Sunday, July 18, 2010


Mention to someone that you live fulltime in an RV and you can count on the standard set of questions:  Do you like it?  (Yes, that is usually the first question!)  How do you get your mail?  Do you own a home somewhere?  Do you have a home base?  And…

Does it cost less to live fulltime in an RV instead of a house?  Or its variant: How much does it cost?

Tunnel to Bayfront parkWhatever you can afford.  :)

I don’t know what the minimum is, though I know that many fulltime adventures are financed by social security.  For us, our annual “cost of living” is probably very close to what it would be if we lived in a house – groceries, insurance, health care, maintenance, repairs, utilities (instead, we pay site rental and purchase fuel).  We drink the same amount of wine, Odel continues to play golf, I buy books.

What we spend on “disposable income” is the BIG difference.  What do I mean by that?  Anything that takes up space and can’t be consumed.  Furniture.  Art.  Stuff to fill walls and shelves.  Kitchen gadgets and appliances.  Clothing (though we replace t-shirts, our standard uniform, at a fast clip).   Not to mention yard care and ornamentation.

This is foremost in my mind today, the day after Art in the Park in upscale Petoskey, MI.  What an event!  Gorgeous, beautiful, fabulous: paintings, photographs, weavings, silk scarves, garden art, turned wood, basketry, ceramics, jewelry.  I perused each and every booth and came away with… nothing.   What did Odel buy?  A hot dog (Habitat for Humanity fundraising booth).

I like supporting the work of artists.  In our prior life, I could have spent a couple hundred dollars on some of the many beautiful objects offered.  Now, what little space we have for art is already occupied, and furniture is out of the question.  I don’t need another wooden spoon, even beautifully handmade of exotic woods, and have no room for a colorful, whimsical ceramic teapot with matching cups (can’t even buy another mug until one I already own breaks).   I DO often purchase earrings, but not this time. 

No doubt about it, life costs less in 300 square feet!


  1. 'Yay' for Odel on his hot dog purchase at an Arts & Craft show. My kinda guy:))

  2. Since you read books, you should consider a Reader.

    I just purchased one by Sony and absolutely love it. That was the one thing that I began to miss so much because all my books were donated or sold but with this Reader, I can carry over 300 books on a small little gadget. Read our article about our Reader choice for more information.

  3. Couldn't agree more, although we still have sticks and bricks down the road from Dogpound and the attendant utility bills we still find living in our rig cheaper or at least no more expensive than our previous life. Never thought about it but you are right we have less things to spend money on in this smaller home.

  4. Kimberly and Jerry: I've thought about an e-Book, even looked at them. So far, I have resisted, because I like to trade or give away books, which wouldn't be as easy (if it is possible) with an e-book.

    I either buy my books at Costco (the large size paperbacks, usually current bestsellers) for $8.99, trade books with other readers, or buy books used for anywhere from $1-$5. I think I would end up spending about the same - or maybe a little more - for e-books, but would not be able to trade them for credit at a used book store or trade them with RV'ing neighbors. So, for now, I'm happy with the old technology - even thought the Sony Reader looks totally cool!

    Thanks for stopping by and your comment.

  5. Whenever anybody ask me about the cost of full timing I always tell them that just as water seeks it's own level, income and life style do the same thing.

  6. Hi Laurie.

    Just wanted to put my 2 cents in. I travel with a Kindle (Amazon's eReader) and I love it! I had the Kindle actually before we had the MH. Most books are $9.99 or less. I can read them on my Kindle or my husband's iPad. If you are a techie person and you have an iPad already, you can download the app for the Kindle for free and try it. There are even some books (classics) you can get for free.

    As far as expenses go, we were on the road this past winter for 5 months. I kept a spreadsheet of all our expenses, minus what we would normally spend anywhere we live, such as food and mortgage. So for gas, park/campground fees, an oil change which you know is not cheap, for 5 months we spent $7500. That is a lot cheaper than our sticks and bricks home and our expenses there. You certainly don't have the expenses of all the nick knacks you usually buy for a sticks and bricks house. After our winter trip we've even considered selling our sticks and bricks home. But with the market the way it is right now, we're waiting on that. We can definitely see full-timing in our future though.

  7. Funny, but no one has ever asked me about what it costs to live fulltime. I guess they just can't get past the fact that I travel solo. Most frequently asked question for me..."you mean you drive that motorhome by yourself???"

  8. We just cleaned out the storeroom we've had since going fulltime two years ago and discovered we only have enough wall space to hang one of the pictures our mothers painted. So now I consider all those wonderful art shows and craft markets to be museums where I can enjoy the artwork without spending money on them.

  9. I've been looking at what it costs us to just have this house, and I think we will be ahead of the game full timing unless we are very extravagant.

    Because I have been dreaming about full timing for so long, I haven't bought much in the last ten years! Just have to get rid of more.

  10. Since we are home based in Northern Illinois, we save lots of money by not buying snow shovels...Just kidding...We figure that we DO save money when we are gone for 5 months of the winter...Heating bills, I don't buy so much "Grand's" food like chips, pizza, hot dogs...I guess it depends on what kind of RV style you adopt...We rarely eat out...Den grills...I prepare...Works for us!!

  11. I like how full timing simplifies shopping. When in our stick and bricks I could always find something new for the house now I enjoy the sites and keep walking. I know it makes my hubby happy!!

  12. Great post! I couldn't have said it better myself. I spend less on the road primarily because there is nowhere to put stuff. :-)
    And I don't stay in RV parks very often, so my "rent" is less than yours.