Author Topic: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong  (Read 7840 times)

CanuckExpat

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Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« on: November 24, 2017, 05:28:34 PM »
The beautiful Airstream myth and painful RV reality of life on the road:
"sell products by appealing to humansí innermost desires ó for freedom, for instance; for a certain way of life...freedom is a brand to be bought, rather than a natural state or one to be achieved by active engagement in civic. Presented with all these pictures of beautiful trailers in majestic settings, itís easy to fall for the narrative that you can buy freedom..the best lesson I could have had in the wrongheadedness of freedom via spending."

The Trials & Tribulations of a Millennial Nomad:
"Living in a van, or out of one in our case, is a romantic idea...traveling here and there, making a living off the Internet, parking at picturesque campgrounds overlooking the ocean or on great swatches of land, where your lady can do yoga and you can brew up a cup of freshly ground coffee on your camp stove. At least thatís what Instagram tells us #vanlife is all about...Eventually though, you need to park the rig, maybe pay some bills, do some laundry, and sleep on something that isnít an air mattress. And thatís when it hits you. Parked outside of your parentsí apartment, or on a side street in San Clemente, you realize, after about a week, that youíre no longer a nomad, youíre just homeless and living in a van. And that realization is harsh."

and: Many older Americans are living a desperate, nomadic life


My take away from these articles is stuff that can be awesome if you choose to do it (and can choose to stop doing it) can be horrible if you are forced to do it. And there is definitely a wrong way to go about doing stuff. If you are buying freedom, you've bought into the marketing. 

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2017, 06:18:58 AM »

My take away from these articles is stuff that can be awesome if you choose to do it (and can choose to stop doing it) can be horrible if you are forced to do it. And there is definitely a wrong way to go about doing stuff. If you are buying freedom, you've bought into the marketing.

Excellent summation. I would add that Nomadland is a fantastic book.  The Airstream book review is hilarious. What are the odds that a millennial owner of a DIY flipped Airstream, would have the delicious chance to disassemble a fluff grade book on how to be a fully enlightened hipster, by joint the "Airstream Life".

clarkfan1979

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2017, 10:11:11 AM »
My wife and I purchased a 22 ft. RV for $9300 from my uncle. My uncle probably put 20K into it.

We lived in it for one summer. We now use it for about 5 camping trips/year. I am planning a West Coast road trip from Denver to San Diego to Vancouver, BC back to Denver for summer 2019 or 2020. Our child will be 2 years old in 2019 or 3 years old in 2020. I'm leaning toward 2020.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2017, 08:18:01 PM »
I admit I've fantasized about this free, minimalist lifestyle. Who wouldn't like hitting the road with a Venomous Spaz Beast and a birdie in tow, seeing the sights? But the more I learn about the realities of the lifestyle the less it appeals to me. It might end up being something I do for a FIRE sabbatical.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2017, 10:53:59 PM »
I think more people are in houses after being sold on a certain lifestyle than will ever be in RVs. It's the typical 'buy for the pool but spend all your time working to pay for the house with the pool' scenario. There are pros and cons to every living situation. I guess there are a few that didn't do the research they maybe should have. I don't see a downside to having a great little RV. Even if you choose to settle somewhere, you can always rent it out or AirBnB it. It's still a great asset as long as you treat it as such.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2017, 11:02:53 PM »
Pretty sure the take away from these articles is "don't be broke".

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2017, 05:29:59 AM »
I don't see a downside to having a great little RV. Even if you choose to settle somewhere, you can always rent it out or AirBnB it. It's still a great asset as long as you treat it as such.

We have owned ten different RVs in the last two decades. Most were modest, low cost pop-ups and travel trailers. In most cases I would buy them dirt cheap, fix them up a bit, use them from months up to 2-3 years, and either make a small profit, or get most of my money back, after a Craigslist sale. We have done four epic, summer long trip, from PA. to AK. We have put a couple of hundred thousand miles on them in total, including at least 15 vacation trips to SD. WY. MT. and CO. We did a three year stretch, post retirement, where we spent 60-80% of our time living in our motorhome. All of this info, is a bit of a resume, or prelude to my take on your concept of RVing in general.

That said, In my humble experience, there are several issues with your overall take on the lifestyle, and hopefully I can help some MMMer step back and say, "that really got me thinking, and helped me dodge a big mistake". I actually did just that with a long PM thread to a member here, recently. We worked through all the possibilities of how to best take a long, "bucket list" family trip, and the concept of buying a "cheap" motorhome VS renting. In the end I think I helped him conclude that a "cheap motorhome" was a potential wallet sucking disaster, and that a multi-month rental wasn't really as horrifically expensive as it appeared to be, at first glance. 

First, the bad. Since you (or most looking at hopping into the game)  don't see any downside, I can assure you that there are many, and for some families and other folks out there, the biggest one is that it can take you to your knees, financially. Unless you are buying a pop-up camper, or a very small travel trailer, chances are you either are going to end up with a big vehicle to pull a big trailer, or a motorhome. There is little chance that you will be buying a NEW combination (truck and trailer) or motorhome, for less than $60-70K.  It's certainly possible, but in reality, out in the wild, we typically see new family combinations as new diesel four door trucks pulling new large bunkhouse trailers, which is pretty much an $80+K wallet killer. THe other common sight is new, low quality, high volume motorhomes from mega-manufacturers, like Thor and Forrest River. These rolling shit boxes are commonly $80-90K.  Now two really stupid things happen to new RV owners, and they usually fail to pay attention to either, until they are bleeding money, and feeling screwed. First, most new RVs roll off the dealers lot with a MORTGAGE!  No, it's not a loan, in the car loan sense. It's a mortgage, since it typically is written for a fifteen or twenty year term. The reason for this is simple. The average dumbass consumer sucker cannot afford a new RV, yet wants to satisfy their desire to enjoy the lifestyle. The answer for this is to be able to hand them a $35K travel trailer and say, it's your's for only $275 a month. (for fifteen years FFS!)  When you up the game to a motorhome, the numbers double, triple and more, and the term stretches to twenty years. Now as MMMer, it's obvious to us that falling for this is nuclear grade stupid. One thing that even us money savvy folks may miss, however, is that an RV depreciates faster than anything you may have dealt with in your personal experience, with the exception of warm ice cream.  Most RVs take a massive hit as soon as they are titled, it's common to see 20-30% right out of the gate. This continues, and seven to ten years on, it's pretty common to find really nice RVs that are available for 25-33% of their original purchase price. If you held on like a real chump, and are nearing the end of your twenty year motorhome mortgage, your "asset" might be worth 10% of what you paid, or less. If it's poorly maintained, and has any significant water damage (extremely common) it may have no value at all, as you pay your last few $400-500 monthly payments. A lot of folks with RV loans end up at some point deciding that they want out. For many they are only walking away if they can pony up a lot of cash to bridge the gap in the loan, since they have been upside down since they signed the note, and will remain so, for the majority of the life of the loan. It's nothing to have a 7-10 year old travel trailer with a value of $7-8K wholesale, and a loan balance that is $4-5K higher. Unfortunately, a few fellow members here have dealt with elderly parents, who are in the same spot that we encountered several times while shopping for a nice used motorhome. That being older women who are recent widows and stuck with expensive RVs that they cannot afford to keep, can't handle operating alone, and can't afford to get rid of, since they are so upside down on the loan.

Now, most of us are saying to ourselves, "well OBVIOUSLY I'm smart enough to find a good used RV, since only chumps buy new ones". If you have a lot of experience in the hobby, or can drag somebody along that does, you can find a great deal on a great used one. There are countless potential traps when shopping for, and buying one, so it's important to be educated on all the things that can go wrong, and what to look for. They are fairly complex, since they are essentially a fully functional house on wheels. If you want a motorhome, you not only have the house on wheels, but you are essentially buying a medium to heavy duty truck tucked underneath, which adds a whole other level of complexity and cost. The other concept that many have a rough time processing, is that, from a quality standpoint, many of these things are absolute shit. Youtube has many videos of stunned purchasers of all kinds and brands of RVs, what are shocked by what  a piece of crap they are stuck with and how poorly the manufacturer and dealer respond to their concerns.

When shopping for a uses one, probably the two biggest issues are leaks and slides.  RVs are a device designed to leak and rot. If it's not leaking now, and it's not obsessively inspected, maintained and re-caulked on a regular basis, it will be leaking soon. Leaks are most common on roofs, but sidewalls and floors are not exempt. Most newer units have paper thin fiberglass sheeting covering the sides, and it will bubble, get wavy and look awful if it gets water intrusion behind it. This is called "delamination" and it is a deal breaker. Leaks also appear as stains on the ceiling and interior walls, and soft spots on the floor.
Leaks are like icebergs. You see a water stain at a bathroom skylight? Well it's 10% of the issue, the other 90% is the rot and black mold hidden in the bathroom wall, and it's a $4K repair.  Slides are the big sections of wall that move in and out to make the interior bigger, once parked. Slides are great and a horror show, all at once. Slides have complex operating systems and they are often a source of major issues. There is no shortage of new RVs that ended up getting shipped back to the factory for major repairs, since nobody in the dealer network could get the thing to function properly. Since they open and close a huge chuck of the wall in an RV, they are also another fertile ground for leaks.

Owning an RV can be a really pleasant experience, if you get a good one, and you are a really talented handy-person. There is simply no getting around the fact that you will be doing a lot of DIY repairs to your RV, and typically have a list of things that you need to work on, when you have the time. Like many who spend months on the road, I carry a full chest full of mechanics tools (that thing is about 80LBS) , an eight foot step ladder strapped to the roof access ladder on the back wall, a smaller bag of service tools to do common electrical, plumbing, and light carpentry repairs, an organizer stuffed full of small hardware and repair parts, a large collection of manuals that came with the motorhome, and a battery drill and impact gun set. Obviously, a laptop to research and watch DIY videos is critical too. Now this constant stream of low grade repairs is going to happen, if you can handle them, or not. Big repairs are far from unusual either. Refridegerators and AC units are common failure points. These can be addressed for a a few hundred bucks as a DIY project or 4X as much if you need to take it to a dealer. If you don't have the skill set, you are going to have to find a service provider. Typically the best way to handle that is to us a mobile RV repair service. These folks tend to have a good reputation and change a lot less than dealers. Dealers can be brutal, and it's common for a large dealer to get $150 an hour to do service and repair work. On that note, BTW, I would strongly suggest avoiding most of the mega-dealers, since they tend to be a great place to NOT buy any new or use RV, OR get service work done. Long wait time, incompetent service, and getting screwed are far from usual. There is one really big chain out there, that is famous for fucking customers over. "World" famous in fact. I budget a couple of thousand a year in repair costs for our motorhome. The last few years it's been running $1000-1500. This year it hit nearly $4K, since it need all new tires and some axle work that was far too heavy for me to do as DIY work in my driveway. A lot of this is parts only. For example,  replacing my 12 Volt converter was $150 for the new part, and two hours of removing and reinstalling cabinetry and electrical systems to access the old one. I would expect the same job, done at a dealer, would of run 3-4X as much.

When it comes to renting your own RV out, most savvy folks avoid it. The large rental agencies charge some hefty fees to rent pretty basic, generic motorhomes. They do so since it's a tough way to make money, and customers are brutal on their equipment. A large part of their clientele is Europeans who are completely new to piloting a huge piece of equipment, and have never camped before. I have assisted many, while camping near them, especially in National Parks. On other occasions, I have watched renters do things that made me cringe, and say, "Another reason to never rent your motorhome". Interestingly, Cruise-America, the biggest player in the game, has units custom built to their specifications to eliminate a lot of nice, yet trouble prone features, and built a more rugged RV than the typical crap that you find from most manufacturers.

I'm absolutely addicted to RVing, and will always have some type of camper. That said, it has a lot of serious downsides, it is a very expensive hobby, and at no point do the words "Asset" and "RV" belong in the same sentence :)

fredbear

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2017, 10:18:32 AM »

We have owned ten different RVs in the last two decades.

A great post.  Real if wry information, and very well-written.  You might enjoy re-reading the section of Wind in the Willows that deals with the period when Toad goes caravanning. 

Just Joe

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2017, 12:39:51 PM »
I don't know if any of you watch "How It's Made" but I'm fascinated by the show as an engineer.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=how+it's+made+rv

Plenty of construction videos to watch. Easy to see how basic the construction is of RVs.

Cassie

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2017, 01:28:51 PM »
PH: really hit the nail on the head with his assessment!  WE bought a 1993 27 ft motorhome 10 years ago for 14k. It had 2 previous owners and only had 33k/miles. My friend's parents sold it because after traveling for a year he was getting dementia. They had sold their home and belongings so had to re-buy everything and had the $ to do so. WE thought we would travel for a year but found out quickly a month is enough.  Part of the issue is that we had 4 dogs with one being 80lbs. It does not have slide outs so everything is off a narrow hallway.  Also DH is quite messy which is bad in a small space and not as big of a issue in a house.  It has enabled us to stay in national parks more reasonable then hotels plus we can take the dogs.  Something is always breaking. My DH is handy and between him and his son they can fix some things but in ten years we have also paid 3k to have professionals fix it. it gets frustrating as everything will work and then something breaks or leaks again.  WE met some people that had sold their old motorhome and bought a new one for 200k and still having issues with things breaking or leaking.    WE also met a few retirees that spend summers in Denver and winters in either Arizona and VEgas and love it. They kept costs down by renting for a month at a time. We have spent a ton of $ by renting by the week or night and the cost of gas on trips.  Now we are just taking trips closer to home to keep the costs down.

ice_beard

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2017, 04:02:19 PM »
Living out of vans, not large campers or RVs has been around in the climbing community for some time.  A good friend of mine and serious climber pulled it off for about two years in the Bay Area.  He had a work schedule that was like 2 12 hour shifts on the weekend.  He had a gym membership that allowed him access to showers and a social setting, and he could also shower at his workplace.  Most weeks when he wasn't working were spent in climbing areas, usually about a 4 hour drive away.  He had absolutely minimal belongings and kept to a pretty regular schedule for things like laundry and shopping, which is how I think he made it work. 

I still think it sounds dreamy, but I'm married and my wife and I have pretty good jobs and are working our ways to FI.  There are times though I think we could pull it off as travel RNs, but it certainly takes a lot of sacrifice. 

BTDretire

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2017, 04:43:39 PM »
I've been following this young lady and her living in a car then a van for quite a while.
 She's a special lady to be able to do it, but she seems to be having a ball.
She has about 50 videos posted and just received an award from Youtube for getting 100k
subscribers to her channel. Because she's on the road it took her a while to catch up with it, she now has 138k subscribers.
 I find her interesting and inspiring.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFAu5dzHq3BJvZsO58N8fXA
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 07:39:21 PM by BTDretire »

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2017, 05:16:37 PM »

We have owned ten different RVs in the last two decades.

A great post.  Real if wry information, and very well-written.  You might enjoy re-reading the section of Wind in the Willows that deals with the period when Toad goes caravanning.

Thanks for the kind words. It's probably a bit lowbrow for some, but every time the word "caravan" hits my semi-adolescent brain, it immediately goes to the scene in the movie "Snatch" where two of the primary characters are unsuccessfully buying a beat to shit caravan from a bunch of Pikeys. An unforgettable classic, indeed.

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2017, 06:00:10 AM »

  As a dirt bagger who is currently living out of a van full time in order to travel very cheaply I find the difference between large RV dwelling and minimalist van dwelling pretty interesting.

[/quote]

 When I am digging through my on-board workshop, looking for just the right tool, before laying on my back to replace the valve seals under the shit tank. That is the exact moment, when I find minimalist van dwelling to be extraordinarily appealing :)  There are many times after filling the eighty gallon gas tank, dealing with idiots in traffic, or fixing some other crap that broke again, when I think, " a bare Chevy work van, with a milk crate and plywood bed in the back, would be pretty sweet right about now".


Caoineag

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2017, 08:16:09 AM »
Don't be broke is definitely a good takeaway from those articles. I am not sure that working a menial job and being stuck in an apartment somewhere would be much better... I will admit, I would not want to have to work from my van. If I chose to go back to work in the future, I think I would rent an apartment. Paddedhat, awesome post. We spent 2 years debating travel vehicles before we decided to buy a new high top van and make our own (which is somewhere between the minimalist van and an rv, less problems than an rv, more storage than a van). It was definitely the best choice for us (partly because of all the cons you mentioned about rv's, partly because of the way we travel) and I don't think enough people really research what they need for themselves before doing this. Even with all that, we still intend to only do it for as long as its enjoyable.

Its also why I think people should try it out more before committing. So many people have never lived in rv/van prior to getting one and deciding on full time that it amazes me. We have done about 6 weeks in our van and still reserve the right to decide on a new home base if we can't handle the constant travel (given our road tripping history, unlikely, but still possible).

Clean Shaven

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2017, 09:04:16 AM »

We have owned ten different RVs in the last two decades.

A great post.  Real if wry information, and very well-written.  You might enjoy re-reading the section of Wind in the Willows that deals with the period when Toad goes caravanning.
Agreed. All spot-on IMHO.

We have a pop up camper on a pick-up truck, both bought used. Simple and easy to repair when needed.

Every RV is a compromise (cost, maintenance, spaciousness vs ease of parking and driving, mileage, etc).

Aegishjalmur

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2017, 09:27:50 AM »
I think there are a couple issues at play here: 1) Choose to live this lifestyle vs Being forced into it due to economic hardships. 2) Leaping before you look-This is definitely a lifestyle where try before you buy is VERY important, especially if you are travelling/living with someone else. 3) Fully thinking through what you want and how you are going to use it.

If you don't think long and hard about it and carefully consider your options you may find you committed to something you hate.

Though if you are looking for the counter point of view to the negative/downsides show here, google Bob Wells and his website http://www.cheaprvliving.com/blog/ for someone who has been doing this for a long time and loves it.

FINate

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2017, 12:47:24 AM »
Great post paddedhat, I was nodding my head in agreement while reading.

We RVed for 6 years when the kids were babies -- no way my wife would have gone camping without at RV while in the diapers/bottles phase. We started by looking at Airstream, which are well made but totally overpriced. The cheap RVs are craptastic, feel like they're falling apart. We ended up paying cash for a 20' Lance , good value and quality though very utilitarian in the looks department.  In hindsight I should have bought used, but our income was ridiculously high at the time. Even so, there was a continuous stream of maintenance and odds and ends to repair. Nothing too complicated, though some things were self inflicted. Repacking the bearings was fun. It's nice to have a heater, water heater, toilet, running water, and such. But, I found that getting it ready for a trip took about a day: checking all the systems, sanitizing the water system, and so on. Then there's the issue of buttoning it all up on return and potentially winterizing. We also paid to store it because our house doesn't have the space. Overall it wasn't as convenient as I thought it would be.

Once the kids got past the toddler phase we decided it wasn't worth the cost and hassle, and I wanted to explore areas inaccessible with a trailer. So we sold it, got a little less than half of what we paid for it (not terrible for a 6 year old trailer) and used about 1/5 of the proceeds to buy good tent camping gear: quality ice chest, tent, warm sleeping bags, very comfortable sleeping pads from Exped. My wife gets cold at night so I got a tent with stove jack and bring a small wood burning stove if it's going to get cold. Works great, super cozy and great for drying out wet gear.

Now we camp with a pickup+camper shell. For solo camping I just crash in the back, great option to have. We did a 3 week roadtrip around the Southwest over the summer mostly camping in USFS campgrounds, couple nights visiting family and cheap motel. In all the trip was about $1000, the biggest expense was gas. I liked the RV but prefer the truck+camper shell combo for its simplicity and flexibility.

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #18 on: November 29, 2017, 06:59:16 AM »
Though if you are looking for the counter point of view to the negative/downsides show here, google Bob Wells and his website http://www.cheaprvliving.com/blog/ for someone who has been doing this for a long time and loves it.

I've followed Bob and his blog/forum for many years.  I would gently disagree with your view of his work being a counterpoint to this thread. Bob is a leader in his quest to legitimize van dwelling, assisting those that choose the life, AND the countless numbers who get FORCED into the life. In some ways he is a cheerleader, and "sells" the lifestyle. OTOH, he is also somebody that has struggled greatly, including finding himself homeless in Alaska, and spending many years there, trying to hold on to his job and family, while scraping by in a converted box truck. His deeper mission is to assist anyone who found themselves in the situation that he did, and turn it into a workable lifestyle, by making the most of an individual's situation. Some of his followers are barely making it, and the forum is populated with a few members who are one step above homeless, and one moderately expensive van repair away from sleeping in the bushes, with their life's possessions in a shopping cart.

There is a lot of unpleasant reality behind the fantasy of #vanlife, tiny houses, minimalism, container house living, etc... and it's easy to buy into the fantasy, when it comes to watching some of the stars of social media. Sometimes you need to peel more than few layers off, before you get to a balanced view of who is actually living in that van down by the river, and what hipster dumb-ass, who doesn't know a circular saw from a dental drill, is living a wonderful, yet totally fake, "You-tube van life" in their super cool (half million mile, beat to shit, horrendously expensive to repair and maintain, unreliable $4K retired Fed-ex) sprinter they converted "all by themselves".

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2017, 07:16:17 AM »
We RVed for 6 years when the kids were babies -- no way my wife would have gone camping without at RV while in the diapers/bottles phase. We started by looking at Airstream, which are well made but totally overpriced. The cheap RVs are craptastic, feel like they're falling apart. We ended up paying cash for a 20' Lance , good value and quality though very utilitarian in the looks department.  In hindsight I should have bought used, but our income was ridiculously high at the time. Even so, there was a continuous stream of maintenance and odds and ends to repair. Nothing too complicated, though some things were self inflicted. Repacking the bearings was fun. It's nice to have a heater, water heater, toilet, running water, and such. But, I found that getting it ready for a trip took about a day: checking all the systems, sanitizing the water system, and so on. Then there's the issue of buttoning it all up on return and potentially winterizing. We also paid to store it because our house doesn't have the space. Overall it wasn't as convenient as I thought it would be.



What a cool story.  I totally get where you are coming from with all of it. I was pretty shocked to see that, after two decades of the whole RV life, the wife and I hit a figurative wall. As I said earlier, we did about 60-80% of the prior three years living in the motorhome, full-time. We sold a house in mid-2016, and agreed to truly full time it for a few years. Given the huge amount of previous experience, it didn't take too long until we both admitted that we really were burned out, and had no interest in spending a few more years stuffed into 230 SQ. FT. We bought a modest house in the beginning of this year,  and with no room, or legal right to park in on the property, we are now renting a monthly storage spot. At that point we really got a handle on how sick of the whole scene we really are, since we basically didn't set foot into the RV for the next six months. At the moment, we are getting ready for our winter migration, and will take the RV from PA. to New Orleans for a bit, then east to central FL. for the winter. I'm not sure what next year will hold, but like you said, all the headaches get old, and it's clearly time for a change.

Two parts of your story are worth noting for those that are unfamiliar. First, you really bought what is regarded as arguably one of the highest quality trailers available in the states, yet still found the continual maintenance and repairs to get old, fast. Second, you sold it for less than half of what it was worth, after six years of use. To many of the bean counters on the forum, this might sound horrible. In the world of RVs, it's actually quite the opposite.

FINate

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2017, 09:39:44 AM »
What a cool story.  I totally get where you are coming from with all of it. I was pretty shocked to see that, after two decades of the whole RV life, the wife and I hit a figurative wall. As I said earlier, we did about 60-80% of the prior three years living in the motorhome, full-time. We sold a house in mid-2016, and agreed to truly full time it for a few years. Given the huge amount of previous experience, it didn't take too long until we both admitted that we really were burned out, and had no interest in spending a few more years stuffed into 230 SQ. FT. We bought a modest house in the beginning of this year,  and with no room, or legal right to park in on the property, we are now renting a monthly storage spot. At that point we really got a handle on how sick of the whole scene we really are, since we basically didn't set foot into the RV for the next six months. At the moment, we are getting ready for our winter migration, and will take the RV from PA. to New Orleans for a bit, then east to central FL. for the winter. I'm not sure what next year will hold, but like you said, all the headaches get old, and it's clearly time for a change.

Two parts of your story are worth noting for those that are unfamiliar. First, you really bought what is regarded as arguably one of the highest quality trailers available in the states, yet still found the continual maintenance and repairs to get old, fast. Second, you sold it for less than half of what it was worth, after six years of use. To many of the bean counters on the forum, this might sound horrible. In the world of RVs, it's actually quite the opposite.

To be clear, we never got anywhere close to living in it full time, just did lots of trips. A great experience, glad we did it. But yeah, by the time we sold the novelty had worn off and I was tired of taking care of it. The final straw for us was realizing that the $120/month storage fee (almost $1500/year) plus registration, insurance and depreciation (figured about $3000k/year) could pay for a lot of nights at a motel/hotel to break up long trips.

LifeHappens

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2017, 09:55:55 AM »
Though if you are looking for the counter point of view to the negative/downsides show here, google Bob Wells and his website http://www.cheaprvliving.com/blog/ for someone who has been doing this for a long time and loves it.

I've followed Bob and his blog/forum for many years.  I would gently disagree with your view of his work being a counterpoint to this thread. Bob is a leader in his quest to legitimize van dwelling, assisting those that choose the life, AND the countless numbers who get FORCED into the life. In some ways he is a cheerleader, and "sells" the lifestyle. OTOH, he is also somebody that has struggled greatly, including finding himself homeless in Alaska, and spending many years there, trying to hold on to his job and family, while scraping by in a converted box truck. His deeper mission is to assist anyone who found themselves in the situation that he did, and turn it into a workable lifestyle, by making the most of an individual's situation. Some of his followers are barely making it, and the forum is populated with a few members who are one step above homeless, and one moderately expensive van repair away from sleeping in the bushes, with their life's possessions in a shopping cart.
I agree with most of what you are trying to say, paddedhat. I watch Bob's videos pretty regularly and think he's added a ton of value to the nomadic community. The RTR seems like a real gift to people just getting started in the nomadic life. I think the best thing he does is help people - especially older women - learn to make the best of a bad set of circumstances.

He also helps reframe the lifestyle as a legitimate choice. Helping people feel a sense of agency and self-determination is important. Even if some people are basically forced into living in a vehicle, the advocates like Bob help them see the choices that ARE available to them.

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2017, 11:50:10 AM »

 I think the best thing he does is help people - especially older women - learn to make the best of a bad set of circumstances.

He also helps reframe the lifestyle as a legitimate choice. Helping people feel a sense of agency and self-determination is important. Even if some people are basically forced into living in a vehicle, the advocates like Bob help them see the choices that ARE available to them.

Agreed. The plight of older women in this country can be pretty sickening.  Many go from being modestly comfortable and economically secure, to destitute, within a few months of losing their spouse, due to the way pensions and social security work. I really think that Bob, and a few others like him, have prevented some of those women from ending it all, since they just couldn't see how they could continue on less than $1000 a month is income.
 
On the women's side of the lifestyle,  becky at interstellarorchard.com  and Sue at rvsueandcrew.com are huge resources, since they are fiercely independent women of two very different age groups, who have a track record of success in living a very low cost life on the road. When it comes to the philosopher king of the movement, you can't beat Randy Vining. The Video of Bob Wells interviewing Randy is priceless  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjTGF4jPdCY  If your sweating the size of your stash as you take the FIRE leap, take a good listen to Randy, who did it 40 years ago, and has been a happy nomad on far less than most of us would ever dream possible.

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2017, 11:59:21 AM »
I'm a longtime interstellarorchard.com follower. I'm even considering supporting Becky's Patreon, which I never do. I really admire how she's carved a unique life and way of making a living through her combo of workkamping/ebooks/blog and now video.

I agree Randy Vining is a great role model for nervous FIRE types. That interview is gold - just don't take his investment advice. It sounds like he just has a simple savings account or something!

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2017, 01:20:53 PM »
I'm a longtime interstellarorchard.com follower. I'm even considering supporting Becky's Patreon, which I never do. I really admire how she's carved a unique life and way of making a living through her combo of workkamping/ebooks/blog and now video.

I agree Randy Vining is a great role model for nervous FIRE types. That interview is gold - just don't take his investment advice. It sounds like he just has a simple savings account or something!


 LOL, it's a bit conservative to say the least.

 That said, 40 years ago, he jumps off the hamster wheel with 200K. Within a few years he is making 16% savings account returns, during the Carter era mess. He is now at a place in life were his expenses are so incredibly low that his extremely small SS check, and a couple of hundred in savings withdraw a month, keeps him going. At this point, late in life, and with a very small rate and amount of withdraw, he is probably doing exactly what he should be doing, with a small guaranteed return, and zero chance of losing his principle, in a low yield bank account.

Cassie

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2017, 01:29:41 PM »
We can park it in our driveway so no storage costs for us. We have actually used ours more as a guest bedroom then we have anything else. 
I wonder if a lot of poor seniors don't realize that they could get nice low income senior housing for 30% of their income, p.t. jobs through AARP and many other benefits they would qualify for.  I know 2 older poor woman that are living good lives by doing this.

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2017, 01:33:30 PM »
We can park it in our driveway so no storage costs for us. We have actually used ours more as a guest bedroom then we have anything else. 
I wonder if a lot of poor seniors don't realize that they could get nice low income senior housing for 30% of their income, p.t. jobs through AARP and many other benefits they would qualify for.  I know 2 older poor woman that are living good lives by doing this.
I'm sure many go, but can't wait for years for anything to become available, housing wise, IF their community even has HUD housing available.

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2017, 02:22:19 PM »
There is one more way to "RV" than what has been discussed here.   (This post has more or less focused on van living and larger RV's).

Parking an RV at one location for a longer term.

About 12 years ago, DH and I were looking at RV's at the show.  We ended up in one, higher end, 5th wheel, with only a small second sleeping area.  It was nice.   I turned to DH and said "I could see retiring in this", and he said "If that is your vision of retirement, we are a lot further ahead than I thought".

My vision is to have an apartment in town, nice urban area, and then in summers, live in the RV that is parked for the monthly fee at a long term campground.  One intended for that.   One that lets me build a roof over it and a deck, and maybe tend a tiny garden...   Being in BC, these places are livable all year round on the coast.

Maybe that is too old-fashioned for many, but when I looked into the costs to actually move one of these things, I realized that if I am going to travel to see North America, I am going to do it in a van-style, short term vacations (1 month),  to optimize driving and places we can actually get to, with hotels added for urban areas.   The RV would be moved by hiring a company, not buying a large vehicle.

paddedhat

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2017, 03:16:05 PM »
Goldielocks, The wife and I have met hundreds of folks that live like that. it's typically a case of having a summer and winter location, say Florida and the New England states, or Arizona and the Pacific northwest. In most cases they own the big truck to pull the thing, and some folks leave the big truck parked 95% of the time, while they use a smaller car. But, others skip the truck headache and end up with two RVs,  1500 miles apart, to take advantage of good weather, 12 months a year. One thing that most don't give much thought to, is that most locations require that an RV, even if it's permanently parked , be licensed and registered. This can be for many reasons, including real estate taxes, local and state laws, and the requirements of the facility's insurer. I know nothing of Canadian costs in this area, but it can be everything from dirt cheap to ridiculous, depending on what state you pick, south of the border.

Cassie

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2017, 04:10:36 PM »
I'm sure many go, but can't wait for years for anything to become available, housing wise, IF their community even has HUD housing available.


PH: there is section 8 housing here so instead of waiting for a certain apartment complex you ask a place if they will take the amount the government will pay. Many will because they know they will get their rent.  So for instance I have a friend with $ and one that is poor. They both live in the same really nice senior apartment building. One pays full market rate and 1 pays 30% of her income.

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2017, 09:51:06 PM »
Goldielocks, The wife and I have met hundreds of folks that live like that. it's typically a case of having a summer and winter location, say Florida and the New England states, or Arizona and the Pacific northwest. In most cases they own the big truck to pull the thing, and some folks leave the big truck parked 95% of the time, while they use a smaller car. But, others skip the truck headache and end up with two RVs,  1500 miles apart, to take advantage of good weather, 12 months a year. One thing that most don't give much thought to, is that most locations require that an RV, even if it's permanently parked , be licensed and registered. This can be for many reasons, including real estate taxes, local and state laws, and the requirements of the facility's insurer. I know nothing of Canadian costs in this area, but it can be everything from dirt cheap to ridiculous, depending on what state you pick, south of the border.

Trailers (not motor homes) are reasonable to insure.   The moving vehicle is what gets expensive!

Two places -- I was thinking the winter apartment next to coffeshops and bike lanes and access to part time college courses / volunteer.  Summer near a lake or ocean, with lots of trees, in a 5th wheel.

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #31 on: November 30, 2017, 05:51:36 AM »

Trailers (not motor homes) are reasonable to insure.   The moving vehicle is what gets expensive!

Two places -- I was thinking the winter apartment next to coffeshops and bike lanes and access to part time college courses / volunteer.  Summer near a lake or ocean, with lots of trees, in a 5th wheel.

Yea, insurance isn't the issue, I was actually pretty shocked to see my full coverage go from $318 a year, on a $9K travel trailer, to $540 a year on a $45K motorhome. When I questioned it, the agent explained that motorhomes and especially the motorhome driving demographic, tend to be really low risk. What many folks are unaware of is that most campgrounds will not allow a trailer, or 5th wheel to sit on their property, even if it's going to not move for years, unless it has a current license and registration. This expense, combined with onerous annual property taxes on RVs, levied by some states, can add some pretty high annual fees that many never thought of, when they dream of doing this. I like the idea of spending winters in a nice apartment in a very southern college town, and if we do give that a shot, I would probably try Gainesville FL. first. I Love that place.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 06:44:45 PM by paddedhat »

sixup

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #32 on: November 30, 2017, 06:36:22 PM »
I slept in a $400 Plymouth Voyager minivan for 6 months in Denver. I could definitely do it long term in a warm environment. The cold sucked though. And that was only to early November, so it wasn't even that cold yet. Maybe got down to 30s.

It's really not bad as long as you have somewhere to hang out all day. Only thing I missed was having a fully private bathroom. If I did it long term I would also have a nicer bed. I used a large cot with a pad which was great quality but still couldn't beat a firm, flat mattress.

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #33 on: November 30, 2017, 06:41:08 PM »
I slept in a $400 Plymouth Voyager minivan for 6 months in Denver. I could definitely do it long term in a warm environment. The cold sucked though. And that was only to early November, so it wasn't even that cold yet. Maybe got down to 30s.

It's really not bad as long as you have somewhere to hang out all day. Only thing I missed was having a fully private bathroom. If I did it long term I would also have a nicer bed. I used a large cot with a pad which was great quality but still couldn't beat a firm, flat mattress.

I currently live on a boat. Many of my neighbors walk to shore to use the bathrooms to avoid dealing with the holding tank. To me, a functioning toilet is the difference between home and camping. I only mind the shared showers because so many other users insist on smelly soaps and lotions.

sixup

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #34 on: December 01, 2017, 04:39:15 AM »
I slept in a $400 Plymouth Voyager minivan for 6 months in Denver. I could definitely do it long term in a warm environment. The cold sucked though. And that was only to early November, so it wasn't even that cold yet. Maybe got down to 30s.

It's really not bad as long as you have somewhere to hang out all day. Only thing I missed was having a fully private bathroom. If I did it long term I would also have a nicer bed. I used a large cot with a pad which was great quality but still couldn't beat a firm, flat mattress.

I currently live on a boat. Many of my neighbors walk to shore to use the bathrooms to avoid dealing with the holding tank. To me, a functioning toilet is the difference between home and camping. I only mind the shared showers because so many other users insist on smelly soaps and lotions.

Agreed. I was lucky that my work had a locker room with 2 shower stalls. I would get there early enough that it was basically my own personal bathroom. But still not quite the same as being able to wake up and just walk right to the bathroom.

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #35 on: December 20, 2017, 12:19:22 PM »
Some not-quite-on-topic quotes about 'stuff' generally at the start of that first article:

Quote
This school of sales was invented by Sigmund Freud's nephew Edward Bernays, the "father of PR" (foremost among those addressed by Hoover in 1928) and an engine of early consumerism. Bernays drew on his uncle's work to sell products by appealing to humans' innermost desires ó for freedom, for instance; for a certain way of life. Next he set his sights on restructuring American democracy itself. In Bernays' view, humans were irrational and highly manipulable, making true democracy dangerous. His ideal was to hold up the illusion of democratic empowerment while curbing democratic impulses through a voracious cycle of consumerism that would pique and then sate people's desires.

Under this consumerist vision of democracy, freedom is a brand to be bought, rather than a natural state or one to be achieved by active engagement in civic affairs.

I'm interested in doing some van camping... but the simple kind, a minivan with a mattress in the back, no extra gizmos or gadgets built into the vehicle.

I enjoyed Bob Wells' stuff until the 'buy this shit at Amazon using my link!' got the better of me. I love seeing the simple setups.

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Re: Vehicle Dwelling Done/Gone Wrong
« Reply #36 on: December 22, 2017, 07:44:09 PM »
I have a M35 Tiffin bus (cummins diesel pusher with a slide) and I could live in it forever, however, my wife could not so I will continue to fund a 2000 square foot house IMHO she is worth it.

Once I hit 55 I am going on an awesome road trip with or without her!

As long as we can bank every dollar we earn and live on my retirement I don't see a problem.

Merry Christmas and happy New Years,
Mike