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victorbernard@netscape.net

Costs of motorhome ownership

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My significant other and I are considering liquidating our assets and becoming fulltime motorhome owners. Traveling within the United States and stopping whenever and whereever we desire. Without pursuing a luxurious lifestyle, what are reasonable costs and monthly expenses of a late model/new comfortable Class A motorhome traveling 10,000 miles per year? Assuming a $200,000 investment, how quickly does a Class A motorhome depreciate or does it, in fact, appreciate? What are the downsides of motorhome ownership and/or motorhome living?

We thank you for any information or direction you give based upon your experience. We're not sure this is the vagabond lifestyle we're seeking and whether or not we'll need/want a fixed home in which to return when or if we tire of road travelling.

Sincerely,

Vic

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Big Question,,,,,,,,

We sold our home in 2006, and did not intend to fulltime, we went househunting. It took almost 3 years before we found where we wanted to live and bought a home. Although we have had 6 or 7 RV's since 1976, we only fulltimed for those 3 years.

One thing I learned is you can spend as much or as little as you want your lifestyle to be while traveling. Some costs will be the same whether in a house or RV; some costs RVing will replace some costs of living in a house.

You can also visit various campgrounds online in various areas you plan to travel and look at daily, weekly and monthly costs for RV lots. Generally, the longer you spend at a location the lower the lot costs.

There are various organizations to research that may reduce your costs, such as FMCA, Escapees, Passport America, Good Sam, to name a few,,,,and other camping organizations which offer other types of memberships. (Disclaimer, I have no personal or fuduciary interest whatsoever in any of those mentioned).

If you have never RV'd, you may not want to jump in with both feet until you try it out. You are taking the right approach by starting to research.

There are several forums where you can do a search on costs of Rv'n, some folks have even published their annual expenses.

We will never give up our RV, sure is nice traveling at your own pace, sights to see, sleeping in your own bed everynight, and on and on and on.

The downside is an individual perception.......The only downside for us is when we go to visit family, there aren't that many RV Parks we enjoy staying at for an extended time while visiting them.

This forum is a new forum and there isn't a lot of historical info available here right now,,,,,,but here is a site that will help answer a lot of your questions....It is a website where most folks are engaged in fulltiming::::

Escapees RV Club

Again, if you take your time and do sufficient research, and then decide to fulltime in the near future, you will have a more enjoyable experience. If you have never had an RV, you can rent them rather than jumping in all at once.

OR

If you want an adventure,,,,,you can do your research and then go for it,,,,,obviously, that will be your most important decision imho. But if it is not your cup of tea, you may want to make sure you have the resources and means to return to a house if you decide it isn't for you. You just don't want to be trapped in a lifestyle that isn't what you expected.

Good Luck on your adventure

OBTW: I have never owned an RV that appreciated,,,,,,,Our Russian daughter in law once asked us how much our new motorhome appreciated,,,,I responded by telling her about a negative -30%. I didn't tell her that was 1 minute after I drove it off the lot, lol. She has difficulty understanding why anyone would purchase something they didn't NEED, that did not appreciate. She didn't ask me how much my boat appreciated,,,,,,

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Hi,

We found something that really cuts down on cost of ownership for our RV.

We have one RV Resort property in Florida that we use part time. We were looking to rent it out, but in this economy we found that can be difficult. So we are now exchanging our RV with owners of another RV lot in NC. The site is www.RVresortexchange.com Seems like a good idea and helped us find some new places to stay for free.

John

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The best advice we can give from our own experience is we rented first (drove 6,000 miles), bought a class C to try second (drove 11,000miles) and then invested in our class A.

Wait a while before selling up as you may not be suited to the nomadic lifestyle. We know we are not and appreciate the idea of a home base. Don't get me wrong. We love to travel and explore but once in a while, we like to be "off road" at home.

Remember also, as John (Xplorer) said, as with all motorized purchases, the value only goes down once you turn the key.

Linda (Don's Boss) :rolleyes:

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Guest Wayne77590

If you are really into researching using forums, do a Google search on "RV Forums," and you will have a multitude to check into and read. Usually each has a section for fulltiming.

Good luck!

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Hi Vic,

Have you ever been RVing in a Class A coach before? If not, consider trying it first (rent a coach) and see what it is like. Are you handy and can do minor repairs (to the coach and automotive) yourself? Will you work, at least part time or not? Are you thinking of touring (a few nights here and there) or staying put for a month or more, before moving on? The questions can go on an on about your preferences. Will you join one of the clubs that allows CG rates to be greatly reduced or eliminated? Boon-docking in the desert (with many other coaches) costs very little, but is this style of RVing right for you. All the choices help determine the cost of the RVing lifestyle.

The bottom line consider trying before you buy. Do get started, go do it. Consider not liquidating the stick house and stationary possessions just yet. Rent/borrow a coach. There are many coaches sitting in storage lots (due to the economy). The owner may be willing to let you use the unit for much less than the commerical renting companies.

By trying first, you start making lists of coach preferences, costs and things you didn't know you needed. Then you'll be better prepared to make the full time decision.

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Hi, Here's our story; We jumped right in to a class-A to "practice" for retirement in 2004. We bought a 35 foot, 96 Allegro Bus with no slides from a reputable dealer here in Tucson. We got a very good deal on it. It has depeciated in value. We once figured that it costs us around $200/day when we are on the road (campsites, fuel & food) and about $500/month to own it. Our plan was to live (in a house) in an area of the country (AZ) that we could love, that has a good climate and be near our kids. Our plan is to use our home as our home-base and travel the country as our mood suits us. One more year to go to retirement, God willing.

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Vic, I agree with all the above. Especially, if you have not used an RV before. Since 1977 we have had three commercial motor homes and one travel trailer. In each case we purchased new and the next owner got a pristine RV for pennies on the dollar. The depreciation in the first two years is unbelievable. And now more than any time in the past, you can get a low mileage, well kept motor home for a very good price. Sort of like regular homes, pre-owned RV's now can be had at prices that never before existed. It is truly a buyers market.

Don't worry about lack of factory warranty on a used unit. Good Sam and others are constantly trying to sell me full maintenance / breakdown warranties. The most important thing with these is be sure to read and understand ALL the exclusions. This will save great amounts of turmoil when service is needed. Also, note that most of these warranties will not apply when the coach is more than ten years old.

Take your time and look around locally. Do Google searches for pre-owned RV's. Talk to finance companies listed in FMCA and MotorHome magazines. Interest rates are historically low.

Good luck,

Chuck & Elva Newman

F162285

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Vic, something I forgot to mention in my post above. IF you and your wife are new to RVing, keep in mind you both will be living full time in 320 square feet or less. That's a real small house for most people. I fully recommend renting a motor home for at least a week, preferably longer. How do you both get along in limited space. Take it to colder climates that will force more time inside the motor home. Is one or both of you going to get "cabin fever " when confined for long periods. That's something you really want to know now before signing any sales contracts.

Good luck,

Chuck & Elva Newman

F162285

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Vic ---If you want to buy a new M/H, Just remember, MANUFACTURERS RETAIL PRICE & SUBTRACT ABOUT 35% and work in between. Think hard about the purchase of a CLEAN, used 2 or 3 year old coach. RESEARCH & DO THE MATH.

Gas engines cost roughly the same to maintain as an automobile engine---Diesel maintenance IS expensive ----

about $100.00 to change oil & all filters & grease if you do it yourself. FOOD FOR THOUGHT. Good Luck.

I have been RVing since 1946-- Had many RVs. My favorite is 5th wheel & a dual wheel truck.

W.R.Frank

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May I make one suggestion that I don't believe has been made. Buy yourself some good books on the subject that has been written by people out there doing the very thing you are about to do. They will offer you some real good advice on most aspects of traveling full time. Some books that I suggest are:

#1 Movin' ON by Ron and Barb Hofmeister they also have a website www.movinon.net

#2 Take Back Your Life! by Stephanie Bernhagen

#3 An Alternative LIFESTYLE Living & Traveling in a Recreational Vehicle by Ron &Barb Hofmeister

#4 First We QUIT Our Jobs How One Work-Driven Couple Got on the Road to a New Life by Marilyn J. Abraham

I have all 4 books and all have good information. The Hofmeisters were on the road for more than 10 years. Their website still has archival information that is still relevant. They got off the road a couple of years ago and have a house in Arizona. Barb still keeps the website up and you can order their book from them.

Go buy a book and you will get a lot more information than anyone has the time to type on the forums.

Our best wishes for a wonderful lifestyle go with you.

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My significant other and I are considering liquidating our assets and becoming fulltime motorhome owners. Traveling within the United States and stopping whenever and whereever we desire. Without pursuing a luxurious lifestyle, what are reasonable costs and monthly expenses of a late model/new comfortable Class A motorhome traveling 10,000 miles per year? Assuming a $200,000 investment, how quickly does a Class A motorhome depreciate or does it, in fact, appreciate? What are the downsides of motorhome ownership and/or motorhome living?

We thank you for any information or direction you give based upon your experience. We're not sure this is the vagabond lifestyle we're seeking and whether or not we'll need/want a fixed home in which to return when or if we tire of road travelling.

Sincerely,

Vic

The cost of buying and owning a high end motor home is enormous ie. depreciation, taxes, always something not working(too many gadgets). I recommend finding a good low-milage, used unit. Much of the depreciation has occured, the value for taxes is less and many of the bugs have been fixed. We have to sell our Beaver unit because I have to put off retirement and It will turn out to be the worst investment of my life although the next owner will not fair as bad.

Wilson Sprenkle

F365917

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Motorhomes DO depreciate, largely because they do deteriorate with time. The finish on fiberglass coaches that do not have full body paint, and rubber roofs, deteriorate particularly quickly.

One way to at least reduce the depreciation costs is to buy a good used BUS instead, that has been converted PROFESSIONALLY (not by a well-intentioned but unskilled and budget limited amateur!). Buses tend not to deterioate very much with time, as they were constructed by their manufacturers for a standard life of 30 years or 3 million miles (100,000 miles per year is typical for a commercial bus). The diesel engines in these buses tend to be Detroit Diesel engines versus Cummins or Caterpillar, and they are very robust and LESS costly to work on than Cats or Cummins, as the installed base of Detroit Diesel engines over the past 80 years or so is huge. Parts are cheap because of the volume as well.

I am trying this approach myself right now. My wife and I are moving out of our house and into fulltime bus living in a 1979 Eagle bus that was professionally converted in 1996 and used by the same couple ever since then. When such professional conversions are done, they are almost always reskinned, as was ours, and with aluminum and steel, not fiberglass, and so no one thinks it is anywhere near 30 years old!

In this depressed market, a really nice conversion bus can be bought for $50k to $100k. Ours cost us much less, as our budget is very limited. You can call me if you like at 612-270-7645 if you are interested in this idea at all and want more information.

Jim G

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OK, There have been a lot of words, here are some numbers.

I went into Quicken where I account for every expense. Here are our expenses for the last 12 months, May 13, 2008 through May 13, 2009. I have rounded them off and they are yearly totals so if you want monthly expense, divide by 12. These are the full timer expenses. I have not included food, you should already have a budget for that, neither have I included medical expenses and medical insurance, you know what your expenses are there. I have eliminated many other categories like computer expenses, photography, astronomy and aviation. These are my hobbies and you will have your own hobbies and a pretty good idea of what your expenses are there.

I will say that we are not trying to scrape by on the bare minimum. We don't stay at the most expensive parks but we will if we must to be where we want to be. This past year we toured central Canada from Ontario to Alberta, traveled to California to visit our daughter and family and returned to the midwest to visit more family before going to our winter resort in the southern tip of Texas. All this travel was at diesel fuel rates near or above $4.00 per gallon. Our total mileage in the RV for the last 12 months has been about 16,000 miles and this is pretty typical of our travel in the RV.

The RV expenses (other) include two new LCD TV's which I installed myself this winter. The RV expenses (other) also include a new inverter and the costs of installing it. The auto and RV expenses both include major preventive maintenance costs. For the toad, a 60,000 mile service and some suspension replacement parts. The toad has 80,000 miles on the odometer and another 75,000 tagging along behind the motor home. So the engine is on one maintenance schedule and the suspension and tires are on another schedule.

You will see electric costs under utilities because our winter resort bills that separately. We have an annual contract at our winter resort and that is included in the campground costs. Other utility costs include two different cell phone contracts. My wife has one company and I have a different to ensure we always have coverage. We also have internet suppliers with dial up access as well as cell modem for each of our computers. We have near full coverage from DirecTV, costs could be cut here if you don't want or need the TV.

Auto Expenses 3800

Campground Fees 5725

Homeowners Insurance (Full Timers+) 380

RV Expenses

Fuel 4960

Insurance 1450

Registration 260

Service 4000

Other RV Expenses 6400

Utilities

Cell Phones 1135

Direct TV 1500

Internet Access 1350

Propane 610

Electric (at winter resort) 500

So that is what I see as the extraordinary costs associated with life on the road. Some like the utilities will be offset by what you now spend on those items at your home. And of course others have mentioned that the cost of purchasing the RV is money that you likely won't recover when you sell your motor home but then you can consider that money as what it costs to be free to explore and enjoy an new lifestyle. You can not put a price on the wonders you will experience as you travel. You will save money because the endless stuff that you purchase will be greatly curtailed by the limit of space in your new home. Your souvenirs become your pictures and an occasional piece of clothing or other small item with the emphasis on small!

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Nice summary, Tom. I especially noted 2 of the categories: maintenance and fuel.

The maintenance cost of $4000 certainly got my attention, but then you pointed out that you covered some major items on both the motorhome and the toad, and you DO put on a lot of miles comapred to what we or many others plan on doing.

The relatively low fuel cost, depsite the $4 per gallon cost at the time of most of your usage, reinforces for me my belief that TVers spend altogether too much time focusing on fuel cost. My anticipated annual mileage is likely to be about 1.4 of yours, and 1/4 of your fuel costs would be entirely acceptable to me.

Jim G

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Thanks Jim,

By the way, I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps a well maintained quality motor home might actually appreciate in the future... WHOA! What did you say???

What if... manufacturers of large motor homes go out of business because of the economy, inability to get loans to continue business or for customers to purchase, fuel prices, government regulation on engines related to pollution, etc., etc.

Before the extreme high fuel prices, RV manufacturers were already looking at ways to improve fuel efficiency and to down-size their motor homes. Will RV manufacturers return to making as many large motor homes as in the past? Or will they look to Detroit and the auto manufacturing industry and reconsider their plans? Will the financing be available to manufacture large motor homes even if the manufacturers want to return to the old ways?

What if... several million baby boomers retire about the time that the supply of new motor homes begins to dry up???

What if... these baby boomers were 60's hippies recalling the good ol' days???

Or maybe they weren't hippies and want to live the good ol' days???

Perhaps they aren't really campers but just want a comfortable life on the road. A good used motor home or conversion bus may just be the answer to their needs.

Maybe, just maybe we may own the last of the dinosaurs and these things might just become quite valuable in the future.

I wouldn't bank on the above but... When a finite supply meets a strong demand...

I'm keeping my motor home in tip-top shape just in case!

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