Is fulltiming a cheaper alternative to having a house?

Started by ben2, November 17, 2013, 09:49 AM

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Why would you say it's not as comfortable?

I have two RVs: My 1972 Winnebago D24, and my 1997 Lance Squire 5000.

If I were single, the Lance would be perfect. My wife and I could live easily in the Winnebago. If I'm being completely honest, I prefer it to our 1300 sq ft house. The only thing that I can think of that I like better about the house is that there are multuple rooms with doors that shut, so if you get mad at someone you can seclude yourself away from them. In the RV you just have to glare at them or go outside.   


I think cheaper, but it is not so comfortable.


Definitely less than owning a home.  Plus, if you don't like the neighborhood, moving is so much easier!
1969 D22, 2 x 1974 D24 Indians, 1977 27' Itasca


I've been watching a lot of videos by CheapRVLiving on YouTube.   There are people living on 3,4,$500 a month on the road.  Mostly BLM land out west.  Very interesting stuff.

There's a recent movie named Nomadland I'm looking forward to seeing.

Some cool stuff to think about.


He's probably going to use a composting toilet.  But even so, you've still got greywater to take care of.   Yeah you're right, it just takes one person w/o any concern for his neighbors to royally screw it up for everyone.  Or one bad neighbor. 


Therein lies the problem, These laws are buried in the books and nobody knows about them until you move in and then you are screwed. There is a guy right now advertising in our local facebook page looking for a site to put a Tiny house he wants to build and stay in. He is in the Air Force and stationed at the base here. He mentions that he wants to rent some property and water is needed but sewer is desired but not necessary.  Sewer not necessary?? And where do you plan to dump? This is why they enact those laws!!


Rick I just checked my town code, they have a law against house trailers including RVs, .... from 1939!  But if you drive around, there are RV's in a lot of driveways so apparently this is not enforced.  If someone were to start living on site in their trailer or RV this would be reported by the neighbors and then it would get enforced though.


Is anyone using their membership in a fraternal organization as part of their full-timing plan?  I'm sure they don't want you living there but you might find a friendly reception at the bar and a place to park for the night at some of these while traveling, if you are an active member back in your 'home' area.   Elks, moose, rotary, vfw, am legion, KOC, etc...?



The big problem is that a lot of towns, more and more of them, will not allow people to live in an RV or trailer in a residential district. It is even getting that way in the more rural areas, the politicians have to feel important and prove to the rich people that they are doing something to earn their money. And the rich people do not want trailer trash. I know that sounds rough but if you look around at some of the areas where people have populated the area with RV's and trailers it inevitably gets run down. That is what I have seen when I lived in upstsate Pa. and now in NJ anyway. Nowhere around here in NJ are you allowed to live in an RV.


Boondocking seems fun but also seems like it would get exhausting.   What about picking up a lot at a tax auction or even on the regular real estate market?  Taxes would be low since there's no building on it, even in my state of NY.  One could even put in a pole and electric service.   City sewer and water might even be available depending on how rural the site is, or put in a well and holding tank or septic system.

Lots of times they sell these building lots cheap b/c they are too small for a house to be built on without a variance from the town.   Too small for a house is fine for an RV!

Pick one up in the south for the winters, and one in the north for the summers.

If one got the urge to wander and see new sights, one could still boondock for as long as they wanted before returning back to home base.

I was thinking that setting up an RV spot behind my house with a nice driveway back to it, and renting the house as an income property might be a good way to go during retirement.  I guess you could do the same thing with a house purchased only for that purpose.  Buy it to rent it out, while also providing a parking spot for your RV nearby, and income.   


Great stuff guys. However while reading about places to stay. I didn't see  anyone mention airfields. Not Airports but airfields. I found many of the small towns in the States have airfields and many times the manager or caretaker will let you put up for a time. Just a thought. Hm?


HELO GOPHER!! just read your post, i live in tucson,az. for a long time noe,cities like phx. and tucs. , get lots of snow birds every year that makes the rents out of sight and even prety high during the off seasons also..the smaller ones are the only place that everybody tries to live!so at least out here, what happens is the owners of the small lots also can jack thier rents up like crazy, and do,now i know that there is alot to say yet about all the other alteritives, i just wanted to mention that out here ,a bigger city is not the plce to live in the rv parks.


I've been full time for two years now, and what's been a big help in keeping costs down is a website, There's also On both sites, the reviews are very helpful. There are lot's of free campsites listed. Many of them are spacious and not crowded, and staying there is so much better than being sandwiched between other RVs like in a state or private RV park. Of course, there's no hookups, so solar is important. Many people are using portable "suitcase" solar panels, so going solar is not hard. Free electricity!
There's no question that RV living is way less costly than maintaining a house. But I'm retired and free to do as I please. If you're still working, or raising a family, that's a whole different question. But even then, I think you could live at an RV park in a nice trailer, and keep your expenses lower than what it costs for keeping a house.
Yes, downsizing is a challenge! It's the price you have to pay, to stop paying those big bills.


Quote from: ClydesdaleKevin on November 17, 2013, 06:13 PM
(just avoid the RV parks that have electrical meters on their sites...or don't tell them you plan on staying a whole long time...just tell them you are staying a month...then extend it a month, and so on until they insist you move to a metered spot, then move on to the next campground!
I had a bad experience with a park that didn't have electrical meters at each site. When I checked out, the charge for electricity was exorbitant! They were just ripping off everybody as they left, and there was little that I could say to argue. Why do you not like meters?


This past week I loaned out my car to a lady friend.  That week I started driving my Cheiftan back and forth to work.  Well, one day I was over visiting and did not leave until close to midnight.

On my way home almost 75 miles away, I started to get tired.  So, I stopped at the Walmart to just grab a nap.  Next thing I know, my phone alarm clock was going off.  It was time to get up and go to work.

So, I am now in hyper mode, setting up my rv for fulltime.  I can stay at a large number of places and come home once every week or two to dump.  If I really need to conserve, I have a 24 hour gym membership that has wifi and showers.  Heck, I may never have to go home.  LOL

Im working on mounting my 6 solar panels and setting up my battery bank.  I won't even need to use shore power or the ginny....unless I want to run the A/C.  Everything in the rv will be DC ran other than that.  And for short Microwave use I have an inverter with my system that is not part of the rv.


I sorta "stumbled" into fulltime RV living,... and it couldn't have happened at a better time.

Recently retired with nothing more than SSI income, it was time to make some big changes. It was my daughter's suggestion to maybe get a small travel trailer as sort of "father-in-laws" kinda place. A place to escape my daughter's busy family life and jus relax! While considering the option, I stumbled on the ol' Winnebago and jus KNEW it would be perfect!!! The 'learning curve' of the unique lifestyle, might be challenging to some. But I truly enjoy it! And the best is yet to come!!! I now have a "small apartment" on wheels rather than a cozy cabin, and plenty of room to enjoy with others.

MAJORLY,... I'm based with my daughter's and their families in North Michigan about 6mos, and with "extended family" along the Emerald Coast of Florida for 6mos. I usually help those where I stay with various costs, in cash or kind, to offset my electric consumption and in great appreciation for the parking space. Through out that time, I may venture about a few weeks, alone or with others, and enjoy the moments in every way I can. My biggest cost is fuel of course, and I can be quite flexible here,.... it's a matter of jus how much I really want to venture about and how much I want to run the genny. Oh,... and jus how "adventurous" I want to be! Rustic "boondocking campgrounds" in N Michigan can be as little as $15 a night. And I occasionally spring for an overnight at State Campground to enjoy the benefits of a tank dump, laundry facility, electric for AC, water, and general atmosphere,... most enjoyed with family and friends.

Next greatest expense is maybe propane, from Oct-Feb,... when most all that time is in cold N Michigan. Oh, that "learning curve"!!! I quickly went from 20lb(?) tank exchanges ($20-$25), to FULL tank refills (an honest 20lb $12-$14), and now purchase by gal (lately about $2.09 gal) to fill the 100lb onboard bulk tank. I'll let you do the math to see the real savings here, but it's been super nice!!! And of course the other "overhead" costs of insurance and registration which is rather minimal, even with the extra coverage I found necessary and is not really any different than having car to rely on. Did I mention that my home is ALSO my primary transportation??? You know,... major shopping once a month, a dash into town now and then,... thinkin of a motorized bicycle to reduce that expense a bit and enjoy jus getting' out and about more.

I have tools and skills I share with others EVERYWHERE I go, it's nice to be retired. But with such minimal income, I'd otherwise likely be renting in subsidized housing or worse, with little left after bills, and the same expenses of a primary vehicle. Or I'd be VERY reliant and quite imposing on family, friends and others in a "live-in" or shared expense situation.

Oh I've spent time in rest stops, truck stops, parking lots too,.... but it's rather minimal. I've often thought of shared costs in traveling about with others, jus to enjoy the time and see a bit more here and there,... I got the room and comfort, and if one's in no real hurry, it beats bus travel or a rental car, with a good savings on decent meals and lodging too. lol!

A cheaper alternative??? I think so,... certainly a more adventurous alternative!
To The Crazy Old Crow Medicine Show
DR Mousseau - Proprietor
Elixirs and Mixers, Potions and Lotions, Herbs, Roots, and Oils
"If I don't have it,... you don't need it!"


Well as a new full-time rv liver. I enjoy the freedom  but the gas for my rv is expensive I have a 100 gal tank and a 50 on the other side at 3 dollars a gal. And 9 miles to the gal. It makes it hard  but it so worth it 


I never worry while at rest stops.  Between having 2 German Shepherds, a couple of Glocks and other various things that go boom, we sleep like!

Kev and Patti, the furry kids, our 1981 Ford F-100 Custom tow vehicle, and our 1995 Itasca Suncruiser Diesel Pusher.


This was an interesting read.  I read Frank carried Hornet Spray.   That reminded me of one reason full timing sort of scares me.

Once Wife and I were I guess what you call Boon-docking, staying at a rest area I guess, never heard this term.

Well about 1 Am somebody started knocking on our door lightly at first stating his car broke down and his wife was in car with a baby and they were there a day or two and needed food and were a mile away.

Well we were close to an interstate and when he said this BS I knew he wanted in.  A trooper would of stopped in a day or two! I forget what he said but he said they were broke down a long time.  Then he started to pound on door.

Holy Smokes, and NO HORNET SPRAY !, not like I'd use it, that door isn't opening!  Cool minded, I calmly said hang on let me put my pants on.  I jumped in drivers seat with my BVD's on started it and took OFF!

I don't even think Wife woke up completely.

I did have a baseball bat.



I find numbers speak louder than assumptive comparisons. Things I think are expensive luxuries (like for instance seeing going out to eat or having sat/cable tv) are things other folks take for granted. Likewise things I find important (like my fancy high speed internet connection) can be things someone else might find frivolous or unnecessary. We all have different perspectives on what makes up the finer details of our individual lifestyles. We might share the aspect of Fulltiming in vintage rigs, but we all do it our own ways.

As for the TV comment I've not owned one in over a decade, and the one I had then was a 13inch black n white portable unit with 7ft rabbit ears.

As for the burglary concerns. There are some common sense things that can help mitigate that fear. I have details like my outdoor furniture being chained via bike locks (or in case of one piece a chain made of trigger locks) either to my rig or to each other. My computer is likewise bolted down inside. I've disabled my 12v system and put the battery into storage so it can't be swiped since I've gotten a heads up that that is the item that gets ripped off from the park most often. My park has security cameras on the entrance area and a neighborhood watch within. And probably the most important detail - My trailer and its contents are insured under my fulltimer's policy. If I were to be burglarized, all I'd need to do is come up with my deductible and an itemized list of what is missing and their values then accept the check and go on a shopping spree. I don't have an alarm system but there are a few rigs in the park that do.

As for my little house, I've fixed it up largely by raiding scrap piles of people I know and folks that put things up on craigslist. Keeps costs low. Got a to do list a mile long. Seems each time I finish one project, 2 more get added. :) keeps me busy though. I also highly recommend trading and bartering. I've gotten a lot of projects done that way. Self sufficiency is great, but trading talents and supplies can take you further, faster than you might otherwise go. I've done clothing alterations in exchange for labor on my rig as an example.

Full timing isn't a solution for everyone, but it works for me. Some folks that know me are more supportive than others. I've got one person trying to talk me into the spare room of their house so they can 'save me' from this cramped lifestyle ever since they saw how tiny my tiny house really was. Others think I'm downright nutz. A few are jealous. Most are supportive and at times extremely helpful.

The numbers are just one aspect of the lifestyle to consider. Don't forget to look at and evaluate other details of your life to see how full timing might affect you. As an example, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who was claustrophobic.


Thank you so much for the "real life" numbers.  I can actually use them for comparison in my situation.
Also, thanks for the "freedom" reminder during this time of remembering & honoring the vets who have given so much for this freedom we all enjoy.



 I deeply appreciate eveyones imput regarding this post. What hits me the most is the Freedom!!What I haven't mentioned is the I have been burglarized twice..This could happen anywhere, but taking the precautions, and not being away from the MH any  long length of time, should take care  of this..I will start clearing away all the clutter, and start making plans to make the transition as soon as I can. I have one year to get ready..I am actually looking forward to it, for life is about the journey not just the destination.. When I start liquidating assets,I can make upgrades to the motorhome.I need to change the 16.5  wheels to 16's, and get the easier to find tires..I am most grateful to this site and to all of you who have given me the time, and opinions, to help make this possible. I am truly blessed by your presence..Thank you.. ben


Thank you for that. For once we get the real numbers. I think many will find your candor an inspiration and reconfirm there hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel for them.   :)ThmbUp


I find it is significantly cheaper than renting. can't say I've ever had the chance to own a house with a foundation so I can't do a direct compairason to that. :) But I can give ya what I got.

Been living in a long term park full time approx. 2/3 of a year now. The Park managers prefer rigs 25 years or younger but will make exceptions for well loved and nicely maintained vintage rigs. There is no daily or weekly rent here, it's only month-month payments and they prefer minimum stays of 3 months. They also require a deposit. Lots vary in size from " 20' n under" to mobile homes. About half the park is mobiles, the rest various rv forms. There's a sweet Elandan a few rows over and I'm next to a pristine 1958 shasta with all original interior.

My lot rent and utility fees (electric, water, sewage, garbage n recycling, plus getting the occasional 20$ propane tank swap) total between $317-$450 per month depending on time of year and weather. Plus $55 for phone/high speed internet. I also pay $144 per year for my awesome insurance policy on my trailer.

Previously in this same area I was paying $500-$600 per month for rent alone on either a 'room' in a 'shared house' or a studio apt and another 150$ on average per month for the basic utilities (power, w/s/g). Add in the cost of my phone and high speed internet (which i have hooked up in my trailer) at another 55$.

Now, my disability brings me 866$ a month. Total, and in my state (cali) I don't qualify for food stamps (because the $866 is a combo of both state and federal cash aid). Breaking down these numbers I'll show the direct comparison below in a nifty table:

Low End RentingHigh End RentingLow End FulltimingHigh End Fulltiming
Base Rent500600249299
Utility fees15015068151
Insurance (broken into monthly put-it-in-the-bank chunks)001212
Income leftover for everything else. Food/clothing/toiletries/furniture/home improvement, etc.16161482349

So in a nutshell my expenses have been cut by about 1/3-1/2. I now have the ability to know I can spend $100+ per month on just food (man is my health improving with a better diet!). I generally spend about $75-100 on home or lifestyle improvements (sometimes this is maintenance stuff like wood, caulk or new tools, other times it's things that make life a bit nicer like a new knife set or my food dehydrator), I also pay $48 per month on a small storage unit for stuff I seldom use, and $20 on a multi-trip bus pass each month which leaves me with roughly $81-239 for a 'slush fund' or 'play money' that I can save or spend however I want.
$81-239 doesn't sound like a lot of money to most people, but after scraping by on far less for most of my life it is a fortune. I've also never had the privilege of being able to buy insurance before. The peace of mind my fulltimer's policy brings me is phenomenal.

It's not perfect. Wind whistles through the louvered windows. There's no hot water (yet  ;)  ). The bathroom has a distinct lack of elbow space (and no bathing facilities -thankfully the park has a shower house). finding the perfect spot to store everything is an ongoing evolving challenge (added 3 new shelving units from reclaimed wood today in fact). And I have to hire friends anytime the rig needs repositioned (I can't drive myself). Limited space for company (interior dimensions are roughly 7'4" x 10'8").
But for me, this tiny little 14' travel trailer is heaven on wheels.  :angel:

I honestly don't think at this point I could ever go back to living in foundation possessing buildings. I might not be traveling but I've never been this free before.

I do have an eye out for a short list of dream rigs to 'upgrade' to eventually though.  W%