Author Topic: Living options for moving closer to parents (Mom with Alz); ? Renovated RV  (Read 985 times)

Tulip

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Hi Everyone,

I am a lurker and have benefited from reading others' questions and the community's comments, different perspectives, and advice. I will try to keep this to the shortened version, but I would love to have your advice on my specific situation/question(s).

To provide some context for my question, my Mom (65 years old) has Alzheimer's and my Dad's (74 years old) health has declined as well. I live ~30 minutes away from them, see/help them a lot, go to their MD appointments, grocery shop for them, etc. My parents live on a farm. Long story short, I believe the time has come for me to be making arrangements to move out there and be closer to help my Dad more with my Mom. Over the past three years they both have had significant surgeries where I lived with them for 4-6 months at a time to help. That was very difficult for me, and I learned I cannot live WITH them full-time (at this time). Thankfully, at this present time, that is not needed. So, I am looking at other options.

I was originally looking at a new "tiny" house, but the house I would be interested in starts at $48,000, and with adjustments (e.g., putting in a dishwasher, upgrade from standard on a few items) the price will easily exceed $50,000. That's for 399 square feet. When I look at it, it is super cute and what I would like, but I just cannot see spending that amount of money for a living situation that I feel is temporary. (When my Mom progresses, I would like to do all I can to keep her at home (vs. moved to a memory care facility) for as long as possible, so that may mean actually moving in the house with my parents...time will tell though.) I do not want to build something permanent on the land, as I do not feel that it will be a permanent situation and I'm sure the cost would be prohibitive. I have looked for used "tiny" houses too, and have not found one that I want and/or is in a reasonable-to-me price range.

So, I moved on from that and started looking at single-wide mobile homes and have now started looking at RVs. I really want to live in something that I really enjoy the looks of it (hence the cute tiny house :)), but also want to be rational and frugal in my decision. I started searching for RV renovations and became really interested in the idea of buying a used RV and renovating it to be more of what I personally want.

I am currently looking in the area of ~$10,000 for used RV and then having a renovation budget of ~$10,000. I have also estimated the costs of set-up needs on the land (e.g., a little clearing/leveling/gravel, shed over RV, septic tank, water line, electricity line, etc.) to be ~$12000. So, total cost estimation would be ~$32000 + a lot of time and learning (I have never taken on a task like this :)).

Do you see other options that I am missing? Like many of you, I am working on building my stache, so I am trying to find that balance between budget and living in something that I will enjoy. Do you feel I am being too naive in my cost estimation for the renovated RV? For those who have renovated an RV and/or lived in one full-time, am I underestimating the reality? Any advice on any aspect of my situation and/or tentative plan would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much.

Tulip

six-car-habit

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 I would not put in a "new" septic tank to service the RV.  Better to locate it close to the septic system they already have on the farm and tie into that. Same thing with the electricity and water feeds. If you are unsure of how long the RV might stay there, you may be better served by just using extension cord for the electricity, and running standard 3/4" hoses from the water source to the RV. Unless i knew it was going to be there for 5+ years, i would not "hard-pipe" those utilities, depending on the winter weather [ frozen pipes]

  What do you mean by Renovating an RV ?    New fabrics and cushions can be easy and semi-cheap.   Removing walls and reconfiguring the living spaces , and plumbing.... No-way !!  They aren't built like house, which ties into a solid foundation, you will be ripping apart and removing layers of wall board and insulation, hardlly any of the wood / materials used will be of standard sizes that can be found "off-the-shelf" at a home improvement store. And it might be aluminum framed. If so, now you'll need to rivit / bolt / "fixes" together. And getting the finished surfaces to look nice with be hellish. Plus you'll be spending time in the house while you figure how to salvage the mess made of the RV.

  Just find an RV / Camper / etc , that you like the layout, as it was built from the factory.  Besides all this, being 30 minutes away from their farm doesn't seem that far away.  IF you feel you'll be needing to go into the farmhouse every hour to provide something for mom, than it makes sense, otherwise , why give up "your own place" that you already have?  I think you might find that your parents will be going in and out of your RV more than anticipated on a daily basis. In which case, it will be like livng with them anyhow.

SunnyDays

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There are many different floor plans available for Rvs and however you renovate it, it's still an RV, so I don't really see the point in doing this.  Just buy something that suits your needs/wants.  You should easily be able to get a used one for the 20K you want to spend.  I bought a basically new one (had been used for 2 weeks, before the owners changed their life plans) for 25K about 7 years ago.  These things depreciate, so putting customized features into something you say is a fairly temporary need doesn't make sense to me.  And depending on how much time you anticipate spending helping your parents in their home, you might not see much of your own place except to sleep in it.

Fishindude

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I'd go with a single wide mobile home any day over an RV.  Much more room, and made to actually live in full time.   You will have a decent sized kitchen, someplace to do laundry, plenty of storage, etc.
Mobile homes can be purchased used also, and you can sell it and have it removed when you're done with it.   

Live in an RV in one spot for an extended period of time and it will likely no longer be road worthy.   The idea of remodeling an RV sounds like just pissing away money.   

Another option would be to renovate an existing building into a living quarters (if available) and / or build a small garage type structure and create a living quarters in it.   Set it up right and it may actually add some value to the property.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2020, 09:37:31 AM by Fishindude »

former player

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Is there any chance that your Mom and Dad could move closer to you rather than the other way around?  If not, I agree with Fishindude that for what you want a mobile home will be much better than an RV - why would you pay for an engine that takes up space and that you will never use?

Plus, I would think seriously about how long this proposed arrangement is going to last.  Alzheimer's is a years-long disease, rates of progression are variable and your Dad and Mom could be needing your help for years.  If you are going to live near them you need something that will be comfortable for years.  And although it's nice to have a house that's pretty on the outside, you will spend much more time living in and looking at the inside so that should be your priority.  If you need to you can put up a pergola as a porch and grow roses up it so you don't look at the mobile home, just the roses.


Dicey

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My MIL and her pal, Al Z. Heimer, lived with us for over six years, so I'm the voice of experience.

I am a lover of all things Tiny House.

I own a rental property with a "casita" or tiny house, which I reserve for personal use, so I get to stay and play in one regularly. Alas, it is far away from my primary home, boo.

We own a 25' RV.

I am a huge DIY geek and love making things pretty on a dime.

Therefore, I consider myself uniquely qualified to tell you what to do. Um, I mean, what I'd do.

Shift your search to what @Fishindude has suggested. If you want to get all spendypants (plus it's fun), search "Park Model Homes". You'll find lots of interesting stuff down that rabbit hole. That's a much better way to spend your money, both in terms of bang for buck ratio and resale value.

Tiny houses' dirty little secret is they depreciate like cars. And at the end of the day, when you drag your exhausted self into your personal space, you do not want to be faced with projects, no matter how much you love doing them.

Best wishes to you. You have a tough road ahead. #askmehowiknow.

There are a number of us here who are living with parents with ALZ. Feel free to reach out for help, sympathies, and coping strategies. This community is awesome!

ixtap

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For this purpose, and with your desire for things like a dishwasher, I would look at used tiny homes and mobile homes, rather than an RV.

Tulip

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six-car-habit: Thank you for your time and response! I appreciate the advice about the septic tank and water/electrical lines. What I mean by “renovating an RV” are things like paint, flooring (no carpet), etc....cosmetic things, definitely NOT structural changes. I know it seems that 30 minutes is not far, trust me. But, my Mom is pretty restless and has had a little increase in the frequency of upset/anger episodes. Additionally, my Dad will want to do things around the farm, but if he is gone for more than 15 mins she’s looking for him, calling me or calling the neighbors, getting anxious, etc. We’ve also had an issue with the “no driving” for her, which has been pretty difficult for her to understand (though it’s much better now than it was a couple of months ago). It’s just a lot for my Dad to watch her all the time. I’ve asked him to simply call me when he needs to go do something away from the house and I’ll come stay with Mom, but he is not structured and wants to do what he wants, when he wants. But, it’s quickly coming the time when from a safety perspective, in my eyes, that is not going to work with Mom. I definitely struggle with being even more accessible to them than I already am, because I do a lot for them already, but my Mom is declining, Dad is declining...like any situation such as this it’s complex and only going to get worse. :/

SunnyDays: Thank you for your time and response! Maybe I do need to think more about this being really short-term and act accordingly, but it could be years? I just don’t know, as it depends on my Mom’s progression with the AD and my Dad’s health. I’m finding it hard to balance the “this is temporary” with “this could be for years”, and “I want to be happy with where I’m living”.

Fishindude: Thank you for your time and response! I’ll definitely give more thought to a single-wide mobile home. Admittedly, I kind of skimmed over those when looking at options because, and this is terrible, but because I find them to be unattractive. Since my home is my refuge, I don’t want to live in something I find ugly :). However, I certainly care about the money and functionality aspect too, so perhaps I need to work on changing my view of the appearance of a single-wide. There is not an existing building on the property that could be renovated, but I appreciate your idea that setting a small garage-type structure could work and add some value to the property. That is not something I had considered.

former player: Thank you for your time and response! No, there is no chance of them moving closer to me. The only way my Dad is leaving that farm is in a pine box. He would never consider moving or selling. I should have clarified that I would be looking for a fifth wheel...from what I’ve read, if you’re going to be living full-time in it, the fifth wheel gives you the most space, so I wouldn’t have to worry about an engine (I understand your point though). Your last paragraph solidified my thought after reading Fishindude’s response. As I mentioned in my reply to him, I skimmed over the mobile home because of my perception and aesthetic preferences, but maybe that is too short-sighted. You’re absolutely correct; I don’t know how long this will be, but I do feel that I am looking at years. Your last sentence struck a chord with me, so thank you for that perspective.

Dicey: Thank you so much. I appreciate your time and you sharing your experiences. My Mom declined so rapidly at the beginning it was unbelievable (the progression seems to have slowed a little now). To see how the disease has affected her already absolutely breaks my heart, and as you said, there’s a lot of tough road ahead. It becomes unbearable when I think very far ahead, so I really have to focus on “today” or I will easily feel overwhelmed. I plan for what I can and, for the rest of the time, have to flex my flexibility muscles more than my personality really likes :). Some days, when a bad day for her hits, the feelings try to swallow me. The really cute “tiny” home I mentioned in my initial post is a park model home. I just can’t bring myself to pay >$50,000 for it. Thanks for the encouragement to reach out to the community. I really suck at reaching out...probably something I need to get better about :).

ixtap: Thank you for your time and response! I think I will take another, closer look at a single-wide mobile home, based on the objective advice I’ve already received here. Thank you for giving your vote! :)

Any other advice or perspectives, please share! I greatly appreciate the help.

Sibley

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I understand that you want to keep your mother in her home. However, it quite literally becomes a 24/7/365 job to keep dementia patients from wandering off, setting the place on fire, etc. Please don't make the mistake of exhausting yourself just to keep her out of a "home", or to engage assistance. I'm tangentially connected to a community centered around dementia patients. ALL of them express regret at waiting to bring in outside help, or waiting too long to move to a residential facility. To be quite frank - any family member that would prefer you run yourself ragged rather than bring in an "outsider" doesn't deserve that you do so.

And I would also vote for the mobile home over an RV.

Tulip

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Hi Sibley,

Thank you for your time and response! I really appreciate that advice. I feel that it is going to be a battle with my Dad when the time comes for me to bring someone else in to help me/us with her and/or if/when we have to decide to place her in a facility with a memory care unit for her own safety. (It is so easy for me to borrow tomorrow's trouble, and I have to consciously stop myself from doing that. I've gotten a little better at taking it one day at a time, but that's not my first instinct.)

Last fall I hit a brick wall and literally got to a point where I could not take anymore. My parents' health issues (serious health issues/crises) have been occurring for the past two years and trying to help them while trying to keep my full-time job, deal with my own health, trying to keep my sanity...my tank just ran to empty. I saw a counselor for a few sessions and she really helped me. She was the only one I could unload everything on and I will always be grateful for her guidance during a time in my life that has been the hardest to date. Prior to that time in the fall, I struggled so much with reaching out to anyone, but I found myself in a situation where the pressure and stress were consuming me. I was exhausted. I don't want to get to that point again. I'm worried I will not recognize soon enough that I/we need help with my Mom. I will say this, I think I am a whole lot better prepared and willing to say, "I can't do it" than I was before last fall. Before that, I couldn't say, "I can't handle that" or "I can't do all this." I sucked it up, "should" all over myself, and did what needed to be done, didn't ask for help...and let my pride lead to me being in an unhealthy place. I hope I learned something from that situation and will be wiser in the future. Thank you again for your encouragement and advice!

Tulip

Sibley

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Honestly the fact that you already hit the wall means that you do need outside help. Your mother can't be trusted unsupervised, which means she requires supervision. Given your father's health decline, he probably needs help too. Suck it up, now, and start getting help in. Have the shouting match with your dad if needed.

A cleaning service every two weeks or once a month. Meal delivery. Laundry service. Someone to come in for a couple hours a day and cook, clean, etc. Whatever.

I recommend that you look for a local dementia support group. The Alz Association has a list I believe. Talking to people who get it can be very helpful. They'll also know how to get help in your area. If they're members of a church or other group, see if you can draw on them for assistance. Sure it might be an hour a week, but it's an hour you don't have to do. Call on friends or family.

I know that this has strayed very far from your original question. Even if you did live with them, it wouldn't be sustainable long term. The need is more than you can provide. Start picking and choosing what is critical for you to help them with and what can be outsourced.

Dementia is terrible. People say cancer sucks, and it does, but it is NOTHING compared to dementia. Take care of yourself.

Dicey

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What @Sibley said. DH insisted we hire housecleaners and it was life changing for me. I could also use them to leverage MIL's behavior. She wouldn't take the sheets off her bed or let me do it, but if I told her the cleaners were coming, she stripped them without a peep. Mind you, the cleaners didn't do our laundry, but knowing they were coming let me get all the prep work done so when they finished, everything was fresh and clean.

However, I would not attempt this remotely if your mom isn't keen on the idea. You will absolutely need to be there. Some ALZ patients exhibit paranoia, and most of them blame their inability to remember where they've put things as proof that "someone" is stealing things.

Tulip

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Sibley, thank you so much for your great advice and kindness. I actually met with a couple of ladies from my church on Monday whose mother had Alz and it was very helpful to talk with them. I think they can be a great resource and support for me moving forward. They echoed several things that you (and others) have said in this forum. So, thank you. I am listening!

Sincerely,
Tulip

Tulip

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Thank you, Dicey! I appreciate you sharing more of your personal experiences. Yeah, my mom has already had a little paranoia about her money in the bank, so I think that thought of "someone" is stealing things will be an issue moving forward. I appreciate your advice!

Sincerely,
Tulip

SpecialSnowflake

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Hi Tulip,

I am a full time RVer. Over time I have heard lots of folks talk about putting their RV on their own property and living in it some or all of the year. Depending on where you are, winters can be very tough. Some RVs just don’t have the right insulation for hot summers or cold winters and will become very uncomfortable. If you decide on some sort of RV make sure it will work for 4 season use in your area.

Additionally, even though you would be on your parents farm, verify that zoning laws actually allow you to live in a an RV there 365. You wouldn’t want to get it all set up just to find you cannot live in it year round.

Best of luck to you and your loved ones.