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Author: duggg Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 749400  
Subject: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 1:42 AM
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Does anyone here have a motor home as their principal residence?

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 few months.

I think I am aware of most of the obvious disadvantages of motor home ownership: maintenance costs, registration costs, dumping fees, insurance, reliability issues, safety, fuel economy, etc.

So I am really seeking some not-so-obvious pointers (pro and con) from those who have actual experience in this area.

Any and all responses will be appreciated!
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Author: jpkiljan One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4800 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 8:52 AM
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dugg wrote:

. . .
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
few months.


Hello Dugg,
This a good question to ask on the

rec.outdoors.rv-travel

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:

http://www.peoplesguide.com

and

http://www.mexconnect.com/index.html

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.

Good luck,

-- John

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Author: wycowboy Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4803 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 9:28 AM
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I've been trying to rationalize a diesel-pusher for several years. Have a 35-ft. Teton, fifth-wheel that we take to Canada & Alaska every year, also back East, when it suits us. Problem is getting used to being "cooped-up". Took a long time to get used to the fifth wheel, but now it's a breeze. Just can't take everything with you. There's room for the pets, computer and clothing. But what do you do with record keeping? Bill paying? Getting your mail in a timely fashion? Used to be able to get mail forwarded, but even that's starting to be a problem.


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Author: crrroger One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4806 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 10:03 AM
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Hi duggg,
I have been retired several years. I have always had an RV of one type or another but have never been able to do the "full time" thing for one reason:

I must have reliable and immediate phone and internet access. To my knowledge, this is an impossible situation while traveling the country from place to place. If someone has the solution, please tell me what it is. I know a cell phone provides basic telephone capability but I have to keep in daily contact with The Motley Fool and my on-line broker..

what to do? what to do????
Roger


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Author: dgthepiper Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4808 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 10:23 AM
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I plan to spend at least 2 years in an RV when I Retire, about 4 years from now. I've been reading a lot about it. There is a lot of stuff to work out like mail service, phone, internet access, bill paying, tax filing, ... Even choosing a state to call home can be a problem.

There's lots of good information here (and their book is great):

http://www.movinon.net/Movinonmainmenu.htm

These people do mail forwarding and quite a lot of other services for full time RV'ers:

http://www.escapees.com/website/index2.htm



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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4810 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 10:48 AM
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duggg,

You may want to rent a motorhome to make sure you are suited to the lifestyle. My parents know of people who thought it was a great idea to hit the open road and came back early from the first trip with a for sale sign on their unit. That said, it is a great lifestyle if it suits you. My parents did it for 10 years before buying another home, and I traveled for a year in Europe with them and my brother when I was 12. It was a little too cozy 4 people in a 17 foot motorhome, but negotiating the old city streets with anything bigger would not have been possible.

Since many people do wind up selling their units very early on, there are some good pickings to be had out there. Take your time. Some of these units are big bucks. They also drop in value by about 50% when they are driven off the lot. IMO, used is the way to go even if it means higher maintenance costs.

As far as Mexico is concerned, my parents did that route too. Make sure you have a front and rear lisence plate on your unit if you go to Mexico. The state they were from only required a rear plate. They got stopped by the police several times since in Mexico the police will remove the front plate of a car if a violation occurs. Kind of like booting it. You can't get the plate back until you pay the fine, and travelling without two plates is taboo. Their spanish got progressively better each time they got stopped though!

I know that my dad regrets having to leave the open road behind him. Health reasons were the only thing that would get him off the road.

They also had a mailing service through I believe, Good Sams club. Something like that anyway. They had a po box and an 800 number for emergency messages. These people forwarded their mail for them. I believe it was low or no cost through Good Sams.

Good luck with your adventures!

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Author: BuildMWell Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4817 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 11:45 AM
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I want to agree with Inparadise. Rent a unit and try it out. Anything over 20 feet, and you will want to consider a vehicle to tow along so you can have transportation when you get established somewhere.

I just sold my Jeep Cherokee to a fellow who is striking out for Alaska. He is going to stop for several days to a week each place along the way, and he plans to use the jeep for getting around. I believe that is the best plan I have heard about.

Internet access is not a problem. I have been in chat rooms with several people who were communicating with me from the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona. They had no problems.

It would be a shame to sell your home and then learn you want to have a home again. That is a lot of trouble and expense for nothing. Rent a unit, give that life style a fair test, and then decide what you really want. The grass is always greener...and all that stuff.

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Author: retin10 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4825 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 1:33 PM
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dugg,

Check out Mark Nemeth's site at:

http://bart.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/


He's been full timing since 1997 and updates his site regularly with photos and trip logs. He also has detailed information about finances, how he did it, choosing a vehicle, the down side to full timing, mistakes, etc.


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Author: markr33 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4845 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 4:29 PM
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I must have reliable and immediate phone and internet access. To my knowledge, this is an impossible situation while traveling the country from place to place. If someone has the solution, please tell me what it is. I know a cell phone provides basic telephone capability but I have to keep in daily contact with The Motley Fool and my on-line broker..

This is a really good question/comment. If you believe that a lot of people are like you and want full wireless, reliable internet/phone capability then you invest in those companies which will provide such a service !!

A practical answer would be to look into the InstantBroker service from Fidelity - you get a 2-way device which can do trading and has excellent coverage in the USA. I can't help you with MF yet, but some company will eventually offer such a service and may do very well.



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Author: gettergo One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4867 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 9:27 PM
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The wealth of advice on this thread/question has been excellent, and I would particularly recommend Retin 10's post #4825, suggesting the website of Mark Nemuth. IMHO this is more of a RE interest site.

If you get into the RVing full timer (FT) conversation, you'll soon see there are 2 basic fraternities; those who favor motor homes, and those that favor 5th wheels. While there are those that suggest a "minimalist" type of FTing, such as VW vans and small 20' motor homes, most of FTimers are divided into the 2 above classes.

While renting a motor home is an excellent idea, I think almost all of the FTers had a progressional experience with camping/rving. You might want to start out with some weekend trips with a tent camper or small "bumper hitch" trailer that could be pulled with a SUV or pick-up. If you enjoy the experience and the life style, you can move up.

GO's $.02, but who hopes to hit the open road when RE


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Author: duggg Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4873 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/24/2000 10:35 PM
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Thanks everyone for all the many responses I have received so far regarding Motor Homes. Many good web sites were recommended.

As far as internet access goes, as an avid Motley Fool fan, I researched that subject somewhat heavily.

Obviously a cell phone with nationwide service would be a good idea for many reasons, so that's part of my plan.

Most modern cell phones come with an external modem interface. Although the present-day cell phone bandwidth prevents most modems from connecting faster than 14400 baud, I expect this to double in the next 2-3 years.

There are also many nationwide internet service providers available, providing local (as opposed to long distance) telephone access from many metropolitan areas.

All I would need to get my daily fix of TMF is to connect the modem interface between my laptop and my cell phone, and have the laptop dial the appropriate local internet number.

Cellular service is getting increasingly more competitive, and I wouldn't be surprised in a few years if I could surf the web for an hour or two a day from the middle of nowhere and pay the same as what I'm paying now for plain old telephone and internet service.






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Author: crrroger One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4892 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/25/2000 11:33 AM
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BuildMWell says,

"Internet access is not a problem. I have been in chat rooms with several people who were communicating with me from the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona. They had no problems"

I am really interested in the above comment. Am I so far behind in awareness of technology that I have missed this capability???? As far as I know, internet capability(with current technology) requires a phone line and an internet provider(preferrably, a toll-free one).

I winter in the "wilds of Arizona"...I'm here as I write this...but...I am not so far into the wilds that I do not have a phone or a local ISP. I am aware of AOL's nationwide 800 access and have used it on occasion but it is not toll-free as it costs .10/min and gets expensive at my usual 2 to 3 hours per day usage.

I beg of you or anybody else......If there is a CURRENT fix for this problem....tell me what it is.

Thanks,
Roger

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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4917 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/25/2000 4:51 PM
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I know that one of my parents concerns about selectin a motorhome was that they definitely wanted a bed that was made up. They didn't want to convert a table to a bed every night. That gets old when you are RVing for 10 years straight.

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Author: dgthepiper Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4932 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 2/25/2000 7:35 PM
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I know that one of my parents concerns about selectin a motorhome was that they definitely wanted a bed that was made up. They didn't want to convert a table to a bed every night. That gets old when you are RVing for 10 years straight.

I agree that it would get old real fast.

In larger motor homes there is usually a bed at floor level that doesn't require conversion. I go one step further and require that is accomidate a standard mattress that I can go into any mattress store and buy. I don't like many of the class 'C' motorhomes that have a mattress that is slightly smaller than standard and has 1 corner cut off. This is a common practice of the motorhome manufacturers that I watch out for. It doesn't seem to occur in class 'A' motorhomes. They usually have a queen size bed.


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Author: JackLizPearce Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 5385 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 3/2/2000 11:33 AM
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Howdy, duggg.

We live in our 38', 102" wide Serengeti diesel pusher(Class A) on a fulltime basis, in southeast Florida. Jack is still working and hoping to early retirement in 3-4 years. We have 2 TVs, a combo washer/dryer, a dishwasher, LR, kitchen, bathroom w/tub and a bedroom with a queensized bed. As with any "home", there will always be maintenance and repairs to be done. We even have a basement!! We tow a Honda Accord for zipping around to the grocery store, etc. We have a landline(fixed phone line)to access email, forums and of course, the Motley Fool. We are very active participants of the RV Forum on Compuserve where you can find all sorts of helpful information on the RVing lifestyle. (Shameless plug.)
We also belong to the Escapees RV Club which I think has been mentioned elsewhere in this thread. More and more campgrounds/RV parks are modem friendly,= let you use a data line. If you plan in advance and decide to stay a while at a specific place, you can arrange to have a landline from the local phone company. Of course there is always the cell phone method.
We cherish the idea of having the way to just "drive away from it all". Comes in handy when the hurricanes are coming.
One thing about fulltime RVing - it takes a real commitment and is NOT for everyone. If a person is addicted to a lot of "stuff", well, there just isn't enough room on an RV for a lotta "stuff". Renting an RV for a while is a good suggestion.
That's all for now.(^__^)
Regards,
Jack and Liz

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Author: bobice Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 5386 of 749400
Subject: Re: Motor Homes Date: 3/2/2000 11:38 AM
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Lots of Liveaboard boat owners have the same problem and even less access to land lines. They can use Sat Phones with modems for Internet. Bob

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