel costs with a Class B compared to a small car), things like that.  Some people would not be able to do it nicely - depends on where you are going to go and what you plan on doing once you get there.  You’ll need to dump your holding tanks and refill your fresh water tank - while there are free dump places out there, much of the time there will be a fee.  I know some people will just plan on staying at a campground with hookups once in a while to dump and refill, perhaps to top off their batteries if their solar/generator options aren’t quite keeping up with things.  And don’t forget about the cost of the storage unit - mine is fairly expensive since it is air cooled (located in Las Vegas).  And insurance for an RV is more if you are full-time, something to add into your figuring.

Go for it - it would certainly be a better view!

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12 minutes ago, fpmtngal said:

insurance for an RV is more if you are full-time, something to add into your figuring.

Also, be sure to read any policy you buy carefully. When we started out with a Class B it was the only vehicle we owned. Even though we told that to the insurance salesman, he sold us a policy that would not cover us if our RV was the only vehicle we owned. But, you do want a full timers policy as it covers things your homeowners/renters policy used to cover.

I do hope you figure out how to do this as it is a wonderful way to live.

Linda

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19 hours ago, sandsys said:

Before you get too far along in your plans I highly recommend you go to https://www.rvmobileinternet.com and learn about staying connected on the road. Lots of people are doing it but this couple will help you figure out your best way to do so. I am not connected to them other than being very happy to learn from them over the years.

Linda Sand

Thanks Linda. That site has a wealth of relevant info, and I've been reading about exactly that over the last few days. I used to work as a sys admin, but for my current role I'll only need a solid LTE connection for calls and the occasional video meeting. All else I can do without, or deal with the inconvenience of a slower connection. My plan was to pick up a direction antenna, amp, and LTE/WiFi router, but I'm early days on catching up with current tech, and I don't yet know how limited my boondocking options will be with those criteria. Seems like others are doing it.

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10 hours ago, Kirk W said:

Welcome to the Escapee forums! It would appear that you are in a good position to join the trend to working from the road. There is a growing portion of the Escapees RV Club who are doing similar to what you are thinking about and they now have a special section called X-scapers to better support them. I suggest that you visit the site and especially their community portion for some good advice.  

I do question the money you are looking at, but it is impossible for us to accurately predict what you will spend on the road without a lot more information on your lifestyle. One of our members just recently posted a their end of the year expenses for 2019 which is probably worth spending some time looking at. Keep in mind as you do so that these are retired people who do not spend time working and they live in a large motorhome, so their expenses probably be higher than yours but it should give you a starting point. 

The other caution that I would give is to realize the amount of depreciation that an RV typically has over the first few years of use. It will typically decrease by about 10% of current value each year, which after compounding means that in 3 years it will likely sell for between 70% and 75% of what you pay for it, and about 35% of purchase after 10 years. For this reason you might be wise to shop for an RV that is used but low mileage to save yourself those early, highest years of depreciation. Also it is important to understand that the depreciation will not be an acceptable deduction for the IRS. 

I hope that these thoughts do not deter you from pursuing this adventure as you seem to be an ideal candidate, but do so realizing that even though it probably won't save you a lot of money, it will give you a lifestyle of experiences that few people ever get to enjoy. I am now 78 years old and back to part-time RV travels, but as I look back I consider that our choice to retire and go full-time RVing at 57 and doing so for 12 years was one of our best life decisions. You have an opportunity to start before you actually retire!

Thank you Kirk! A lot of good info. The end of year expenses you linked to were eye-opening. I do hope my maintenance and cell/internet costs aren't that high. I'll have to dig in there to ensure I have it pinned down.

Your perspective on full timing @ 57 also jives with what I've heard from many others.

I'm still working on the math, but if I can end up no worse off when compared to renting an apartment,  I'll consider it a win. 

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4 hours ago, fpmtngal said:

I think you could do it, not sure how much money you would actually save though.  It depends on where you stay, how much traveling you will be doing (higher fuel costs with a Class B compared to a small car), things like that.  Some people would not be able to do it nicely - depends on where you are going to go and what you plan on doing once you get there.  You’ll need to dump your holding tanks and refill your fresh water tank - while there are free dump places out there, much of the time there will be a fee.  I know some people will just plan on staying at a campground with hookups once in a while to dump and refill, perhaps to top off their batteries if their solar/generator options aren’t quite keeping up with things.  And don’t forget about the cost of the storage unit - mine is fairly expensive since it is air cooled (located in Las Vegas).  And insurance for an RV is more if you are full-time, something to add into your figuring.

Go for it - it would certainly be a better view!

Appreciated. I need to pin down the fuel costs and dumping/restocking logistics. I'd like to upgrade solar/energy storage and carry extra water to stay away from campgrounds for ~2 weeks at a time. 

Storage runs about 80/month here, so not too bad. Insurance on this sort of class B looks like 2k/month.

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On my website, I have reprinted by permission, a column about the cost of RV living that even though it was written back in 2001, it is as true today as it ever was and is still the best answer to the question of cost that I have ever read. I strongly suggest reading it.

Fulltime... How much does it take?

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2 hours ago, Kirk W said:

On my website, I have reprinted by permission, a column about the cost of RV living that even though it was written back in 2001, it is as true today as it ever was and is still the best answer to the question of cost that I have ever read. I strongly suggest reading it.

Fulltime... How much does it take?

Thank you again Kirk. That was a well-written column. The idea that the expenses for full-timing will vary according to the lifestyle one is accustomed to makes sense, and I'd be wise to take a hard look at the must-haves vs. nice-to-haves. 

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If you are going to continue to work 9-5 on a regular basis, I would rethink the type of RV you are going to buy.  A camper van can be a great choice for lots of travel but might not be such a great choice for a portable office.  Buying a separate tow vehicle and a trailer will cost much less, give you more choices.  You will also have the gain of larger tanks and roof space for a big solar system.  Forget the Lithium, way too expensive.  

I am not usually a fan of trailers, but then again I travel a lot instead of working a full time job on the road.

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It's hard to overstate the benefits of a bigger rig, especially if you like to set up for 2-3 weeks in a great location. Class Cs are less expensive (generally) then a lot of the Class Bs and As. For me, it's the perfect middle road. And I tow an inexpensive 2002 Honda CRV which gets use everyday. Maintenance is the biggest headache in this Rving lifestyle. It's hard to plan for and frustrating and potentially expensive. You have to be prepared for it or it has the potential to ruin your plans.

With a current rent budget of $3,500, you should be able to do pretty much anything and come in way under that figure on a monthly basis. 

 

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Several items for consideration:

Agreed with those who suggested a smaller class C. Ina class B everything has a home and that's where it stays unless in use. With rving lifestyle a lot of your life is outside. So a few folding chairs and table should be included. 

I would buy used. I think Kirk was generous in his depreciation.  Roll a new unit off the dealers lot and look at 30% loss. 

Are you handy with tools?  If not learn. For simple fixes you don't need an "RV Tech" mobile tech at $75 per hour. 

Learn your systems. Water, gas and electric. Join Escapees and attend Boot Camp. Go to the Escapade and spend the day in the seminars. Learn and learn some more.  With a problem in a campground ask for guidance from your neighbors. You may get help or not. You could probably hire a tech by the hour to teach you the how and why for your systems.

Good luck

Bill

 

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Welcome to the SKP forums Danny.

One thing glaring to me but not mentioned. You want to work from your rig and not be in town but away from RV parks and boondocking. If you are away from town and power in many places that means little to no cell signal. If there are mountains between you and the southern sky like in Alaska, geostationary satellite Internet may even be unreliable.

There is a new system I mentioned here a while ago, the StarLInk satellite Internet LEO worldwide constellation is a new tech now going into operation and in Beta for N/America, that you may want to follow.

https://www.pcmag.com/news/spacex-indicates-more-beta-testers-are-receiving-access-to-starlink

It will work mounted on RV in motion:  https://www.pcmag.com/news/musk-spacexs-starlink-internet-service-will-work-in-high-speed-moving-vehicles

Main website and sign up for beta test: https://www.starlink.com/

Since you are not going on the road tomorrow you might want to pay attention to Space X and the Starlink website above. If you are going on the road next spring summer your timing should be about perfect for the new system.

 

Edited by RV_

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8 hours ago, JimK said:

If you are going to continue to work 9-5 on a regular basis, I would rethink the type of RV you are going to buy.  A camper van can be a great choice for lots of travel but might not be such a great choice for a portable office. 

 

6 hours ago, Bill w/bus said:

Ina class B everything has a home and that's where it stays unless in use. With rving lifestyle a lot of your life is outside. So a few folding chairs and table should be included. 

I disagree with both of the above. I have owned two class B rigs, one for full timing and one for snowbirding for six months of the year, and have spent most of my day using a computer in each of them even while boondocking. My computer is a laptop which makes a huge difference. I simply moved it off the table for mealtimes and dropped it into a padded bag that sat behind the driver's seat when traveling. Plus, in my Sportsmobile, I carried two bag chairs and a folding table--even a small vacuum cleaner and my TravelScoot--and I had a real office chair in that one since it was built to my design. Please, don't listen to naysayers. You can do this if you want to do it enough to do what it takes.

Linda Sand

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12 minutes ago, sandsys said:

I have owned two class B rigs, one for full timing and one for snowbirding for six months of the year, and have spent most of my day using a computer in each of them even while boondocking.

How many solar panels did you get on your Class B roofs?

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2 minutes ago, Zulu said:

How many solar panels did you get on your Class B roofs?

On my Sportsmobile, I had four 100 watt panels. That's what my builder preferred to use and it gave me enough power for my all electric/diesel van--no propane. I cooked with either the microwave or an induction burner but I am not a great cook so easy meals were my thing. And my water heater was only 2.5 gallons so I could turn its circuit breaker on for 10 minutes and have the water be just the right temperature to shower without adding cold and have enough hot water left over to wash dishes. I miss that van; I wish I had kept if for shorter trips when I could no longer go for a whole season. I spend a lot of time now dreaming up my next van while knowing I could never justify spending that kind of money on one again now that I am old and decrepit. :) 

Linda

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Some thoughts. They are worth every penny you pay for them.

First, how many people and pets in the RV? One adult, no pets, no problem. Two adults, two large dogs, might be a problem.

Second, many people look at a Class B as a van, not a motor home. When you need/want to go somewhere you have to pack for travel. With nothing on the site, it may look like it is available to someone else. We know a couple who full-time in a 1973 Dodge van conversion (an early Class B). They have a screen tent that they set up, putting a table, two folding chairs, small fridge, etc. in it. That clearly indicates that their spot is occupied, and that's where they spend the day when they are home. For them, packing up the Dodge to go somewhere doesn't take very long.

Third, If that Class B is also your daily driver you will be spending quite a bit on fuel. You could probably tow a lightweight trailer with an SUV and not spend any more on fuel overall.

The best moment we had in our research stage was the realization that something would tow something else. Either a truck would tow some sort of trailer or a motor home would tow a car. That realization changed everything.

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2 hours ago, kb0zke said:

many people look at a Class B as a van, not a motor home. When you need/want to go somewhere you have to pack for travel. With nothing on the site, it may look like it is available to someone else. We know a couple who full-time in a 1973 Dodge van conversion (an early Class B). They have a screen tent that they set up, putting a table, two folding chairs, small fridge, etc. in it. That clearly indicates that their spot is occupied, and that's where they spend the day when they are home. For them, packing up the Dodge to go somewhere doesn't take very long.

Third, If that Class B is also your daily driver you will be spending quite a bit on fuel.

In a Class B everything has a place and things spend most of their time in that place. It takes me no longer to be ready to go sightseeing than it takes you to move your gear to your car. And I NEVER forget anything since it's all with me all the time. As a bonus I can immediately put away groceries so I don't have to make that the last stop on an outing even if it's hot outside--my frozen food stays frozen.

At a truck stop I bought a couple collapsible orange cones like traffic cones. Place one of those at each end of a pull-through site and no one will take your site. Mine stored in the door pockets which made them readily available for use.

My van, fully loaded, averaged 18 mpg. What mileage do you get when you average out your motorhome as well as your toad?

I wonder how much experience you have living in a Class B?

Linda

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If you have not lived in an RV or efficiency apartment before, try it out before you buy. Start small and work your way to the one you are comfortable in. I have only owned two trailers so far, but I did spend the winter in my brothers "Toy Hauler" to make sure I could live in the confined space. My first trailer was also a Toy Hauler about the same length but with a few interior changes and what I hoped was a longer life span. Unfortunately it lasted much less than the 10 years I planned. I now have a trailer that will outlast me (with proper care), but miss the opposing slide outs that my first trailers had.  My current trailer has two large slides which I thought would be enough, but I had opposing slide outs and miss them like I miss electric windows in some rental cars. 

A $3500 a month budget for an apartment was something I only visited, but never spent. I have no idea how someone could spend that much on an apartment, but I know a few that have. 

I have lived fulltime in a trailer since 2007 and will never have another home unless it's on wheels. 

Rod

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Escapees also has an online RV Education website:  https://www.escapees.com/education/rvers-online-university/

For internet availability with Verizon here is a link to their coverage:  https://www.verizon.com/featured/our-network/

To use the Verizon coverage map, scroll down to the big red map, look to the lower left of the map for "Expand interactive map" click on it and then enter the zip code of where you will be.   A word of caution, the farther you get away from major highways or population centers the weaker the signal will be.   

A cell signal amplifier,  Such as a weBoost, is a great help. 

 

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On 10/15/2020 at 8:05 PM, Kirk W said:

On my website, I have reprinted by permission, a column about the cost of RV living that even though it was written back in 2001, it is as true today as it ever was and is still the best answer to the question of cost that I have ever read. I strongly suggest reading it.

Fulltime... How much does it take?

Kirk, you have one of the best websites for full timers that I've come across, and I've read lots. 

 

Excellent work. 

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8 hours ago, kstills said:

best websites for full timers

Thanks for the complement. Keep in mind though that it is getting to be dated because we left the fulltime lifestyle back in late 2011. Things have been changing and I need to do some serious editing of parts of it. 

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14 hours ago, Kirk W said:

Thanks for the complement. Keep in mind though that it is getting to be dated because we left the fulltime lifestyle back in late 2011. Things have been changing and I need to do some serious editing of parts of it. 

Noted, but the clarity of the writing and addressing a lot of issues that other people gloss over, I can't say enough about how well done that website is. :) 

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