It’s finally happened. Your days are your own. No more waking up to get to the office. You’re retired.
What will you do with your new-found freedom? Take to the road, of course! Many people find the idea of living in or traveling in an RV appealing. You get to stay where you want, explore new places, and make new friends. What should you consider about becoming an RV owner if you’re facing retirement?
It’s important to plan well, before retirement and during retirement. Managing income changes after retirement, necessitating some lifestyle changes that can include a more limited budget. Many new-time retirees are anxious at first with this shift and restrain themselves from many of the activities and pleasantries they enjoyed while employed. However, RVing retirees soon realize the financial benefits of the RV lifestyle – and figure out some tricks to make that income stretch. Some of the obvious benefits include: lower utility bills, no property taxes (unless you keep your sticks and bricks home), the ability to be eco-friendly when it comes to energy use, and cooking meals in instead of dining out. There’s also limited space in an RV, so there isn’t as strong a desire to go shopping. Then you’ll want to declutter regularly because you realize you don’t need everything you thought you needed.
Of course, as with most life decisions, you have a choice as to where and how to spend your money. A 40-foot Class A motorhome with all the bells and whistles has a price tag that’s much different than a campervan or foldable trailer. You may also need to upgrade a tow vehicle or toad to along with your new RV. A financial planner can help you make those important decisions in a way that is responsible and sustainable. Remember, vehicles and RVs lose value as soon as they are off the lot, so think about the pros and cons of new versus used.
Traveling still has its costs. RVs, whether motorized or towed, are not fantastic when it comes to gas mileage (but they are getting better). However, RV vacations are much more cost-effective compared to other forms of vacation travel. RVIA.org sites a study that found that a two-person travel party saves 8-53%. Think about that expounded for full-time living – that’s a lot of savings!
You’ll need to create a monthly travel and living budget, just as you do with your traditional home. This budget should include: RV payment (loan), food, gas or diesel, propane, laundry (if you don’t have your own unit), campground fees, internet, health insurance, phone bill, RV insurance, and room for RV repairs or maintenance.
To help offset living and traveling costs, you may choose to be semi-retired for some time or choose a modest RV if you’re just embarking on this lifestyle and joining the RV community. You can also volunteer or earn a little extra cash by working seasonal or part-time jobs at campgrounds and national parks. There are usually perks, such as a discounted or free sites. Joining an RV club can offer additional discounts for members.
People who retire to their RV and choose to make it a seasonal or full-time life find that they don’t spend a lot of time in their RV and a lot more time outdoors. They travel to their chosen destinations, with the freedom to choose their state, their view, their site. According to the CDC, physical activity is essential to healthy aging. It keeps your muscles strong and your mind sharp, reducing the risk of losing balance or sustaining an injury. You can exercise a little or lot, at a leisurely pace or a vigorous one. Find new activities you enjoy, or simply do more of what you enjoyed during your working years.
Combined with physical activity is keeping your body nutritiously healthy. RVs have cooking space, some with practically a full-size kitchen, but again, storage and space are limited. Grocery shopping for many RVers becomes a more regular activity, even a daily one. Depending on where you are (Michigan’s growing season is different from California’s), you can find a farmer’s market and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and homemade breads. This unprocessed food is more nutritious and better for your body. You can also be more intentional about what food you’re going to purchase, which helps to keep the food budget tight.
It’s no secret that being outdoors and staying active are good for a person’s mental capacities. There is a correlation between travel and healthy aging,” according to a report from the Global Coalition on Aging. Dr. Paul Nussbaum, a clinical neuropsychologist, stated: “Travel is good medicine because it challenges the brain with new and different experiences and environments… that promotes brain health and builds brain resilience.” Traveling and being outside in nature help improve mood and general life outlook, strengthen relationships, reduce stress, and facilitate better mental clarity and physical energy.
This may be reason alone to ditch the traditional homestead or senior condo. Your days aren’t spent sitting down or watching television. It’s spent out and about, discovering new things and experiencing new adventures. Do you love Monarch butterflies? Maybe follow the migration pattern across the states. Do you appreciate American history? Then plan a trip that covers historical sites from early America. Planning a trip alone makes us happier as well as challenges the mind. Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks?
What do we run after in our younger years? Money, prestige, career. When we can stop running after those things and turn to the most important parts of life: relationships and experiences. We find meaning in the intangible utilizing a tangible vehicle that allows you to deepen relationships and transport you to new locations so that you can have new experiences. The RV life can be a simple life, and it’s that simplicity that many retirees find refreshing.