Cheap Retirement – Living in an RV

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How to Affordably Live in an RV After Retirement

Whether you are retiring soon or have been able to join that party already, most RVers will agree, it’s an amazing lifestyle!  Let’s face it, you’ve worked 40+ years and are finally able to experience freedom, no specific time restraints, and less stress.  You’re doing life on your terms. How’s that for a retirement plan?

Is Cheap Living in an RV really possible? Yes, it is! You can expect your living expenses to range between $1200 to $2500 per month depending on your particular lifestyle. Some folks are even living on as little as $500 a month.

Cheap Retirement Living in an RV

Is the RV Retirement Lifestyle Right for You?

According to a University of Michigan study, almost 10% of households own an RV, and that number is growing.  Of households that do not own an RV, 15% express an interest in the RV lifestyle.  So, what does that mean exactly?

An RV Lifestyle is one that many folks daydream about for years.  It may mean RV living full-time, or at least spending a substantial amount of time in one traveling around the wild blue yonder.  It has many different meanings to retirees.  You can make that lifestyle as social as you like or as quiet as you like.  Perhaps you want to fish one day, take a spin class, a dip in the pool, kayak or hike on the AT.  There are going to be days when you want to do absolutely nothing but maybe watch a movie or read that book you’ve been lugging around for a year.  The possibilities are endless!

Of course, retiring usually takes planning, as does an RV lifestyle.  It can, at first, be mind-boggling and you wonder how so many make it seem effortless.  With the right attitude, a plan and a dream, you just might decide the RV retirement lifestyle is just what the doctor ordered.

RV Retirement Costs

Depending on your current lifestyle and whether you’ll be RVing full-time or part-time, budgeting for expenses is a necessity.  According to  Wand’erly, the yearly cost of full-time RVing can be as much as $30,000.  Some individuals are able to make it work for $1,000 a month, but fuel, campsites, food and life itself add up.  On average, full-time RVing will cost approximately $2,100/month.

If you have no mortgage, perhaps your plan is to maintain your current home.  This allows you the luxury of RVing when you please and then returning home whenever you like.  If RVing for a year or more, think about renting your home or allowing family members to live there to help with expenses.  Full-time RVers sometimes sell the homestead and invest that money to help fund their lifestyle.

Things such as RV insurance (plus health and auto too), cell phones, groceries, dining out, internet or TV are just a few full-time RV costs that most in today’s world cannot escape.  Don’t forget about fuel costs, maintenance for your RV and tow or “toad” vehicle, campsites and sightseeing adventures to name a few. There is some great research on about the best choice for RV insurance. It’s very in depth and worth checking out.

RVing costs vary month to month depending on how many people are traveling with you, where you are staying and what adventurous things you do.  The bottom line is money to support your lifestyle needs to come from somewhere, be it the sale of your home, pensions, social security or working while on the road.  Budget monthly costs and stick to the budget.

Take the time to study, read, and learn as much as you can before hitting the road.  You can join RV forums such as Facebook has camping groups you can join which can help you to make a budget and include some “what if” scenarios.  Ask what troubles people have had and how much things costs.  You should have a relatively good idea of your expenses before you jump in that RV.

Best RV for Retirement

Choosing the right RV for retirement is a lesson in patience.  If you’ve attended any RV shows or visited dealerships, you know there are more models than you could have ever imagined.  It can become overwhelming.

Once you decide what works best for you, be it a motorhome or a tow-behind fifth wheel or travel trailer, focus then on the size, weight, and features on your wish list.  If you already own an SUV or truck that can pull something, it might make more sense to concentrate on a fifth wheel or travel trailer.  While a motorhome, be it a Class A, B or C, holds a powerful appeal to many who feel setting up is easier, and they enjoy the ability to drive their home and have frequent access to it.

Storage is an item that some do not think of until after the fact.  Let’s face it, downsizing is a must for life on the road.  Whatever RV you choose, ensure you have room for the “stuff” you plan to carry such as an outdoor rug, chairs, grill, clothing, toiletries, etc.

Travel can get pricey.  An RV is one approach to keeping your travel budget lighter, but decisions to use gasoline or diesel fuel, amenities needed in your RV or wanting to keep it small or go for luxury, is truly a matter of your particular wants and needs.  If full-time RVing, space may be more important to you.  If your dream is to see some of the wild and open spaces, but budgeting is a concern, there are still plenty who travel light and believe less is more.  Choosing your RV wisely will make all the difference in the happiness it provides you on the road.

What’s RV Retirement Living Like?

Freeing, off-the-grid, nomadic or living the dream might be a few images that come to mind.  Living in an RV involves downsizing.  Some might find that hard, for others it’s a relief.  Some things are easier; some are harder.  Think about selling, donating, recycling or trashing most of your possessions.  You get to finally declutter and live life simply.  It can be a liberating feeling to “let it go.”

Next, you’ll need to say a few goodbyes, maybe not forever, but for a while.  You bid your neighbors farewell, realize you’ll be finding new doctors along life’s travels, and promise friends and family, you’ll be in touch and visit.

You can “live” anywhere you want.  You’ll be meeting new people and friends along your way, friends that delight in the same common interests as you.  Of course, personal space is more limited, and togetherness takes on a new meaning.  Alone time can still be found peacefully sitting under the shade of a tree, reading a book, taking a bike ride or a walk in the woods.

If you still aren’t sure, RV retirement living is for you, consider renting one first. and RV dealers are a few options to check into.  It may seem expensive at first, but it’s certainly less than spending thousands of dollars for a tow vehicle and/or recreational vehicle. There’s even a wide variety of Airstream Airbnb rentals that, while not being towed anywhere, do allow you the experience of living like an RVer and in a smaller space.

Plan a two-week trip and discover if you enjoy living out of an RV.  This small investment can make or break those retirement plans.

RV Retirement Travels

An estimated 1 million Americans have chosen to retire in an RV, either full-time or spending at least part of the year, crisscrossing North America.  Everyone has their favorite places and their individual ways to fill their days.  There’s advice galore you’ll get from others on finding campsites, maintaining your rig or out of the ordinary places to visit.

There are several reasonably priced clubs offering discounts on campsites, gear, fuel, restaurants and more.  Membership based networks, such as Thousand Trails, can assure you a campground with many amenities.  For instance, Thousand Trails has approximately 500 locations scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Clubs, such as these, help out when it comes to finding a camping spot and saving you some dollars on other purchases.  Just a few to check out include:

Remember, there may be times you find yourself in a remote location, no cell service, no internet, no cable.  Ahhhh, feel the freedom!  Focus and learn how to fill your days with meaningful activities and personal improvement.  Enjoy every single moment of the trek.

RVers especially seem to love setting out to take in all the U.S. National Parks.  It’s an impressive goal to see them all, or at least, as many as you can check off your bucket list.  If you truly wish to get that breathtaking feel and stay within a national park, remember most have restrictions on the length of the RV (the parks range 20-40’ for accommodations).  You can check what public lands are available on, make reservations, check prices, amenities and allowable RV lengths.

If you wish to rough it, many public lands offer dry camping only.  This is when that gas-powered generator or solar panels will definitely come in handy.  Be sure to check the regulations on generators before making reservations.  Many parks allow the use of a generator only during particular hours.  Several RV manufacturers are installing a Furrion solar receptacle on the outside of their RVs.  This enables you to plug in a portable solar panel in the event you do not have solar panels on the roof.  The plug-in solar panel will at least allow you additional battery time to run lights or minimal appliances.

Another tool in helping with travel is an online RV trip planner.  Several are free; others require a fee.  It’s a great option when you want to travel a certain distance or hours per day, allowing you to stop, even if for a night, and continue to your destination.  These trip planners will provide you with a list of campsites at your stopping point, fuel locations or even restaurants.  Try RV Trip Wizard – its the best trip planning program on the market.

The possibility of RV traveling is endless.  Too many places, so little time.  Google to your heart’s content and explore your dream locations.


Best RV Retirement Jobs

In today’s world, people have discovered that living an RV life while still working, can become a reality.  Technology has a significant impact on the ability to work from the road rather than a traditional office.  Jobs such as sales, blogging, the IT industry, transcription work or contract jobs such as nursing, electricians or musicians are a few that afford people to keep moving.

Some RVers choose to work seasonal jobs.  They stay put for a while, which affords them the flexibility to travel the remainder of the year.  One such employer, Amazon Camperforce, hires RVers during the holidays to pack boxes and ship products.  This has become a popular and sought-after job allowing RVers great pay for the season.

Workamping enables the RVer to either obtain compensation, a free campsite, or a combination of both.  Workamping jobs can be found at private or public campgrounds and may include, grounds maintenance, handyman, campground host, or working at a camp store or gift shop.

If you don’t need the cash, national and state parks can always use volunteers.  Giving back feels good and keeps you active, exciting and thriving!

RV Retirement Communities

Many full-time RVers, after traveling for several years, prefer to put down some roots but not give up on their RV living.  Constant travel, while exciting and offers you the ability to see this great country of ours, can also grow a bit weary after years of driving in traffic, finding suitable campsites, and fueling up at the pump.  It will also not provide you with a community feel that RVers may eventually long for once again in their life.

Consider an RV community or village.  Having a physical neighborhood, while still loving the freedom and simplicity of RV life, is the answer for many.  You’ll enjoy community amenities and neighbors in whatever part of the country you want to be in.  It’s a state of mind, a permanent vacation, so to speak.  For ideas, check out: or

Related Reading:

For more information about living in an RV after retirement check out some of our other articles below!

20 Best RV Retirement Communities Across the US

10 Great Reasons to Travel in an RV After You Retire

15 Reasons You Will Regret an RV in Retirement

19 Best Work Camping Jobs for Retired RVers

10 Best RV Clubs for Seniors

The Pros and Cons of Retiring in an RV

10 Best RV Camping Tips for Seniors

One Final Thought

Wherever you may travel, the journey is yours.  It’s your time to enjoy every single moment.  Don’t miss out.  Be present, step forward and revel in new discoveries and wonders.

To see a list of all of our articles, please visit our Blog Archive!

Please share your comments below if you have retired or are considering retiring in an RV.

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9 thoughts on “Cheap Retirement – Living in an RV”

  1. I read your entry it was an eye opener there’s lots of stuff I hadn’t considered,living out in the open road .my wife and I used to do something like that before the kids came along we traveled in a Chevy van conversation we had a blast. No we’re empty nesters and thinking heading the road again. I’m thinking about buying a mini bus from the City transportation also called dield a ride a converted .I just want a car note hanging over my head and and i am on a nugget.i am mechanical inclined, and a carpenter by trade.i welcome your in put. Again thanks for the info. ?

  2. Another great article from Mike and Susan. Thank you guys, enjoyed the info.

    Dan Q.

  3. I’ve been looking into retirement RVing for several years now since I’ve retired and it’s just me. At one time, when I had a family of 4, I owned a class C RV. We enjoyed a number of great adventures, some lasting just a weekend run to the Oregon coast or mountains, none more than a 2 hour drive, to several weeks and more distance. Your intro blog regarding retirement RVing is the best I’ve every come across. I want to thank you for its comprehensiveness. It has given me more food for thought (not accounting for all the food I’ve consumed in 2020). Wishing you and all of us a better 2021.

  4. My husband and I have been living in our RV for 3 years now after downsizing from a home. We don’t regret it. It has its challenges. We have a Fifth Wheel that we completed remodeled ourselves. We are planning to travel in our RV this summer for 3 months. Thank you for the great information.


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