Nov 172010

The time comes for all fulltimers when illness, advancing age, changing interests, family needs, or some other reason causes us to make the decision to hang up the keys.

Some fulltime RVers enter the lifestyle knowing that they will only be traveling for a certain amount of time before they settle down, while others hope to travel forever, and only leave the road when forced to do so.

Hopefully, Terry and I are a long way from reaching that point, but like most of our RVing friends, we know the time will eventually come. We have talked about what we will do at that time in our lives, and where we might want to to live.

We lived in the little mountain town of Show Low, Arizona before we hit the road, and my daughter and her family still live there. But we know that we don’t want to return there, and neither of us likes Arizona enough to want to live there again.

We love being around water, we want a moderate climate, and we don’t want to be in a big city. However, we want to be close enough to the services we will need as we get older.

If we had to make a decision today, I think the Rockport/Aransas Pass area of Texas might be it for us. We love the laid back small town atmosphere, it’s on the Gulf of Mexico, with lots of opportunities for fishing and kayaking, and the cost of living is affordable. Because it’s only about 30 miles from Corpus Christi, there is easy access to any kind of shopping or medical services one could want or need.

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However, we also have thought about Florida, for its abundant water sports opportunities. Florida is God’s waiting room, because there are so many retirees here, and they are an important part of the state’s political and economic base. But, it is God’s waiting room, and I don’t see us being happy playing bridge and comparing varicose veins forever in some retirement community.

Having had big houses, small house, mobile homes, and just about every kind of dwelling available, we have both agreed that we’re very happy living in the small size a motorhome offers. We’d be very happy to find a lot someplace and live out our days in our home on wheels.

We know some fulltimers who have already purchased a lot someplace, in preparation for “the day,” whenever it comes. We almost bought a lot (actually three adjoining lots) in Aransas Pass a couple of years ago, but we felt like that would be the first string that started to tie us down, and we’re not ready for that yet. We worked hard to cut those strings so we could live the fulltime lifestyle. We worry that if we had a lot, we’d feel like we had to go back there every year, because why have it if we’re not going to use it?

Of course, if all goes well, I’ll follow my original exit plan, which is to bounce my last check, burn my last drop of diesel, and have a fatal heart attack, all on the same afternoon.

So what about you? Have you thought about what you’ll do when the time comes to hang up the keys? What are your plans?

Thought For The Day – I have never been in a situation where having money made it worse.

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Nick Russell

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  23 Responses to “Hanging Up the Keys”

  1. Being half-timers, we are in a somewhat different position, since we already have a home base. Until recently, it was in the Peoples Republic of Taxachusetts, where Kathy’s grandchildren are located. Wishing to get away from the New England winters, we spent a couple of years camping and looking for property on the coasts of Texas, Alabama, and Florida. Like you, we liked the Rockport area very much, and came close to buying a condo on Key Allegro. However, we eventually bought a townhouse in Jupiter, Florida, near but not on the water. Essentially, we traded waterfront for square footage at our price point. We chose Florida instead of Texas because it is closer to the northeast, where most of our grandchildren are located. We brought our motorhome with us, and will continue to travel about halftime as long as it is safe for us to drive. When that point arrives, we will retire fulltime to our sticks-and-bricks home in Jupiter, where we are very, very happy.

  2. Right now I hope my last day on this earth is spent in the MH rolling down the road somewhere. Hopefully I will park the rig before I take my last breath. If health reasons cause us to hang up the keys I think we would buy a small house somewhere in southern FL because it is the warmest place we have found in the USA.

  3. We are living/traveling full-time in a motorhome. In our first year (last year) we bought a deeded lot in an RV park in Florida (not far from Thousand Trails). No regrets. We like the feeling of having a “base” to return to each winter. My thoughts are that most people end up preferring the east or west side of the US based on where their family members are located for driving/flying convenience. Although we plan to spend winters in Florida, we knew we had bought a lot that we could rent out easily if we opted to spend some winters in Texas.

    We have no idea what our future plans will be, but our RV lot would also us to have a park model or a double-wide mobile home in the future if that is our desire. Can’t imagine owning a house again – too much trouble. Possibly could foresee a condo in our future – but not anytime soon.

    We considered being “residents” of Florida, but car insurance would double and the motor home insurance would increase about $300 over our South Dakota rates. Tags are less expensive in Florida. All things considered we found it would cost us an additional $700 per year. Hubby can buy a non-resident fishing license when we are in Florida and we’ll be money ahead.

  4. Having just hung up my keys (haven’t sold the Casita yet), I would just like to add this thought. When the time comes miles to medical facilities may seem a long way. I am happy with my decision to locate about miles from facilities and in a town with a national park. It is still a small town, but shopping is all available and the “doctoring” has really been convenient. I could however have picked a little warmer lattitude!

  5. For some reason my first post didn’t add the numbers – 30 miles is too far to a medical facility for me and I located 2 miles from facilities.

  6. That’s why we have a home base already at TGO in TItusville, Fl. We downsized from 2+ acres and house to a smaller “chalet-2 bedroom, 1 bath” with garage and RV port. We have our stuff, most of our doctors and MANY friends here at TGO. What’s great about this community is the folks here are RVers. As they hang up their keys they still retain that love of life, active minds and bodies. Our street here is VERY friendly. When you go outside it’s like being in an RV park: friendly, active, busy. So we feel we have the best of both worlds: we travel in our RV for about 8 months of a year and have our home base to visit when we want to. When we hang up our keys (we hope much later than sooner) we already have an established home, friends and doctors. The transition will be fluid and easy. For us this works well.

  7. We have our names on the list at Azalea Trace life care center in Pensacola, Florida. It costs a lot to get in and a person has to be able to live independently to get in, but services go to assisted living to medical unit to Alzheimer’s unit without increasing the monthly fee beyond the base that people pay for the independent living fee. There is a place for RV storage with hookups if needed so we’ll keep our truck camper; it’s next door to the University of West Florida where we can participate in courses, attend lectures, plays, concerts, etc.; it has rivers for canoeing/kayaking and then there’s the beautiful beaches. We are a long way from being ready for that and hope we’ll know when we are ready before it’s too late!

  8. Molokai

  9. We have finally taken care of the what if we can not travel any longer problem. We are now in Hondo Texas at the Escapee’s Co-op. We will have a permanent site in the very near future. This takes care of the problem of if and when we have to come off the road. The site is here. We are using it now for the winter. Hondo is a small town yet only 37 miles from San Antonio. When we are not here the site will go into the rental pool and this helps with the annual maintenance fees We like the small town atmosphere and it has just about everything we need or want. We know that the time will come when we will have to come off the road and we sure hope it is several years down the road. We put a lot of thought into the decision to stay in Texas. Our grandson is in California and it was a hard decision but no one unless they have a lot of the green stuff can stay in the state and retire between taxes and the cost of living it was beyond our means. So we are now full time Texas residents. By the way when the site is in the rental pool the person staying on the lot has access only to the site.

  10. We are near Ft. Worth, Texas, at the Lake Granbury RV Ranch. We are somewhat different from fulltimers because we are actually part-timers in that we are on the road about 6 to 7 months a year, but enjoy the RV life style in that everyone in this park must have an RV. Some travel nearly all the time while others just like the idea of the lifestyle.
    We have built a small cabin under the metal roof that covers our lot. It gives us a place to have guests as well as a place for me to do my quillting and crafts when we are here.
    Our children are in the area so we can see grandchildren when we desire if we are here. Being in this area, medical facilities are near by. We can travel to any area of the country from this point because we are in the middle of the U.S. map.
    Our neighbors are interested in travel and we look after each others property if one is not here. We have a web site that illustrates life at the RV Ranch.
    Time for us is the 5 year plan. We are in our second 5 year plan. Currently we travel with a fifth wheel, but we are not opposed to a small motor home if we feel we do not want to pull this large RV and then we could live in the cabin if we were to do this.
    To each his own. What suits one will not suit all RVer’s. Age treat us all different and we would all like to end life as Nick said, but that is not true life.

  11. We came into full timing 4 years ago intending to look for that final place to live as we moved along. It was and remains our plan to get off the road when the time is right. We continue to enjoy the journey, but still expect at some future time to buy a home and return to the fixed life. Where has always been the question. Spending most of my life in the military, we have no real roots.

    We have found many great places we could live, but we have pretty much decided that we want to live near at least one of the kids and hopefully a central place to easily visit all. That would require that they settle down also.

    If we had to get off the road soon, it would be the panhandle of FL

  12. Hi Nick and Terry
    I lived just up the road from Port A and Rockport in the town of Portland for 12 years and loved it!! A quiet bedroom community with great people and great city services. Just a hop and skip across the bay from Corpus Christi. I sure hated to leave but the demands of elderly parents required my move to this Pit in the Panhandle of Okla. I WILL be back in Portland and South TX someday.
    Take care and thanks so much for your blog. It is always a bright spot in my day!!

  13. Our name is coming toward the top of the list at the Kofa SKP park in Yuma. No intentions, of course, of settling down for a long time. We also bought an acre lot east of Showlow. Plan to winter in Yuma and summer in Showlow. If we cannot drive the motorhome we can hire someone or get a friend to do it.

  14. When we started to full-time 14 years ago we too wondered what would we do if we had to “stay put”. We looked at the various SKP parks and came to the conclusion that the co-op in Benson, AZ was best for us. Benson is at an altitude to allow for comfortable living year around if needed as well as being close to two military bases (Ft Huachuca and Davis-Monthan AFB) where we, as a military retiree, can use the commissary and post exchanges. With a great and liberal rental pool policy, we can leave our lot at any time and not be worried about our “things” in the casita. Our annual costs, because of the rental pool program, allow us to travel as much or as little as we want and not be a budget problem. Benson is close enough to Tucson for “big city” items, culturally or socially, as well as having a good first responder system for medial emergencies. We had a beautiful sunrise this AM and the sun is shining brightly as I type here in Benson. Life is good!

  15. In 2004 we bought an rv site in Dillard, GA (NE GA mtn area). Since we both were working we got to the site for a couple weeks in the summer and winter. In 2008, we bought a site in Crystal River, FL. We love these two areas so we figured when we both retired (which happened this past June), we’d have 2 bases and then travel the remainder of the time. We’ve just spent 4 months here in Dillard and will work our way down to Crystal River for 4 months in the winter. Then we’ll no doubt spend time on the road before getting back to Dillard next summer. But, as you know, rvers plans can and do change on a whim. Love the freedom of choice.

  16. We’re with Don and Kay Daemker here at the Saguaro SKP Park in Benson. The military part doesn’t apply to us, but everything else does. We were fortunate to get a park trailer put onto the lot just over a year ago, as we had medical problems that kept us mostly grounded. Now those situations are easing, and we expect to be back on the road next spring / summer. Of course, I just got tapped to be on the Board of Directors here at the park, so summer travel will be most of what we can do. But we have our place set up for that eventful day when we have to hang up the keys.

    We wrote our own blog about this subject earlier this year — anyone interested can read it at

  17. I recently had to make the decision to hang up our keys after 4 years fulltiming. It was no fun anymore with a grumpy husband. He wouldn’t admit that he didn’t like the work involved in moving our house from place to place. I considered going our separate ways but at our age and with health problems I decided we just needed more space. We recently rented a manufactured home in a senior mobile home park in our hometown of San Diego. I hope this change keeps the peace. Today we are are storing our fifth wheel at Pio Pico TTN while we try to sell it. I am sad to leave my home of 4 years but it just wasn’t working anymore. If anyone is interested in a 2007 36ft Alpenlite that has been wonderful for fulltiming we have one available. It is listed in RV trader online. We plan to get a smaller rv for solo traveling or maybe someday we can handle a trip together. Don’t know yet what the future holds.

  18. Any of you folks in Benson know PepperAnn?

  19. We’ll shortly start our 14th year fulltiming. Everything we own is with us and I never want to have another house. We both feel great but have toyed with the idea of Escapees Care facilitiess where we could live in our RV and occasionly take a trip if we decidedto do so.

  20. Personally, I never thought of Florida as being “God’s Waiting Room”…we winter here because it keeps us younger. Unlike New York, we can be outside all winter, walking biking, water sports, dining outside, etc. We are healthier mentally and physically now than when we left the north. Love it here !! Spend summers in central Ny or travel the west. Life couldn’t be better !

  21. Hi Nick, Good to hear you! I’ve decided that I would rather fulltime than settle down although our original plan was to simply relocate and RV/campground host to help in the process. But now, I would love to be footloose and fancy free. But I think it is good to have an exit plan. Gives a bit of peace of mind. Take care…

  22. Interesting, no one says “I” it’s all “we”. Another plan to consider is what to do when “we” becomes “I”?

  23. I’d like to know where Tom Marlatte has settled down?

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