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Vagabond by Choice: Benefits of the RV Lifestyle

Sell your house and buy an RV was one of the top smart-money options recommended by personal finance expert Jane Bryant Quinn in the May 2011 issue of the AARP Bulletin. While Quinn’s audience was seniors on the verge of retirement, her advice resonates with a much broader cross-section of Americans. RV ownership is on the rise, particularly among people ages 35 to 54.

According to a recent University of Michigan consumer survey, nearly 9 million Americans now count themselves among the 8.5% of U.S. households that own an RV. Young families, empty nesters, homeschoolers, entrepreneurs and the unemployed seeking work have joined seniors to swell the ranks of full-time RVers; but it is baby boomer wanderlust that is most responsible for the recent increase in online RV sales. Approaching retirement age, still-active boomers between the ages of 55 and 65 are trading in their homes for RV travel trailers and motorhomes, itching to hit the road and fulfill their lifelong dream to explore America.

People embrace the vagabond lifestyle and become full-time RVers for many different reasons. Inexpensive housing and cheap travel are major draws, particularly in today’s strained economy; but the freedom to go where your spirit moves you, live a simpler life and embrace nature are equally powerful incentives. Well-appointed motorhomes and 5th wheels furnished with master suites, walk-in closets, whirlpool bathtubs, sophisticated entertainment centers and gourmet kitchens make life on the road anything but Spartan. Upscale RV resorts and campgrounds offer Wi-Fi internet and cable service, social activities, Olympic-size swimming pools, boat rentals, wine tastings, gourmet coffee shops, onsite cafes and all the luxury amenities full-time RVers enjoyed at home.

Despite the comforts available to today’s full-time RVers, experienced full-timers say it takes planning, research and time to successfully navigate such a major lifestyle change and offer these tips:

  • Trim down your possessions. Embrace the opportunity to simplify your life. Sell, donate or store what you don’t need. If you’re not sure whether you’ll like full-time RVing, move your possessions into a storage locker and try it for a year.
  • Clean up any debts before you hit the road so you can travel carefree.
  • Attend RV shows, join an RV club, talk to other RVers and comb the internet for information on full-time RVing.
  • Educate yourself about the logistics of RVing full-time (mail, voter registration, tax residency, vehicle registration, insurance, medical records, prescription transfers, etc.).
  • Decide how you’re going to stay connected. Smartphones, Wi-Fi, Skype, laptops, iCloud, iPads, iPods, Facebook, blogs, satellite TV and radio, Hulu, Snapfish, etc. make staying in touch easy. Set everything up before you leave home.
  • Start a file of places you want to go and things you want to see.
  • Stop dreaming and just do it!

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