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RV Living Verses Apartment Living
A couple of years ago, my wife and I decided that we would travel to the United States in a semi-retired state. We kicked out the kids (all over 21), sold our house and bought an RV. Well live situations change and we haven’t hit the road, at least not yet. We ended up staying in the area and working full time. But we decided then to stay in the RV full time.
The purpose of the article is to provide an insight into the possibilities of using RVs instead of apartments and the benefits of RVing. First, a little background information for those unfamiliar with recreational vehicle (RV) terms. Recreational vehicles fall into several different categories.
Class A are bus-like vehicles that you see traveling on the road. These are also called motorhomes and for good reason. A classes are the best option so to speak. They are the most expensive in terms of cost, but have more storage and amenities. I’ve seen some really nice A-classes and when it comes time to upgrade or trade in our current RV we’ll be looking at the A-class again. However, my tastes start in the $250,000 range, which is a bit hard for me to justify.
Next is Class B, these are mini motorhomes. They are built on a light to medium truck chassis and can be identified by the appearance of the vehicle’s cab. In my opinion, these won’t be suitable for full-time use unless you like small sites. Some newer B-Classes include what are called slides, which are sections of the RV that “pull away” from the body giving you more living space inside. Living space is what you’ll be looking for in the long run.
After Class B comes the fifth wheels. Fifth wheels are trailers that are pulled by pickup trucks. So to get a fifth wheel you’ll also need an appropriately sized pickup truck. I would imagine at least a ¾ ton pickup. Fifth wheels offer an advantage over Class A and Class B in that once the fifth wheel is installed in a campsite, the truck detaches and can be used as a means of transport. With Class A and B motorhomes, you will need to tow or take another vehicle with you to get around. Fifth wheels approach the Class A RV in amenities and in some cases have more room. Dollar for dollar you’ll get more living space in a fifth wheel than in an A-Class.
However, you need an expensive towing vehicle (truck) which must be considered as part of the purchase. The fifth wheel is also part of a class considered as ‘Towables’. The next “towable” is the travel trailer (TT). They are similar to the fifth wheel except for the connections to the towing vehicle. With TT you connect to a hitch that is located near the bumper of the vehicle. So almost any vehicle has the ability to tow a TT based on size and weight, of course. Class A’s, fifth wheels, and travel trailers are the 3 main RVs you’ll find people living in full time. After the TT comes the camper class. These are light weight RV’s, not really suitable for full time, however, I have known people who are full time in pop ups, motorhomes and even tents. The top of the line for the camper class is probably truck campers.
They are units that slide into the bed of a pick-up truck. Generally, the maximum length is no more than 12 feet from front to back and maybe 10 feet from side to side. They are very compact. These offer maximum freedom as they are quick to set up and take down so you can move quickly from place to place. However, just like Class A and B, your home is also your transport, unless you bring another vehicle with you. The last group of trailers are pop-up trailers or tents. These have a study box frame and, as the name suggests, pop up or lift up to raise the ceiling over the frame. This class of campers usually have soft sides made of fabric. I’ve used pop-ups for years as an alternative to hotels while running errands around the country. He even did some camping in the dead of winter with snow on the ground in a pop-up. Needless to say, a heater was needed and ran all day and all night. At night I couldn’t stand the cold, so in the morning it was a little funny to get out of bed. It was 20 degrees outside and about 50 inside.
This is a basic overview of the types of VR available. As mentioned before, Class A’s, fifth wheels and travel trailers are the units that most people will find suitable for full-time living.
Our experiences with full-time living in an RV.
We currently have a fifth wheel. Ours is from Jayco and is 38 feet long with 3 slides. One slide is in the bedroom, the other two slides are in the living room, one on each side of the trailer. After almost 3 years in RV as full time, we both love it. My wife likes to say that it takes less than an hour to clean front to back, floor to ceiling.
Let’s start with the financial side of living in an RV. You have the cost of the RV. These should be treated like cars. If you buy again, you’ll take a beating on depreciation. However, like a house, the interest is tax deductible. So the best deal seems to be a unit that is a year or two old and is financed. If you want to buy new, get a discount of 25-30% off the list price. Our unit was a 2003 still on the lot in 2005 with the 2006 units being delivered. The sticker price was over $65,000. We paid $40,000, saving us 38 percent. We didn’t have a tow vehicle at the time, so the dealer delivered the fifth wheel to a nearby campground.
Oak Grove in Hatfield, PA is a year round campground. This is important. You want to find a campground that offers year-round operations. You don’t want to have to move in the winter. Many fields close from November to March or early April. When we first started there, our rent was $375 a month and that included water and electricity. Our only other expense was propane for heating and hot water. Oak Grove supplied propane tanks from 2 to 100 pounds and they automatically changed the tanks for us. This is very nice, like automatic oil delivery when you own a house. During the warmer months we hardly ever use propane, maybe a bottle every two months if that. However, in the winter we will use 3-4 bottles per month due to the heater. Propane is currently around $50 a bottle. So from the point of view of renting an apartment to living in an RV, the expenses are usually cheaper. My daughter pays $750 a month for an apartment near us and we average between $425 and $450.
Other benefits of living in an RV: People! The people you meet camping are the most wonderful people you will ever meet. They are friendly, helpful, young at heart and just plain nice to be around. We have been avid campers since before we were married. I used to sneak down to DE where my wife (girlfriend at the time) and her family were camping and pitching a tent, and then I became part of the family. In the almost 40 years we’ve been camping together, we’ve never met anyone who was rude, a thief, or unwilling to lend a hand if asked. In fact, we’ve had more unsolicited offers of help than at any time we’ve lived in a house or apartment.
It’s funny, but when I was traveling and staying in hotels, you almost felt like a ghost or a leopard or something. God forbid if you said “hello” to someone in the elevator or in the hallway. But camping, everyone says hello as you walk by, some will offer you drinks or make you sit by the fire and chat for hours. It’s like we’re all family.
Speaking of fires, what about a bonfire? Sitting around a nice fire at night is very relaxing. You don’t have to say anything, just look at the flames and all the stress seems to melt away. But bonfires have another benefit, food. There is nothing better than food cooked over an open fire. Try doing that in an apartment.
Rving has another advantage, vacations. If you live in an apartment, a vacation consists of going to a destination, finding a hotel/motel, eating out for every meal, and bringing enough clothes with you for the duration of the vacation. When you live in a caravan, your home goes with you. 30-40 minutes to pack up the RV, disconnect utilities and hook up to the truck and you’re on the road. When you arrive at your vacation destination, another 30-40 minutes and you’re ready to enjoy the sights. Meals are not a problem, you have a full kitchen already equipped just like at home, because it is home. On a special diet? No problem, your normal routine is uninterrupted. Clothes get dirty, many RVs come with washers and dryers so you can wash your clothes while you relax at night or before you start your day. Rving is also cheaper. When you compare expenses, you will find that RV travel is much cheaper than hotel/restaurant travel.
These are just a few things to consider when looking at apartment living versus an RV. I hope you found the information useful.
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