What we discovered, at first, was a bit discouraging. It was estimated, by many full-time RVers, that living in an RV, and traveling around the U.S., cost somewhere in the $2000-$3000 per month range, and that amount would eat up most of our monthly retirement income and, if that were the case, what would we do if the RV broke down and needed a major repair?
The answer came fairly quickly
It didn’t take long, a matter of a couple weeks, before we started seeing more and more videos about people who were living off-grid, as nomads, and spending each night in free campsites, thus saving anywhere from $25-$100 per night.
Let’s to the math. If a person were to spend $25 per night for a campsite, that would be a yearly expense of $9,125. If a person paid, on average, $50 per night, that would be a yearly expense of $18,250. But, if a person were to camp each night in a free campsite, the average amount spent on overnight accommodations would be, wait for it, zero!
Now they were talking our language! Suddenly full-time, on the road, sounded not only doable, but a way to actually save money and build a little nest egg.
Where are these free campsites?
It turns out that a person can park an RV, and stay for free, for fourteen days at any of the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and National Forest lands across this country. Considering the fact that BLM governs over 247 million acres of land, and National Forests cover 193 million acres, it takes very little effort to find a free place to park our bus. Toss in a random WalMart or Cabellas or truck stop, all of which offer free overnight parking, and it becomes more apparent that these nomads are onto something.
Biggest RV Life expense other than campsites
So, if it is possible to park in a campsite, for free, what then is the biggest expense for nomads?
One would think, considering the current cost of fuel, that it would be gasoline or diesel to power your RV. That would be a logical conclusion until you realize that parking in a National Forest, or on BLM land, is allowed for up to fourteen days at any one site, meaning free campsites for nearly half a month, at which time one only needs to move the RV to another free campsite, and stay there for the next fourteen days. Suddenly, the expense of fuel drops significantly, because only twice per month will you be driving your RV and then, only for a short distance.
And just like that, this nomad way of life seems very, very affordable.
And what about the other objections we hear from worry-warts?
What if you break down in some God-forsaken area?
I hear this one all the time, like breaking down is something new with motor vehicles. There’s a thing called the internet. There’s a thing called a cell phone. There’s a thing called towing. Besides, no place in the United States is God-forsaken, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Will it be expensive, this RV Life?
I don’t know. Maybe, but I doubt it. But I respond this way: Is it expensive to replace a water heater in your home, or have the plumbing worked on, or have a new roof put on? The absolute worst that can happen is the RV will need a new engine. That will cost between $6000-$10,000. Compare that price to a major home repair or remodel.
What about crime and getting robbed or assaulted?
If you live in any city in the U.S., you will find the humor in this objection. I stand a better chance of being assaulted while walking my dogs in Olympia than I do in the Arizona desert. And no, I’m not delusional enough not to have protection. I will be well-armed out on the road.
Won’t you be lonely, on the road, when Bev isn’t traveling with you?
No! I should just leave my answer at that, but I’m a writer, and writer’s write. It doesn’t bother me to be alone. For most of my life, in a room with other people, I have felt alone. It’s my nature. I’m a loner. I am comfortable alone. I like myself enough to be at peace when alone. Bev is my best friend, but my next best friend, a close second, is me.
Besides, Maggie will be with me, when Bev doesn’t want to travel with me, and Maggie is this man’s best four-legged friend.
Back to the topic of cost of RV Life
The other expenses for living on the road are hardly worth mentioning. Cell phone, WiFi coverage of some sort (maybe Spacelink, although Musk drives me crazy), food of course, insurance . . . when you take rent or a mortgage out of the equation, suddenly the expenses are not very much at all. In fact, having tossed the figures around quite a bit, I estimate I can live, on the road, as a nomad, at free campsites, for as little as $1000 per month, or about thirty bucks per day.
We shall see. I may be completely wrong. This may be a pipe dream that blows up in my face (in our faces); but we will never know unless we try it and, as my dad loved to say . . .
God hates cowards!
As Roy Rogers and Dale Evans once sang, Happy Trails, to you, until we meet again!
Bill and Bev (and Maggie and Toby)