Monday, November 28, 2011

Fulltime RVing and Finances

I spent the past couple of days trying to get away from RV sales sites, so I could see what thoughts would come to the forefront. I read a lot yesterday about fulltiming, about different rigs and what the owners liked and disliked about them. I also thought about a smaller trailer that could be pulled with a my Toyota 4Runner. That might be a good set up short term but I can't see that being a long term fulltiming option after adding my 3 hounds to the trip.

Had another slow day at work today, so I continued my way around blog land reading more of the same type of blogs. One theme that kept coming up in the new blogs I was reading....finances or lack of.

I see sticking to your budget on the road to be very important. With no plans to workcamp, a pre-planned budget will be a key issue before hitting the road. I already know what my expenses are now living in a house, I know that my eating habits will probably not change,  of course no one knows what the cost will be for unexpected repair and maintenance will be but you can put the money aside and add to it monthly.  In my case when I compare living on the road financially to living in a house that will be paid for, those expenses are very close to being the same.

Fulltiming for me will not be a way to live cheaper. It will be a way to live at about the same monthly expense but deciding where I want to wake up each morning. I will be able to chose where I stay and when I go. When I picture living in my paid house, retired and two different pensions hitting the bank account every month, I see my life possibly becoming very stagnant. I do have workaholic tendencies although those have decreased this past year. I am basing that on what I normally do when I have time off during a long weekend or during a holiday. I would get tired of that routine day after day.

So because of that, hitting the road fulltime is a good thing for me. When I took a cross country bicycle trip many years ago, I had a general plan but every day I was pretty flexible on where I headed or when I rode. I have a strong desire to get back to that type of travel. I know weather will play a factor at times when and where I am at. I plan to boondock as much as possible. My main reason to boondock is not the cost savings compared to staying in a RV park, but the main purpose is getting to a beautiful place that is quiet, no one around and hot sunshine. I want to go places where I hear nothing but the nature around me. I can see myself doing that easier in a RV Class C rather than a Class A.

So based on those plans I think I am pretty close on what it will cost me on a monthly basis. For my fuel estimate I have been using $4.50 per gallon for fuel and 8-12 mpg in whatever vehicle I use. I think I could live at about the same monthly expense that I do now and still be able to save monthly for unexpected repairs that lie around the corner. I know there will be some months where the miles will be almost zero if I am at a place that I like enough that I don't want to leave. That will average out over the year if I am wanting to follow the weather.

So that's where I have been the past two days ... reading different blogs and thinking about cost of living fulltime. Just out of curiosity, how many of you spend more than you budgeted for? How many of you spend pretty close to your estimate?

For some reason, the Class C has moved back to the front of the pack for my type of RV.  I think a trailer that would be towed by a Toyota 4Runner with a V8 engine would be too small for fulltime long term.  Anyone have thoughts on that? I know some of my readers have smaller trailers with dogs and are fulltiming. But my dogs are larger than I have seen so far for those traveling in a towed trailer.  Of the bloggers I have seen with a couple of large dogs, they are all traveling in Class As.

I know eventually answers to all my questions will hit me up the side of the head to where it's obvious what I will do, but it is sure a pain sometimes in getting to that day.


  1. Just my 2 cents. Why don't you rent a Class C even just for a weekend and see how it works with the pups.

    We traveled in a large Class A with two big labrador retrievers. After my husband passed away, I got a small 23 foot trailer (someone told me "218" meant it was 18 foot) but I found out, recently that it's 23. I don't know if that includes the hitch.

    Anyway, my two labs took to it like a fish to water just as they had the big 40 ft Class A. They claimed the queen bed as theirs which was fine with me because that left me the dining/turned bed surrounded by windows. Once my Lizzie passe on, Jack moved down to my bed and the couch so I then had the queen bed for storage and used the bunk for additional storage. I made a closet in my bathroom with 3 foot of pole to hang clothes--I have all quick dry clothes so in a pinch I can wash them out and hang them.

    If I cook, I generally cook outside or use the microwave. I feel like I have all the comforts of home in a small space and my pups loved their space and being outdoors a lot.

    I pull the trailer with a big diesel truck (used 3500 Dodge Ram) so I can go up and down mountain roads like they are not even there and I get about an average of 14 mpg.

    I could be wrong and someone might correct me, but I think we only got 6-7 mpg in the Class A (though I'm not sure) and I was just talking to a friend who has a Class C and doesn't tow and he gets 7 mpg.

    Just my 2 Cents.

  2. My house was paid for and my utilities and property taxes were lower than most houses in my neighborhood. If I don't volunteer or workamp, I will spend more on fuel and campsites than I did on the monthly expenses for my house. I am not set up for boondocking, yet. I probably will start volunteering or workamping in the Summer of 2012, this will keep me in one location longer and save on campsite fees. Right now is vacation time, so I will be spending more now than I plan to in the future.

  3. Yes, the mileage can depend on the rig. I have a friend with a ClassA that says she gets 10mpg. but from what I've read, a lot of them get about 6-7 mpg. I have a small ClassC & get 9.33mpg, but I need a tune up, so I think that might get me up to 10mpg. Most of that mileage is driving with the dash air on. Your dogs can comfortably live in a C just as well as they can in an A. It all just depends on the floorplan you want as to what is going to make you most comfortable. Right now, only one of my dogs is inside of the rig with me, a saluki. She's about the size of a tallish dalmatian at best guess. So that may give you an idea. If I had a bedroom, I'd have lots more room, but I don't have one, so that's the one thing I want on my next rig. I'll be moving the rest of my dogs back in soon when I am recovered from my surgery. Have you seen any C's with the twin beds rather than one big bed? They are a little harder to find, but maybe that kind of floorplan will allow you to put a desk in place of one of the beds.
    Go to a dog event if you can find one & check out their rigs! Some of them fulltime too, but most are set up for the comfort of their dogs.

  4. hobopals ... great points and in fact I have already made arrangements of renting a class C on a future weekend. It is about 60 miles north of me and then the camp site is around a lake 20 miles south of me. So after picking up the C, I will stop by and pick up the hounds and then go 20 miles south for a weekend. I have been reading the past few hours (time flies) about small trailers that people are using fulltime and most with couples, not solo. If I were to use that just for sleeping and cooking or hanging out in bad weather...I think it might be a great idea.

    Teri ... Thanks for that information. Very valuable. I had not thought of it that way. I will most likely workcamp eventually if I could stay in a place I really like. I like what I have read about workcamping so far. You will always run into bad situations but I can live with that. My brain cells tonight have been going back to where I was a few weeks ago of getting rid of everything and taking off, not waiting for my retirement date. I still have monthly income if I quit my job tomorrow. I need some solar panels and/or a wind turbine for some long term boondocking.

    Thanks you both for your answers...very helpful.

  5. TexCyn ... I did not see any last Friday with twin beds but a couple had bunk beds. I thought that might be even a better idea for the hounds to take the bottom bunk, I would mount my 46" Samsun on the top bunk plus some storage and then I would sleep on the fold out couch. Even on some nights I'd like to pitch a tent and sleep outside if I were boondocking.

    The bunk bed set up may be a good option.

  6. Yes, the twin beds are harder to find. They used to be really common, but not anymore. But then, you could always take out the big bed if there's nothing under it & place a twin on one side & a desk or your entertainment center on the other side. Then sleep on the floor because the dogs will steal your bed

  7. TexCyn ... the 2 couches I like are in the Lazy Daze Class C's. I like having that living area in the back. I would take out one couch and set up a desk and entertainment center. Right now I have to bassets on the pile of mexican blankes next to my desk and the bloodhound is in "her" chair curled up sleeping. Yes, they will steal the bed...I think that is where they spend most of the day when I am at work.

  8. I don't know much about towing trailers since I really stink at it. But friend has the Xterra (?) She had a Jaylight 20ft with a slide and said she felt it was to much towing for her SUV and sold her trailer. I don't think towing a trailer with your 4 runner is such a good idea. But your the car guy. I still think Class C is the way to go. Just me thinking and that could be bad.

  9. Bhounds, I love that floorplan on the Lazy Daze! Have you gone to Travel with Andy's blog? You've probably found him, but I'll get the url anyhow. Downside is, no slides on Lazy Daze's that I know of, but I love that panoramic view they have.
    His first was Gertie, the 2nd one is Skylark.
    There's also Tioga George who changed his bedroom & put a desk in it.

    Andy travels with a cat & George is solo. But their rigs might give you some ideas as well.

  10. JOJO ... I have looked at some 4Runner forums and what they tow. There are a lot of variables that can make it a bad situation even if your friend was under the weight limit. The more I read, the less chance that I try to go full time towing a trailer. I am leaning toward a Class C.

    TexCyn ... Even though there are no sides, that back room where you can remove a bed/couch and fit a desk/tv in there is what I like. I love the windows in the Lazy Daze. I have been reading Andy's blog and that lead me to consider the Lazy Daze Class C even more than I have been. Thanks for the suggestion.

  11. I haven't seen you mention toy haulers. Might be a consideration--especially with three dogs.

  12. I haven't spent as much time looking at toy haulers but it sounds like something I need to consider. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll take a look at them. I know of one of the bloggers that has a family of 13 uses a toy hauler for the extra bedroom space.