I received an e-mail yesterday from a fellow who attended several of my classes at Life on Wheels, informing me that he is getting out of the RV lifestyle after two years on the road.
That happens sometimes. This fulltime RVing isn’t for everybody. Some folks try it and find that they miss the family and friends, and usually the grandkids, that they left back in their hometown. Others find a place they really love and decide to settle down there permanently. Sometimes a couple discover that while they do okay in a house or apartment, living in the close confines of a motorhome or fifth wheel trailer is just too much “togetherness.” There are also those who just don’t adapt well to the mobile lifestyle, and once in a while we hear from people who say they just cannot afford the RV lifestyle.
In this gentleman’s case however, his reason was that he is just, in his words, “tired of throwing money at this damned RV to keep it running.” We know what it’s like to have a lemon RV; our first motorhome was a Fleetwood Pace Arrow Vision that just disintegrated going down the highway. After eighteen months on the road, we finally dumped it and bought the MCI bus that we converted and lived in for over eight years.
However, after reading more of his long e-mail, I quickly realized that this fellow is unrealistic in his expectations for any RV, or any other vehicle, for that matter. Here is his explanation of the money he was “throwing” at his RV to “keep it running,” cut and pasted from his e-mail:
We’ve had this ’98 American Dream for two years now, and it had 82,000 miles on it when we bought it. We have put another 17,000 miles on it since we started fulltiming. In that time I have had to have the windshield wipers and arms replaced, for $75, replaced the switch for the automatic step for $49, replaced the water pump for $149, oil change and filter for $199, generator oil change $99, replaced two steer tires $800, and replaced original TV with LCD flat screen $500. And that doesn’t include fuel or campground fees!”
Now, I was never very good in math class, but according to my trusty calculator, the above comes to $1871. That’s not bad for two years of fulltiming in a twelve year old motorhome with almost 100,000 miles on it!
I would assume that the tires were probably the original ones, and if they were, they definitely needed replacing. We just replaced all six of our original tires, with less than 40,000 miles on them. The tread was still excellent, and the sidewalls looked fine, but I considered it an investment in our safety.
I do not see the windshield wipers, step switch, or water pump as extraordinary replacement items. Things do wear out and break down once in a while. As for the oil changes on the motor and generator, those are maintenance items, and a part of owning any vehicle, whether it be an RV or a passenger car.
I’m not sure if the final item he listed, the TV, was a replacement or an upgrade, so I won’t comment on that. The original TV in the front of our Winnebago motorhome just gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago and we had to replace it. Again, things do break down once in a while.
Anyone expecting to buy an RV and never having to spend any money on its upkeep is just not going to happen. Especially an RV that experiences the wear and tear of fulltiming, instead of just being a carport queen that is only used for an annual vacation and an occasional weekend at the lake. When you factor in that this fellow bought an older RV with a considerable number of miles on it, I would be amazed if he didn’t have to spend some money on it.
I’m curious, how many of you fulltimers or extended time travelers have an annual budget for maintenance and repairs, or have an idea of what you spend in a year for upkeep. Care to share?
Thought For The Day – My mind works like lightning, one brilliant flash and it’s gone.