The cost of full-timing. Can you afford it?
From the desk of Firedude
The age old question comes up all the time in the forums and I get emails all the time asking “how much does it cost to full-time”? This question has so many variables it is hard to answer since we all have varying needs, desires and differing financial status. To come up with an answer that fits all is impossible.
Everyone has differing lifestyles. Some travel almost constantly, some take advantage of weekly and monthly rates staying in places longer reducing fuel costs while other work camp or volunteer camp host to defray costs. Some have anchor points like myself and come and go as desired. Many spend the majority of their time boondocking or dry camping as well to defray costs.
So many factors come into play. Do you need mobile internet, cell phones, and satellite TV? These are just a few basics. Are you going to protect yourself and assets by having full-time insurance (home owners insurance). What about health care which I addressed in an earlier blog?
There are many hidden variables as well such as breakdowns and repairs. Are you prepared financially? Do you have any special medical needs or concerns? Do you have vehicle/RV payments or kept a house with mortgage or property taxes? The list goes on and on.
Can you live cheaper than conventional living such as in a sticks and bricks home? My answer to that is yes, for me anyway. For me I have no mortgage, no property taxes and all my vehicles are paid for so right off the top there is a huge savings. Some say well you still pay RV park fees etc so how’s that different than a mortgage? Well in my case it’s a LOT cheaper. My first 6 years I was a volunteer camp host approximately 9 months of the year which resulted in no RV park fees or “rent” if you would. My current home base/anchor point cots me a whopping $350 per month plus electric and on the beach to boot! I don’t or haven’t seen mortgage payments like that since I was a child! Utilities are usually nil compared to conventional living in as far as electricity and gas, your basic utilities anyway. Yes you still have maintenance, but for me over the last 6 years it has proven to be negligible compared to that of a sticks and bricks home financial wise.
So many of us have such varying needs and desires so the equation can be very wide as far as costs. I have found that many things I do and see are free. I don’t have to spend a ton to enjoy myself. I don’t eat out a lot, but do indulge at times. I have been one while traveling to mix in the weekly and monthly rates when not hosting to help defray costs. Additionally by doing so I may travel less in a given time frame keeping the cost of fuel down for a given month or time period.
One should also set aside funds for emergencies and other incidentals. I found this an absolute when I encountered unexpected health problems and even though I have what would be considered great medical coverage I still had significant out of pocket expense so having some sort of nest egg is not only wise but prudent. This is also a huge variable depending on one’s financial status. Long ago I developed a budget worksheet in Excel. It lists the very basics and the worksheet can be tailored to fit your own needs in that it can be modified to suit your individual situation if you are familiar enough with Excel. You can add to or take away as you wish. I have this included in my book with my other checklists however for the purpose of this blog I’m tossing it out here for those interested. Like I said it’s the bottom line basics and you can take it from there. It also ads the figures for you as you go. You can download it here.
There is really NO definition of full-timing. Some are very ardent about this, but in reality it all boils down to what YOU consider full-timing and what YOUR expectations are, not those of others. If we all did it the same the world would be full of cyborgs (clones).
If you aren’t yet full-timing, research and planning are a MUST! There are many budget worksheets out there and I am just offering mine and like I said it is dynamic in that you can add to, take away and tailor it to your own needs. It can also be tailored easily for non full-timers who might be planning extended trips. Safe travels and happy RV’ing!