13 Reasons not to live full-time in an RV after retiring

YouTube channel
“Camper Crazy Buzz”

A few weeks ago I received a text from a family friend and it said “you may want to read this“. I immediately went to the website and started briefly scanning the article. Then a wave of nausea hit me like a tidal wave. A panic attack…could it be? My immediate reaction was to quickly turn off my computer and hide it under the bed. There is no way my husband could see this. It would support every negative feeling he has about my Camper Crazy dream. He will say, “see, everything I have been telling you is confirmed in this article” and with a quick chuckle finish with a “I always knew you were crazy.”

A few days later peeking under the bed, I stared at the laptop and wondered if I was emotionally strong enough to confront the dreaded list. With sweaty palms and a racing heart, I summoned the courage to reopen that link and start reading. To be honest, I could not read it all at once. It took me a couple days to finish it. It was like trying to choke down a plate of broccoli, brussel sprouts and sauerkraut accompanied with a glass of buttermilk. I could not like it!

Should I just give up on my dream based on this article? At first, I was almost convinced that I should. The article was based on interviews of people that decided to live my dream and their valuable personal experiences, which remarks did not coincide with my dream.

Then my more rational side kicked in a couple of my brain cells. I decided that I would take one item at a time and analyze how it applied to us and how we could overcome. I started with what I felt would be the easier items to confront first.

The article can be found at: https://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/retirement/T037-S001-reasons-you-ll-regret-an-rv-in-retirement/index.html

I had to skip down to Slide 8 before I found a comfortable area to start. Not that dealing with your own waste is easy! However, in our previous article “To poop or not to poop” we confronted that topic with experienced campers. I feel like my husband will be more than capable of taking care of that part of the mess. He is an electrician by trade. That is close to a plumber, right?

Not a deal breaker

Slide 9 discusses how small the living quarters are and how it can create issues between traveling companions. That seemed plausible. We have been married 45 years and there are times I would just like to have the house to myself for an afternoon and have a “Calgon” moment. Is that enough to not follow my dream?

I sent a message to my friend Debbie. She and her husband sold their home and living full-time in an RV for over a year. When I asked her if she thought spending all her time with Joe caused issues, she laughed. Her reply was: “When you retire with your spouse what difference is there between hanging together all the time at your house or on the road in a camper? Either way you are together, so why not spend the time enjoying journeys?” Boom! Good Answer. Two down, eleven to go.

Slide 10 deals with the challenge of driving an RV. It is one of the things that sort of scares me. Not that my husband is a bad driver. But, lets face it, when one retires and ages, you look forward to losing your hearing and your eyesight. Uggg!!! It is always easier to drive when you can see where you are going. One of the things we learned from Dan & Mary Ellen, (the owners of the Pleasure-way) is careful planning helps. They plan their trip each day so they are only driving six hours a day. They can start after rush hour and arrive at their next campsite in late afternoon. A great plan!

I realize it is best if I learn to drive whatever camper we purchase in case of emergency or when my husband just doesn’t feel like driving. However, if we purchase a fifth-wheel or a travel trailer, I have zero experience. A Class C is not as scary to consider since I have driven the largest U haul trucks packed with furniture across the country.

Shanna and Brent ended up getting a fifth wheel to replace their totaled trailer. (refer to “Griswold’s in the making” article). Today she drove through Fancy Gap, VA on I-77. She said it is much easier towing a fifth-wheel than the previous Grey Wolf trailer.

Driving through Fancy Gap in a car scares me, so I am pretty impressed that she drove the F-250 with the new Elkridge. I was even more impressed that Brent wasn’t on his knees praying the whole time she was driving since the F-250 is his pride and joy.

Lynette and Mark from one of our previous posts drive a Dodge dual wheel pickup with a Jayco fifth-wheel. She tells me not to worry, it is easy. So I guess, if nothing else, I have Shanna and Lynnette to give me driving lessons if we buy a fifth-wheel.

Slide 11 discusses problematic overnight parking but gives suggestions on some apps you can utilize to find overnight parking. Easy enough we can do that. Note to self: download apps. 4 down!!! My blood pressure is now normal!

Slide 13 made me sigh. I am not a hoarder exactly, but very sentimental and like to keep things, that in all honesty.. I don’t need. However, I feel that someone close to me may appreciate the fact that I kept something that they may appreciate in the future. My husband on the other hand loves tools and wire, and nuts and bolts. We have made great strides in reducing the stuff we have over the past year. It is just stuff that will rust and deteriorate over time. For those things like old photos and letters and cards that are so dear to my heart, I am hoping my children will help me scan and maintain electronically and maybe keep some of the originals. Renting a storage unit is an option but costs extra money. We can’t forget that once we retire we are on a fixed income. A difficult obstacle for the emotional side but we can overcome!

Slide 14 deals with the fact that it is not easy to pull up your roots and leave friends and family. There is absolutely no way I can go for several months and not see my kids and granddaughters. We would both go insane. Another tip I learned from the glampers Dan and Mary, is when they owned their Class A is to invite others to join you along the way. Often they would have their kids, grand-kids and other family members and friends fly to a city on their journey. They pick them up at the airport and they travel together in the RV for a week or so and then drop them off at another airport to fly home. That way they continue their travels but share their journey with the ones they love. That can work for us as well.

Slides 2-6 &12 is what stresses me out. Those items started the heart palpitations and doubting my sanity. According to the article, RVs can be expensive, can cost a lot to repair, they depreciate, get bad gas mileage, can cost a lot to update if you buy used, and insurance can be a pain (see our blog on things you need to know about RV insurance).

While at face value those are accurate statements, what about the flip side? If you sell your home and purchase a condo to retire in, you may have huge assessments that come along as the association implements upgrades. Or like many that retire in Florida, they purchase mobile homes in 55+ communities. What happens when the AC goes out or the hot water tank breaks? Those repairs are not cheap either. Plus the lot rental can be increased every year. Stick and brick home renovations are expensive as well. In either case, if you live in an RV or a regular condo or stick and brick home – any type house repairs are going to be needed and will be expensive unless you know someone that can make the repairs for you.

I have a sister that lives in Ohio, in the same home she and her husband purchased back in the early 1960’s. If she only used her fuel oil for heating and not her wood-burner too, her heating bills in the winter would be astronomical. She would probably be better off driving a gas guzzling RV to Arizona to spend the winter. So saying that RVs are expensive may be true, but one would have to consider the alternative costs of whatever other living arrangements you make in retirement.

After reading the whole article I reached back out to our friends Debbie and Joe. Debbie made the point that after selling their home they purchased an RV lot where they spend the winters. However, after raising a family in a “bricks and sticks” home, they were happy to buy an RV even though they realized the RV would depreciate. Debbie said, “who cares? the experience is worth it”. Just look at this picture, you can see how the RV life suits them.

Happy Campers
Covered deck at their RV lot – Real RV Relaxation!

Slide 7 deals with something we basically have little control over, Health Care. It makes sense that when you travel continuously it could be a hassle. While doctors may be everywhere, we prefer our regular doctors. That can be a real challenge.

My husband had major back surgery a few years ago. If by chance he has a similar issue while traveling that requires additional surgery, there is no way we will want some random doctor performing the surgery. Not knowing how the whole Medicare thing works is also a little nerve-wracking but we have some time to figure that part out.

For employed people that have the option of participating in an employee sponsored HSA (health savings account), it may be something to take full advantage of, especially if planning on a “Camper Crazy” lifestyle after retiring. We realize we must have something set aside to help pay for costs not covered by insurance.

While there are downsides to retiring in an RV, there are also upsides. The 13 reasons mentioned above are things that we feel can be minimized with knowledge and planning.

Unfortunately, we should have actually started planning for this lifestyle even sooner. However, my husband’s hesitancy is actually a good thing because it offsets my crazy “jump right in and do it” personality. With planning and the right strategy… hopefully… we will NEVER regret living full-time in an RV in retirement. That is, if my husband can be persuaded to be Camper Crazy too!

Disney’s Fort Wilderness fairy tale camping

The video above gives just a small glimpse of this amazing Disney RV resort

Trying to convince a man that living full-time in an RV after retiring will be exciting and fun has been a challenge. The challenge is REAL, especially when this person does not enjoy vacations, hates cruising, refuses to fly and has little interest in hobbies. So, slowly through the course of the past few years I have dragged him to RV shows and RV showrooms, and he finally consented to earnestly try and consider the idea. Together we watch youtube videos and read blogs about RV life and are now sharing our thoughts and information through Camper Crazy Buzz.

However, he is still not totally convinced. I decided to try another tactic. I would introduce him to an over the top style of camping that may seal the deal. You see, this guy who hates anything to do with fun and vacationing (with the exception of going to see the trees change colors in the fall)… he has a specific weakness for the Wonderful World of Disney.

In the mid 90’s we moved to Orlando and he enjoyed watching the fireworks from our living room window at night. He loved walking through what was known then as Downtown Disney, and even enjoyed occasionally going to the parks. Something about the place…get this….makes him happy! He has even suggested that after retiring we should just move back to Orlando.

My plan… take him to Fort Wilderness. However, my plan backfired. We had been busy for many days helping family pack up to move. We were tired and I wanted to take a break, but he refused. He said he could not do anything related to my “camper crazy” dream and suggested I take our eight year old granddaughter on a “camper crazy” adventure.

I think he imagined that at eight years old she would be really bored looking at RVs and that would burst my camper crazy bubble. Our granddaughters are the center of our world and the main reason he is even considering that maybe, just maybe he will buy an RV. He has said that it “may be fun to take the girls on road trips in an RV”.

He just did not realize what I had planned. Surprise!!! Our granddaughter had a phenomenal time. We met up with some family staying at Fort Wilderness. Although, I had only planned on staying a few hours and look around and visit the pool, we stayed the night, thanks to a flat tire. My granddaughter experienced her first night in a “two-story camper”. “What is that?” you ask. It is what my granddaughter called the fifth-wheel camper we stayed in.

Of course, like anything Disney, Fort Wilderness is beautiful and designed in a charming, fairy tale frontier style. You can almost imagine walking the grounds, as you round the bend, you will run into the Seven Dwarfs or Winnie the Pooh and his gang. Needless to say, it is not your run-of-the-mill campground.

Fully equipped campsites can accommodate anything from tents to large Class A motor-homes. Finding your spot is easy since the sites are setup in loops. There is plenty of room between each site and designed in a way that features the beauty of Florida’s great outdoors and without feeling like your privacy is jeopardized. Your basic hookups are available at most sites along with cable TV, a picnic table and a grill.

Woof Woof! Many of our family members and friends that camp like to take their dogs with them. Many of the sites at Fort Wilderness are pet friendly with the exception of those camping in a tent or a popup style camper. As expected, there will be an additional charge to bring your pet, currently posted as $5 per night, but many find it well worth the added expense. Well behaved pets can be taken on the pet walking trails as long as they are on a lead, or they can play off leash at the Waggin Trail’s dog park. What if you want to spend the day at one of the parks and don’t want to leave Fido in the camper all day? Disney has an answer for that. Day and overnight care is available at the Best Friend’s Kennel Care.

With a resort boasting 750 acres of lush wilderness, you may want to explore the resort by renting a golf cart at the reception outpost. It is a great way to get the kids back to the RV after their hard day splashing around in the pool, canoeing, or galloping along the happy trails on horseback. If you are not up to riding the trails, catch a wagon ride or take a carriage ride. Don’t fret there are plenty of fun-filled activities for adults and children. Even though the horse and pony rides, wagon ride, carriage ride all comes with an additional cost, you may find that this is the best vacation you have taken in a long time.

Evenings offer activities such as gobbling up roasted marshmallows at the “campfire sing-along”, having fun watching a Disney film at the outside theater, enjoying dinner and a show at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, or finding delight in the beautiful boat parade with all your favorite Disney characters, and then ending the day with breathtaking fireworks.

So now you are like, “I wanna go there but I don’t even own an RV” 😦 sad face, pout, tears in your eyes!!! Never fear…Disney wants you to feel like you are a happy camper too. SHHHH, do not tell my husband but there are log-cabins nestled within this wilderness with a private patio and a modern kitchen. But don’t worry, you don’t have to wash those dishes, housekeeping will do it for you. I know what you are thinking, ‘who wants to go to the grocery store on the way to a resort cabin?” No worries, pre-order your groceries long before you arrive. Make your list and then email, fax or snail mail to Disney. How great is that?

Cabins with modern kitchen and patio

As you probably realize, the cost for campsites and cabin rentals within Fort Wilderness will not be your typical campground cost. But then again, this is not your typical campground. In fact, my little great-niece said it was the best vacation she has ever been on. When her dad asked, “better than when you were kissed by the dolphin, and you shook the hand of the sea lion and fed the sharks?” With a big smile she answered with a resounding, “yes”.

All I can say is, the visit to Fort Wilderness heightened my “camper craziness” and made my granddaughter a little “camper crazy” too. Hopefully my fairy tale dream will come true and our family will be camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness very soon.