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Retirement Discussions / Retire Early CampFIRE
|Subject: Re: Motor Homes||Date: 2/24/2000 8:52 AM|
|Author: jpkiljan||Number: 4800 of 857450|
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I am toying with the idea of selling my house in the next 3-5 years and driving around the country (and
Mexico) in a small (less than 30') motor home, staying in some places a few days, and in other places a
This a good question to ask on the
newsgroup. I have followed these people for a couple of years and there is a wealth of information on what they call 'full-timers.' From what I can remember, the best size has to do whether you are travelling alone, with a spouse, or taking the grandkids on frequent, long trips. Set up a state of residence can make a difference, too. Some states charge very little for annual registration and others a lot.
As for my self, I am not retired yet (still trying to decide just when), but bought a used motor home in anticipation of retiring about three years ago. I decided anything over 20 feet was more of a hassle than needed. My 20 foot MH will park in a standard space in most National Park roadside pull-offs and campgrounds. Things bigger need a pull-through and life is more complicated. I see these things in Europe now and they are almost all of the 20' class. Still, if you are mostly staying in one place, the comforts of a larger MH may well be worth it.
Full-timers (and mostly full timers) form quite a roaming society meeting up with each other around the country at various times of the year as the seasons progress. Most motorhomes are not designed for deep winter travel with the plumbing being exposed to the cold, but they can be modified to some extent to allow this.
I personally think that Mexico is a great place for MH retirees. I have visited with many down there in my travels. You can start easy with a winter trip to Baja and there are few paperwork hassles. I was astonished at the number of gringos who are young doing this. A typical Canadian snowbird might work a summer job in Vancouver and then head back to their ideal little heaven in Todos Santos or Mulege in Baja to do a little surf fishing, whale watching or some lazy sea kayaking on the Sea of Cortez.
The most common question I was asked at the Baja sites was "How many months will you be staying?" In the evening as the sun set over the sea with cormorants and pelicans flying by and fish and dolphins jumping out of the placid sea as the waves lapped at our feet. In the evening everyone told stories of their travels. Makes me want to go back now.
Deeper into Mexico (beyond the range of those taking a two-week car vacation from California), things get even more exotic, but there you may want to stay awhile and rent a small house to get to know the people who live there.
Lots of good Mexican web pages. Here are two I'd recommend for early retirees:
you will find links to everywhere else from these two.
If you have any mechanical aptitude, buy a use motor home and look for a good roof. They do need a lot of repair and maintenance, but it is pretty easy to do yourself. I, myself, bought a used 20' MH here in Denver after looking at about a dozen over a week. The 1976 Chevy 400 engine only had 38K miles on it and had been looked after nicely. I paid $6600 for it and have really enjoyed it. There were a lot of low-mileage bargains out there. If you are not good at fixing broken water pumps, leaky fawcets, squeaky doors, broken antennas, jammed door locks, torn screens, cranky carburetors, and the like, you should still consider a 8 to 10 year old model. A lot of people buy one and, as they get older, upgrade to a larger model that they can just park in Arizona every winter. Just look around and don't buy the very first thing you see that looks okay--and remember to inspect the roof!
When I was deciding how much to spend for my MH, I told myself that the $6600, $10,000, $20,000 or whatever was money that I would not be able invest in the stock market and that it was really costing me $660 (or $1000, or $2000) a year in average lost returns. That might help you to decide how much you want to pay as well.
Dumping fees are $5 to $10 or free (at RV parks), insurance for liability is pretty reasonable compared to a car. They are safe simply because they are so heavy a vehicle. I found that a MH is no harder to drive than a large pickup truck. Fuel economy for my older engine is 6 to 10 MPG depending on how hard I push it. Most trips are 8-1/2 MPG and the extra fuel costs are usually made up on the first nights lodging. A KOA is about $22 night while the forest service sites (arrive early on weekends) drop to about $7. Dry camping on BLM land in the west is usually free. I figure I need about $600 a year for periodic maintenance (engine repairs, new batteries, tires, shocks, propane, winterizing, etc) but lately I have been running less than that.
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