What It’s Really Like to Live in an RV During Retirement, Revealed

The roaming RV lifestyle represents true freedom. And it’s not just savvy millennials who are taking up this nomadic lifestyle either. In reality, it’s mostly retirees. According to Kevin Bloom of the RVIA, somewhere between 750,000 to one million retired Americans have taken up living full-time in an RV.

While the reasons may vary, the common denominator for RV-dwelling retirees is mostly the same. A life on the open road cuts the cost of maintaining a brick-and-mortar home while offering a unique sense of liberty and exploration. Like anything, however, there are both pros and cons to everyday life on the open road. Here’s what it’s really like to live in an RV during retirement.

1. Absolutely no one cares who you are

There’s something anonymous about RV’ing. | David McNew/Getty Images

Unless you invented sliced bread or the internet, retired RVers don’t really care about your career or past achievements. Celebrities like Robert de Niro and Clarence Thomas have taken a liking to the RV lifestyle and can rest assured that retirees in the campground won’t be knocking down their RV doors to get an autograph. Kathi Vogler, a 64-year-old retiree, told the New York Times that “no one asks what you’ve done…just where you’ve been, where you’re going, what you’ve seen.”

Next: Here’s the worst part of the nomadic RV lifestyle.

2. Yes, emptying out your own poo is a real thing

You will need to rough it sometimes. | Charley Gallay/Getty Images

  • It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. 

Saying that properly emptying your “black water” tank is an art form would be a stretch. But experienced RV-dwellers know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle this dirty job.

Dumping stations are found all over the country, so finding a kind person to help with emptying the first few times is likely. However, it’s important to understand that the RV toilet experience is quite different from the convenience and luxury of the brick-and-mortar toilet you’ve been taking for granted all these years.

Next: Are you a social butterfly or not? 

3. You’re making new friends all the time

RV’ers love fellow travelers. | Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images

  • Expanding your social circle is easy.

If you’re spending your retirement years on the open road, you’re going to meet new people and make new friends all the time. It’s just a fact. Around every corner and in every new town, new friends are just waiting to be met.

Roger Buchanan, vice president for regional operations at Carefree Communities, explains that once a new RV rolls into the park, neighboring RVers are quick to, “ask where they are from, ask them to come to the campfire, and then maybe have a drink or dinner.”

Next: How well do you know yourself? 

4. But then again, your alone time and space will be limited

Space is tight in an RV. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

  • Be prepared for tight living quarters. 

If you value alone time and space from your partner, you may want to rethink your RV retirement. So, when purchasing your RV, make sure you are being realistic about how much space you want. Class A RVs offer sizeable differences when it comes to overall living quarters and space.

Next: The cost of being a full-time RVer will surprise you.

5. The RV life may not be as inexpensive as you imagined

RVing costs can vary a lot. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

  • Full-time RVing can cost as much as $30,000 a year.

On average, the monthly cost of living out of an RV is $2,100. While some individuals are able to make it work for as little as $1,000 a month, the cost of fuel, campsites, food, and other essentials add up quickly. And according to Wand’erly, the yearly cost of full-time RVing can cost as much much as $30,000.

Next: The open road is yours for the taking.

6. You can live anywhere you want

Byers Lake, Alaska, with a view of Denali

Imagine living here. | Mbarrettimages/iStock/Getty Images

The best news of all is that your home is always with you, and with that comes the freedom to hang your hat anywhere you please. From the Florida Keys to the Cascades, parking your humble abode amongst nature’s finest landscapes is only a day’s drive (or three) away.

Next: This part of RVing is inevitable, so be ready. 

7. Breakdowns and repairs are inevitable

You will break down eventually. | MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

  • You can expect to spend about $1,400 on maintenance for your RV.

Remember, your RV is still a vehicle. That means it will break down and require necessary maintenance repairs from time to time. New tires will be a necessity too.

If your Winnebago runs like a top, the associated expenses shouldn’t break the bank. On average, though, the yearly maintenance costs for an RV will run about $1,400, barring a major project like a transmission overhaul.

Next: Before you buy an RV, make sure you do this.

8. When in doubt, test one out

If you’re thinking about buying an RV, check one out. | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

  • A test run will cost you about $1,000 per week. 

Before deciding the RV lifestyle is right for you, do yourself a favor and rent one for a week or two. For around $1,000 per week, you can get a taste of how much you will — or won’t — enjoy living out of an RV. This small investment in your future could save your retirement.

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