Affording the RV lifestyle

Many ask how do we afford this lifestyle.  The simple answer is the same way you afford any lifestyle. We don’t own a house, so our RV is our house. The benefit is that we don’t have to pay utilities because that is part of the RV park rate (some RV parks do charge for electrical use if you stay more than a month, but not many). There are many ways to full time on a budget.

Many people think we are on a perpetual vacation. But the truth is we do what everybody else does. We save money by cooking at home and having a washer/dryer on board. Just like everyone else, we go to the movies and go out to eat. We enjoy trying the local food (we did blow our food budget in Savannah, Georgia because the food there is amazing). But basically, our daily life costs us the same as it did when we lived in a real home.

You can boondock. Dry camp meaning you live off or your freshwater tank, generator/solar panels and you dump your tanks when they get full. Boondocking is free. You just have to do the legwork to find places you can do this, which isn’t too hard with websites like boondockerswelcome.com.  You can also boondock on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. The downside here is you typically don’t have good internet or cell service and with Lee needing internet to do his job, we don’t boondock very often.

There are also ways to stay places at a discounted rate. We are members of a few clubs (Good Sam, FMCA, Harvest Host to name a few). This can save you 10-20% off of RV park rates. We also tend to stay at the cheaper RV parks. Lee and I typically don’t use the amenities offered (pool, laundry, game room, playground), so why pay for them. We just want to make sure the RV fits and if there is a dog run that’s bonus. We also find that you can get a cheaper rate if you stay somewhere for a month, so we try to do that as often as possible. There is A LOT of planning that goes into figuring out where we are going to stay.

There are times we want to go to a special event (Sturgis, Mardi Gras) and the RV parks in the area raise their rates. We plan and budget for this much like you do for a vacation. These events are our version of taking a vacation.

Lee worked remotely for years prior to us doing this. When we lived in Dublin, Ohio, we talked about RVing part time. When we were forced to sell our house due to a stupid HOA, we decided to go full time. Instead of a house payment we have an RV payment. We downsized and sold 80% of what we owned. Since we live a nomadic lifestyle, we got to pick where we wanted to domicile. Most RVers domicile in South Dakota, Texas or Florida. We chose Florida for a few reasons, the biggest is no income tax. The added perk is discounted Disney tickets. Plus Florida is very RV friendly and motorhome insurance is very affordable there.

We have met others who work remotely, we also meet a lot of traveling nurses, people who work in the oil industry and people who work as camp hosts (they work for a campground doing miscellaneous thing in exchange for a free RV site at the campground)

Truth be told our biggest expense is fuel. RV’s aren’t known for their fuel mileage, so filling up a 100 gallon tank isn’t cheap, but they are even ways to save on gas and that by signing up for discount cards. For example, because we are Good Sam members, we save 5 cents a gallon at Pilot and Loves. We also have EFS which is a program that saves us money at truck stops. It can save us up to 40 cents a gallon depending on the gas station. That doesn’t seem like much but is does add up.

We aren’t able to take advantage but there even more cost saving methods for seniors and veterans.

Even when we do sightseeing, there are ways to save money. We have the annual National Park pass that gets us into to all the National Parks for free. We are members of the Columbus Zoo, which allows us to get into other zoos for free or at a discounted rate. I have also found that some museums have free days, so we take advantage of that.  

In the end, you can spend as much or as little as you want on this lifestyle.

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