October 28, 2012

We Are Thinking of A Big Shake Up. Are We Nuts?

A Satisfying Retirement is about change and adjustment. I like a certain routine and predictability but I have proven to myself that resisting change is silly - it is going to happen anyway. The best approach is to anticipate what may happen and think through my options. If a change occurs without any lead time I have learned to accept it while I decide how (and if) I need to do anything.

Recently, Betty and I have been talking a lot about our life and it's future course. After 11 years of retirement we have had our share of change. There have been some down times, but things mostly have been quite good. Our finances are stable, our families are close by, our health is good, and we have survived together 36 years and counting.

The trigger for the discussion was the RV trip in September. It seems strange that something that common for so many has become such a focus of our conversations recently. But, what has happened is a reassessment of how we want to live our life over the next decade or so. Obviously, a major health problem for us or anyone in our family could happen at any moment. I think I have our financial future properly in hand but so did the people in Greece or Spain...or in 1928 in America. We accept that what we may want to do may not happen. And we are OK with that.

What we are not OK with is the prospect of delaying a dream until it is too late, or even worse looking back in 10 years and saying, "We wish we had...." Life has no repeat button. We can't grab a remote and push rewind. When a day or week or month passes it passes...forever. So, what are we talking about? What do we want to change?

We want to take a risk. I don't mean to go to Vegas and put everything on 22 Black. I don't mean giving up everything we know in Scottsdale and moving to Oregon or Hawaii or back to Betty's home in West Virginia, though there is nothing wrong with any of those choices. But, for virtually all of our married life we have played it conservatively and pretty safely.

What we do want to do is get a motor home and be on the road for 3 or 4 months a year. We want to visit as many National Parks as we can while we are still healthy enough to enjoy them. We want to wake up by the ocean in Maryland and California and Maine and Key West. We want to sit by a lake in Oregon and Minnesota and North Carolina. We want to walk the River Walk in San Antonio again. I want Betty to see New Orleans.

We are retired and have no real commitments that can't be broken or delayed for awhile. So, what's the problem? Well, simply put, the problem is money, or rather a fear about money. A recreational vehicle is a major expense. Not only is there the purchase price, but the insurance, maintenance, repairs, licensing, storage, and gas add up quickly. Staying at a campground is much cheaper than a decent motel, but averages $40-$50 or more a night.

In order to buy the RV and cover all the projected expenses we would have to dip  (more like plunge) into our retirement account. Just to get started would require the amount of money we would live off for at least two years, when coupled with Social Security. Then, to be traveling as much as we'd like to be I'll need to find another $10,000 or more a year.

What we are wrestling with is that hole in our retirement savings. I won't use home equity to pay for it. That would be counter to everything I've done to build us a safety net. Using a home loan for a depreciating asset is a non-starter. We own our home free and clear and I will not risk that. I don't put anything on a credit card I can't pay off at the end of the month.

At some point I will be inheriting a nice sum from my father's estate, so I am confident I will be covered. When we sell this house to downsize to a condo or apartment we will have no mortgage to pay off. All the profits from the sale will be available for another home and to make up a retirement shortfall.

Logically, all of this should ease my mind. I will be able to cover the shortfall before it matters. Betty and I will experience a very different lifestyle for several months each year. We will travel, meet all sorts of people and see all sorts of sights. We will come home with stories to tell, thousands of photos to share (!) and experiences together we can get no other way.

Even so, I am struggling to take that next step. I have spent my life living beneath my means. I have tried to keep my life rather simple, without a lot of the "toys" that those around me have. Now, can I really toss all of that aside for this experience? Am I having a very, very late midlife crisis?

You will be one of the first to know when I finally commit....one way or the other. 





74 comments:

  1. Bob,

    Sounds like a fun time. :)

    Check out (tosimplify.net)

    This guy is doing all of that. :) He is not
    married. He doesn't have a big rig. But, he
    is on the road all year. He has hooked up a solar panel on his rig. He often camps for
    free.

    He is a musician. He works out of California.
    Thanks to wifi he can work anywhere.

    I think you will enjoy his site.

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    1. Thanks, Betty. I'll certainly take a look.

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  2. Wow! that is an amazing prospect! I can connect with the "hole" in the bank balances and the change that will come....but WHAT a MARVELOUS experience! Good luck with your comfort zone & the decision...I'll be reading with bated breath.

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    1. We were out this afternoon looking at what is available at a few dealers in the area. The experience aspect and a shake up of our lifestyle probabably means this is a good "investment" in us.

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  3. I think it is a great idea and yet understand your reluctance. Any chance of some employment between now and then to make up some of the money? How about asking your Dad if he can afford to loan you some? I agree it is an investment in Betty and you and well deserved.

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    1. Great ideas, Susan, though I don't want to lose my "amateur" status by getting a job!

      I must think of it as an investment, not an expense.

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  4. Bob, I have lived a life very similar to yours. I worry about the finances but we have always been blessed with enough to buy what we want, for the most part. But it is part of the DNA of people like yourself and myself - we always worry when it comes to a large expense, and oftentimes those that are substantially smaller. Rather than taking the plunge and buying, have you looked into how much it would cost to rent for the 3-4 months? I know most people rent for only a couple or three weeks at a time, but a dealer or someone who rents RVs might cut a deal for someone willing to take it out for an extended period. That way you are on the hook for a smaller amount, and if you and Betty's situation changes enough, you just don't rent for a year or more.

    Whether you purchase or rent, I believe you will have a great time. Go for it.

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    1. We are not thinking of taking off for more than 3 weeks or so at a time, so a discounted, long term rate probably would not work. At roughly $1,000 a week to rent a unit, after a few months we'd have already paid 50% of the purchase price.

      Thanks for your support! We would have a great time. I just have to pull the trigger.

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    2. Bob, thanks for letting me know the costs, since I have thought about it myself. Had the wrong ID on my original post above, btw.

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  5. I hear you! I took a risk recently. A different kind of risk, but one that gave me a few sleepless nights and lots of hours with financial advisers. I took a chunk of money out of the market and bought a piece of property. (You already know most of this story.) That means that contrary to conventional wisdom about diversification, most of my wealth is now in real estate.

    Like you, though, I decided that this purchase would have a big desired impact on how I want to live my life in the foreseeable future. After considering the factors as best I could, I made the decision to go for the gusto.

    Some of that is trusting your instincts, and part of it is realizing that at this point in our lives, such risks have value on many levels.

    Besides, with my decision and with yours, some part of the risk is not irreversible. You can always change direction (pun intended) if it turns out to be not what you envisioned.

    So after all your careful thought, you know you won't make a terrible mistake. Do what you think will make you happy. As long as the RV itinerary includes Oregon!

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    1. What's the ROR, or return on risk? That's the question we must answer.

      Oregon would be on several itineraries!

      Thanks, Galen, for your thoughts.

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  6. "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."

    We expect to be considering the same kind of thing, only it would be a park model in Arizona we'd use for only a few months in the winter.

    Sounds scary and wonderful!

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    1. I love that quote, Linda. It summarizes what life could be for us if we hit the road and left our safe harbor for several months each year.

      BTW, you'll love winter in Tucson. Sunshine and 65 degrees!

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  7. You look like a natural in that picture - Bob the RV guy...

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    1. Bob, the Satisfied Retired RV guy! I like it.

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  8. A couple thoughts. As a fellow roadtipper, is it a viable option to do the same thing by car or motel for a year first? Could you parlay this travel into any kind of part time cash? Would you even want to? It sounds to me like a big jump, but one you won't regret.

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    1. We have thought about the car trip option. But, our limited experience has shown that staying in a motel room is very different than having your "home" and belongings with you. RVing is a lot about meeting others and establishing realtionships....something that is much harder to do in a hotel environment.

      Actually, the odds of turning an RV option into cash is probably a bit higher: a satisfying retirement book and speaking tour!

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    2. Yes, I definitely see the value of having your stuff! I'm still looking at those crafting trailers a few blog posts back of mine

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  9. Well, the thing is you need to make changes no matter what. Do what you need to do and see where it takes you. Good luck. I will be watching.

    b

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    1. Read Linda's comment above. Maybe she and her husband will be your winter neighbors in Tucson!

      You and Earl took a risk when you decided to live in two different places each year. It has worked out well for you but I'm sure you spent time looking at the risks and rewards.

      We have started RV shopping so we are getting closer, though the costs are higher than I anticipated.

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  10. I don't think dropping everything, packing up and heading out is a good plan but that's not what you're doing (and even if it were, it sure did work well for Cheryl Strayed, author of "Wild0. Yours is the kind of plan you've already tried out, one that CAN be interrupted if it turns out to be more trouble or less fun that you deserve. The RV can be sold. The home will still be there. You can return to a rocking chair on the front porch at any time. All in all, it looks like now IS the time to try out the dream. I wish you much luck in this, and expect to read all about it in the blog.

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    1. Yes, Grace, I don't think we'd ever want to be gone for more than 3 weeks at a time. My dad needs regular visits and we have commitments through the church and my prison ministry work that can't be completely dismissed.

      As you note, nothing we do is irreversible. While we'd lose thousands of dollars the RV can be sold to recoup some of the money, the insurance canceled, and the thousands of dollars in travel expenses not spent. We have an escape back to our very nice life in Scottsdale.

      So, I just need to sign that check and get going!

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  11. We took a similar but different route than you and Betty and bought a cheapo condo in Surprise so we can escape the rainy, chilly PNW winters. We returned to the impulsiveness of our early years by buying it sight unseen--lol--but I had been monitoring the RE websites for months.

    It will be interesting to follow you on the road here on the blog.

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    1. Well, that was pretty gutsy, buying a condo in suburban Phoenix just from a web site. Surprise is a pretty town so I assume you are happy.

      I do want to be very careful to not turn this blog into an RV travelogue. In fact, I have made some tentative plans to start a second blog for RV-related travels, photos, and reactions. Satisfying Retirement will stay what it has been while Satisfying RV Retirement will appeal to that segment of the retired community.

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  12. Bob, after all of the soul searching of the past months Malcolm and I are one step closer to putting our house on the market. Our intended deadline was Oct. 1st, but that came and went. Today we will interview a second Realtor and make a decision about who to list with. Talk about indecision!

    I mention this, because we too have always lived cautiously, albeit well, and do not want to jeopardize our future by taking unnecessary risks. Selling the house first, before deciding "what next" is our cautious step. We have many ideas for our future, but will not allow them to dominate our thinking until this step is concluded. That sounds a bit like cowardliness, but living conservatively is our nature. If the sale does not happen, we will adjust to that reality and rethink the plan.

    I admire your courage and agree with Galen that you should do what makes YOU happy. It sounds as if you have considered your finances carefully, so why not?

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    1. I can completely relate to your cautious approach. Betty and I felt we had to retire when we did, though at least 10 years before we were financially secure. It has worked out though we have made some concessions along the way.

      Best of luck on selling the house. I assume you have ideas on what is next, but still, selling your home from underneath your feet qualifies as brave (and smart!).

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    2. Total off topic to Suzanne, but id be curious about your guys selling at this time of year-as everyone knows I will probably be taking the plunge in the spring...

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    3. Barb, I think that was directed to me. If so; our season is November through April in South Florida. Potential buyers are typically "retirees" from up North. We have been cautioned that it could take a year for the "market" to catch up, but prices are starting to recover just under our price range. Very limited product on the market is a big plus right now. Contact me if you want to share info. I'm following your story.

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    4. Suzanne, we put our house on the market as soon as the Phoenix market began it's recovery--and the low inventory was a plus. We had a large home to sell, had been ready to downsize for a few years but had to wait for the right market.. well, our house sold in 7 days!!!! Be prepared! We thought we would have all summer to sift through our "stuff!" We had to be RUTHLESS and QUICK-- DOWNSIZED 39 years of married life in just 30 days!!!!!! It actually made it easier.. but--a whirlwind.. I believe it is a good time to sell..

      Good luck!

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  13. Bob, thanks for sharing your fears. Most of us have them. Yes, the market again, worse than the last time. At least in those cases, we're all in the same boat, more or less. The biggest fear is health related. For many of us it's the unknown of a long term chronic or terminal illness that drains financial resources.

    My husband and I are leaving for a river cruise in Eastern Europe next week. Not the same kind of commitment you're talking about, but still an significant expense. When I look back over my life, the regrets I have are more from what I didn't do, than what I did-even if it turned out badly. No, I don't want to end up a bag lady begging for money on the side of the road, but I don't want to have regrets about things I could of done. That feels even worse. Good luck with whatever decision you make.

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    1. "the regrets I have are more from what I didn't do, than what I did-even if it turned out badly." That is exactly what I'd like to avoid....dealing with a 'what if' 10 years from now.

      A canal boat cruise through Southern France and a boat cruise through Germany and Austria are dreams of ours, too. Enjoy yourself and bundle up. I imagine Eastern Europe in November can be a little nippy.

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    2. Hi Bob,

      I liked this post enough, I used it as a topic for my own blog. I hope you approve. Are You Grasshopper or Ant in Retirement?
      http://www.rlmnow.com/grasshopper-ant-retirement/

      p.s. I have enough layers to be eskimo-remember, I live in Prescott, not down in the valley.

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    3. I certainly approve and am headed over to read it!

      As we close in on our decision we are thinking of a late November trip to the Cottonwood area of Arizona. That should be cool enough to wear warm clothes and test out an RV's furnace!

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  14. Hi bob. My father died last year and my mother wishes they had done so many things in retrospect. Just a thought.

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    1. A Kathy noted above, a health issue is always the wild card. Wait too long and things on your to-do list become impossible. But, spend too much money and the dollars to pay for the health problem may be tough to find.

      But, as I get older the more I realize that life isn't meant to be lived purely on the safe side. I'm moving more to the Jimmy Buffet approach: "I'd rather die while I'm living than be dead while I am alive."

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  15. Bob, what wonderful thoughts! Your heart is speaking to you!! I agree with the couple of comments here that suggest you take the plunge, since you CAN reverse your decisions if it isn't quite what you had hoped.More than likely, one good thing will lead to another and you will end up wondering why you did not do it SOONER!!!!!

    Yes, it could be a bit of a hassle to have to buy an RV and then turn around and sell it, maybe even lose a bit of money on a sale if you feel you made a wrong turn, (but having bought TONS of fun experiences along the way)-- but, you're retired! you have the time to do that if need be!! (I always like having a PLAN B in my mind,usually DON'T have to implement it!)

    Sounds like a win-win for both you and Betty--I'd say give it a whirl!!!!!!!

    I pray my husband can get to the FIRST step and actually retire or semi retire soon..RV fun would be the next step--I have him reading your blog for inspiration!! Email us when you are planning to visit Gilbert!

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    1. Besides the fun and life-altering experiences we could enjoy, there is another important side benefit: a vacation option for our daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids. Their budget is tight so being able to borrow the RV once or twice a year for family trips to the White Mountains or San Diego would be a real help to them.

      Since our daughter has already begun to search out RV parks, I'd say she is really hoping we take the plunge!

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  16. It's interesting to read that you are considering the same risk/decision as me. I'm single, so I don't have anyone else to consider, and I have (or will have, next month) my military pension as a guaranteed income stream. I've been reading blogs of full-timing and part-timing RVers and I am definitely interested in that lifestyle. I'm like you in that I can't see myself living in an RV full time (just yet anyway LOL), but I love the idea of taking my 'house' with me, seeing things that are more than a day or so drive away, and being able to travel more than a week at a time.

    I'll be interested to read your thought processes and actions. My first step is to decide what type of vehicle I want - self-contained vs trailer+tow vehicle - and the next step will be the finances. Then what to do with my house while I'm gone.

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    1. Hi Cari,

      I'm a single female who had the same issues. I will be going more or less full time once I retire in a few months. As a single female, it was pointed out to me that the safest space was a self-contained unit. If you have to get away in a hurry, you lock the doors and drive away. There's also the advantage that, if it's pouring rain when you arrive somewhere, you can stay high and dry to set up.

      I am keeping my condo. Sooner or later, I will have to stop travelling and I want a home base. My condo is paid for and the strata/HOA fees are minimal. I put an extra lock on the door and left a key with a neighbor to check on things now and then.

      Good luck on your retirement.

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    2. Here's another option, Bob. I don't know if they have it in the USA, but here in Vancouver you can buy an RV and then lease it back to the company, who rent it out to tourists when you are not using it. A large percentage of the rental rate goes back to the owner. The leasing company looks after maintenance and repairs.

      The downside, of course, is that you have strangers renting and using your RV and adding mileage to it. The upside is that total strangers are paying for your purchase.

      Most of the leasing companies only want newer models, so after 4 or 5 years, you can't lease the unit out anymore. However, by then it should be paid for.

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    3. We are on the same path, Cari.

      We have decided on a Class C motorhome. If I bought a trailer I'd also have to buy a vehicle to tow it, increasing costs, insurance, registration, and maintenance. We will, at some point, get a dolly for towing our small car behind the RV.

      Our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids want to be able to use the RV for vacations, too and that means a "C" would be easier for them.

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    4. Nuiloa, We will definitely be going used a used unit. To pay for something new, drive it off the lot, and instantly lose 25% or so in depreciation makes no sense.

      I haven't heard of the buy-then rent situation here but I'll see what I can find out.

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    5. Thanks for the input, Nuiloa, that's kinda what I was thinking about too. And Bob, I agree about the increased costs of a trailer+tow. And I like the buy-lease idea, but I haven't heard of it either. Decisions...decisions....

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  17. I say "Go For It!". You will adjust your spending as you go along. There are also options some of the places for being the Host Camper which provides free campsites and you do a few hours work, but must stay a certain amount of time. Or some of the National Parks have jobs on site for the season if you plan to stay that long and then you get free campsites. Or if you pick up side jobs along the way. You have always been judicious with your expenses, so you aren't going to "blow" your whole retirement fund. Now is time...kind of now or never...enjoy! Plus you can never anticipate every expense you will have the rest of your life. Very happy for you. I knew one couple that bought a camper each summer here in Indiana then drove out west and wintered in it and then managed to sell it for a profit and flew back home. Maybe you could approach it from that angle. Just a thought!

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    1. The total, upfront, expense is a small percentage of our retirement account so that isn't the problem. It really is just being overly cautious.

      If I were a betting man I predict we'll make the decision to go for it sometime quite soon.

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  18. Bob - you don't have to break the bank to pay for and maintain an RV.

    First and foremost: DON'T buy brand new. Most RVs get very little use and, with the economy the way it is, there are many, many RVs for sale that are almost in showroom condition. Repos are a good be too.Look on rvtrader.com and comparison shop. Ask questions on the RV forums. People are very helpful, in my experience.

    RVs are built to take the rigors of the road. Look for something with a bit of mileage (you don't want an RV that has been parked its whole life because things dry out). Make sure that it is roadworthy and that there are no leaks (check the inside of closets for stains)

    Just as an example: I bought a 1998 Winnebago 34 foot Class A with 46,000 miles on a big V-10 engine. Total cost was $28,000 - which is less than the price of a new car. I had to fix a couple of plumbing issues and buy 3 new batteries (total cost of repairs $1000). And I had to have a tow package installed so I could drag my car. So, for just over $31K, I drove over 5000 miles this summer without problems.

    The cost of camping is negligible if you buy a membership in Passport America. There are thousands of campsites in RV resorts for $14 - $25/night. PA member is about $45/year.

    Yes, the gas is expensive. On the other hand, you don't have to spend $100+ for night for a motel room and another $100+ a day for meals. Plus, if you're camping, you aren't using gas. My trip across the states to Ontario and back cost less than $2800 and I was gone 3 months.

    The trick is to do research and ask questions. It's a great life and I know you'll love it.



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    1. I have looked into Passport America based on your recommendation. It seems like a great deal. Good Sam Club is another that seems to be worth the small annual fee.

      You got a great buy on "The Beast."

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  19. I say go for it but, like you seem to be, stay that way and BE SMART! I read a lot of blogs about RV travelers and while I can't credit where I read it I remember reading, several times, that RV purchasers usually change from the the RV they bought first to a different one that accommodates them more. I would think that this would be good reason not to buy brand new but wait till you have tested the waters first till you realize exactly what kind of RV satisfies you. Then there are all the things like do you want to tow a vehicle to run around in while parked at a park, or tow a trailer so you already have a vehicle to run around in?

    As far as staying in a park that cost $40 to $50 dollars a night well from what I have seen that is all private parks but the State parks offer a card for a price that gets you into parks for usually half price.

    If you go to http://www.hitchitch.com/links.html and check out some of the RV blogs there you can find some good advice and resources. RVSue is there and so is Winnie Views. On her blog she, like RVSue, has a lot of advice and her girls guide for Rving http://winnieviews.blogspot.com/p/a-girls-guide-to-rving.html has good information for anyone. Another blog with LOTS of helps is RV Road Trip http://rvroadtrip.us/ they had to stop RVing due to health but their blog is still there for people to get lots of information. Jerry logged everything and so you can see how he modified lots of things to make it custom for he and his wife comfort. How much they spent monthly living that way and lots of other resources.

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    1. You are right about pricing. State and National Parks are much cheaper and usually much prettier.That would make a big difference. My senior pass gets me and Betty into all National Parks and areas free which is also a great deal.

      Thanks so much for the suggested sites. Betty and I will check out everyone of them.

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  20. Hope you checked the trends in gas prices at the same time you looked over RVs. No matter, though. Go for it. Sounds like a dream you should fulfill. The future will be what it will.

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    1. Gas prices will certainly affect how far and how often we drive the RV. But, it will just become a budget item in the vacation budget for each year and we'll adjust as need be. It is all part of the analysis.

      Thanks, Dick. BTW I like what i see on your blog.

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    2. Hey, this is the grandpa from Iowa with all the grandkids on the East coast. I'll be watching your exploits, to me sounds like a great deal! I keep telling grandma how much fun it would be so I'll follow your travels and relay them to her, (she doesn't like computers). Also, once youv'e learned the F chord you can be a traveling minstral show, maybe not! Go for it but definitely buy used, I'm in the insurance business and I see many good used RV's bought and sold each season. Go For it!!!!

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    3. Thanks, Dahigh.

      Maybe I'll travel the country playing the guitar and giving satisfying retirement talks at locations all over the country. If I can just cover my gas and park fees I'll be happy!

      Used is where we are headed.

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  21. The first owners of our travel trailer used it twice and decided it was not for them. They sold it at quite a loss. Keep looking for those used units; there are good deals to be made.

    Susan (not anonymous, just can't figure out any other way to post.)

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    1. Hi, Susan. To reply with your name, click the Reply as and choose name/URL. Type in your name and leave the URL line blank and your comment should show up as Susan instead of anonymous. The URL line is if you have a blog or web site that you want people to find if they click on your name. But, if you don't have one leaving the URL line blank will cause no problems.

      We are certainly going used for a variety of reasons. Phoenix is one of the major RV centers in the U.S. so there are always lots to choose from.

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  22. Sounds like the conversation all of us have about whether or not to pack it all in and retire or to keep working because "How can I be sure we can afford it?" (Which is the conversation going on in my head at the moment.) The answer, of course, is always "it depends" just like the rest of life.

    Can you afford to get married, to have children, to buy that house, to move to a new city, and on and on. After you've done it and it all worked out you wonder what you were worried about. On the other hand it may not work out, so if it doesn't then what? If you can answer that then you know what to do.

    "When men make plans God laughs" but we keep trying to plan anyway.

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    1. Right on, David. I won't know if it will work out until I try it! If not I can always take a different tack.

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  23. Bob, since you are thinking of a class C motorhome, check out the Lazy Daze models. This California-based company has a devoted users group. The motorhomes are a bit old fashioned looking maybe but good quality. We came very close to purchasing a 27-foot mid bath model, hopefully used. The condo in Surprise was a fair amount less than a new Lazy Daze--lol.

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    1. I've seen Lazy Daze models in campgounds and on the Internet. I'll take a look. Thanks!

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  24. Bob, I have zero experience with RVing. What I do have experience with is living an extremely healthy and active lifestyle, making plans, and suddenly being slammed with a life-changing illness. I won't be checking off some of the items on my bucket list. I am a make-lemonade-out-of-lemons sort of person, so I have found joy in other ways. However, I do regret feeling as if we couldn't spend the money just yet to do some of the things I had wanted to do. Living with zero money and being scared all the time wouldn't be any fun, either, but you don't sound as if you're risking that.

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    1. If we were in a situation like you and hubby then we wouldn't have this question and be quite content. We are homebodies and are quite happy with simple pleasures.

      But, since I think we can pull it off, I need to ask myself the questions now rather than later.

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  25. Hi Bob,

    Just to offer some encouragement, we've (sort of) been doing what you are considering for the past ten years. We have two places - a small condo in MN (where there are grandchildren) and a small patio home in AZ (where there is no snow.) Half a house in each location. Took a while to get in that situation, but it works for us.

    Every year we plan an extended trip to/from those locations. To keep it interesting, we try a different route each time.

    For the first several years, we stayed in motels. One year, after a particularly annoying motel stay (room stunk among other problems), we bought a 17' Casita fiberglass trailer. Well built, and when we sold it, it only cost us a few thousand $$$ for the six years we enjoyed it. BTW, the new owners spend several months a year in it, and are having a ball for their $11K "investment."

    Last year, we purchased a used Born Free 22' motor home (similar to the Lazy Daze) at less than 1/2 the cost of a new one. We just got back yesterday from a 2500 mile trip along the Great River Road (Mississippi) followed by our first trip to Big Bend NP. What a blast! Never would have done that trip without an RV.

    Already thinking about the next trip. A loose goal is to eventually visit all the National Parks -- have already done many in the west.

    My suggestion -- go for it. As a consulting engineer easing into retirement, I understand your concerns and appreciate your analysis. But don't delay -- here is a link to post on my blog on what got me off the dime to move to AZ in the first place.(http://jumptoconsulting.com/on-moving-to-arizona/)

    All the best on your decision. And feel free to contact me in Mesa if you want more details. (Coffee???) Only recently stumbled across your blog, and enjoy it!











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    1. Daryl,

      You,along with all the other comments,have painted a very clear picture of what Betty and I should do. What you described is exactly what we'd like to do...visit as many National Parks as we can and just see where the road takes us.

      I will certainly take a look at your blog and would love to hook up for coffee in Mesa at some point. Thanks for becoming a visitor and commenter. Now, you are family!

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  26. Hi, Bob...

    I didn't read all the comments before posting, so sorry if this is redundant.

    How about renting a motor home? I know that can be done. You could target an area of the country you wanted to explore, book your motor home rental at a nearby city, drive/fly there, and away you'd go.

    You would not be tied to a monthly payment, or have the responsibility/ headache of repairs and so on. You could test out various motor home sizes and types. You could cherry pick when you went where (Fall turning of the leaves in New England, etc.)

    And you would eliminate the mental worry and financial risk of tying up a big chunk of change in a vehicle and then find later that you either need it back, or that you're no longer so hot-to-trot about motor homing around.

    Just a thought!

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    1. Hi Alex,

      We have discussed that as an option and have rented before. It is expensive but does avoid lots of the headaches. Trying out different kinds would be a nice benefit.

      In addition to our use, we would like to give our daughter's family, with 3 kids, the chance to use an RV for some of their family vacations. With a tight budget, having the opportunity to use the RV for a trip or two per year will be a real bonus for them. So, part of our decision will be based on something they could use.

      That's what grandparents do!

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  27. My wife and I did the opposite of you and Betty - we did our RV travel extensively throughout the US and Canada through the years we were raising our 3 kids. We never owned a motorhome, but started with a tent, then a pop-up trailer (which we bought used for $1000 and used for 17 years, and then a "hard-side" trailer. Over the years, we have towed with full-size sedans, old-style station wagons and full sized conversion vans. Overall, camping was very economical and allowed our family to experience vacations together that we would not otherwise have been able to afford. During the last 10 years, we gave our trailer to our oldest daughter and now have been trying out hotels, motels, and B&Bs for accommodations. My wife's attitude was that she had done lots of cooking, cleaning, and RV set up over the years, and now wanted to "take it easy" while traveling. Everything you and other say about RV travel is true; you meet wonderful people, experience nature to it's fullest, and have your own home with you. However, you do have to maintain that RV, store it (our HOA doesn't permit them to be stored on your home lot), and maybe replace it - they do age. I was finding that our 1983 travel trailer was taking up lots of time and money to replace brake magnets, water lines, 12 volt water pumps, tires, etc. every summer for only 2-4 weeks worth of use. Our problem was (is) that we are still working full time and couldn't take off for 4 months to enjoy the RV. But do bear in mind that a motor home has an engine and drive train to maintain, while a tow-behind RV doesn't. You will also find that it is much cheaper to insure a tow-behind trailer than a motor home, and that the purchase cost for a trailer is only a fraction of the cost of a motor home. Just some things to consider before you take the plunge.

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    1. The maintenance will be our biggest challenge. I'm not particularly handy with mechanical things, though being a homeowner for 35 years means I has mastered the basics. My goal would be to learn about each system to maintain it as well as I can and repair/replace the simpler stuff.

      We can store whatever we get on a side yard, though I would have to extend a wall, expand the gate, and remove a tree. But, with most storage areas near us charging around $110 a month, it won't take too many months to have the cost of the yard modifications worth it.

      I'm kind of surprised you had all those maintenance issues every year with such little use. That does give me pause.

      A travel trailer is certainly more cost efficient, but I don't have a vehicle that could pull even the smallest travel trailer so I'd have to buy a truck or larger SUV, too.

      Problems!

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  28. Bob, I traveled professionally for over 30 years and lived (not just visited) in many places and traveled the "in between" places. I've lived in every region of the U.S., and on several continents overseas as well as on three different islands. The world iss a wonderful place to see. But what I didn't get to do until retirement was stay in one place; put down roots in community; to build things in my workshop. To make actual friends of neighbors. To utz on my property. And so forth. In short, I've seen everything I want to see when it comes to geography. But by all means, if the travel bug has hit you, go for it!

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    1. We have had the opposite situation, Nik. Yes, we have traveled many times to Hawaii, Europe, the Caribbean and over much of the U.S. But, our live has been primarily rooted in our community. We have a strong church home, good neighbors, and all our family nearby. It is very important that this part of our life continue.

      But, we have found that we enjoy just hitting the road and living a different routine for a period of time. Frankly, I'm not sure if it is a strong desire to see other things or just a need to shake up our routine and leave many obligations and chores behind for awhile. There is a real sense of freedom that the RV trip gave us and is pushing us in that direction.

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  29. Clearly the BRITW (Best Readers in the World) are strongly supportive of our inclination to take this step. The comments and rationals have been important in our decision-making process.

    Betty and I are going to look at RVs this weekend to see what is available in our price range. Let's see what develops.

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  30. Bob: This my first post on your excellent blog, though I read it frequently. I'm in a similar station in life, retired, seeking new horizons. One observation: It seems to me that you actually have a somewhat-full time job... managing your blog. You obviously enjoy it and it shows.
    I purchased an RV about 3 years ago with the following objectives: flexibility in traveling to remote locations, pull a boat, and not stay at commercial campgrounds (called boondocking). I am sort of an adventurist type and like to explore back roads and remote locations. So, I opted for a Truck Camper. It's the kind of camper that slides into the back of a pickup truck. I purchased a 2002 Northern Lite camper and pull a 17 foot aluminum fishing boat. The setup I have is fully contained so I can be "off grid" for 7-10 days. The truck camper arrangement hedges my investment, since I can use the truck when I'm not hauling the camper.
    While in transit to some destination, we sometimes stay at state or federal campgrounds. With a Federal "Geezer" card (Golden Passport?), you can frequently stay at these campgrounds for nothing, or substantially reduced rates. I really dislike commercial campgrounds, too noisy, too many people and sometimes just ugly. Actually I prefer to find an out of the way place to park where it's quiet. A truck camper allows you much more access to places that larger rigs can't go. I just returned from a week trip across Oregon and didn't pay for parking. ... and no, I've never parked at Walmart.
    The Pro's - lots of flexibility, you have a camper, and when not camping you have a truck. It will travel in locations you can't get to with a big rig. You can pull a trailer more easily.
    The Con's - it's small. My wife won't go on a trip for more than a week, though I could go for much longer. Loading the camper can be a challenge until you get used to it, but it's not too big a deal.
    You can find more information about Truck Campers (and all other campers) at an excellent website, RV.Net. Campers (of any kind) can be a maintenance and technical challenge. Because I enjoy working on stuff like this, I've done a lot of work on mine. Servicing all your camper utilities: 12 volt system, water system, sewage system will take some attention (no matter what camper you get).
    While in Oregon I met a couple from South Africa that had traveled through Europe and were heading to southern Argentina / Patagonia. Their rig was amazing, similar to http://squob.com/expedition_vehicles/action-mobil-are-you-man-enough/ They shipped their camper from Belgium to Halifax, will travel to Mexico, ship their rig to Brazil and head south (no way to travel through Columbia). Now, if you really want to think about campers... that's the extreme way to go.
    Have fun on your journey.
    Bob

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    1. Bob, thanks so much for your readership and now your excellent comment.

      Some days I do feel as though this blog is a non-paying full time job that does feed my creative needs and allows me to meet so many great people.

      I have not considered truck campers, though I certainly see a lot of them on the road. A neighbor down the street has one that he seems to use a lot. My wife thought the 25 footer we rented was a bit tight for her, so I think a truck camper is probably a non-starter.

      I have the Senior Pass for free entrance into national facilities. If we go ahead I imagine it will get a lot of use. Arizona has several nice state parks with good RV facilities. Even Maricopa County (Phoenix) has nearly four or five regional parks with full RV sites.

      Since we don't own an RV (yet) I don't have any real opinion on commercial sites, like KOA, but they do seem rather crowded and noisy. We haven't stayed but just driven through a few and that has been our impression.

      The South African couple? Now those are dedicated RVers.

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  31. Bob,

    What wonderful news! We have our trailer tucked away in our garage until early January, when we head to Palm Springs for the International Film Festival, and I can't wait.

    Mike and I agree that we are willing to make sacrifices elsewhere to have ample funds to RV and travel with. Having just gotten off a plane after 10 + another 4 hours in flight, I can tell you we have no regrets whatsoever about where we've placed our priorities.

    Don't wait too long if you and Betty decide to proceed. Life is precious, and very fragile.

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