Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fulltime RV Life...We're No Experts

As I wrote on my "Happy Anniversary to Us" posting, we've been fulltiming now for 1 year. While we are sitting here at the Winnebago factory in Iowa, I thought I'd share some of our thoughts on why we enjoy this lifestyle and how we go about doing it. NOTE: we are not experts in this lifestyle and are stumbling along like a lot of people out there :)

Bruce and I have always loved to travel, especially by motorhome. We bought our first RV in 1988 and it was a Class C Lazy Daze. We traded that in later for a 1990 Class A. We were hooked after that. In 1993-1994 we had a short stint as fulltimers in our Pace Arrow Class A. In late 1994 we bought a sticks-n-bricks house in Washington and then vacationed by RV for a few years, being gone for a month to 6 months at a time. We got the opportunity to become fulltimers once again in 2008 after my Dad passed away. And here we are!

We were some of the lucky ones in the summer of '08 whose house actually sold in only 3 months. After a month more for escrow, we moved into our RV home on Aug. 1, 2008. We got a space in our town of Tumwater for a couple of weeks to get things better organized in the motorhome.

Here is a photo of my fulltime buddy enjoying Cops on TV. This is the life.
Here is the fulltiming "Annie the Schnauzer" doing what a fulltiming dog does best after a hot day....stretch out on the floor with the A/C running.
What Kind of Fulltimer's Are We?.............There is no set method or way to be a fulltimer. It is different for everyone according to their needs and preferences. Some F/T's select a different state for their "homebase" and establish resident status there. South Dakota, Texas, Oregon and Nevada have been popular states for many F/T's.
Some F/T's travel to different places frequently and some stay put for months at a time. Some see their kids and extended families often and some only a couple of times a year. Nothing wrong with any of that. We have kids who live in our hometown of Tumwater, Washington: a son, a daughter and son-in-law, and 2 granddaughters who are very young. Well, I want to see them for prolonged periods of time so we will return to Tumwater from time to time. We also belong to Tumwater United Methodist Church and have friends there that we care about and want to see. So, we go away for a few months and then we return for a few months. Our granddaughters are 4 and 7 years old and we want to remain being part of their lives while still pursuing our dream of a fulltime lifestyle. So, we cannot cut all connection to Tumwater and drive off into the sunset, never to return.
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What Is Our Resident Status?.........We keep our resident status in Washington state. There is no state income tax and the vehicle license fees are reasonable (finally). We have our mail sent to our daughter's house and once a month she forwards it to us. Some F/T's don't want to burden their kids with that task....we don't mind! We've done a lot for our adult kids for the past 10 years and more, and our daughter is willing to do the job! We will be in the Washington census count, vote, and do jury duty as Washingtonians.
Medical insurance is another factor in keeping us residents of Washington. We have private insurance through Blue Shield. We cannot qualify for group plans from a former employer (as a retiree) since we were self employed. Bruce has 3 more years before Medicare will kick in. We pay high premiums for this insurance but Bruce has pre-existing conditions (heart attack, high cholesterol, by-pass, and some weird thing with his white blood cells) that prevent him from getting a different, cheaper policy. Believe me, we've checked into everything! We have coverage that is very good here in Washington and we feel it is in our best interest to keep it. For check-ups, we like to see our regular doctors who know our history and have been treating us for 15 years, especially Bruce with this unknown white cell problem. We are covered, out of state, for emergencies but not for routine procedures. Again, this stuff is different for each individual who is a fulltimer.
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So Where Do We Stay?........When we are in Tumwater, WA we stay at the Allimor Mobile/RV Park. It isn't the most glamorous place, by far, and it only has 30 amp electric. But, it does have full hook-ups and is only 1/2 mile from each of our kids. Plus, it is within 1 mile of Costco, 3 grocery stores, our church, McDonald's, Home Depot, hair salons, dollar stores, Mexican restaurant, Chinese restaurant, pizza take-out and many more.
When we are away from our hometown, we try to utilize any of our membership parks first. If there are no parks in our system, we go to our Trailer Life directory. Sometimes, we just happen upon an independent park in some town we are passing through and get a space there. We do stay at a WalMart from time to time if the weather is OK. We also stay at truck stops occasionally. If it is hot outdoors, we want hook-ups for the A/C and will go to a park. Since getting the 40 foot Tour, we haven't gone to any State Parks or National Parks yet. (more on membership programs in another post)
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What Do We Do With Our Time?.........A friend asked me that one time. She said, "What do you do when you live in an RV?" I told her we do the things we did when we lived in a sticks-n-bricks home. We go shopping, go out to eat, watch TV, read lots of books, take walks, clean house, do laundry, play games, visit local museums or places of interest, go for a picnic, or just go out for a ride in the car and have a great day. Also, we visit libraries in the towns we stay in. We go and read the magazines they have on file. We do not subscribe to any magazines, as they are heavy and would add to the cost of forwarding them to us. We always have plenty to do. We are never bored.
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Is It Like A Vacation?........Well, not exactly. It is just a different lifestyle than most people enjoy, and it enables us to live in many different places according to our whims. Not to say we won't have true vacations like everyone else, though. For instance, our trip to Walt Disney World this year (see archive for June) was totally a vacation. Nobody can live in Fantasyland forever. Since leaving Orlando, we have been back to our fulltime RV life.
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Is It Carefree Living?..........Of course not. We have to maintain our motorhome like a person has to maintain any home. We have a diesel engine to care for, heating system, plumbing, washer/dryer, appliances, a roof to maintain, and so on. We don't keep a storage unit either. That would just be another bill to pay and we packed everything we need into the RV. If we don't have it, we probably don't need it.
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How Can You Stand to Live in Such A Small Space?........Easy! We've always been condo lovers and those can be small. In 40 years we've lived in 2 condos in California and we've also had 2 very large homes. We don't miss those large homes one bit! In the RV we don't have to mow a lawn or tend a garden either. If the grass gets too high, we can drive away. If we don't like our neighbors, we can drive away. If we don't like the weather, we can leave and find some we like.
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Do We Like This Lifestyle?......WE LOVE IT !
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Do We Regret This Choice?.......NO WAY !
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Isn't It Expensive To Be A Fulltimer?........I will post an entry regarding our expenses soon.
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Are Those Campground MembershipPrograms Worth It?.......I will post an entry regarding that issue soon.
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As I wrote, a Fulltime RV life is different for everyone and this is just the way that we do it. We may change things around as the years go on if we find something that works better for us. Right now, except for stays in Tumwater, we do not want to stay anyplace more than a month or two at most. Usually a couple of weeks anywhere, and we're ready to move on. We're working on Year #2 now and enjoying the view from the motorhome windshield.
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Until next time......so long for now!



3 comments:

squawmama said...

Good Morning Bruce & Margie..I got your blog site from Jerry & Suzy and came on over to visit... We are also full timers and have a Horizon.... I am adding you to my favorites and hope you'll come on over to visit me too... Love the people at Forest City... If you see Chuck Bollinger send him my love... he is the best Service manager...

Travel Safe!
(((HUGS)))
Donna

Jerry and Suzy said...

Margie, that's a good ... and full ... description of your version of the lifestyle. Just like other RVers, ours is somewhat the same and somewhat different.

We're looking forward to your take on membership groups. We belong to several, but I think it's about time for us to unburden ourselves of some of them.

Thanks for sharing!

Chris said...

What a great post, I'm sure you've enlighted so many people. Hope the repairs are going good for you. Come visit me if you get a chance, you can see how we live for the summer, at least. :)

Happy Trails,
Chris