Is fulltiming a cheaper alternative to having a house?

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

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  I have been debating going to fulltiming as a cheaper alternative to keeping ,and maintaining a house??I know the allure of travelling when you want , not having to put up with less than desirable neighbors..And having the option of moving when you want. But getting to the nuts and bolts is it a cheaper way to live??My rv is a 1978 Minnie Winnie 24.5 feet in length, its in fairly good shape, and paid for. My best friend  is little White Bichon 8 pounds of white fur that is already to go, (ready to sniff new places).My house insurance went up 500.00 this year,and then the recurring taxes, year end and year out..Then the upkeep, I am not longer able to do all the repairs like roof replacement by my self???The only problem when I decide to get rid of all that stuff that I have accumulated in 30 plus years..Utilities in a house 3-400.00 month depending on season..What does it cost to live on the road,not staying in highend parks..And  not boondocking all the time..What is reasonable...I have been living frugally for some years now..I would like to hear from all  the benefits, and the minuses?? Thank you ...ben


Ben I have been able to travel and stay most places free  I stay at a R/V park once in a wile but they are very expensive.  The sewer running water pool Electric + a lot of other amenities make them worthwile . But i prefer FREE !! I stay at roadside rests closed business,s Turpike pull offs parking lots Walmarts etc as long as the price is free !! In 15 yrs i have only been chased out once By a Florida State trooper he objected to me being parked with the cars and told me to move over to the truck area Wich i try to avoid due to noise of idleing diesels . Stayed at daytona Beach a whole week every night after a stop at the local watering hole for dinner and refreshments i would get on the interstate and stay at a reststop get off at the next exit and return to the beach over and over  The fee for the beach food and fuel abd refreshments were the only cost I did not have a dog at that time . They have changed the rule at the beach no dogs allowed now ! If you follow the sun and stay at relatives As much as possible you can get by pretty cheaply if you are by yourself !! I stayed at this reststop on alligator alley in Fla they even had a free boat ramp & dock Bringing my boat next time !!
"The Journey is the REWARD !"
Member of 15 years. We will always remember you, Frank.


Well Myself and my wife decide to go fulltiming a few months ago. We went from living on a shoe string budget to being able to save $9000 so far in our bank account.

The key is finding low to free places to park. In the off season many places lower their rates and since I'm a disabled Vet many state parks allow us to stay for pennies a day.

I will say you must have a saving account that you are really putting money in, we lost are fridge and a new one was just short of $2000 (We also upgraded to a larger fridge) and we still need to fix a few soft spots in the floor. (Waiting for better weather)

If you do boondocking and have the right set up you can seriously save a lot of money in the long run.
   CWO4 Motor Pool Chief (retired)
   Onan Master Installer/Service Tech
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Thanks for the replies. My mortage will be paid of in one year, then I can sell..I am living frugally  now and have been just to keep my house..What I get will be my reserve,and savings will enable me, to make the transition..I should be able to get from 60-low 70's..


  • The thing that will catch you off guard is not having anybody controlling your life. No monthly bills so's to speak. No heat, electricity, water bills, no monthly tax bills. It will be what ever you want to make of it. The world will be your oyster. Any time, any place, any where. That is one big pile of FREE DOME :)ThmbUp


I can say firsthand that it is WAY cheaper to live fulltime in a paid for RV than owning even an inexpensive house!

And you don't even have to boondock all the time to save money, or stay in National Forests and State Parks...although those things will save you a lot of money in the long run!

You said your utilities were between 3-400 a month, and there are a LOT of nice RV parks out there that will cost you the same or less per month with no extra cost for utilities (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!

Maintaining an RV is cheaper than maintaining a house, even with the additional engine expenses, so you save there too.

And if your house is going to be paid for soon, you can either sell it and have a very nice nest egg...especially if you are over 65 and don't have to pay a capital gains tax...or you can rent it out, and get a reverse mortgage...where they pay you against the equity in your house!

Add in the fun of boondocking and National and State forests, and you'll be sitting pretty!  You and your little Bichon friend can eat steak every night!

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


There are some drawbacks though If you order something on line and forget to update address your item will go to the wrong place, Health insurance, Medicare is a must and a suppliment to go with it (make sure its applicable in all states) . Mail is a big problem unless you have someone at a permanant address where it can be delivered and forwarded to where you are stopped for a wile Registration is another problem if no permanant address (or use a mail service Good Sam etc) thats another expense Set up direct deposit for all checks and bank on line pay bill on line (requires a stop with wifi connection ) Must have a very good anti virus on your computor and strong passwords You will be traveing where the bad guys loaf . A can of hornet spray at the entrace door & a 12 ga handy are also reccomended. Do not carry a lot of cash in the veh use credit cards and keep a ck on them Have Fun and steak every day is also not reccomended lest you dont want to be around a long time !! Frank
"The Journey is the REWARD !"
Member of 15 years. We will always remember you, Frank.


1980 to 1984 I full timed while working. My costs at the time included toilet chem (recirculating type) propane, mailbox, and payphone use. Gasoline was not included in my $100 per month expense. I stayed In a locked construction yard most nights and on quiet res. streets, empty lots, 24 hr supermarkets, friends driveways etc. Went to the coast on a lot of weekends and parked wherever I thought it was OK. Never got run off or had my sleep interrupted. I know times have changed but I think I could still do it today if need be.
Don and Mary
2000 TC1000 Bluebird bus conv.


What about someone who wants to live in their RV but doesn't want to travel due to stroke..Being on a very limited income (SSI) until retirement age.  Where would/could you park?  I can't live full time in my RV now because of local ordinances.
Are there parks, campgrounds, communities, any place that one could live without having to move every 72 hours.  Just looking for thoughts and ideas..



Not sure about other states, but out in Arizona there are a LOT of 55 and older RV parks where the older folks stay year round and pay relatively little for their sites.  That would be an alternative to someone who didn't want to travel all over, and a 55+ park usually has senior activities as well, and no screaming kids!

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


Hey Kev. 
Thanks for the reply..
Would love to have screaming kids around!  Here they carry guns and shoot first..
Any links to start searching out in Arizona?  Have a brother and many friends there..



Arizona is a unique state, in that you could snowbird there, and never leave the state or travel very far.  You could spend the springs, summers, and falls in the higher elevations like Flagstaff and have average temps of 75 degrees, then go down in elevation for the winter and again have average temps of 75 degrees.

We stayed at one 55 and older park in Safford, AZ, but other than that you'd have to do a google search to see what you can find out.  Its a very neat state!  Relatively low crime too.

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


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%


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 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 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 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.


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 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.


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 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!
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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.


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?


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.


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.