<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Full Time RVing: Myths and Realities
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Full Timing: The Expectations & Realities

By Gene Rusco (10/05)

[Ed Note: While this article was written several years ago, and Country Coach and other major manufacturers have long since departed the scene, this represents a "real life story" of interest for those wanting to consider all sides of full time RVing.]

Several years ago I told the story of retiring very young, setting up a budget and launching into a full-time lifestyle. Now I offer these thoughts as a retrospect on that experience.

In the early part of 2001 we took delivery of our newly built Country Coach Motorhome. We had studied the ratings books and talked with dozens of owners. We took factory tours and after hours and hours of this kind of research we made our selection. We had been warned of the “bugs” that any new MH will have. I even went so far as to schedule my first factory service visits within 2 weeks of taking delivery to hammer out the first of these “bugs”. Thus we launched on our adventure. I will say that we were overwhelmed by the troubles of the new coach. It wasn’t just the minor items but our diesel engine had major fuel leaks that required about half a dozen visits to Cummins shops. Each visit required that we either live in the coach while inside these shops or we find a motel that would accept our 2 dogs and cats. For much of the first year our lives revolved around getting the coach fixed. I recall pulling into one Country Coach Rally with the entire back of our coach covered with diesel fuel. That, after spending 3 days camped in the parking lot of a Cummins shop. So here was the first major lesson on taking delivery; stay close to the factory for several months while using a new coach.

Here’s my second major lesson; think very, very hard about ever buying a new coach. I suspect used motorhomes may be better and more dependable because the previous owner will have spent all those frustrating days making needed repairs. Articles on this web site will also detail the cost advantages of buying used. Let me be perfectly clear about motor homes and repairs. I still believe that Country Coach builds one of the best products on the road. I’ve talked to many owners of almost every other manufacturer and discovered stories even more troubling than my own. During all our troubles the manufacturer stood behind us every step of the way. That is not the case with many other brands. After our first year the number of items needing repair diminished substantially. But in the 3 years we owned that coach, attended all sorts of RV events and talked to scores of owners of motorhomes and 5th wheels I learned my third major lesson; rvers are either on the way or should be on their way to a shop for some type of repair. This is not a carefree lifestyle. I think some owners are just more willing to accept these annoyances.

Now about money: The budgeting we set forth to begin the journey was pretty much on target. Money was not the issue although I don’t know of any RVer who thinks he/she has enough. Our budget included fuel, camping, etc and having done research we were not surprised. But after just under 3 years I knew our full-timing was over. When I began that journey people would ask ‘…how long will you do this?”. My answer was always “I don’t know, maybe a year or maybe the rest of my life”. In the end I was attracted to having a house again and settled in central Florida. The amenities of the Florida retirement communities are unbelievable but that is an article for a different place and time. We sold our coach for about $30k less than we paid. I think the cost of that lifestyle for about 3 years was somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 grand (above the usual cost of eating, etc).

I’m now divorced and living in the Twin Cities. I have a new life and have begun a new career in banking and financial services (much different than my previous career). The short summary of my RV experience may sound negative but overall I loved it. Just this past summer I drove up to North Dakota to spend a day or two at the FMCA International Rally and get my RV fix. I shopped the new coaches and recalled my life on the road. I visit the RV web sites and am once again thinking about a possible return to the road some time in the future. I know if I do return it will be in a motor home (I know, you must be thinking “doesn’t this guy ever learn?!”). I’m now thinking about a used Prevost, maybe a Country Coach conversion because I still think this company does it right but so does Marathon and Liberty. But I’m at least ten years away from my second retirement so for now I join the thousands of lurkers who visit this web site and the many others and dream of that day when they can pack it all up in the basement of their RV and hit the road.

Happy trails fellow travelers!