**We will scatter a few random pictures in from throughout the year just for fun**
We have now gone past our 7th year of fulltime RVing !!! Can you believe we are well into our 8th year!!?? Actually July of 2019 marked 7 years of “living” in a RV but November 2019 marked 7 years actually traveling fulltime. We celebrate the actual traveling part as our full-timing Anniversary but do our budget update on a Jan. thru Dec. basis.
While we researched the possibility of living a fulltime RV lifestyle we found it very helpful looking at what others experienced cost wise while on the road. So we try to pay the favor back by sharing some of our expenses and changing thoughts while on the road in hope it might help others that are researching this way of life.
You will notice there is no real talk of insurance costs,, health or auto listed in the update because they can vary way too much from person to person. Lucky for us we have not experienced high medical costs to this point. But that certainly needs to be taken into consideration. And for the Record we go through Miller Insurance to help us with all of our insurance needs.
You should note that the categories we have listed we consider areas that most everyone will have while on the road. But you should think about storage fees, a maintenance fund, License and registration fees, clothing and entertainment, vet bills and pet food if you travel with a pet and the cost of any hobbies you may have. All of these are also way to variable from person to person so we won’t talk much about that in our expenses for this update.
RV Fuel, First year = $3787 or ($315.58 per month on average)
Second year = $3287 or ($273.91 per month on average)
Third year = $2908 or ($242.33 per month average) you just have to love the lower fuel costs!!
Fourth year = $2056 or ($171.33 per month). Hmmm, getting lower each year but I think that will change again in 2017 (higher).
Fifth year = $2956 or ($246.33 per month)
Sixth year= $3967 0r ($330.58 per month) Our spur of the moment run to New Horizons in Kansas then Oklahoma back to Kansas and back to the west coast certainly added roughly $1500 so if we take that out of the equation we were pretty much on track with previous years). We will have to think about how we want to keep track of fuel expenses next year with a truck and 5th wheel. I will probably just keep it simple and not separate towing from casual driving.
Seventh year= $3385 “in the truck” (282.08 per month on average) ( It will be hard to put a number to it this year because we switched to the 5th wheel and we use the truck as an everyday driver at times but not as much now that we also have a car.
Jeep Fuel, First year = $2310 or ($192.50 per month on average)
Second year = $2109 or ($175.75 per month on average)
Third year = $1822 or ($151.83 per month on average)
Fourth year (part Jeep & part F150) = $1487.49 ($123.95 per month on average)
Fifth year (all F150 ) = $1669.62 ($139.13 per month on average)
Sixth year= $2049.22
Seventh year= $544 (CRV fuel) I guess because we now have the truck to pull the 5th wheel AND use as a daily driver some but very little AND a car we will just log the CRV fuel here. And put a comment on what we spend total on fuel between the truck and CRV which is $4004
(Let’s put this in perspective. If we add all of the fuel we used between the motorhome and whatever toad we had together for the first 6 years it totals $30,408 which averages out to $5068 per year. With that in mind our $4004 in year seven wasn’t bad)
Bob & Karen, Dale & Ruth and us.
Food in (groceries), First year = $4420 or ($368.33 per month on average) we budgeted $350
Second year = $4893 or ($407.75 per month on average) we budgeted $350 per month
Third year = $4829 or ($402.41 per month on average) once again we budget $350 per month
Fourth year = $4603 or ($383.58 per month on average) this year for budgeting I raised the budget to $375
Fifth year = $5189 or ($432.41) we have noticed over the years that food prices are higher in touristy towns and in towns where maybe the average income is higher. We are probably stating the obvious here LOL!!
Sixth year= $5657 or (471.41 per month on average) This year it seems we started buying a little heathier foods and unfortunately by doing so also means paying a premium price for many things. It’s easier and cheaper to eat unhealthy which is just wrong. But because we bought a little less junk food it evened out nicely, not as enjoyable in front of the TV at nights however LOL!!
Seventh year= $4842 or ($403.50 per month on average).
Eating out,, First year = $2639 or ($219.91 per month on average)
Second year = $2890 or ($240.83 per month on average)
Third year = $2677 or ($223.08 per month on average) we budget $300 per month
Fourth year = $2707 or ($225.58 per month on average) our budget this year was $2950
Fifth year = $3041 or ($253.41 per month on average). With the amount of new towns we visited this year it makes perfect sense our eating out amount was so high because we love to try at least 2 restaurants and new breweries at each location.
Sixth year= $2332 or ($194.33 per month) we ate out less this year than any other since hitting the road. I think a lot of it was my dieting and staying away from Breweries a little, well a lot actually. Those beers add up money wise and calorie wise.
We were $239 over our combined eating in & eating out budget for our 6th year.
Seventh year= $3489 or ($290.75 per month). In the time between selling our motorhome and picking up our new 5th wheel we ate out every meal and the best I can figure that accounts for at least $500 more than we normally would have spent during that time.
Campground fee’s,, First year = $8515 (1 month at Lazy Days with no campground fees)
Second year = $6487 (3 months at Lazy Days with no campground fees)
Third year = $10,511 (DANG, we need to be better during our 4th year. When we hit the road we set a budget of $25 per day which makes our yearly budget $9125. That makes us $1386 over budget for the year.)
Fourth year = $7753 (well under our $9125 budget. Hey we are $1372 under budget and almost negated the overage we had last year to the dollar LOL!!)
Fifth year = $11,024 (WOW!!! 2 different years we have been east of the Mississippi and both years we blew our budget out of the water. But in fairness we stayed at some of the top rated resorts in the country this year).
Sixth year= $11175 (crap, once again our highest since hitting the road. But we make absolutely no effort at all to stay and the least expensive spot in an area, in fact I think it is safe to say that we probably stay at the highest priced campgrounds in all of the areas we visit)
Seventh year= $9827 (I’m so happy that we at least got this a little lower than the last 2 years. And in reality knowing where we will probably be staying for or winter location at least the next couple years I would say if we can stay under $10,000 we would be happy enough.)
Average cost per night,, First Year = $23.32
Second Year = $17.77
Third year = $28.79
Fourth year = $21.24
Fifth year = $30.20
Sixth year= $30.61
Seventh year= $26.92 (this is a little funky because we spent a couple weeks in hotels while we went from Kansas to Indiana to get our truck and back to Kansas so with hotel prices being higher our number could have been lower. But on the other hand we spent a couple weeks in the New Horizon lot so I guess it really averaged out)
All years combined = $25.69 (I guess we can’t complain because this number is just above the $25 budget we set when we hit the road a little over 7 years ago.) We certainly notice that prices at campgrounds are a lot higher the farther east you go. And prices have gone up everywhere since hitting the road period. And to be honest I think we have gotten a little pickier when there are options to be had and we tend to gravitate toward the nicest in the area and don’t concentrate on price like we did when we first hit the road. I think for us it was a novelty to see how cheap we could live when we first started our venture but that has changed, we lived comfortably before we retired and see no reason not to after retirement.
Direct TV,, First year = $760
Second year = $1014.89 (We switched to HD plus lost a $10 per month discount we were getting in 2013)
Third year = $1197.27 (We were getting so tired of paying this much for TV that I made a call to Direct TV mid-November and had a chat with them. By the end of the conversation I had our monthly bill dropped from $108 per month to $73 AND kept the same programing for the next 12 months. That will be a savings of $420 for 2016 from our $108 per month cost and should drop our yearly cost to $876. It all adds up.
Fourth year = $880.59 (Looks like that phone call last year worked out as planned. Still too darn much to watch TV but I think this will be a number we will just have to deal with. The only way I can see it getting any lower is IF we find a spot to hang out for a couple months at a time that has free cable and we can put our account on “vacation mode” if that’s even available. I guess it’s worth checking out).
** NOTE!! If you will not be using your DIRECTV service and would like to temporarily suspend your account, you can do this at no charge by calling us at 1-800-531-5000. You can say “suspend services” at the voice prompt and the automated system can complete your request.
Requirements for putting your service on hold.
- Zero balance on your bill
- Customers with only 1 account are allowed a maximum of 2 suspend requests every 12 months
- Customers with 2 or more accounts are allowed a maximum of 4 suspend requests per account every 12 months
- Total time with service suspended per 12 month period cannot exceed 6 months
- The minimum time for an account suspend is 30 days
Fifth year = $987.52 (I really wanted to put Direct TV on hold for a couple months during our winter stay this year but Diane didn’t want to lose the option to record shows on our DTV box so we didn’t).
Sixth year= $1042.53 (this will be our last year with Direct TV, when we get the new 5th wheel in April we will be switching to Dish. We have pissed and moaned enough about DTV, it’s time to give someone else a chance to piss us off LOL!! To be honest it looks like we will save a little money each month, at least for the first couple years) by switching to Dish, not a lot but a little.
Seventh year= $936.54 (this is a combination of Direct TV and Dish. We had DTV the first few months while we still had the motorhome and then we switched to Dish with the new 5th wheel so there were a couple start up cost’s involved.)
Phone & internet,, First year = $1764
Second year = $1873.80
Third year = $1937.87 (this is another expense that really should be lower and I hate to pay this much for. We took advantage of a special offer Verizon had over a year ago and have a 30GB data plan plus voice and unlimited text and have a Verizon Jetpack for our internet access which we pay a $20 line charge for that makes our total cost per month $161.47.
Fourth year = $1778.63 (I hear Verizon has come out with a few new plans so maybe we need to revisit what they have to offer. We sure would like to trim this back a bit. If we stopped or cut back on the blog we could certainly cut our plan back and I have honestly pondered the idea the last few months).
Fifth year = $1596.02
Sixth year= $1692.68. We did need to get a new phone this year so a small fee was added to our bill for a few months to pay for it. And as of late November we switched to the newest Prepaid “True” Unlimited plan offered by Verizon which from the sounds of it will save us about $20 per month AND give us unlimited and un-throttled data (the jury is still out on this but so far so good). If this turns out to be a good switch it just might be a way to save a little on our Direct TV bill (well Dish) in the future but we are not just going to jump right in to that.
Seventh year= $1492.40 (So far the ”True” Unlimited plan for data has been working great. And we did add another phone to our family for Diane but we did not add it to our Verizon account, we went with a cheap $30 phone and service through Total Wireless.
Mail service,, First year = $210
Second year = $200
Third year = $210 (and we will roll about $20 of remaining postage into next year). Next year our base fee will raise from $120 per year plus postage to $150 per year plus postage. If we were wanting to save pennies we could stop a couple magazines we receive and lower the postage cost and just view the magazines on line I bet).
Fourth year = $190
Fifth year = $230
Sixth year= $210
Seventh year= $230 (Our mail forwarding service was sold and the new owner is upping the rate so this will go up next year, I think $25)
On the actual spreadsheet we keep for all of our expenses we have columns for storage, auto and RV insurance, auto maintenance, RV and auto registration, RV maintenance, fuel, Health Insurance, Propane, Dish TV, Food in, Food out, Phone/Internet, Campground Fee’s, Campground Electric, Misc. Health/laundry, Mail forwarding, RV clubs, RV goodies, Clothing, Entertainment, Household, additional auto parking fee’s and Other.
A great evening out with friends.
You can see why we don’t share the numbers in some of those areas because they are so individual. For example we spent $343 in 2013 on clothing, $564 in 2014, $970 in 2015 (new hiking boots and sandals each) and $855 in 2016 (we each got new tennis shoes to the tune of $110 each) in 2017 we spent $1321 (I never should have visited the 2 Duluth Trading stores LOL!!!) and in 2018 we spent $703.93 and if it wasn’t for going through Pickleball shoes we could have been a couple hundred less than that for 2018 and in 2019 we spent $750 on cloths (over $200 just for Pickleball shoes LOL).
Taking into account ALL of the categories we keep track of (not just what we share) we were over our budget in just a couple areas for the year of 2019 with the biggest culprit being medical ($1000) because of Diane’s surprise dental this year, $506 in our total food budget (eating out and food in combined), $544 for CRV fuel because I didn’t know we were going to buy a car when I did the budget so of course did not budget a fuel allowance, and we did spend $400 on what I call Trinkets for things for the new 5th wheel like a area rug and a couple other decorative items that we probably would not have bought if we would have stayed in the motorhome. Of course we are not talking about the unexpected purchase of Diane’s car LOL!!
A few comments
1st year comment: We have a washer drier on board our RV so that helps with laundry costs. Even though I didn’t list the cost of soap ECT. Some of the laundry mats are pretty proud of their machines and charge accordingly. Plus they are a hassle in our book.
2nd year comment: No change here either. We would not own a RV without a washer and dryer (while living fulltime in it). But that’s just our personal preference. A lot of people would rather have the added storage space and less weight. We would rather have the freedom to be taking a walk, watching TV, chatting with friends or anything while cloths are washing rather than going to a laundry mat and being tied down. Plus the thought of using machines that have been used for who knows what is not appealing to us.
3rd year comment: Our feelings will never change on this topic. It is so nice to be able to do a load while sitting around home instead of planning time at a laundry mat. And we know what’s been in our machines.
4th year comment: Still wouldn’t be without our washer & drier. Hours not spent at a laundry mat = PRICELESS!! We do however take advantage of laundry mats now and again when convenient to wash large things like blankets.
5th year comment: Our feelings will never change. For us having a washer & drier on board is priceless and I think we would be miserable not having them on board, but that’s just our opinion.
6th year comment: Still love having a washer drier on board, in fact the new 5th wheel we have being built will also have a stacker washer drier.
7th year comment: Still couldn’t imagine living this life style (or any other) and not having a washer & dryer.
1st year comment: We treat this as a life style and not a vacation. If we treated it like a vacation I’m afraid we would be broke pretty fast and our fulltime RV lifestyle would come to a premature end.
2nd Year comment: No change here. We don’t go,, do things,, every day. We have our share of stay home days. If we are in a place we find interesting for a week we might tour for 3 or 4 days and stay home the rest. But staying home always include walks and bike rides and the occasional social hour. And touring does not always have to cost much money, there are lots of things to do for free.
3rd year comment: We feel we were in vacation mode a lot more than we were the first 2 years and it sure showed expense wise. We had far fewer “kick back at home” days and even though it didn’t bother Diane as much it started to burn me out a little. I couldn’t keep this pace up and enjoy it year after year. But because we spent a lot of time in areas of the country that were filled with National Parks and Monuments it really did make sense to take advantage of it. I think we will slow down a little in year 4.
4th year comment: It seems we slowed the pace down a little compared to 2015 just like we hoped and didn’t have the constant vacation mode feel we had most of 2015. Yet we still saw lots of new country. I think we could slow down even more and still be very happy but I don’t think that will be the plan for 2017.
5th year comment: We were right in our comment last year concerning this year, we went back into vacation mode 100%! But we are happy we did, we sure covered a lot of ground “for us” and saw so many things. I’m pretty sure we will slow down some in 2018, at least as far as how long we stay in each spot.
6th year comment: Other than our crazy fast and on a whim trip to Kansas to visit the New Horizon factory we did in fact slow down our pace. And our plan for 2019, other than our trip to Kansas to pick up our new 5th wheel and a trip to Indiana to pick up our new truck, will be to slow down a bit as well. Thinking about it as I type going to Kansas, Indiana and to Texas for a rally slowing down may not be a good description for 2019 LOL!!
7th year comment: It was another rather crazy year, sold our motorhome, hauled a U-Haul trailer to Kansas and dropped it off at New Horizon, drove the F150 to Indiana to pick up our new truck and sold our F150, drove back to Kansas to pick up our new home, went to Texas for a rally and to visit friends, then back to Kansas for a rally, then to Oregon and back down to Arizona for the winter.
1st year comment: We travel pretty slowly. We feel it allows us to really experience an area while we are there. So our fuel costs may be a little less than those that like to cover a bunch of miles each month. When we hit the road we budgeted 1 tank of fuel in the motor home per month on average and have not gone over that. In fact we are well under that on average.
2nd year comment: We still prefer to travel 100 to 200 miles and spend a week however after leaving Florida we did pick up the pace a little in order to reach Oregon by June for doctor appointments. And we did stay put longer in one spot while visiting family and friends while in Oregon and only moved 5 times between June and October.
3rd year comment: Once again our travel days were pretty short all year. We did have a few more stops that were in the 5 day range rather than a week but miles between the stops were still short, normally well under 200 miles and a number of them under 100 miles. And once again we were well under our yearly motorhome fuel budget. When we hit the road diesel was in the $4 per gallon range so we set a budget of $400 (1 tank per month) and even though prices have dropped we just stick with the $400 number but as you can see we never come close to the $4800 budget number for the year. We really just keep the 1 tank per month in the back of our minds mainly so we don’t fall into the “drive to many miles and in turn right by things of interest” trap. Plus being under budget on fuel builds in a buffer that helps offset the line items we go over budget on like FOOD LOL!! It’s all about the bottom line.
4th year comment: Even though we had our share of short travel days it seems we have turned it up a notch and traveled a few longer days (to us) and far fewer travel days under 100 miles. I think we started to think more about destinations rather than just stopping at any old small town along the way. At one point this year I told Diane we better put pen to paper and decide what things we want to see in each state so we can focus on that a little more because at the rate we have been traveling over the last 4 years we may not be on the road long enough or have the life span to hit them all LOL!! Even with that statement in mind we stayed under our fuel budget for the year and we even lowered the budget for 2016.
5th year comment: Last year’s comment was “we better put pen to paper and decide what we want to see” and we did that this year and went into vacation mode. What does that equal, well we were able to check a number of things off our bucket list, we saw some great country, we stayed at some top notch resorts, we ate some great food, we covered a bunch of miles, we had some long travel days, we met some great people, we spent too much money, it plum tired us “me mainly” out AND we had a GREAT YEAR!! But we (I) could not keep that pace up year after year.
6th year comment: If we take our crazy and fast trip to Kansas and Oklahoma to visit the New Horizon 5th wheel plant and a DRV dealer out of the equation we did in fact slow our pace this year compared to our 5th year and it felt pretty good and we still enjoyed seeing plenty of new territory.
7th year comment: We feel a slowdown coming, I hope but probably not in our 8th year, I foresee a 7000 mile towing year coming up.
1st year comment: Just like while living in a house and working you can only spend what you have so budgeting is important unless you are one of the lucky ones with unlimited income,,, we are not LOL. And we only live on the income we have each month. We have made the decision to not touch any of the money we have in investments and to leave them in place for when we want or need to get off of the road.
2nd year comment: No changes here. We still have not touched our investments to support our traveling life style yet.
3rd year comment: Once again we have not touched our investments to support our life style. But we did dip into our savings account to buy our new bikes this year. When we first hit the road we set aside about 2 years living expenses in a saving account separate from our investments as an emergency fund. Up until this year we had not touched it but did this year for the bikes and new tires for the Jeep.
4th year comment: We still have not dipped into our investments to support our life style (the stock market itself does its share of dipping however without any help from us) but again this year we did make a small dint in our savings account to buy the truck.
5th year comment: Even though I felt we went a little crazy in some categories this year spending money we still lived within our means and did not dip into our savings or investments. BUT, we did decide it was time to have some dividends start coming our way from one of our accounts so that we could increase our budget just a little each month. That started in October of this year. Is that a smart move, we don’t know, was it necessary, no but there is no guarantee of a tomorrow so we decided what the hell.
6th year comment: Living within our budget still held true this year but with our decision to switch to a high end 5th wheel and buying yet another truck I’m positive we will dip into the bucket a little during our 7th year. Well we can’t take it with us as they say. But by selling the Jeep, our motorhome and eventually the F150 it won’t be too bad.
7th year comment: Well we broke away from the mold this year, new 5th wheel, new truck and all the accessories that came with the switch, that was a big number. BUT taking into account that we sold our motorhome ourselves for top dollar and sold our Jeep and pickup the difference wasn’t as bad as you might think or as bad as we thought it might be. But we won’t be doing that again any time soon. I don’t think. BUT 1 more year and I will start drawing Social Security!! We will be getting a raise!!
Here are some interesting tid-bits.
* The 1st year on the road we stayed at 57 different camping spots.
** The second year on the road we stayed at 36 different spots. Between being stuck in Florida until April of 2014 and staying in Oregon as long as we did visiting family and friends the number went down some but felt good.
*** Our third year on the road we stayed at 49 different spots and have a feeling we will try to cut this back just a little in 2016.
**** Our 4th year we stayed at 41 different locations. I guess we did stay a few less places than we did in 2015 like we thought but not by much.
***** Our 5th year on the road we stayed at 52 different location. Considering we spent the month of March in Casa Grande, the month of May in Grants Pass and Nov. & Dec in Casa Grande again we moved a lot the rest of the year. In fact too much.
****** Our 6th year we stayed at 42 different spots. This also includes 7 1 night stays while traveling which we hadn’t really done in previous years. If we take those 7 1 night stays out of the equation it shows that in fact we have slowed down a little.
**** Our 7th year we stayed at 32 different locations and that number includes the 6 different hotels and 1 night sleeping in the cab of the truck while getting our truck in Indiana. But we did cover a bunch of miles between stops this year.
* The 1st year our shortest stay was 1 night and our longest stay was 17 nights.
** The second year (not counting our stay at Lazy Days while buying our new coach), our shortest stay was 1 day and our longest was 60 while visiting friends in Oregon.
*** Our third year our shortest stay was 1 day and our longest stay was 30 days.
**** Our 4th year our shortest stay was 2 days and our longest stay was 78. The 78 days is part of our 3 month stay in Casa Grande Arizona. 15 days of our 3 month stay will roll into 2017.
***** Our 5th year our shortest stay was 1 night and our longest was 60 (which was the last 2 months of year 5 at our winter spot in Casa Grande. 30 of our stops this year were less than a week.
****** Our 6th year our shortest stay was 1 night and our longest stay was 64 days (which was part of our stay at our winter spot that will roll over into our 7th year).
**** Our 7th year our shortest stay was 1 night and our longest was 90 as we finished our winter stay. Other than that we did have 3 other 1 month stays this year, something we had not done before that many times and I think we will start seeing more of them. We actually had 4 different spots that we stayed 1 month or more at this year.
* The 1st year our cheapest stay per night of course was while boon docking at $0 cost and our most expensive was 60.96 while visiting Nashville. And it wasn’t even the nicest park we stayed at (location, location, location).
** The 2nd year our cheapest stays per night were boon docking at a $0 cost (I guess that goes without saying). And our most expensive was $65 in Borrego Springs, Ca. (Our New Year’s treat to ourselves) and the second highest was $51.55 while visiting New Orleans. And once again neither were the nicest place’s we have stayed (location, location, location holds true yet again).
*** The 3rd year of course our cheapest stay per night was boon docking at a $0 cost (We should just stop stating the obvious but we won’t LOL!!). And our most expensive was $73.14 at the Polson Motor Coach Resort in Polson Montana (our 4th of July treat to ourselves). And the second most expensive was $56.23 at the Portal in Moab Utah where we stayed 2 weeks. Both Polson and the Portal were pretty nice spots but still really too much money and we shouldn’t be paying that much.
**** Our 4th year our cheapest stay per night was $0 while boondocking and the most expensive was $65.58 while staying at Tiger Run in Breckenridge Colorado. The second highest was at the Portal in Moab Utah.
***** Our 5th year our cheapest stay was $0 while boondocking and the most expensive was $81.42 at Traverse Bay RV Resort in Traverse City Michigan. Traverse Bay RV Resort has now jumped into the top spot for the most expensive spot we have stayed at and that is even with it being a weekly rate.
****** Our 6th year our cheapest stay was $0 while boondocking of course and our most expensive was $61.76 at the Bend/Sisters RV Resort in Oregon.
**** Our 7th year of course our cheapest stay was $0 while boondocking and our most expensive was $53 in Canon City Colorado (we won’t use any of our hotels stay’s in this)
* 1st year comment: At the end of 12 months our average cost per night was $25.52. We are pretty happy with that I guess. We budget $25 per night. Campground fees in the eastern states are way more expensive than the western states.
** 2nd year comment: The average cost per night of our second year on the road was $17.84. And our overall average cost per night for the 2 years on the road is $20.69. When we first hit the road we set a budget of $25 per night so I guess even though we have certainly been over budget many months our primary goal is to be at or below our budget at the end of each year. And we have so far been able to do that with a mix of boon docking, staying at the average campgrounds and throwing a few resort type spots in for the now and again pampering LOL!!
*** 3rd year comment: Our average cost per night for our third year was $28.79. And the overall average cost per night for 3 years in $23.29. Hmm, I just realized that I elaborated about this above so we won’t repeat ourselves here. But we are happy that after 3 years we are still under the original $25 per night budget we set when first hitting the road.
**** 4th year comment: Our average cost per night our 4th year was $21.24 and the overall for all 4 years is $23.04.
***** 5th year comment: Our average cost per night our 5th year was $30.20.
****** 6th year comment: Our average cost per night our 6th year was $30.61
**** Our 7th year: Our average cost per night our 7th year was $26.92
* 1st year comment: We have found state parks to be our favorite places to stay. And they are best mid-week when most everyone has gone.
** 2nd year comment: We still like state parks the best but we have certainly found a couple privately owned parks scattered around that have been very very nice. And we do like a good mix of little or no creature comforts and the more plush parks. If all we did was one or the other I think we would get tired of the life style pretty quickly. Variety is the spice of life they say. And if they don’t we do LOL!!
*** 3rd year comment: We still like a mix of State Parks, boon-docking and private parks. But state parks are still our favorites for the most part. We did find a new admiration for at least a couple larger parks that we stayed at this year by taking advantage of classes they offered and tons of activities and will more than likely keep them in the mix now and again.
**** 4th year comment: It seems we stayed at fewer state parks this year and we only boon-docked 47 days in 2016. Hmm, I wonder what can be read into that.
*****5th year comment: Even though we still like to mix it up some I think we have both started liking the active 55 & older campgrounds or resorts a bit more. I think we have found there is far less common courtesy in “campgrounds” as well as fewer things to keep us occupied if we feel like sitting in one spot for any length of time.
****** 6th year comment: Our 5th year comment hold true.
**** 7th year comment: Once again our 5th year comments hold true. I think we are in a pattern. If we sit at any one spot for any length of time we like to have activities at the RV Park. And when we say longer periods we are talking about longer than a month like during the winter. Because we don’t do large cities by the time a month has gone by we have hiked the trails we want to hike, seen what we care to see and have eaten where we want to eat and the repeats start happening which means we want activities at the park or at least nearby to keep us busy like Pickleball for example.
* 1st year comment: Large RV parks with all the bells and whistles mixed in with the park model type structures have been our least favorite places to stay. We just don’t use or need all that stuff. And being mixed in with all the park models takes away from the feel and look we like. We are talking places with 400+ sites with the lap siding type park models (No offence meant to anyone, it’s just not for us). But we have found that we like the more pampered feel now and again of a resort setting. When we first hit the road we just wanted to boondock and live as cheap as we could. But we have decided that variety is a key factor to our happiness.
*** 3rd year comment: We still feel the same way about the really huge parks but have found a couple that are very nice and after moving so often over the last 3 years have started thinking about finding a park with all the amenities to hunker down for longer lengths of time during the winter. In fact we did stay at two parks this year for a month and had a pretty darn good time.
**** 4th year comment: State Parks are still our favorite places to stay but as we mentioned in our 3rd Year Comment we have found an unexpected admiration for a couple larger parks. In fact this year we actually stayed 3 months in one location at a LARGE resort in Arizona during the winter and must admit we enjoyed having a little structure during that time and bonding with people longer than one week at a time was a nice change. Could that grow into longer stretches, maybe. Can we see ourselves settling down in one location again long term, LETS NOT GET CRAZY HERE (just yet)!!!!
***** 5th year comment: Our 4th year comment still holds true. We still enjoy the travels but I think we are starting to think more and more about having maybe 2 spots in different parts of the country that we can sit for longer periods of time to break up our year and those spots will have to have activities like Pickleball and other activities to make us happy. Neither of us at this point still have any desire to own another “traditional” home. When we say 2 spots to sit for longer periods we are thinking maybe 3 months at each and travel the remaining 6 months of the year.
****** 6th year comment: Our 5th year comment holds true again. Except maybe we are thinking more like 4 to 5 months at a winter spot and 4 months at a summer spot and travel the remainder of the year. I’m sure our thoughts will change with the wind on this topic. Now we just need to find that perfect summer spot.
**** 7th year comment: Our 6th year comment holds true but we are having a hard time finding the perfect summer spot. We are so wishy washy on the summer thoughts but finding places to sit for at least a month are high on my list, less high on Diane’s list I think.
* 1st year comment: In our 1st year we found our food budget to be the hardest to control
** 2nd year comment: In our 2nd year we continue to find that our food budget is the hardest thing for us to stay within LOL!! It could be that we simply didn’t set a realistic budget from the beginning. Or it could be that Diane buys too many name brand products, or it could be I buy too many expensive snack foods LOL!!
***3rd year comment: That darn food budget is STILL hard to keep in line LOL!! But this year the campground fees were way out of whack and took the number 1 spot on the hardest to control. Staying in campgrounds around National Parks made it hard to find places we wanted to stay at without costing an arm and a leg. Maybe we are just too spoiled and refuse to stay at dumps I guess. But the food budget was over again this year. We are wearing the same sized cloths so we are at least working off all the food we eat LOL!!
**** 4th year comment: Yeah!! This year if we combine our food in and food out budgets we were $140 under budget. This year we were a little over on motorhome maintenance because of a front window blind motor going bad and our HDMI splitter for our entertainment center. It will always be something.
***** 5th year comment: This year our campground fees were by far the biggest thing over budget. But to be fare I set the budget before we decided to head towards Michigan so I didn’t take into account the cost of campground fee’s over there and didn’t change the budget number once we decided to head that way. Once I set a budget and it’s under way for the year I choose not to make changes on the go.
****** 6th year comment: Campground fees are starting to be the biggest culprit in our going over budget category each year. We know we can control that by doing more boondocking or staying at lesser quality campgrounds but we live this life to enjoy it and we tend to enjoy the nicer campgrounds so we will just need to adjust our budget numbers and deal with it. With that said we have certainly noticed campground prices going up. And with the increase of people “living stationary” at more and more campgrounds and in many cases bringing down the appearance we choose to gravitate more too the higher priced places to avoid that look and feel.
**** 7th year comment: This year other than buying the new 5th wheel, truck and Diane’s car (as if those are not enough LOL!) we were over in health cost because of Diane’s dental work and our auto insurance went up a bit with our new rigs which we knew would happen but didn’t know exactly how much when I set our budget. But for the most part we were spot on with our budget this year.
*1st year comment: It’s easier to say “follow the weather” than it really is. But within reason,, doable.
** 2nd year comment: No change to this comment. You’re still going to get caught in some rain or a storm now and again but just knowing that overall you can stay in areas with good weather is priceless.
*** 3rd year comment: It’s simply impossible to not get stuck in some sort of bad weather now and again. But in this life style you can sure decrease your chances of being in long stretches of it like being in a sticks & bricks in tornado alley or some place you are sure to get snow for months on end every year.
**** 4th year comment: What can we say, how can you really predict the weather. But we do know we ended up in Arizona to early this year and will maybe postpone getting here by a couple weeks in 2017, assuming we do Arizona again next winter but I’m sure we will.
***** 5th year comment: We learned our lesson and arrived in Arizona 2 weeks later than we did last year and even just that short amount of time made a difference. Another thing that came to mind this year was the amount of storms places like Florida and Texas went through and got us thinking about just how bad we really want to see more of those area, maybe not so much.
****** 6th year comment: Weather is so unpredictable that all we can do is try our best and use whatever tools are available to stay in warm & dry areas but it’s literally impossible to always have the weather you want.
**** 7th year comment: We spent a bunch of time in the middle of the country this year and puckered more than once with the weather. I think even though this coming summer we will have to be in Kansas a bit we will start avoiding the tornado alley states.
* 1st year comment: we don’t miss all the,, stuff,, we had while living in the house for the most part. Diane does miss working in the yard,,, WHATS WITH THAT!!!
** 2nd year comment: the same holds true now but I certainly do not hear Diane say she misses the yard work as much now.
*** 3rd year comment: we still don’t miss all the stuff but I have picked up a couple new toys along the way, we still need hobbies. But the things now are smaller and cost less.
**** 4th year comment: We still don’t miss all “the stuff” but we are talking more about having a spot for a home base where we can set up a few more things outside while we are there. What does that mean about our long term future fulltime life style, we don’t know. But nothing will change for at least another year I’m sure or at least until we get the northern states under our belts.
***** 5th year comment: Our 4th year comments still hold true even though we might see something like maybe a nice classic car or even a nice larger RC plane and say, “if we had a house again I could see owning one of those” but nothing to the extent that it bugs us at all. It’s nice to know that if we ever really wanted those things we could get off the road and do it, which in some way makes it easier just knowing we could I think.
****** 6th year comment: Our 4th and 5th year comments still hold true.
**** 7th year comment: Once again our 4th and 5th year comments hold true.
* 1st year comment: we packed way to many cloths to bring with us.
** 2nd year comment: Even after purging a few times since we have been on the road we STILL have cloths with us that we have never worn. How can that be??
*** 3rd year comment: as amazing as it may sound after 3 years we STILL have cloths that we just don’t wear. But everything we do have fit’s in our closet and drawers so no harm no foul. No clothing is stored in totes in the belly of the coach any longer.
**** 4th year comment: Same as our 3rd year comment.
***** 5th year comment: Once again the same as our 3rd and 4th year comment but it seems the closet and drawers are starting to bulge a little so a contribution to Good Will might be in order. I went a little crazy when we came across a couple Duluth Trading stores and Diane followed suit at a couple other stores it seems and we have not worn anything out or outgrown anything (which is a good thing).
****** 6th year comment: We still have too many clothes with us and I think that will always be the case. But as long as they all fit in the closet and drawer space we have allotted I guess it really does not matter.
**** 7th year comment: Our 6th year comment hold true.
* 1st year comment: we like small town America compared to larger cities.
** 2nd year comment: this is probably even truer after spending some time on the east coast.
*** 3rd year comment: No change, I just don’t like large cities. Diane is more open to them than I am but she is not a huge fan either. A town of 50,000 to 60,000 people is about the max in size but even smaller is our preference. There are tons of towns out there with populations far less than 50,000 that have everything a person could possibly need in the way of shopping, restaurants, activities and medical care without the craziness of large cities. Life is too short to spend it being pissed off at traffic every day.
**** 4th year comment: Same as our 3rd year comment. The only change might be that the first 3 years we were very content stopping in very small towns with really nothing to offer and I think we have grown a little bored with the extremely small places for the most part. But still have no desire to tour large cities.
***** 5th year comment: We broke the golden rule by staying in a couple large cities this year like Milwaukee Wisconsin and Madison Wisconsin which just fortifies our comment’s in previous years that big cities are NOT OUR THING!!!
****** 6th year comment: We did a good job of avoiding big cities this year. Looking back I think every town we stayed in had a population of less than 100,000. Most of the towns were well under 30,000. I think the largest town we stayed in was Yuma Arizona with a population of 95,000. There are a couple places we have pondered visiting that have larger populations like Colorado Springs that we hear good things about for summer fun but we just can’t seem to make the commitment.
**** 7th year comment: Our good friends Drew & Becky convinced us to visit them in Austin Texas this year and we are glad we did BUT that is something we never would have done if it wasn’t for them offering to be our personal tour guides and offered to do the driving when we went out for big tour days. Other than Austin the largest town we stayed in was Eugene Oregon with a population of around 168,000 and that was just for 4 days. Everyplace else was 55,000 and less. And the 55,000 is in our winter location of Casa Grande.
* 1st year comment: we put too much stuff in storage. Need to purge some.
** 2nd year comment: after our 1st year we condensed down from 2 storage units to one. We probably STILL have too much stuff in storage but we are content with it at this time.
*** 3rd year comment: We still have one storage unit and don’t really see that changing in the near future. I guess that will change when and if we ever decide to get a winter home and we move stuff to that location.
**** 4th year comment: Same as our 3rd year comment. And we did receive a notice that our storage unit costs will jump about $20 per month for 2017.
***** 5th year comment: Ok, we have spent $7515 for storage fees since we sold our home in mid-2012, JUST HOW STUPID ARE WE ANYWAY!!! Granted, we had 2 storage units for the first 18 months we were on the road until we knew for sure that we liked this life style and then condensed down to 1 but still we are paying $1250 per year to store (other than the Jeep) stuff we may never use again. I don’t see me getting rid of the Jeep so because of that we will need to keep a storage unit at least until we do something like lease a RV site in a park someplace where we can store it while not there, so I guess we will just keep paying and complaining LOL!!
****** 6th year comment: Things change, in our last year’s comment I made mention that I didn’t think I would ever get rid of the jeep yet this year I did in fact sell it. I think our plan next summer might be selling a few more things out of the storage unit if we return to Oregon this year and condensing to a smaller unit and saving a little money each month. But no doubt we will still have some sort of storage unit.
**** 7th year comment: We looked at getting a smaller storage unit this year but it was only going to save us about $25 per month so we didn’t feel the hassle was worth it. We will just stop thinking about having the storage unit or get rid of everything and not have one at all. It’s $110 per month so it’s not breaking the bank.
* 1st year comment: we don’t seem to,, want,, stuff like we used to. We don’t just buy because we can.
** 2nd year comment: Still holds true even though we seemed to loosen our belts a little and not be so tight with our money. For example we bought our new motorhome, we bought the Quad-Copter, we purchased new tire and front windshield covers and we bought our new Keurig coffee maker.
*** 3rd year comment: This year the new bikes come to mind, that sure blew the “not just wanting stuff” statement LOL!!
**** 4th year comment: This year the truck comes to mind but that was partly a comfort thing (with the intention of possibly buying an ATV to toss in the back). Other than the truck the only things we bought were the Instant Pot and the Breville Toaster Oven and a new RC plane. We certainly could have done without the Instant Pot and Toaster Oven (and plane I guess lol!!) but boy have we enjoyed both and use them often so money well spent in our book.
***** 5th year comment: No big purchases this year other than the new Camp Chef outdoor stove, a new point & shoot pocket sized camera for Diane, 2 new higher priced kitchen knives and we had lights installed under the motorhome which none are really “big” purchases. Reading our 5 years’ worth of comments concerning purchases makes me chuckle when thinking back to our previous life, now kitchen knives are big purchases worthy of mention when before it might be something like a $50,000 sand-rail. Boy things have changed LOL!!!
****** 6th year comment: No big purchases again this year. When we look back at what we noted as larger ticket items things like a new Pickleball paddle, a pair of earrings for Diane, a new pair of glasses for Dave and 2 new pillows were noted LOL!!! Hardly earth shattering purchases. Even though we do have a new 5th wheel and truck coming those items were not actually paid for this year but will certainly be huge purchases next year. Well, the truck was paid for on second thought.
**** 7th year comment: Like we said in last year’s comment, the new truck and the 5th wheel where big purchases that we knew were going to happen. Other than that Diane’s car was a bit of a surprise but we again knew that would happen within a couple years, just not this soon LOL!!
* 1st year comment: we meet some great friendly people while traveling. We have met less grumpy people in the year we have been on the road than I would deal with in just one month while I worked. Or maybe we just don’t pay the grumpy people any attention now LOL!!
** 2nd year comment: Still holds true. Most people we meet in campgrounds are like minded and are just trying to enjoy life and are not wound so tight.
*** 3rd year comment: No change here. People in campgrounds for the most part are just out to have a good time whether they are traveling the country or just getting away for the weekend.
**** 4th year comment: Again no change from previous years, we just continue meeting great people along the way and adding to the snowball effect of friends that we bump into along our travels that we have met during our journey. I will say that while living in a house in one location we all tend to run in circles of friends that are like minded and while on the road and meeting people that isn’t always the case, this election year really was what made me think about this. BUT if you are smart and can keep politics, religion and a couple other touchy topics out of conversations OR be willing to just shake your head and keep your trap shut when topics wonder off in the direction of those topics it does not need to be an issue. Of course keeping my trap shut is not my strong suit and I DO like to stir the pot now and again just for fun.
***** 5th year comment: It’s nice that amongst all of the crazy s*#t that is going on in this world that as we travel we just keep meeting great people that seem to always be willing to lend a hand when needed to fellow rver’s which in most cases are complete strangers.
****** 6th year comment: Our comment is a repeat of our 5th year comment.
**** 7th year comment: Every year we just keep adding new friends. I’m sure we would if we still lived stationary in a sticks & bricks but I’m certain nothing like we do in this life style. And you know what, Pickleball also has a lot to do with that, we meet so many people on the courts.
* 1st year comment: I wish I had left work sooner instead of waiting around trying to make life easier for others. The world moves on with or without you.
** 2nd year comment: No change of heart here!! I will say that even though I was plagued with thoughts of my old job far longer than I thought I would be once we hit the road, I very seldom think about the place now. And when I do I don’t think my blood pressure rises as far as it used to LOL!!
*** 3rd year comment: What??? I had a job?? Hmmmmm
**** 4th year comment: I don’t really think about the old job any longer. It’s much better to live in the present and not the past. We started this journey to make memories, if I wanted to live in the past we could have pulled up a rocking chair and sat on our porch the remainder of our lives staring into our back yard just reflecting. I’m not saying we don’t ever think about or bring up the past but really not that much.
***** 5th year comment: The trend on this topic continues. As 5 years of being retired has now come and gone I find it hard to be enthused when someone asks me what I did in my working days. When I first retired I found myself getting all pumped up talking about the challenges and rewards that I was so passionate about back then. Now it’s normally a short sentenced answer and I move on. In fact I don’t think I will even comment on this topic in our future yearly updates LOL!! Diane has always had it right, her job was not her life, rather just a means to live her life.
****** 6th year comment: Our 5th year comment hold true except now it has been six years since I (Dave) retired.
**** 7th year comment: Our 5th year comment holds true.
* 1st year comment: we miss our family and friends but think they are all happy for us.
** 2nd year comment: This still holds true and it was great getting back to Oregon for our visit after being gone for 18 months.
*** 3rd year comment: Of course we still miss the friends we had while living stationary in the sticks & bricks but with social media it really seems like we have never left in certain ways.
**** 4th year comment: All of the comments from previous years still hold true and in fact during our last visit to Oregon everyone was so busy that we hardly had a chance to all get together but with social media we still knew what everyone was pretty much up to. However we did feel a little more “outside the circle”. Maybe we were holding onto the thought of things staying the same a little too much. I know we are not alone with this happening, we have talked with a number of full-timers that feel the same way when they return “home”.
***** 5th year comment. We are so thankful for social media, sometimes I think we stay closer to friends with us being hundreds if not thousands of miles away than some of our friends do that are just a few miles apart.
****** 6th year comment: Our 5th year comment hold true.
**** 7th year comment: And again our 5th year comment holds true.
** 2nd year comment: If you are a recycler and travel around you could become frustrated with the lack of recycling in some parts of the country. And if one person of the pair is more of a recycler than the other be ready for the possibility of conflicts LOL!!. Diane is the big recycler between us. I will recycle but it needs to be convenient. If a park does not participate in recycling I have no problem tossing stuff in the garbage. Diane however is more inclined to bag things in hope that our next stop may recycle. So if I start finding recyclables hidden I get frustrated which in turn creates tension. It is what it is, I don’t like clutter and Diane wants to save the earth.
*** 3rd year comment: I have actually seen Diane walk to the garbage and recycling area with 2 bags and come home with one just because they didn’t recycle a certain material. If it were me I would have just tossed it in the garbage. I just shake my head and shut up, I’m sure there MIGHT be something I do that she just doesn’t get, MIGHT be I say.
**** 4th year comment: Not much more to say on this topic. I don’t mind recycling if it’s convenient and Diane does not mind packing recyclables around for weeks until we find a spot to drop them off. It’s just a topic we disagree on and deal with on a regular basis and I’m sure always will LOL!!
***** 5th year comment: Our 4th year comment holds true.
****** 6th year comment: Our 4th year comment hold true. But since China no longer takes our plastics it has gotten even worse trying to recycle. I think we will purchase a Berkey Water system setup for our new 5th wheel in an effort to cut back on plastics.
**** 7th year comment: We did in fact purchase a Berkey Water system and not only has it provided us with excellent drinking water it has also relived a BUNCH of pressure that was associated with recycling. We wish we would have done this when we first hit the road. Now how can we deal with cardboard better LOL!!
* 1st year comment: I don’t think, no I know that we could only live this life style as long as we stay in motion. Meaning we keep traveling like we have and not staying put in any one spot for extended lengths of time.
** 2nd year comment: I could see us spending a month or maybe even 3 or 4 in one spot during the winter when the nice weather (we consider nice weather as warm) is restricted to the southern states. Or even 2 or 3 months while visiting family and friends back in Oregon. But if we had to stay put any longer than that I’m afraid we couldn’t do it. That feeling might change in the future, who knows.
*** 3rd year comment: This still holds true but we did stay put in one location a couple times this year for 30 days and did just fine. We have even tossed around the idea of maybe 3 months in one spot next winter to test the waters but have not committed to it yet.
**** 4th year comment: We still feel there would be no way we could stay put in one spot long term and live in an RV but we are starting to talk about finding a couple spots around the country ( 2 or maybe 3 in different areas) we can stay put for 2 or 3 months at a time and travel the rest of the year. In fact we DID stay for 3 months this winter in Arizona and didn’t have much trouble but the place had lots of activities. If we had not gotten involved with activities we would have gone bonkers I’m sure.
***** 5th year comment: Our 4th year comment still rings true and we continue to keep our eyes open for those 2 or 3 special places we would feel comfortable staying put for a couple months each during the summer and a spot we might stay 4 months at during the winter. We thought we found one of the summer spots in Michigan this year but I think we both feel staying more on the west side of the country when the time comes to have those spots might be best if we continue spending winters in Arizona.
****** 6th year comment: Our minds are still thinking as we did in our 4th & 5th year comments. But we still have not found those perfect places.
**** 7th year comment: At this point I think we are happy spending a few months during the winter at a very active 55 & older resort in Arizona but continue to look for a couple perfect spots to spend longer stretches at during the summer months. Physical activities are a must for us at a park so we don’t HAVE to go out of the park every day to get it.
We are pretty happy that we really for the most part have stayed within our planned budget since hitting the road. But I’m afraid if we didn’t keep a spreadsheet keeping track of expenses like we do it would be very easy for us to get carried away. It’s a simple tool that keeps us in check and one we didn’t use while still working so it didn’t come naturally.
Before we hit the road while talking or reading about people that had been on the road fulltime for 2, 3, 5, 8 or even more years we thought, how the heck could you do that!! But now that we have been on the road for over 7 years we understand how. Time really does go by quickly and there are so many great things to see and experience that we would have NEVER seen just going on vacations 2 or 3 weeks a year.
And while planning the life style we thought long and hard about being away from friends and being loners while traveling but it is amazing how many new friends you make along the way. And it’s even more amazing at how often you run into the new (traveling) friends in different parts of the country. And it’s a snowball effect, the longer we stay on the road the more and more friends we gather which in turn increase the chances of seeing them where ever we are. We have used the term, it’s a small world, more times over the last 7 years than we ever used it in our previous life style.
Yep, it’s a pretty darn good life. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can stay put, live off of solar power in the middle of the desert, eat cheap and stay away from people if you want. OR you can move around all the time, stay in high end resort type RV parks, drink expensive wine and eat steak every night and attend every type of social event known to man. Or do as we have and mix a little of everything in. I’m sure this life style is not for everyone, and we are darn glad it’s not because we would have one heck of a time finding a spot to camp LOL!! All I can say is don’t knock it if you have not tried it.
To put it simply, if you have a desire to fulltime and the means we would certainly recommend giving it a chance. You only live once with no guarantee just how long that will be so you may as well enjoy it.
We hope this format of reporting our year end results isn’t too long and drug out but I find it interesting to read our own thoughts from one year to the next and we hope you do as well.