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Full Timers Not everyone can be a full timer. This is the place to discuss questions, concerns, and other issues affecting full timers.

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  #1  
Old 03-08-2008
Lee Davis's Avatar
Lee Davis Lee Davis is offline
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Default Full Timing Costs

A friend was asking me about this subject so I thought I'd offer the following:

We have been full timing for about 2 1/2 years, the first 6 months in a 20 year old 34 foot Airstream trailer and since then in our 1995 BMC 37'

Although I am not normally a detail person, I decided early on to keep track of expenses just to see what it cost for a reasonable full time life style. When I say reasonable I mean eating out occasionally, not work camping, seeing the sights and paying for some activities like museums, boat excursions, other local stuff, etc. I'm basically oriented toward the "cheap" so we don't do all the activities we can, we just try to determine if the value is worth the price. If we think it is and it sounds interesting and won't break the bank, we do it.

I have been keeping spreadsheets by the month for about 2-3 years now. Now I do not include any "fixed expenses" in my spreadsheets like health insurance costs, doctor's bills, contributions, phone service, vehicle insurance, storage fees on a small garage, mail forwarding, etc. I probably should put those in but have not so far but everyone's "fixed costs" will be different and can be easily added. I do keep track of variable everyday costs like lodging (campgrounds) fuel, groceries, eating out, activity costs, maintenance (which of course has been much higher on a motor home than the travel trailer), miscellaneous purchases like clothes replacement, the neon flamingo light for in the window, you get the idea.

If anyone is interested in this kind of thing, I would be happy to email you a few of these spreadsheets including 2006 totals (I have been too lazy to get caught up and do the 2007 totals yet) so you can see what this lifestyle is costing us.

Several things affect it quite a bit. We normally don't stay in one place very long. We spent 3 months in Tampa this winter and that's the longest we spent parked anywhere. the last two winters we spent in Texas and Arizona, but that was 2 months in one place and 1 month in the other with traveling around in between.

Three big things can help you save money.

1. Stay longer in various places. Monthly costs are much lower than daily or weekly and are even usually lower than the discount campground organizations. Fuel in traveling costs more than daily campground costs. However, we are doing this to see stuff around the country so we haven't done as much of that. We do however think of our MOHO as a moving home, so we move from place to place and do a lot of exploring in the car.

2. Don't live as if you are on vacation. Live like you would at home.

3. Join one of the discount campground organizations like Passport America, Escapees, or Camp USA (Camping World's). They all cost around $40 per year so 2 stays pay for the membership. I can't speak for the others, but we have been members of Passport America from day one and have found it to be excellent for short stays (1-4 nights, when available). We have stayed in many of those around the country with only a few not so great results. As I recall Texas has over 500 Passport parks. Camp USA is new but we've found so far we haven't need to join that one because every one they have is already a Passport park. Of course when checking out these campgrounds, I would suggest www.rvparkreviews.com (remember to make sure the "s" is on the end) where campgrounds are rated by people who stay there and not just the commercial folks like Trailer Life and Woodalls, and many PA members contribute to these sites (that has eliminated the not so good results) . Most of these parks have limitations like Sun-Thurs, or just 1 or two nights, etc but are great places for short term stays. And, since we like to keep moving, we do a lot of shrt term stays. Many do not have all the amenities like pools, etc, but are great for travelers who are not worried about having all that family stuff. Some, however, like Circle W in Rockport TX (where we stayed for 2 months) have pools, lots of activities, etc. In a bid for a shameless perk if you decide to join Passport America please use our reference number which is R-0181466. (Whoopee...we would get 3 months free. Wow) PA is located at www.passport-america.com or 800-283-7183 and if you go on the website you can check it out before doing anything. Also, things like the Texas Park Card are excellent for discounts at state parks there. Other states have similar deals for parks. And, if you are over 62 like we are, the lifetime Senior card for $10 (used to be called the Golden Age card) from the US Government will get you in National Parks for free or cheaper, and also get you in the BLM and Corps of Engineer parks (which are a lot like State parks) for half price.

Anyway(sorry i got sidetracked there) , the point of this email is that if anyone would like to see our spreadsheets to get a feel for full timing costs, just email me at lnjdavis@gmail.com and I'll send you a few with a yearly summary. I may not do it in a hurry, so don't get nervous if it doesn't come for awhile.


So far we are still doing great and haven't run out of money yet. And one of the joys of full timing means warm places in the winter and cool places in the summer, and no snow!!!!

Lee and Jacque Davis

1995 BMC 37'
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Lee and Jacque Davis - Full Timers

Lee - 423-292-5767 or Jacque 423-262-9569
or lnjdavis@gmail.com Please call or email instead of private messages


1995 BMC 37
300 HP Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbocharged Diesel
Boldly Going Nowhere
http://www.bbirdmaps.com/index.cfm #117
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  #2  
Old 03-08-2008
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Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
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Lee,years ago i knew a guy that full timed in a bornfree claas C.
he didnt smoke,drink,entertain wild women or mild ones either.
he would stay for days at a time at flying J's and walmarts,he would go to bookstores and read books etc.
he was cheap!
anyway,he kept a log of every penny he spent,and he averaged his cost of living by the day,and 8 years ago it cost him $50 per day to live.
what would you say it cost you,per day?
Randy
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  #3  
Old 03-09-2008
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<< he didnt smoke,drink,entertain wild women or mild ones either. >>

Oh well ... certainly sounds like my ideal lifestyle! NOT!!

We are pondering some of these variables ourselves right now. Neither one of us wants to completely quit working but we'd like to find something that would fit in with a more mobile lifestyle, whether that meant just quitting, moving on, and looking for another gig in a new town or something more formal.

One thing that has struck me is that one can live in parts of Mexico for considerably less than in the States *IF* one adjusts one's lifestyle.

They always say that if you insist on living like a gringo that it will actually cost more than living in the States, but if you like local foods then you can live well and live less expensively. And diesel is currently $1 a gallon less expensive down there right now.

There are extensive ex-pat communities in San Carlos (a sailing community about 200 miles south of Nogales, AZ) and the same are developing in several parts of Northern Baja, never mind more traditional places like Mazatlan and the Yucatan which have been attracting ex-pats for decades.
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(and the required Wanderlodge bits: 1982 PT-40, full-timers, currently in the tropical paradise along the Tex/Mex border)
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  #4  
Old 08-08-2008
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The wife keeps all the monthly stuff, but I asked her what it costs per day including everything, insurance, food, etc.
We workcamp so a site is not included in this figure.
Ours is $100 per day or 2,800 per month.
Seems like a lot, but we put $ in the bus each month, updates, etc.
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  #5  
Old 08-08-2008
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I would say if you are living on $36,000 a year and traveling around the country, living in the best climate for the season, seeing the sights, and enjoying your retirement, then you are miles ahead of the game. My local property taxes alone are over $10,000.
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  #6  
Old 08-09-2008
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Default full timing wanabees

Gardner,
My wife, Sue, and I met you at Vernon Center at Tom Warner's soiree. We also have ambitions to full time in a WL. It costs us $55/day in taxes to stay home. ($55x365=$20,000+in property taxes alone). We too live in one of the Eastern Nanny states. We see no reason to stay on to support the bloated NYS government. We have learned a great deal from you, Tom, Randy and now Lee. It will take us some time to make the transition, but thanks to all for the viable information.
Pursue happiness,
Tom
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  #7  
Old 08-09-2008
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This is always an interesting topic, Because there are many variable expenses in our different life styles. It is difficult to compare expenses as it changes by climate, geographic region and likes or dislikes.
Estimating is just an approximate guess.
We are half timers, sometimes more, So we must support a full time homestead. These expenses are somewhat easier to evaluate per individual family.
Traveling can vary based on region, as an overnight camp fee; can be free, or $10.00 to over $100.00, We usually average about $30.
Fuel cost are approaching $.75 per mile in a Bird, and the cars .25/.30 per mile,
So 6,000 to 8,000 Bird miles and 15000/20000 car miles is another factor to consider. Somewhere; repairs, maintenance, cost of ownership, insurance, storage etc. will enter the equation.
When at our home expenses are higher, as this is the time for maintenance, repairs, & upgrades of the vehicles and homestead.
At home or on the road; Food is food , we eat everyday , restaurants about the same and entry fees/entertainment about the same.
Actually we always say our expenses are lower when we travel.
We have lower heating and elect bills, no cable, and less feeding and entertaining our friends and relatives. But, then we need the grass cut.
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  #8  
Old 11-30-2008
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Lee Davis Lee Davis is offline
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Default Per Day Costs - Full Timing

It's been awhile since I thought to check this part of the Forum, so I missed the note about our per day costs. On my spreadsheets we found that we typically spent about $2500/mo on what we call variable costs. That includes campgrounds (lodging), fuel, groceries, eating out, activities (museums, other stuff like that) repairs and maintenance, booze (we like happy hour), etc. The spreadsheets do not include fixed costs like car and RV insurance, medical insurance, and things that do not change whether we are traveling or not. Obviously some months some categories are higher than others (like when we need a big repair or something) but surprisingly it didn't vary too much. That means we are averaging about $85-90 per day on those fixed expenses. With all the other expenses added in we figure we are spending about $50K per year. That will drop some when we end up on Medicare since our medical insurance is pretty high. Fortunately we can still afford it. And Social Security has kicked in for both of us so all we have to worry about is the difference.

This is not a lavish lifestyle but we still eat out some, watch expenses a little, don't move every day, but so far have not had to resort to workcamping to stay afloat. As I said in my original note, you can't live every day like you are on vacation unless you have a pretty big budget. We live like we did at home but just get to see a lot more interesing places.

We drive the bus about 10K miles per year which included one year a total round trip to Washington then down the West Coast across the South back to the East and up that coast before heading to the Midwest again. The next year we went to the midwest again (our daughter lives in IA) then back for a tour around the UP and down the East Coast and FL for the winter. We use the car a lot for day trips and to see stuff. The bus is just sort of a moving home and we go out from the places we stop.

We like to winter in Texas (around Rockport) as we don't care much for FL. (and Texas along with being more interesting is about half the price) We spent part of one winter in Yuma, AZ and liked that area also.

So, we are still going after 3 years and there are still places we haven't seen like Colorado and Utah so we're not done yet (although lots of friends keep asking how long we are going to be gypsies like they can't believe we are still enjoying it. (And my wife's father did comment that he knew when she married me 40 years ago she would end up homeless one day).

Such is life!
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Lee and Jacque Davis - Full Timers

Lee - 423-292-5767 or Jacque 423-262-9569
or lnjdavis@gmail.com Please call or email instead of private messages


1995 BMC 37
300 HP Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbocharged Diesel
Boldly Going Nowhere
http://www.bbirdmaps.com/index.cfm #117
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  #9  
Old 11-30-2008
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Rob Robinson Rob Robinson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Dupree View Post
Lee,years ago i knew a guy that full timed in a bornfree claas C.
he didnt smoke,drink,entertain wild women or mild ones either.
he would stay for days at a time at flying J's and walmarts,he would go to bookstores and read books etc.
he was cheap!
anyway,he kept a log of every penny he spent,and he averaged his cost of living by the day,and 8 years ago it cost him $50 per day to live.
what would you say it cost you,per day?
Randy
Man after reading that I feel like taking up smoking again, putting on my wild Darlene/Woody hat and spending some money.
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  #10  
Old 11-30-2008
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Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
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i was talking about you ,Rob!
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Port St Joe Fl.
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