The time has finally come. You’ve just reached retirement and are ready to relax and travel, so why not buy an RV and hit the open road? You feel like you’re living the dream–until you get two months down the road and stuck in the middle of nowhere with significant repairs to deal with. Suddenly, you start to wonder if RVing really is everything you imagined.
While many retirees love RVing, you shouldn’t go into it with your eyes closed. Keep reading to find out the downsides of RVing and determine if it should be one of your goals in retirement.
Think You Won’t Regret an RV in Retirement? You Might Want to Think Again
It’s nice to think that traveling the world is the best option when you travel, but make sure you know what’s coming. We’ve compiled 15 reasons that you might regret RVing in retirement.
1. RVs Are Expensive
An RV is an expensive investment that depreciates just as fast, if not faster, than a car. You can expect a brand new RV to depreciate approximately 30% when you drive it off the dealer’s lot.
As you might expect, larger or higher-quality RV brands come with higher price tags. Motorhomes and fifth wheels are typically more expensive than travel trailers, which are more expensive than teardrops and pop-ups.
So if you’re concerned about expenses but still want to give RVing a try, start with something like a small travel trailer. You can find a good, new travel trailer for under $20K.
Just remember you also need something to tow it. Trucks can majorly ramp up your costs.
2. RVing Is Expensive
RVing costs add up quickly. Once you purchase your RV, you’ll need gear. Camping chairs, tire chocks, and more add up quickly. And no matter your warranty or lack of one, there are always maintenance issues. Remember, you’re driving that RV at highway speeds. That’s like putting it through a hurricane over and over again.
Then there are campground costs. Again, depending on how and where you plan to stay, campgrounds can cost anywhere from $35 to $100 per night. Or more if you’re planning on staying in luxury RV resorts near a body of water.
There are ways around high nightly costs, such as buying a membership to a group of campgrounds like Thousand Trails. But there are upfront costs and annual dues.
If you get creative, you can save money and try boondocking. If you plan to stay in a location for a month or a season, some campgrounds offer discounts for more extended stays.
3. RV Depreciation Is Ridiculous
RVs depreciate fast. Larger RVs like fifth wheels, class A, and class C motorhomes tend to have a quicker depreciation rate than travel trailers and class Bs. Like we said earlier, an RV is likely to lose 30% of its value as soon as it’s driven off the lot.
On top of the initial depreciation, class A motorhomes can lose another 30% in their first three years. Plus, a class C may drop 38% in value after five years and a fifth wheel 45%. Ouch!
Class B motorhomes and camper vans hold their value the best. If you plan to RV in retirement, they may be a wise option. However, they can run between $150K to $200K for a new model.
4. Health Care Is Hard on the Road
Health care is a reality for us all. But it can be particularly tricky for retirees traveling in different states.
Depending on your health insurance, you may not be covered if you need to see a doctor in a state other than the one where you have residency.
If you plan to travel between only two states per year, you may be in luck. Some Medicare plans have snowbird coverage.
There are also national health insurance plans, but they don’t necessarily cover everything. So always read the fine print and review the plan with someone at the insurance agency.
5. RVs Can Be Difficult to Learn to Drive or Tow
For someone who hasn’t driven an RV or towed one, it might be a challenge at first. However, if you attempt an RV road trip without lessons or practice, you could put yourself and others in danger.
We highly recommend learning how to drive the RV you purchase before your first camping trip. If you know an experienced RVer, perhaps they could give you lessons. But there’s nothing better than a professional, like the RV Driving School that provides lessons across the country. Plus, they teach you in your own RV.
6. Campgrounds Are Crowded
With more and more people RVing, campgrounds are crowded, particularly during peak seasons. Nearly everywhere is bursting at the seams in the summer when schools are on break, and the southern states are extremely busy in the winter.
It’s essential to book campground reservations in advance. Sometimes, you’ll want to make winter reservations at least a year out. For example, many beachfront RV parks in Florida are so popular you can’t get in unless you book at least 12 months before your trip!
7. RV Repairs and Warranty Work Take Forever
Something on your RV will break–it’s inevitable! And when it does, RV repairs and warranty work can take days at best and months at worst. With more RVs on the road than ever before, service centers are busy.
If you purchase an RV with a warranty, ask the dealer where you can get warranty work done. Often, you’re restricted to their dealership or a few others throughout the country.
For repairs not under warranty, you may have a chance of faster service. However, depending on what you need to do, it may take a while for parts to ship. So you should expect delays. You could end up in a hotel for a while.
On the bright side, if you’re handy, you could do your own repairs. You’ll still have to pay for parts and wait for them to arrive, but it would cut out labor expenses and wait times.
No matter your circumstances, staying up to date on your general RV maintenance will decrease your chances of significant mechanical errors.
8. It’s a Small Space
An RV is a small space. If you’ve lived in a 2,000 sq. ft home for most of your life, a 30ft motorhome will be an adjustment. Your first few months of retirement in an RV might be rough. If there are two of you in the RV, you’ll need to figure out your rhythm.
Downsizing and living minimally can also be freeing. You may find a lot of joy in not having to clean multiple bathrooms or a large kitchen. If you go in knowing there’s going to be an adjustment period, you can likely work around the space issues.
9. Finding Overnight Parking Can Be Difficult
Overnight parking in places like Walmart or Cracker Barrel is getting more complicated, thanks to the increased number of RVs on the road. Also, places like Cabelas are starting to discontinue their RV parking.
There are still spots to be discovered, however. You may just need to be creative and plan more than usual. You could also work on being fully self-sustainable so that you can boondock on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.
Harvest Hosts is also a great overnight option, but it does come with an annual fee and the expectation of purchasing something at the place you park.
10. RVing Can Be Exhausting
RVing isn’t as easy as staying in a hotel where someone washes your towels and makes your bed. You do all the cleaning, maintenance, cooking, and washing in your “hotel” on wheels. Plus, you have to drive, trip plan, book campgrounds, and navigate your mail, among other things, while on the road. It sounds less and less like a vacation, doesn’t it?
Ultimately, RVing can be exhausting, so we recommend working in “rules” to help keep your energy up. Perhaps you decide that driving up to 200 miles a day and staying for at least two nights somewhere keeps you from exhaustion. It’s helpful to figure out what works for you and stick with it.
11. You Can’t Take Everything with You
Remember, an RV is a small space with both storage and weight limitations, so you can only take so much with you.
When purchasing an RV, keep in mind what you want to take with you and what you need. Make a list and take it with you while RV shopping. You can then determine if the RV you want actually meets your requirements.
12. There’s a Big Learning Curve
There’s a big learning curve from driving or towing an RV to navigating all the hoses and hookups. Even if you have a luxury motorhome with automatic everything, there’s still a lot to take in.
Proceed with caution and go easy on yourself. There will be multiple ups and downs with RVing, especially in your first few months. After a while, you’ll likely get comfortable with it all. We encourage you to ask for help when you need it. If you’re in a campground, RVers typically love to help other RVers.
13. Three Words: the Black Tank
Yes, the black tank is gross. But you have to empty it, and you can learn to do so without spillage. This is one of the not-so-fun jobs of RVing.
There are plenty of Youtube videos out there to walk you through how to dump your black tank safely. Soon enough, you’ll feel confident enough in the process that it’s no longer intimidating.
14. RVing Can Feel Lonely and Isolating
Retirement is a big transition on its own, and adding RVing into the mix can unknowingly lead to loneliness or isolation. You’ll likely be leaving your family and friends in your hometown as well as your daily routines. The RV life brings on a new set of patterns and friends, but that doesn’t mean loneliness won’t creep in.
There are plenty of ways to meet others while RVing. Campgrounds often have activities. Or a simple walk through the park could lead you to meet others who RV in retirement. You can also join groups online and arrange in-person meetups.
15. RV Insurance, Extended Warranties, and Roadside Assistance Can Be Expensive
RV insurance is necessary and could result in massive cost savings if there’s an accident. But it can also be expensive. Therefore, we recommend shopping around for insurance.
The same can be true for extended warranties and roadside assistance. Frequently, your RV insurance will include roadside assistance, so do your research and know the options before committing to any company.
Would You Enjoy RVing in Retirement?
So are you ready to RV in retirement? There’s a lot to consider. We’re certainly not trying to scare you off from the idea, but it’s helpful to be realistic about the multiple facets of the lifestyle.
If you’re seriously considering this lifestyle choice, keep researching and asking questions. Perhaps you want to rent an RV for a couple of weeks to get a little glimpse of what it might be like.
If you decide to RV in retirement, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Drop us a line!