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RV Retirement: How to Retire and Live in an RV

RV Retirement: How to Retire and Live in an RV

Many people dream about clocking out for the last time and enjoying years of RV retirement. Spending your golden years seeing and experiencing the country can be an exciting and adventurous way to live. However, the dream may not be possible if you don’t take the proper steps. Keep reading if you want to cash out and buy a retirement RV.

Today, we’ll help you learn how to retire and live in an RV. We’ll share a few things you should keep in mind and some steps you can take towards making your dream come true. Let’s get started.

Can I Retire and Live in an RV?

Depending on your age and financial situation, you can retire and live in an RV. By the time many Americans retire, they live in a paid-off house and have more discretionary income. Moving into an RV during retirement can greatly minimize your monthly expenses and make your money last.

On the other hand, owning an RV and traveling around the country can be very expensive. You’ll need to look at the entire financial picture to understand whether it’s possible for your situation.

Consider the cost of owning and maintaining the RV, fuel, campsites, and the various adventures you’ll enjoy while traveling. These costs can add up, and many underestimate how much they’ll spend.

Some people retire and move into an RV with no plans of traveling. However, even if you own a piece of land, check the legalities of living in an RV on your property.

Some counties and municipalities have strict rules regarding what classifies a residential dwelling. They may not allow you to consider your RV as a full-time residence.

Working and Retirement - Traveling Full Time RV | Mondays with the Mortons

How Many Retirees Live in RVs?

There’s no exact number available, but some estimate between 750,000 to one million retirees live in RVs. However, with the massive boom in demand for recreational vehicles, the actual number could be well over one million.

It’s becoming increasingly popular to embrace RVing in retirement to compensate for all those years spent in an office job.

The number continues to grow as many retirement communities have become RV friendly. You’ll find massive resorts and communities specifically for retirees. They’ll set up camp as full-time community residents or visit seasonally to enjoy the weather. Either way sounds like a great way to retire.

Older woman posing in front of an RV
Retirement in an RV can open up more freedom to explore the world.

Can You Live in an RV on Social Security?

It is possible to live in an RV on social security. However, it will largely depend on your financial situation before retirement. If you already own an RV or a place to park it, you can minimize your monthly expenses and make the lifestyle much more possible.

You’ll need to have your ducks in a row and be comfortable living on a strict budget.

On the other hand, the lifestyle may not work if you plan to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an RV and constantly travel. You may end up using your entire amount of social security at the fuel pump. You’ll also want to have a healthy emergency fund to help cover the costs of any unexpected expenses along the way.

How Much Does It Cost to Retire in an RV?

The cost of retiring in an RV will vary based on your rig, where you plan to park it, and how often you plan to travel.

Buying a brand new motorhome can easily cost over $250,000, and filling it up with fuel can feel equally as painful. Even if you buy a modest travel trailer or fifth wheel designed for full-time RV living, you’ll likely spend a few hundred dollars a month on the trailer payment. 

If you need a truck to tow your RV, you could look at an additional $1,000 per month in loans.

You must also consider where you plan to park; campgrounds and RV parks aren’t free. You’ll get your best bang for your buck by staying longer and taking advantage of discounts for extended stays. Depending on the location, these spots can cost $750 to $1,500 per month.

If you don’t plan to spend your golden years living in luxury, you can find cost-effective ways to retire in an RV. Owning your RV before retiring can help you avoid a monthly RV payment. You can also join camping memberships to help keep costs down for campsites.

The more RVing experience you have the better, as it can help you reduce your monthly expenses.

Older man smiling in front of an RV
Retiring in an RV full-time is not for everyone. It truly is a big lifestyle change.

What It’s Really Like to Live in an RV Full-Time?

Living full-time in an RV sounds like an exciting way to live, but it’s not all rainbows and beautiful landscapes. Those occur occasionally, but there’s much more to the lifestyle.

→ If you’re new to this lifestyle, check out our guide on how to get started RVing when you don’t know how!

Let’s look at some of the realities of what it’s like to live in an RV full-time.

Downsizing Into Tiny House Living

Many people see pictures of tiny homes and fall in love with the minimalist way of living. However, downsizing from a couple of thousand square feet to a few hundred requires significant adjusting. It may not initially feel like much of an issue, but it can get overwhelming after a few weeks or months of living tiny.

The compact space can feel even smaller if you travel with pets or a partner. You’ll constantly bump into one another.

Having too much stuff can make the area feel cluttered and messy. You’ll either learn to put things away or feel like you must constantly clean your house on wheels.

Deciding to Travel or Remain Stationary

When your house is on wheels, you’ll have to constantly plan your travels or find the best place to stay stationary. If you plan to live life on the road, find places to park your rig so you can sightsee and go on some adventures.

However, you don’t have to constantly move from one campsite to the next to have an incredible retirement RV experience.

Many retirees park their RVs and remain stationary for the entire or portion of the year. They’ll often travel with the seasons and enjoy warm weather all year round. Some fantastic RV parks and resorts in the southern states fill up with retirees during the winter months.

Some communities cater to retirees and have all the resources these individuals need, from doctor’s offices to grocery stores. The resorts can make a great place to meet other retirees from around the country, and will make you fall in love with long-term RVing.

RV Maintenance

If you’re a new RV owner, you’ll quickly learn that RVs are notorious for breaking and require regular maintenance. Something constantly needs lubrication or adjustments when you own an RV.

If you buy a new one, a warranty may cover some of these repairs and issues. However, if it has expired or you buy a used RV, you’ll likely pay out of pocket for maintenance issues for your rig.

It can get very expensive if you have to pay for all the maintenance on your RV. If you want to keep your expenses down, you’ll need to get good at learning to do things yourself. Even if you don’t have many mechanical skills, you can learn just about anything from YouTube. Working on RVs isn’t as intimidating as you might think.

Medical Care

Medical issues don’t care that you’re retired or in the middle of an epic RV trip. They often seem to occur at the least opportune times. Many full-time RVers establish relationships with dentists and doctors in the states where they domicile. When they return to the area, they’ll have all their medical care appointments.

Medical emergencies can and do happen while traveling. You might need to visit an emergency room or urgent care in these instances. Always know where the nearest medical care facility is when setting up camp. You never know when you’ll need to use it.

Pro Tip: We compared the Best Health Insurance Options for Full-Time RVers to help you decide what plan to buy in retirement.

Older woman in front of an RV reading ipad
Always look at your budget first before you decide to give RV retirement a try.

Is It Financially Smart to Live in an RV?

You never want to waste money, especially after retirement. Invest your money in things that retain their value. Vehicles depreciate horribly, especially brand-new RVs. In a matter of years, an RV can be worth a fraction of the initial cost.

While your RV may lose its value, it can allow you to live affordably and travel to see the country. You can go on adventures in places that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

You won’t have to overpay for a hotel or eat out every single meal. This can allow you to save a ton of money each month and make your fixed income last longer.

Older man posing in front of an RV
The USA is filled with amazing places for RVers to travel to in their retirement.

Best Places to Spend Your RV Retirement

Most RV retirees become snowbirds and spend their time chasing 70 degrees. You may find a few places where you can easily enjoy RV retirement. They have beautiful weather, things to see and do, and many fellow RVers to meet.

Here are some places you should consider spending your time in retirement.

Florida

If you want to chase sunshine in the winter, there’s no better place than Florida. It has plenty of sandy beaches and more tourist activities than you could enjoy in a lifetime. There are many Florida RV parks that cater to this precise type of traveler.

Whether you plan to visit the famous mouse in Orlando or enjoy happy hour in Key West, Florida is one of the best places to spend your RV retirement.

Pro Tip: Want to spend your retirement fishing in Florida? Use our Visitor’s Easy Guide to Florida Fishing Licenses.

Staying In the Florida Keys for Free, PART ONE | MOTM VLOG #28

Texas Gulf Coast

The Texas Gulf Coast is another excellent place to spend your retirement. This area has a lower cost of living on the coast. Galveston, Victoria, Rockport, and Harlingen are all great options for retiring and living close to the beach. You’ll find boardwalks and golf courses and even visit the many island cities like Padre Island.

The Texas Gulf Coast averages 70 degrees year-round, which makes it hard to beat. Sure, you’ll have to consider the possibility of hurricanes. However, you’ll have plenty of notice, and with a house on wheels, you can pack your things and head to a safe location.

RV Living - Leaving for Texas in Our Motorhome

Arizona

There’s a reason why Major League Baseball chooses Arizona (and Florida) for their annual spring training and why 18% of retirees that move do the same.

Arizona is second only to Florida for the best retirement living, and is a popular Southwest US destination for RV retirees. It’s a relatively tax-friendly state, with affordable housing and the perfect environment for those suffering from arthritis, asthma, and allergies.

It has no shortage of golf courses, RV resorts and communities, and activities to do. The state is home to incredible landscapes and breathtaking trails. Summer temperatures can be a beast, but the sunsets rarely disappoint. 

Arizona is to the west coast what Florida is to the east coast. Many snowbirds in the northern states flock to Arizona during the winter to enjoy warm temperatures and evade snow.

RV Retirement Life in Mesa Arizona | Camper Van Life S1:E34

Is RV Retirement Worth It?

RV retirement can be a fantastic way to spend your retirement years. You can choose to spend a few years traveling the country to experience new places and then settle down in a more stationary or seasonal location.

An RV can allow you to save a ton of money and make your retirement nest egg last as long as possible if you do it right. You may even find a community that you can join full of like-minded people enjoying retirement in their RVs.

Do you want to spend your golden years RVing? Tell us your thoughts on retiring in an RV in the comments!

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Join 10,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!

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Mike harper

Saturday 10th of September 2022

Very good information. My wife and I are fixing to start traveling all this information will be helpful. Thank you,

Mortons on the Move

Saturday 1st of October 2022

Good luck with your travels! :)

Joanna

Wednesday 31st of August 2022

Very helpful article as we begin to think about the winter months. Thank you.

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