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Have you considered living your life on the road and traveling wherever you want as a way to make the most of your retirement years?
But then reality strikes and you think to yourself, “How can that kind of life be financially doable?”
I’m a full time RVer. My 36-foot, 20-year-old motorhome is my only home. I’m proof that cheap RV living can be a reality for most anyone.
I travel most of the time — staying overnight for free in RV-friendly parking lots.
Whenever I need a break from life on the road, I rent a spot at an RV park and stay put for a month or more.
Living this way I’ve found that (even with the high cost of fuel) RV travel is easily attainable — even on a modest income.
My Cheap RV Living Experiment
As it turns out… whether you are actually traveling in your RV or staying in an RV resort, the cost of day-to-day life is about the same.
When you’re living in an RV, you can travel whenever you want… or stay put with all the amenities of normal society. You can live according to what your mood tells you for the moment.
Using a 2-month time period as my scale (one that can be extended indefinitely because the cost of life really doesn’t vary enough to matter), I will show you how it all balances out…
How Much It Costs To Stay In RV Parks
For a month, I stayed in an RV park that was centrally located in a mid-sized city. It was nothing elaborate — just a place that includes:
- laundry facilities
- bath house
Those are my 3 major requirements at RV parks, but I would prefer to include propane availability on site as well.
The cost for 1 month: $450 inclusive.
That’s a little pricey for the quality of the place, but the location was convenient and it was a safe neighborhood.
How Much It Costs For RV Travel With Free Overnight Parking
I’ve been traveling since then, staying exclusively at spots where I can spend the night for free — Walmart parking lots for the most part. They have all welcomed me warmly when I ask at customer service if RVs are allowed to spend the night. It helps that I use a smartphone app to find Walmarts that do allow you to stay ahead of time, but I always confirm when I get there regardless.
I’ve also stayed at places like Cabela’s — where not only do they allow you to stay, but they have a painted parking lot laid out just for RV overnight parking! They also supply a dump station and fresh water at no charge. And the last Cabela’s I stayed at even had dog kennels — so you can leave your pet while shopping.
With a very small amount of Internet search, I set my course in a general direction and hopscotch from one free RV parking spot to the next — driving between 25 miles and 100 miles per day. (Remember, I’m retired. Hurry isn’t in my vocabulary.)
After completing 2 weeks of travel, I have spent a total of $240 on diesel fuel. Having spent $0 on lodging, and having a supermarket available at almost every stop, I have lived as well as anyone else — either on the road or parked — for the sum total of less than $500 a month, excluding the cost of food. (Food is a fixed cost that you have no matter where you are.)
By the end of the month, I will be halfway across the country — where I plan to stay at an RV resort, complete with all the amenities, including cable TV, WiFi, and an on-site RV/car wash. The total cost of 1 month’s stay will be about $500.
Many places between here and there are measurably cheaper, but this place is on the outskirts of a major metropolitan area — so it’s expected that the prices are a little higher. I’ve priced RV resorts and RV parks around the country, and I find that $500/mo. is about middle of the stream cost-wise.
It’s True… Almost Anyone Can Afford Cheap RV Living Full Time!
In the end, as long as you can be comfortable taking life at a slower pace, then either of these 2 options are smart ways to stretch your full time RV dollars:
- Traveling in the RV without driving long distances in a day.
- Kicking back at a campground for a month’s stay.
NOTE: A month’s stay at an RV park is often half the cost of the daily rate. And short driving days means the monthly fuel budget stays intact.
If you choose to spend the winter months in the southwest, the numbers crunch even more to your favor! You can park on BLM land for free, or stay in a Long Term Visitor Area for $180 for the entire winter season.
When you compare $500 a month to the cost of home ownership, it’s an easy decision. I’ve proven that life on the road can be attainable for almost anyone with a modest income.
Tips For Living In An RV Full Time
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some of our other articles to help you enjoy cheap RV living yourself:
- RV Budgeting: Costs And Expenses
- Tips For Stretching Your RV Fuel Dollars
- How To Make Money When You’re RVing Full Time
- Tips For Avoiding Costly Mistakes While Fulltime RVing
- 10 Common RV Repairs The Average Do-It-Yourselfer Can Fix
- How Do Fulltime RVers Handle Health & Medical Issues?
I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller… you’ve got a good idea of who I am. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide!