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Full timing
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Supporting Member of 6/12
Formally known as "Humbojb"
Picture of Jim and Tere
OK guys and gals, what do you all think the pros and cons are of full-timing? We're talking about doing it for a couple of years before I get too old to get out of bed. I'd like your thoughts on how much the full-timing lifestyle might cost. We would probably rent our house out during this period so we would have something to come back to when it was over. I realize the cost would depend on how much you drive and where you stay. We'd probably travel about 15000 miles a year, go out west a few times, stay with friends and family when possible, state and national parks as much as possible. Those of you that are full-timers probably have an idea of the expense. We'd try to buy a Barth that we could pay cash for and it would probably be a diesel. I don't think our 28' Regal will work for full timing because of the 454 and limited basement storage. Any reference books anyone has come across that might be helpful? Personal experience? Thanks
Jim and Tere
P.S. We have two dogs that would join us.
Posts: 3263 | Location: madisonville tn usa | Member Since: 02-19-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
She who must be obeyed
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I have "full timed" on a boat for a while. Not a motorhome but the life style is not too different.

It is my feeling as there is little chance that all the things in your house will fit on a boat or in a motorhome I suggest that the existing coach is the way to go for at least the first year. Take less and view the trip as open ended; that is plan for a two week trip. This way you will hit the road faster and it will cost you far less. After you have been out for a bit you will have a better idea of what you really need.

Not including Gas we can sail in Mexico for about $1,500.00 a month. This includes marina fees and eating about half the meals out. This also includes about $200.00 a month for maintenance.

In the U.S. if you take the Bill H. approach of camping a bit off the "defined camp site" path you should have simular costs. Once the fear of the unknown is overcome parking on zero cost BLM land or the like is rather nice. Solar cells are a must but you can move them to a new coach if you want or just hit the road and see what you need.

All this is IMHO...


[This message has been edited by timnlana (edited January 27, 2006).]
Posts: 318 | Location: Studio City, California | Member Since: 02-07-2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'll tell you what I would like to do. I would like be park host at RV parks along the west coast. Work for 3 months, travel for 6. After being an industrial sales man for 35 years I would be happy to sell silver toe rings in a flea market somewhere, like San Luis, AZ. I love the thought of full timing. Even though we're going on 25 years in this house I have never been the kind to feel particularly rooted, especially to Minnesota. I think a couple years of fulltiming would be just about right. Then settle down somewhere "W A R M"


Posts: 1985 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN 55346 USA | Member Since: 01-01-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Old Man and No Barth
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IMHO, Tim's advice about sticking with your existing rig for at least a year is good. That will give you a clue as to whether full timing is really for you.

This presumes you have a couch or good chairs to sit on, not just a dinette, and that your floor plan allows separation. Cabin fever sets in quickly when you're in your faces day and night. Been there, done that in 23 & 24 footers.

I really wanted a 28' Barth, but ended up with 33'. A 28 would have been better for ease of parking, ease of driving, marginally better fuel economy, and more parking options. There's a lot of great state & national parks, and places to boondock, where size is a hindrance. You see the big rigs parked in destination parks, not exploring the country.

As to storage, experienced travelers take less with them every year. Before you start, examine everything you want to take, and ask yourself these question. Do I really need this? How often will I use it? Can I buy it on the road if I need it?

For all our experience, when we go south for months at a time, we always take 3 times as many clothes as we actually use. Most of the stuff in our basement storage stays there, except power cords & sewer hoses.

A good tool kit is a must. I've changed a water pump at Disney World, rebuilt a carburetor in a state park in WA, and done 2 valve jobs in a park in CA. (2 different vehicles)

The cost difference between 6 - 8 mpg with gas, and 8 - 10 mpg with diesel over 15000 miles will be negligible compared to the cost differential between your current rig and a bigger diesel. You can change your mind anywhere along the road, & you might even save enough over the year to afford the rig of your dreams.

At least you won't be out the cost of a big rig that becomes a white elephant if full-timing doesn't work out. I've known people who became soured on the whole RV thing when full-timing didn't work for them.

Look at the number of monster motorhomes and 5th wheels you see for sale, that are 1 0r 2 years old. There's a message there.
Posts: 1612 | Location: Upper Left Corner | Member Since: 10-28-2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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All good advice.....and like Roy we always have too much clothes that we don't use. I dicovered a box of clothes in the basement that we have been hauling around for 2 years and never used yet. They will be going in the storage unit next time we go by that way. A lot to be said for "less is more". As far as cost? that is a hard one. Some people get by on less than a thousand a month...some people can't make it on 5 thousand a month. All depends on what you do and how you do it. There are some good fulltiming books out there to give you ideas of what to expect...check your library or bookstore and see what they have. Most of all be a little flexible and adaptable and have fun! Its a big country with lots to see and do. Ps. Unless you are in a hurry stay off of the freeways...take the other roads, thats where the beauty is in this country.
Posts: 950 | Location: Left side, top to bottom and back again. :>) | Member Since: 09-08-2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Captain Doom
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I haven't done full-timing, but I do spend nearly 3 months a year on the road, with trips as long as 3+ weeks away from home. Now there's just me, Maggie and Casey (my two Golden Retreivers who are not spoiled, but I've learned a few lessons.

First all the advice about using your current coach extensively is well-founded. I bought my Class C two years ago as a learning tool. The "learning" I expected was to find out what features I wanted and which I needed. (Four years ago I started looking for a 28' Anything, but not having found one, with the little 24' Class C I discovered what counted and what didn't).

Now it's just me and my two Golden Retrievers (who are not spoiled), but I put about 12K a year on a MH, so I knew what worked for me and what I could do without.

First, carry tools and spares. Like olroy, I've had my Adventures in Replacment (an alternator in Clarkesville, TN, and a year later, a fuel pump at the same Advance Auto Parts store during a heat wave at 106F).

Belts, hoses, spark plugs, a fuel pump, a spare tire (even if not mounted), and anything else that might cause you to park unexpectedly. Even if you can't do the work yoourself, having the parts could save days of down time.

Secondly, note that RVers are welcome at most Wal-Mart stores. I don't use Wal-Mart to save money (most parks are reasonably priced), but when I'm on the road, I'm not usually sightseeing, I'm making miles.

Most RV parks are closed by the time of night I'm ready to settle in; moreover, in the winter, virtually all parks conveniently located for RON are closed.

Be prepared for reductions in some of the things that are taken for granted, like laundry, showers, TV reception, and internet access.

Again, as olroy noted, (as he preferred a 28' as opposed to the 33' he acquired), size isn't the governing issue - tolerance is. Now, I can say that as it's just me and the two dogs, so 24' is just fine (I bought the 28' Barth for its basement storage - the 24' had none).

Because, there will be elements of "roughing it" and irritation for not having "stuff" and conveniences that you'd have at home, but contemplate the disadvantages and advantages ahead of time (even make a list).

Most important, IMHO, is attitude - appreciate what full-timing would offer, and realistically face what will be foregone if you do.
Posts: 8239 | Location: Brooker, FL, USA | Member Since: 09-08-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of 1/12
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Tioga George did a good cost analysis you can find here.
Originally posted by Shadow man: As far as cost? that is a hard one. Some people get by on less than a thousand a month...some people can't make it on 5 thousand a month. All depends on what you do and how you do it.[/B]
Posts: 754 | Location: Niagara Falls, Canada | Member Since: 11-09-2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have found the biggest expenses to be as follows; 1. Fuel, if we are driving a lot of miles each day. If we drive for a day or two and then stay somewhere for any amount of time then fuel prices/amounts of fuel bought become of less in point: coming down to yuma from seattle this fall i put in $868 of diesel in one week. Since then (10/20) i have only made one short,(300 mile) trip and spent $125 to make sure the tank was topped off before we left. Still have 3/4 of a tank left and my fuel costs for the last 2 months has been 0. 2. rv space/lot rental; This can be your biggest cost. During our 10,000 mile trip in 04 i found that we were paying anywhere from 0 to 37 bucks a nite to stay somewhere. Our average cost was about 20 to 22 a nite in places where we paid. Call me cheap, (i prefer frugal, in deference to the scottish part of my heritage...:>), but i hate to pay at a rate of $600-$900 a month for a patch of gravel or dirt and a bucks worth of electricity for the nite. For that kind of money i could rent a house. Now the first 3 & 1/2 months we were living in the bus we were dry camping, and using 5 gal. jugs for water because we thought we had a problem with our holding tank, (long story...turned out it didn't have a leak like we thought) and we didn't have any money either so we couldn't run the generator and had to rely on only one solar panel for juice. (we now have 3). Since then mama isn't real thrilled about dry camping for more than a nite or two. When we finally started our trip one of the first things i did was buy a passport america membership for 3 years. It paid for itself in the first month or two. This last year when we went to the seattle area to work it was costing us $189 a week to stay in the local rv park. We ended up buying a western horizens membership because we could stay there for $28 a will pay for itself in 3 years or less based on the amount of time we will be using it and it's affiliate rv parks. This may not be the best thing for other people to do but for us it makes economic sense. Here in yuma it is better for us to rent a lot than to stay in a park even though there is a western horizons just across the state line. 3. Food: costs here are determined by how much you dine out. We don't go out very often so we can keep our costs down....however the food we do buy is of better quality which raises our costs somewhat....and no matter how you look at it you gotta eat whether you are at home or on the road. 4. Clothes: we don't need to buy much because we have enough in storage to last for a few more years. 5. Insurance: on the bus and the car, same whether we were traveling or not, same for health ins. 6. Taxes: IRS gets ya no matter property anymore so no taxes there and no insurance there either. 7. Other expenses: we have it cut down to where we have a direct tv bill and a phone bill and a storage unit bill. Still owe some on a credit card but we got rid of all those and now only use checks or a debit card....will never go in debt again unless it is interest free. 8. Hobbies and entertainment: that will vary depending on your interests of course. We have some that cost us money and others that don't. btw if you are traveling buy the national parks will pay for itself in a short period of time if you use it. 9. Misc.: i am sure there are other things i have not thought of right now, but the dog wants me to take him for his walk in the desert.
Posts: 950 | Location: Left side, top to bottom and back again. :>) | Member Since: 09-08-2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We full-timed 93-98; now part-time Summer.
'93 we roamed around; now we "workamp" April-Oct, and have been in N.Maine, N.Minnesota, Calif, Montana, Wyoming. When one is in a location a month or more one gets to ALL the good places, including those the tourists never see; also, there are a surprising number of "local" events the tourists aren't aware of. Dave mentioned "Host" jobs which are easy and fun; however, they don't pay anything. The National Parks pay -current $7.15/hr for most "unskilled" positions like store clerk - but provide a nice parking site with elec, water, sewer, and free laundry for about $5 per day per coach; we eat in the employee cafeteria for less than $2 per meal -institutional food, but surprisingly good with a huge selection (including 4 flavors of ice cream with 6 toppings - every meal, including breakfast). Workamping has horror stories, but in 12 years we've never experienced any, and we ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! No cooking, no dishwashing, 70 RVers as neighbors (most with dogs, a few cats), and 40 hours of low-pressure guvmint work in Nature's loveliest places.
It is NOT for everyone, but if you wish to tiptoe in all National Parks are desperate for bodies in late August through closing in late Sept/early Oct after the college-aged workers leave; AND Fall is a lovely time in most Parks.; if you're interested.

Don't full-time as a money-saving experience.
DON'T take a lot of clothes. We find we wear the same stuff all the time, even when we are "home" in the Winter. Remember, you're carrying your soiled skivvies into a Laundromat in a strange town (and it costs more than 25cents to dry a load). If you're not going to wear a tie you won't need dress shoes/socks/matching belt/shirt/collar stays. Forget the suit.
Unless you're computer-addicted, don't take it. Libraries everywhere, especially in small towns, now have free internet access -usually limited to an hour at a time, but with immediate 15 minute access for walkins - and your connections, esp in remote/out-of-the-way overnights, may be difficult to obtain. Cell phones DO NOT WORK EVERYWHERE, esp in many of the places you are likely to be.
As above: Take one or more extended trips in your current coach to see what you really want/need. Remember, it is easier to buy a Coach when you are full-timing because you can drive to see it with no strain. Go to Quartzsite in the Winter (y'all oughta go right now-it's not too late, and it's only 3 days away) for a full-timing lifestyle exposure and I guarantee you will enjoy the trip.

Go for it. The worst that can happen is you won't like it and you can return to your present life

"You are what you drive" - Clint Eastwood

[This message has been edited by Gunner (edited January 28, 2006).]
Posts: 573 | Location: Republic of Texas | Member Since: 12-31-2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just saw an ad in the yuma paper a couple of days ago where they are looking for rv couples to work this summer in Crater Lake Park. For me right now it is better if i stay working in my trade since the pay is better and i can build up my pension....but later if i need to work i will consider something like this. Good way to spend an extended amount of time in an area and have an income at the same time. That is one of the best things about fulltiming, you can spend as much or as little time in a place as you want. Bugs? Snow? Rain? Mud? Heat? Loud neighbors? Forest Fires? Tornadoes? Hail? Hurricanes? Volcanoes? Smog? Crowds?Floods,Droughts etc? Pack up and move....we can be gone in an hour or two without rushing it and in an extreme situation we could be gone in about 5 minutes. The whole continent is now your home.
Posts: 950 | Location: Left side, top to bottom and back again. :>) | Member Since: 09-08-2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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for us, at least, I am ready to sell this house with a 1/2 acre I have to mow and if any of you look at my place on Google Earth, can you even imagine how many leave I have to discard. Give me a condo or townhouse and the ability to lock the door and gooo.

Has any of our California folk seen the accommodation for beach front state park camp hosts?


Posts: 1985 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN 55346 USA | Member Since: 01-01-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Captain Doom
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I can't speak for CA, but there's a very nice little city-owned RV facility at Hanna Park in Mayport, FL. Technically, it's not "beachfront", as you'd have to walk about 100 yards. Pads are nicely tree shaded, although access to some are fairly tight.
Posts: 8239 | Location: Brooker, FL, USA | Member Since: 09-08-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think its about time you decided to go full time. But let me tell you it isnt easy as it seems. RV Camping is fun but if you are planning full time than you've got to be prepared.
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Supporting Member of 8/16
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earlier in this thread, there was a question re: camp hosts in California State Parks.. even one for full time 'floaters'..

another link for max RV length:

food for thought... "...the best apology is changed behavior..."


1991 early XL-style (maybe 1 of 2?) Breakaway... but prior to that actual (XL) designation...
2nd Barth w/Cat 3208T 250 hp motor
4 spd MT643 Allison trans
Gilig Air suspension chassis/brakes
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Posts: 298 | Location: Mendo Coast, NorCal...  | Member Since: 08-23-2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of 8/16
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Time changes all things. Could be different ten years later.
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