Erica Mills writing on living on the road…
For Roger Gallagher, 66, and his wife, Mary, 75, freedom to move around was part of the reason they took to living in an RV full-time. Both were previously truck drivers and adored seeing the U.S. from the road.
But they were also drawn to the life for financial purposes. “We pay $133.70 a month,” Roger explains. “That includes our lights, water, sewer, sometimes TV and cable, and our rent. Where else can you live for $133 a month?”
Roger and Mary had been thinking of RVing for seven or eight years, but the transition, when they made up their minds, was a quick one. While they know of many full-time RVers who take a year to a year-and-a-half to condense their life down to an RV, the Gallaghers didn’t need a lot of time.
“It took us all of about three days,” Roger says.
They got rid of, stored, or donated their belongings.
Roger and Mary opted to buy a motorhome but whatever you choose, your RV will be the most expensive start-up cost of your life on the road. Roger recommends buying used, pointing out that the second you drive a brand-new RV off the lot, it loses one third of its value.
Roger and Mary were used to life on the road before retiring. Roger has spent his whole adult life as a trucker; Mary took it up at their company, too, and drove for almost 14 years.
Living on the road wasn’t a tough decision for either of them. They had moved from the Pacific Northwest down to Kansas City and leased a place for two years.
When the lease came to an end, they decided they didn’t want the responsibilities of a house anymore—or to pay $1,500 to $1,800 a month for rent and utilities. So, they got into the 2002 motorhome they owned (worth about $45,000 now), along with their three Cocker Spaniels, and left it all behind.
They have traveled from coast to coast and spent summers in the motorhome (including traveling all over the U.S. three times), but these days, they tend to stick to their camp network. Network membership gives them access to 11 parks in south-eastern states (though the number increases over time).
For access to those parks and included utilities, they pay $133.70 a month. After five years, they won’t even have to pay that; their only costs will be maintenance fees, which amount to a one-time payment each year of $495.
It’s hard to pick a favorite park, Roger says, as they haven’t tried all 11, but Branson, Missouri was a highlight. They get to go fishing and meet up with friends in the area.
The thing that stands out to Mary and Roger as being a benefit is how much time and freedom it gives them as retirees to explore and to see family. They’re about a day’s drive from Roger’s daughter in Tennessee, where they spent Christmas. Mary’s daughter in Arkansas is another day’s drive away.
“My best advice is to rent a motorhome or rent a trailer,” says Roger. “Spend about a month or six weeks during the summertime, living in it all the time, to see what it’s like. Then you can decide whether you want to go into it full-time or not. For people that are retired on a fixed income—if they can afford to start out—it’s a good thing for them to do if they like to see the country.”
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