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Updated May 2014:
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Where do all Fulltime RVers Go?
Recently we received a question about what fulltimers do when they hang up the keys. Since their expensive RV’s have depreciated and the house is no longer an investment, how do they cope (and pay) for the transition?
John and I decided to follow our dreams to become fulltimers as soon as our military contract was over. We were both very young to think about retirement (in our mid 40’s) but a life of travel was so much more appealing than a second work career. Both of us receive retirement pensions from the Canadian military so with an adequate amount of steady cash coming in every month, hitting the road to see North America for two years seemed a logical direction to take.
Well our two years has now stretched to over two decades. We have not seen every hidden treasure of North America but many places we visit make for great trips down memory lane on our return stops. In the beginning we sold our house, paid cash for our motorhome and invested the extra so it could grow to protect us in our ‘old age’. Our first motorhome was a small 32 footer but it was our warm loving home for eight years. In those days only a few towables had slides and definitely this was not an option on motorhomes.
When it was time to
upgrade motorhomes, we no longer had a house to sell. We
had to decide whether we should finance it or take money out of our investments.
For us it made more sense to mortgage our new home on wheels rather than leave a big hole in
our savings. Yes RV's depreciate, but in good years investments may grow at an equal
rate. Try not to mortgage more than is necessary.
When it was time to upgrade motorhomes, we no longer had a house to sell. We had to decide whether we should finance it or take money out of our investments. For us it made more sense to mortgage our new home on wheels rather than leave a big hole in our savings. Yes RV's depreciate, but in good years investments may grow at an equal rate. Try not to mortgage more than is necessary.
However there are other options available – several RV friends choose to pay cash for their units so they don’t have to deal with monthly payments. The downside of this is as soon as they drive their unit off the lot the value begins to decrease. Another friend used a windfall investment to pay cash for their unit, however their financial consultant set up an investment account to which they re-pay set amounts each month. They are not paying mortgage payments but in reality they are making payments at regular intervals. Buying their unit this way was more appealing for them. Not to mention, when they took advantage of the free efile offered by their tax software, they noticed it provided a tax break because they were adding to their investments. Another couple on the advice of their tax consultant used interest from their investments to make payments for their large diesel pusher. RVers find numerous ways to purchase their units and still keep a nest egg for phase two of their retirement. Only you can decide the best situation for you.
With reference to hanging up the keys ...
That too offers wide choices. In the past few years several of our close RV friends who have been fulltiming for almost as long as us have set their retirement into a different direction. Some bought a Park Model OR downsized to a small Class C, others sold everything (their campground lots in posh parks, their park memberships, their RVs etc.) and built their dream home (a Stick House) on a foundation.
Several friends recently lost their travel partner due to a death while they were still RVing, one lady changed coaches and continued to travel, another sold her motorhome and her house and bought a park model in a park in the south – she is now remarried and she and her new husband have since sold their park model and upgraded their gas model class A for a diesel pusher and a life of fulltime travel. They also decided to add a class Fifth to their formula.
One widower friend bought a larger coach to continue fulltiming after his wife died – several years later he’s remarried, and more recently a newly widowed lady RVer felt she had no choice but to sell her new cherished motorhome plus she has her house on the market. She hopes to buy a park model in the south and move into a condo for her time up north.
Other fulltiming friends are stationary in a winter campground due to health problems. In the spring they move their unit to a summer location. Their long-term plans include ‘planting’ their fiver in a secluded summer location in Canada and moving into a condo or an apartment to accommodate the majority of their time in Canada.
There are a wide variety of accommodation choices available. Just like one RV doesn’t suit everyone neither does one type of retirement dwelling appeal to those who give up fulltiming.
Most fulltimers we know begin to plan for phase two of their retirement shortly after their mobile life unfolds. When it is time to make the change from life on wheels to life on a foundation it simply becomes a normal transition. When I was researching the residency story (on Advice and How to) I talked to several campground owners who also stressed how important it is that RVers put cash away and have some idea of what they plan to do in the future. It is too late to decide when one member of the team becomes very sick and you can no longer head south. If the main driver dies and the other partner doesn’t drive, it adds another scary aspect to your decision, especially if the cold is moving in and you have no idea where to go. We have RV friends in their 80’s still on the move but in many cases unexpected health problem get in the way of them continuing their travels. If you have taken the time to make plans and all of a sudden a death or health or other problem surfaces the quick decisions you make may not be the most beneficial ones.
year 19 of travelling fulltime in a motorhome John and I have thought it
was time to downsize to one specific place home. Since we began our travels when we were younger than most – we
frequently discussed plans for
phase two of our retirement
when we reached
the mid to late 60’s. Thankfully our MH did not sell in 2004 so we
headed south for the best years of our travels. At one point we planned to move into an apartment and buy a small Class C for laneway
visits, rallies and short trips to the sunny south. Instead of fulltimers
we would become part timers like so many others. The choices are vast
and your RetirementPhase2 will be very personal.
preparation of this change in our living style we regularly added to our investments
over the years. We discussed Q at
length as to what we hoped to do reference to a static residence. Would we downsize to a
small unit for short getaways or should we hang up the keys altogether? As
we neared the transition period, this subject consumed extensive
conversation in our household. We have checked out retirement communities
featuring comprehensive amenities and a full calendar of activities – a
very inviting option. We found it was a place where residents are proud of
their elaborate manufactured homes. At one point buying a condo was a
consideration because residents enjoy the many benefits of homeowners as
to modifications etc. but without the outside workload. However we finally
decided we wanted to settle in a medium sized community somewhere in southern Ontario.
Our first choice would be an
apartment where our pets are welcome residents too.
Since we have no children to leave a fortune to, we feel purchasing a residence for a future investment does not make a lot of sense to our financial picture. We do not want the upkeep of a private residence. If we move into an apartment we will have few maintenance demands and if health problems surface (or even death) that force another change of residence, our next of kin simply has to eliminate the furniture and move us out.
We felt our beautiful diesel pusher LUXOR is too big and costly to keep for the occasional getaway. Hopefully we can sell our Dream Machine/car privately but if not we will use the services of a dealer consignment option. There is a subtle advantage of paying a mortgage for your RV – your payment can simply be transferred to rent payment or to a mortgage on a condo or house. In the foreseeable future we plan to RV for as long as possible - if necessary in a smaller unit. We love to attend rallies, enjoy driveway visits with friends and family plus take short trips to the sunny south during fringe seasons of November and April. However if we give up Fulltiming - there is always the option to fly to warm destinations for a three to four week pampered beach utopia.
On the upside settling down would be quite a change. Having room to spread out in a large two-bedroom
apartment would be interesting at first but just as in any lifestyle there is also a downside to this
change. Such as a the day we
want to fly out to Cuba or Cancun and a big snowstorm (or ice storm)
prevent us from getting to the airport or when we are braving the cold to
go grocery shopping instead of spending the afternoon at the pool. Not getting away in the fall
and/or returning in the spring may be a bit upsetting, but if we can
enjoy sunspots a couple of times each winter, guess we will be OK when the
On the upside settling down would be quite a change. Having room to spread out in a large two-bedroom apartment would be interesting at first but just as in any lifestyle there is also a downside to this change. Such as a the day we want to fly out to Cuba or Cancun and a big snowstorm (or ice storm) prevent us from getting to the airport or when we are braving the cold to go grocery shopping instead of spending the afternoon at the pool. Not getting away in the fall and/or returning in the spring may be a bit upsetting, but if we can enjoy sunspots a couple of times each winter, guess we will be OK when the time arrives..
Both John and I feel there is no life like that of RVing and being a Fulltimer was the ultimate lifestyle for us but everything has a season - changes on the horizon adds to life's adventure. Just make sure if you decide to make your RV your fulltime home, you also plan for life after when it becomes necessary to move into phase two. Enjoy your adventures.
UPDATE AS OF FALL 2010
As it stands now Our Retirement Phase Two Plan is set for summer of 2014. We will rent one of the classy new apartments in Woodstock. We'll allow two months to move-in while we off load 29 years of stuff in storage plus a well packed motorhome. Once settled we will begin to buy basic furniture. Our plans include spending one full year in the apartment. Come summer we may take some RV Trips and by fall we'll drive the LUXOR to Texas to leave there to use as a winter home for the next few years. With the downed economy the Luxor may also go for a low consignment sale price. Since our plans are only etched in Jell-O they may change before then - but this is how Retirement Phase Two sits for now. We will also follow this path if one of us gets sick. But we still have four glorious years to enjoy the wonders of this outstanding mobile way of life.
RV Living in the 21st Century promotes a Freedom Adventure like no other.