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FAQ and "How do you do that?"

If you're not a fulltime RVer you may have quite a few questions about how we live.  The idea behind this section is to anticipate those questions and answer them for you.  Some people have already asked a few questions and the answers to those will be included here too.  Naturally we'll update this from time to time as new questions are asked.

 

1.  What do you do for a living?  Are you retired?  How can you live this lifestyle?

2.  How do you work on the road?  What do you do for internet access, phones, etc.?

3.  How can I find a job that will allow me to be a fulltime RVer? 

4.  What did you have to give up, or change, in order to dry camp with solar electric?

5.  Do you have a list of all the places you've visited?

6.  What are your typical expenses?

7.  How do you get your mail?

8.  You spend a lot of time at Casinos, doesn't that get expensive?

 

Click a link above, or scroll down for all the answers...

 

1.  What do you do for a living?  Are you retired?  How can you live this lifestyle? (2005)

I suppose you could say we're semi-retired.  Chris is a little more retired than I am :-) but we're both still working. 

I "retired" from the Air Force in 1997 and receive a monthly pension (about $1200/mo after taxes).  I also own a small business (very small, just the two of us).  I'm an independent recruiter, some call us "headhunters", and I earn a fee by finding new employees for my clients.  Chris works with me.  I usually put in 25 to 50 hours a week, and Chris does from 10 to 25 or so, but we don't do these with fixed schedules, like an 8 hour day.  Often we get up early (6am) and work 3 or 4 hours before lunch, then we work some in the evenings, and especially on weekends.  Since we avoid doing "tourist" things during peak times on weekends this fits well into our plans.

Several factors enable us to live this lifestyle.  We're FAR from rich, but we've been richly blessed by God to have circumstances fall in place so that we can do this.

Medical coverage:  As a retiree from the Air Force (Master Sergeant, E7) we have essentially free medical insurance coverage.  This is a big one, because many people have to pay $1000 a month or more for health care insurance, then deductibles and co-pays on top of that. 

Source of income:  I have the small pension from the Air Force, and a job that I can do from almost anywhere.

Technology:  Advances in technology enable us to work on the road.  See #2 below

low Debt and No Roots:  It would take a much higher income to be able to fulltime and also make payments on credit cards, auto loans, mortgage, maintain a house, etc.  We sold the house, and we own our motorhome and car (both 1996 models).  We decided at the beginning to only look at motorhomes that we could afford to buy for cash.  That limited us to gas (vs. diesel) coaches more than 6 years old.

Agreement on lifestyle choice:  This is a very important point, because if one half of a couple doesn't want to do this it won't work.  Chris and I both wanted this, and had talked about it off and on for many years.  We've both moved frequently all our adult lives, and we previously got the itch to move about every 3 years.  Now we move every 3 days/weeks/months as we desire. 

Update, 2006:  This year I started working full time for another recruiting company.  We're still traveling, but I'm no longer semi-retired -- putting in a standard 40-50 hour week mostly Monday - Friday.  It's still fun, and it's great when we're out West.  We keep an East coast schedule, working 5 to 2 with the whole afternoon to play!  We expect to work 6 to 9 more years before another semi or actual retirement.

ADDED 2006 - check out our Full Timer Tutorial

2.  How do you work on the road?  What do you do for internet access, phones, etc.?(2005)

Lots of information here, so I'll give you a link to a story in the Technical and Projects section

3.  How can I find a job that will allow me to be a fulltime RVer? (2005)

The best advice is to first identify the things that you can make money at where you sit right now.  Then, see if you can discover a way to do these things while fulltiming. 

Many jobs can be done on the road -- some more easily than others.  I think one of the primary reasons people quit fulltiming is they can't afford it.  Be realistic with yourself, and research everything before you take the plunge!  A great resource to start with is the forum on the Escapees web site; www.escapees.com   Also, you'll find links to dozens of fulltimers who have blogs out there on the internet like we do, and many of them have several years of accumulated information.  Learn from others mistakes ;-)  UPDATE: for a wonderful list of other RVer web logs check out www.hitchitch.com/links.html

One option for those who are actually retired is "work camping".  Say you have a good pension, and just need to make a little "fun money", or you want to save some money by getting free campsites.  Lots of people supplement their income by working at the campground where they stay.  Much more detail on this, so take a look at the following resources for information:

Escapees Forum: Working On The Road

RV.NET Forum:  Workamping

www.workamper.com

4.  What did you have to give up, or change, in order to dry camp with solar electric?(2005)

We're not as self-sufficient as we'd like to be yet, but we're working on it!  Here are a few things we've done.  I'll add to the list as we discover more ways to adapt.

Battery power is great, but it's very inefficient for appliances that generate heat or cold.  So, unless you have a HUGE battery bank and cover your roof with solar panels you can't run things like electric heaters and air conditioners.  It's also a big drain on the batteries to run a microwave, toaster, hot plate, or coffee maker. 

  • Making Coffee:  We have a manual drip coffee maker that we put together from different sources.  I'll include photos later.  Our drip unit is the pot from an old electric dripper (one with the basket fitted into the top of the pot).  We put our filter and coffee in that basket and set it in the top of the pot.  Then we boil water on the stove and pour it into the dripper.  After it brews we keep it hot in a restaurant style coffee server carafe. 

UPDATE: June 2005, we bought a Black & Decker Spacemaker with the insulated pot.  This one heats the water and makes drip coffee just like any other drip machine, but there's NO HOTPLATE under the pot.  The pot is a stainless steel thermos and keeps the coffee hot for about 2 or 3 hours.  We can brew coffee with the inverter if we have extra power available.  It takes about 80 amps DC.

  • When we run the generatorSeveral things we didn't give up, but which we do try to minimize use of, or schedule use for a time when the generator is running.  This list includes:  microwave oven, vacuum cleaner, carpet shampoo machine, and charger for electric drill.

Here's a link to a LOT more information on Electric Power for Dry Camping.(2006)

 

5.  Do you have a list of all the places you've visited?(2005)

 

We do now! :-)  Click here  for an alphabetical list of places we've visited.  We update this as we go along.

 

 

6.  What are your typical expenses?  How much does it cost to Fulltime?(2005)

 

I just started putting this in our blog at the end of each month, starting with June 2005.  Will include camping and fuel stats only.  Click here to see June 2005. 

 

Here's a short answer to the question, "how much does it cost".  The answer is "Whatever you have".  We know people who fulltime on $1200 a month, and others who probably spend $6000 or more.  Heck, one guy we met has a monthly RV payment over $4000.

 

 

7.  How do you get your mail?(2006)

 

Here's an article that will explain it all:  Click Here

8.  You spend a lot of time at Casinos, doesn't that get expensive? (2006)

It could, but we're frugal gamblers.  Over the years we've learned how to select games with little or no house edge, and how to make the most of the casino's hospitality.  In January, 2006 we started another web site; www.casinocamper.com to share our experiences.

 

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