Living in an RV Full-Time

It’s the RV retirement dream of thousands of people – those who are already retired, and those who have started to plan for retiring. For most of these people, the dream is to hit the road, travel, and live where they want for as long as they want. RV’s are the best way to do this.

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But Can I Afford To Retire And Live In An RV?

Living in an RV fulltime IS possible for just about anyone, if you manage your expectations. For example, if you’re retiring from a high-level executive job and have a few million saved for retirement, you can retire and live in the biggest, most expensive RV, in the finest, most expensive RV parks – and maybe have a live-in maid to travel with you and do the motorhome housekeeping. If your retirement finances are tighter, you can still live in an RV full-time… you just have to “lower” your expectations.


Research and anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that your living expenses are going to be the same whether you travel in an RV, or if you plant yourself in an RV park. That means you can stay where you want and leave when you want. Some retirees prefer to travel most of the time and only settle in one place for a short time now and then, others prefer to stay in one location for a long time and then hit the road for retiree RV “vacations” or to relocate when they want a change of pace or scenery.

RV Cost of Living

Just to give you a rough idea, let’s create a scenario for a modest month living in an RV park. We’ll say a month because the longer you stay, the cheaper it often gets. Weekly can be cheaper than daily, and monthly cheaper than weekly.

Let’s assume our retired person is staying in an RV resort with the typical facilities – water, sewer, and electric hookups, shower/bathroom, coin laundry. Depending on exactly where you’re located, the time of year, at the time of writing these tips on living in an RV fulltime, you can calculate the cost at somewhere between $400 and $500. If you’re not fussy about location and looks, you can find something cheaper, and if you want all the extras and rich neighbours, you can choose something more expensive.

Now scenario number two for living in an RV full-time – travelling. And let’s assume you’ll only stay in free locations. No RV parks.

There are a lot of places you can stay for free – overnight – which we’ll cover in detail in another bunch of RV’ing tips. For now, we’ll mention the famous and ever-popular Walmart parking lots, RV stores and outfitters (for example Cabelas) which sometimes offer dumping and fresh water for little or no charge, and BLM (Burea of Land Management) areas. In a pinch, you can pull over on country side roads. Another trick is to park your RV on the street in front of an RV dealership – if you keep your blinds down and stay quiet, people will just assume the motorhome is just parked there for service the following day. If your living expenses include a smartphone, you can easily search for free RV parking and even download apps for it.

We’re also going to assume that, since you’re retired while living in your RV, you’re not in a big hurry to get anywhere, and you’re stopping to smell the roses. So let’s say an average of 75 miles a day – that can include staying in one place for three days and then driving 200 miles or so the next day. Also, try to keep your speed to 55 miles an hour on the highway since most vehicles’ transmissions are geared to be most fuel-efficient at that speed.

Now, you WILL be spending money on fuel, but you’ll be spending $0 on accommodations. On average, you’ll find your expenses to be about $400 to $500 for the month – depending on how your location affects fuel prices, the actual distance you need to cover, and your driving habits.

The above doesn’t include things like food since you need to eat whether you’ve parked your RV or if you’re on the road.

The final thing you need to do is evaluate your expenses for living in a home full-time (including property taxes) and add in RV maintenance costs to the above calculations. You’ll also need to account for the purchase price or financing costs of your RV, same as you would for a home. A quick and easy way to translate your purchase price into a daily cost is to take the price and divide by the number by the number of days you’ll be in it. For example, if you pay $73,000 for the RV, and live in, or retire in it for 10 years (about 3650 days), it will have cost you $20 a day. If you borrowed the money, or part of it, ask your banker how much the actual cost of the loan (principal, interest, service fees, etc) will be over the period it takes to pay it off.

Yes, just about anyone can retire and live full-time in an RV!