Seniors think an RV retirement can save them money. Are they right?


SmartAsset: RV Removal Guide

Choosing to live in an RV full-time in retirement can reduce costs and increase life satisfaction after a working career is over. Full-time RVing comes with challenges, including finding good health care and dealing with fuel costs. However, the ability to travel extensively while spending less than many stationary retirees makes it an attractive option. A Financial Advisor could help you develop a retirement plan based on your goals and needs.

RV Retreat Basics

RV ownership is widespread, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) trade group, with approximately 11 million households owning some sort of RV. Of this group, a 2022 RVIA report found that only around 1.5% are full-time RVers. However, 43% of full-time RV occupants are retired, suggesting it’s a viable choice for at least some retirees.

The ability to travel more or less constantly is one of the attractions of living in RV. RV-living retirees report that visiting the country’s many scenic, historic and recreational destinations is both stimulating and relaxing. With the freedom to go almost anywhere, RV occupants can often more easily spend time with distant family members, improving their ability to nurture important relationships.

Full Time RV Finances

SmartAsset: RV Removal Guide

SmartAsset: RV Removal Guide

One of the main benefits of full-time RVing in retirement is that it’s generally less expensive than living in a conventional stationary house or apartment. Housing is the largest expense for most people, consuming $21,409 or almost 35% of average household expenses in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Living in a motorhome can significantly reduce housing costs. For one thing, an RV costs a lot less than even a modest home. Prices vary greatly depending on the type of RV, but small camper trailers can be purchased for as little as $10,000, while luxurious Greyhound-sized campers can cost several hundred thousand dollars. dollars.

Travel trailers that can be towed by a standard pickup truck or large SUV, the most popular type of RV, average around $30,000. Lenders often finance RV purchases for 12 years, making payments affordable even on a tight budget.

Once a motorhome has been acquired, a campsite providing water, electricity and sanitary sewer connections costs about $30 per night. Commercial campgrounds offering amenities ranging from free Wi-Fi to swimming pools and laundry facilities can cost more, including up to hundreds of dollars per night near major tourist destinations.

State and federally operated campgrounds are often much cheaper, as low as several dollars per night. And for RVers who want to stay in one place, long-term rates can be negotiated as low as a few hundred dollars a month, including utilities, even at commercial RV parks with large many amenities.

For the ultimate economy, some RVers camp for free on public lands such as the millions of federally owned Bureau of Land Management territories, mostly in the western United States. Boondocking, as the practice is known, means going without amenities and may require upgrading an RV to use solar power instead of plugging into campground electricity.

RV Lifetime Costs and Concerns

Gasoline or diesel to power a tow vehicle or motorhome can be a considerable expense, with motorhomes and truck-trailer combos reaching into the single digits. miles per gallon. When fuel prices are high, it can reduce an RV’s mobility and can mean staying in one place for a while or traveling shorter distances.

Health insurance may also be different for retired full-time caravanners. While the standard Medical cover is accepted by health care providers nationwide, Medicare Advantage policies are generally geographically limited. It’s always wise to read the fine print of any insurance policy to make sure it will cover treatment that may be needed wherever the retiree may travel, but it’s especially important when they don’t live in a fixed place.


SmartAsset: RV Removal Guide

SmartAsset: RV Removal Guide

Living full-time in an RV can help retirees stretch their budget while enjoying the freedom of a nomadic lifestyle. Full-time RVing is almost infinitely flexible, allowing retirees to stay on the move by constantly visiting exciting new destinations, or staying in one place for months or years at a time.

Retirement Planning Tips

  • Whatever your retirement life project, a Financial Advisor can help you make the right choices to financially support your choices. SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisors at no cost to decide which one is best for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, start now.

  • If the idea of ​​moving to a new place in retirement appeals to you, SmartAsset has identified and classified the places where retirees move.

  • If you’re unfamiliar with RVing but like the idea of ​​retiring to a trailer or motorhome, consider renting first to try it out. Recreational vehicles of various types can be rented for rates as low as $100 per day, and testing the experience over a weekend or week can tell you more about the lifestyle than any research.

Photo credits: © Tan, © Tan, © Crain

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