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Post Info TOPIC: Working on the road to achieve the early retirement goal

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Working on the road to achieve the early retirement goal

In August of 2011 we made a decision to downsize, we were motivated by several factors including the fact that with all of our travel due to art shows we were leaving a house empty 25% of the time, but still paying the mortgage and all the bills and hiring someone to do the yard, etc. etc.  Another big motivating factor was that we felt the house we had was too big for us, something smaller, more centrally located on the west coast would cut down on travel and expenses and allow us to give more to charities of our choice.  Plus we also wanted to save more, try to achieve a dream of early retirement and finally we wanted more time for life, not just driving up and down the highway between art shows, rushing home to catch up on the house, yard, etc.

 Through the decision to downsize, researching various states and what it would cost to move and where we would want to live, the decision to FT RV evolved and in March of 2012 we made the decision to RV vs. buying another, smaller house at this point in our lives.  Then the research began and I found this site that has been a wonderful find and I’ve had great fun in contributing to this site, learning from this site, asking those “dumb newbie” questions and for the most part feeling like this was a very friendly, very fun community.  In December of 2012 we bought our used 2010 DRV Mobile Suites and in April 2013 we bought our lightly used 2012 Ford F450, got the house ready to go on the market in late May, finally closed in mid-July.  For anyone who thinks it sounds like everything went really smoothly, you’re welcome to go back and read some of my posts during that time, to say anything went smoothly from January – June of 2013 would be a laugh, we had several BIG challenges during that time.  But you were all here, supporting and encouraging us and for that I am very thankful.

 Another thread that got hijacked yesterday, tried to discredit that fact that this life can be a cost effective way to live while being able to enjoy a little more out of life.  So, I thought I would try again in a more factual way to state that this is our experience, your mileage may vary, but here are a few facts and figures that might help.  I’m not comfortable disclosing on a public forum what our income is, so let’s just start with the fact that we’ve been blessed and have worked hard to be in the upper end of the middle class and I’m going to use percentages to explain how and where our income / expenses / savings / giving has changed once we’ve gotten stabilized a bit in this lifestyle, I’ve totally excluded the first 8 months of 2013 because at that point we had the house and RV, the truck payment for part of it, until the house closed and we were able to get out of debt and get past some of the one-time expenses associated with things like installing a hitch, etc.

 Life in our S&B:

20% of our income went to pay for mortgage, insurance, utilities, trash, cable, internet, home phone, security

 FT RV Life:

Slightly less than 10% of our income pays for:  Campground fees, propane, data plan, laundry, storage room expense and mail forwarding expense

Expenses that haven’t really changed:

  • Fuel – we used to have 2 gas vehicles, now 1 diesel, our average cost per month is just over $300 (varies by season) and is close to what we used to spend for 2 vehicles when we had a house and traveled a lot for art shows, we’re actually traveling less miles a year now since we’re not heading “home” after every art show.

  • Food – eating out and groceries – while we’ve had a few higher or lower than average, it’s about the same, we really haven’t changed our eating habits, we enjoy grilling a nice piece of fish or beef, enjoy wine and other good beverages, Dale’s going to continue to drink his micro or craft brews as his beverage of choice, etc.  I will say that I thought at first this would go up because I was buying smaller quantities, the small jar of mayo is more expensive per serving than the large, but fits better in the RV fridge.  What I hadn’t factored in is that we rarely have anything go bad any more.  I rarely throw away fresh produce and we’re much better at remembering what leftovers we have in a smaller fridge and actually eat them instead of them becoming science fair projects.

  • Vacation – we usually took mostly driving / camping vacations and splurged on a cruise or flyaway (ex. Hawaii for our 20 year anniversary) trip every 3-5 years, but was not an annual high expenditure

  • Gift giving – we have grandkids, what more can I say?  Grandma loves to spoil thembiggrin

  • Cell phone – still on the same plan, nothing there has changed

  • Pet – still have food, vet bills, litter, etc.

  • Personal care – we still have our haircuts, I no longer get my nails done every 2 weeks but we now indulge in a few massages a yearsmile

  • Health and life insurance costs – stayed the same since I maintained my work from home job on the road.

  • Vehicle maintenance costs – again, trading 2 vehicles for one, while the diesel truck is more expensive for oil changes, etc. we’re spending about the same to maintain one truck vs. a truck and  car that was getting a little old and was starting to need more repairs.

 Expenses that have decreased:

  • RV/vehicle insurance, annual license fees, overall for us has decreased by about $50/mo.  Yes, we have a bigger RV and truck to insure, but we had a car, truck and TT before so our insurance and annual licensing is slightly less and we moved from WA to SD where annual licensing is less.

  • Home décor - I don’t feel the need to change my household décor seasonally and therefore my expenditures at JoAnn’s and Michael’s have gone way down, did anyone hear Dale breathing a huge sigh of relief? biggrinbiggrin

  • Clothing & shoes – we just buy a lot less, nowhere to store tons of seasonal clothes so we layer a lot more and wear that same articles of clothing until they are worn out.  After 2 years on the road, and a recent purge of our closet, we found that we were getting rid of stuff that had actually worn out instead of just going out of fashion. 

  • An intangible that I really didn’t track before and don’t really have a way to quantify is how much we’re not spending on “stuff”. 

    • Examples:

      • We no longer buy cookbooks, we both love to cook but have learned to look for recipes online

      • Magazines  - very seldom buy magazines any more unless I’m getting ready to board a plane, but they also don’t get carried around as long

      • Household cleaning supplies – much smaller house, we don’t need as much as did in a large house and we don’t have a large variety of cleaning supplies

      • NO YARD expenses, no fertilizer, no moss killer, no annuals, etc. etc. 

      • Kitchen gadgets – no room to store them

 Expenditures that are hard to quantify:

  • RV maintenance compared to house maintenance has been a little more, but I find this harder to quantify. We spent almost 10K in the 5 months before our house went on the market painting, repairing, etc. plus we had to replace the furnace.  Now, if we had stayed in the house we would have had to replace the furnace, we also wanted to replace the carpet in part of the house but just hadn’t gotten around to it until it was time to sell, but we were happy with our paint colors and I never would have painted the entire house the ugly neutral look if it were my choice.  And to be honest, before we decided to sell,  I didn’t do a real good job of tracking all the Home Depot, Ace Hardware and Lowe’s expenses between home maintenance vs. yard care.  However, I do know that our RV maintenance has been less over a 2 year timeframe than all my receipts from the hardware stores on an annual basis if I exclude the expense related to just getting the house ready to sell.

Our end result on the 3 goals we had after we made the decision to downsize that eventually became a decision to full time RV:

  • Income – has actually gone down a bit, we’re doing less art shows, but enjoying more life and I have not had any raise or pay adjustments in 3 years.

  • Savings – We were putting about 12-15% of our income into long term savings (401k, IRAs, etc) and usually had a bit of a nest egg.  Now we’re putting ~35% of our income into savings and we have a nest egg that could support us for 2 years if needed and is growing.

  • Giving – we were giving about 10% of our income to charity, that is now close to 15% and we’re very happy about that

  • Expenses – have decreased, end result our savings and charitable giving has increased

  • Debt – decreased our debt by 100%, btw, I don’t mind sharing that what we had left owing on our house was right at 50K so our selling the house, paying off the RV and truck helped fund the larger nest egg.

  • LIFE – and best of all, we’re happier, enjoying more life and have experienced the benefit of being able to be flexible to help family or friends out when it was needed, even if that meant we spent 7 weeks in Dallas last year that was never planned. 

 Everyone’s experience will be different, thought I would share ours, your mileage is sure to vary.  We weren’t making other drastic life changes such as retiring or quitting our jobs to find new income streams on the road, so I know our experience is different than many of yours. 


FT - July 2013


2010 38TKSB3 DRV Mobile Suites

2012 Ford F450


Dale and Ruth Travelling with Tazzy Kat!







RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 296

Like you said, everyone's experience is different, but this is ours... overall our expenses are definitely less. Our mortgage and taxes when we had a house were $1500/month, and then to add on top of that electric, security system, heat, trash pickup which are all expenses we don't have anymore. Even if you add electric to the monthly rate when we are staying in one place for a while that doesn't even add up to what our mortgage used to be. We are in a little different place than you in that Harry has retired and has a pension so we are not having to save up for retirement. But unfortunately we aren't debt free yet as we have loans on both our truck and fifth wheel. We have 11 months left on the truck and I am hoping to have the fifth wheel paid off in five years, so that is the goal we are working toward. At this time, with the loans, we can't make it just on Harry's pension so we work at Amazon each fall. So the way I look at it, we have four months of work and eight months of vacation each year.

The main difference as far as I'm concerned is one which can't be quantified, and that is the quality of life we have gained. We might not be debt free (yet), but we are both enjoying life with so much less stress. Both of us were on, but are now off, high blood pressure medicine and we have both lost weight. Money might be tight but that's not my main criteria for whether life is good. :) As we go through year #3 on the road, neither of us would go back and do anything different.


Jessica and Harry

2011 Heartland Landmark

2011 Chevy 3500 HD Dually

Fulltimers since 12/12/12! :) 


RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 1661

Interesting read.  Early retirement for us will be at age 63 and 62 if our current track holds up. We will enter this lifestyle debt free and, thanks to good pension plans, more than adequate funding. Even with that, we are putting money to work to add to the cushion. 

Always good to hear a different set of variables to increase knowledge and thus comfort that the "calculations" are not out of line with expectations. Thanks again for posting.



Brian, Cindi & Josie (our fur baby)
2017 RAM 3500 Laramie 4x4 CCLB, CTD, Aisin, B&W hitch, dually
2020 Keystone Montana Legacy 3813MS w/FBP ,
MORryde 8k IS, Kodiak disc brakes, no solar  YET!

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Thank you for sharing.  We are in the planning stages right now and "positive" post (like yours) help us plan for our future full time adventure.  We are too young for retirement so we are planning to work some while on the road.  We both left our jobs this year and we have been slowly selling off most of our possessions.  Everything we have (except for the house) is paid for and we have managed to save a little money too.  

We are trying to build up our bank accounts by selling off our 7 vehicles, ATV's, boat, trailers, equipment, home, etc.     I was a mechanic/business owner for years and have invested 250-300 K just in tools and equipment that I can't let go for pennies on the dollar but disposing of it has proven to be very time consuming.no   My wife still owns property back east and we are considering selling several tracts of land OWC so we will have some income coming in every month, that would also keep us from dipping into savings.

 No grass to mow, no gutters to clean, house to paint, roof to replace, irrigation repairs, plumbing issues, trees/bushes to prune, etc.  Our mortgage, property tax, insurance, and utilities run us more $ in one month than we spend staying in the RV for several months.  

We are looking forward to the full time lifestyle and I am certain our monthly expenses & maintenance will be considerably less than our S&B.




Mark & Nancy
2004 F-250 XLT 6.0 Diesel
2001 Sunnybrook 2708 TT

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 679

We were both 33 when we hit the road in 2006.. and because of the lower cost of living on the road (as compared to our previous lifestyle of him in San Francisco, and me in a beachside home in Florida - we were both solo when we met and hit the road) - we will more than likely be able to early retire much sooner than otherwise.

We both had higher incomes back then. But the threshold between income and expenses has risen significantly (THAT's the important number). We've been able to save up more, and we have a MUCH higher quality of life rich in community, experience and living in almost always changing million dollar view locations. We get more flexible and extended time off from our work obligations because we've constructed our lives that way.

For us, life on the road has a much higher quality quotient at a lower expense cost. We're still putting away for retirement, investing, paying for healthcare... and on track much further ahead for retirement than we would have been in our 'old' stationary lifestyles.

While we might be able to retire early.. I don't think we will entirely. We just love what we do too much!

- Cherie


Cherie (and Chris) / Our blog: Technomadia.com

Full time since 2006 as Gen-X 'technomads' (technology enabled nomads)

RV Mobile Internet Resource Center (unbiased information by RVers for RVers)

zephyr_pixel.jpgRV: 1961 GM 4106 Bus

Toad: 2009 MINI Cooper

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 253

We moved out of our S&B almost a year ago and stayed stationary for 10 months before hitting the road. While the winter in Pennsylvania wasn't all that great (okay it was bad!), we did it with the goal of building up the savings/retirement accounts. Both of us had great jobs and before we left those, we wanted to save as much as we possibly could while we were actually making some good money. Living stationary--and debt free--in a local RV park, we spent about half to a third of what we did living in the S&B and were able to save the "leftovers". Yes, it was hard and I wanted to leave, but staying focused on the end goal was key. Just another idea for those who are trying to figure out how to hit the road and save some $$ and possibly retire early.


Cori & Greg Young...and Hobie, too

(formerly "byseaandbyland")

2008 45' Country Coach Allure

2015 GMC Sierra 1500




RV-Dreams Family Member

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Thanks Ruth...excellent post as always. We are spending about $4k a month. In our sticks and bricks we were spending about $5.5k a month. Not a huge difference financially so far BUT we are still finding our rhythm. I am hoping our costs will trend down over time. That being said the quality of our life is so much better it doesn't even compare. No kidding.

I will say I feel blessed I could take my job on the road. For those who have to find income as they travel it has been more challenging for Lee than we expected. A large part of that is we are moving from place to place...unless your revenue stream is 100 percent online you need to find customers and without staying in the same place repeat business is unlikely.

Sorry that's for another post. Anyways to sum up yes it's cheaper., but Not As much as I thought it would be. So my recommendation is to really focus on your revenue stream. We spend a lot of time talking about costs on the forum but little talking about how to make the money. I get it...it makes people uncomfortable, myself included, but that is the other part of he math equation. Your costs can be whatever you want if you have the revenue to cover it.

My two cents


-- Edited by Lee and Trace on Saturday 16th of May 2015 05:44:55 AM

-- Edited by Lee and Trace on Saturday 16th of May 2015 06:15:11 AM



Ford F350 Super Duty 4x2.  Open Range 386FLR

Follow our journey at www.camperchronicles.com


RV-Dreams Family Member

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Another great post Ruth in the spirit of sharing, thank you!


-- Edited by Someday on Sunday 17th of May 2015 01:20:14 AM

Breathtaking Alberta. Her Mountains Draw You But Her People Bring You Back

RV-Dreams Family Member

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Love your two cents!



RV-Dreams Family Member

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Posts: 57

As usual, thank you so much for sharing so much personal information about your on-the-road finances. It's so helpful as we try to figure what our expenses might be. I can't wait until I can report back on our actual on-the-road expenses :)


Bo & Rach

2016 DRV Full House JX450

2016 Dodge Ram 3500 Laramie

"But where were they going without ever knowing the way?" - The Way, Fastball

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