At the end of 2018, Evelyn Pless and I decided to stop working at our boutique accounting firm and start RVing.
The statement made by one of Evie’s sons-in-law that he was proud of us since we were the first people he knew to follow through on their retirement plans made me very happy.
We purchased a brand-new 25-foot Class C Tiffin Wayfarer with a Mercedes Sprinter chassis and broke it with a few quick trips to Upstate New York and New England from our base in North Oxford, Massachusetts (birthplace of Clara Barton). I-90, sometimes called the Mass Pike, locally travels 50 miles east to Boston or 2,989 miles west to Seattle.
“Frodo, leaving your door is a risky move. You enter the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet there, you never know where you could end up being carried away. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring”
In four main tours and countless side trips, we traveled to 46 of the lower 48 states. For a total of 516 nights, we made 163 stops.
We went to too many state parks and historical sites to count, in addition to the 27 national parks. If you want to read about our travels with plenty of pictures, check out Evie’s blog, Peter and Evie Go RVing
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those, but I find myself favoring quirky attractions like this sign in Newport, Oregon.
The RV was sold in the summer of 2022. Therefore, it is time to complete the accounting and close the books.
The RV cost us $132,532.44 (including sales tax and extras). $40k was our deposit. Interest was $20,568.25 in total. We owed $80,000 when we decided to sell. To help the selling go more smoothly, we paid it off using home equity. The total amount paid, including the down payment, was $153,499.50.
Other ownership costs included insurance and charges associated with our vain attempt to secure a private sale. The total cost was $10,816.05. We ultimately sold to a dealer for $102,000. After subtracting that, the total cost of owning the RV for four years comes to $61,916.74.
Considering, all things considered, the interest was deductible as home interest.
Repairs And Maintenance: $13,081.69
A house that frequently experiences earthquakes and hurricanes is what an RV is in reality. Furthermore, it is a vehicle, in this case, a Mercedes. The price of oil changes for our vehicle was also included in this calculation, but not the cost of additional wear and tear.
Although a technician informed us that Tiffin is superior to other RV models, I was startled by the amount of maintenance needed for something so new.
Along with such items, there were leveling blocks, sewage tubes, hoses, and something resembling a canvas garage. We were fortunate that a family member had a sizable property where we could park the RV when not in use.
Gas – $11,160.84
There will be a lot of driving involved if your trip’s goal is sightseeing, in addition to the distance to each location. There are three approaches to taking care of this.
The first is to drive about in an RV. That kind of traveler was someone we met. The fact that you have to level, connect, and unhook more frequently is a significant drawback. Installing a fifth wheel gives you the option of using your tow vehicle for general transportation. Then there is pulling a vehicle behind the RV.
We selected the fourth of those three widely used techniques. I was in the vehicle following Evie as she drove the RV. It resembled a formation flight. Gas is purchased for both the car and the RV. Consequently, it could be excessive.
The RV received 30,000 kilometers, whereas the car received far more. While the car got around 25 mpg, the RV only got 16 mpg. During the Covid-19 epidemic, there was a stretch of time when gas costs were abnormally low.
Food – $0.00
We would have continued to eat even if we weren’t traveling. Although not much more, we most likely ate out more when traveling. One of the main benefits of traveling in an RV is this. Your home is in your possession.
We started referring to the RV as home after a few weeks. Your items are in the medicine cabinet, clothing racks, etc. There is also a refrigerator, which we expanded with a cooler, and a kitchen.
Travel Costs: $4,250.52
This includes entrance fees, bus trips, and other fees. It excludes the enormous T-shirt collection I collected. Whether you are most touched by history or the environment when traveling in the United States, the finest things are usually free or very inexpensive, especially if you are part of the senior citizen scam.
In this area, we are likely missing a few hundred dollars in cash expenditures. It’s not material, as we accountants say when doing audits.
Sites For Camping: $17,391.11
This covers a variety of memberships, most notably Thousand Trails, as well as nightly charges ranging from $0 to $50. We had access to PATH trains or ferries to Manhattan from Liberty Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, which was one exception to that rule. It cost $100 each night.
A Thousand Trails camps weren’t an additional cost for us because of our membership. The number of friends and family driveways was less than I had anticipated. Typically, we did not stay in accommodations with a lot of facilities.
The benefits and drawbacks of Thousands of Trails, as well as many other facets of RV living, could potentially keep you occupied on YouTube for a few weeks. RV Odd Couple is my preferred site.
We purchased a pre-owned Thousand Trails membership, which we were able to resell after our trip at a loss. More boondocking would have allowed us to save much here, but Evie was firmly against the idea.
This amounted to $33.70 per night. Covid-19 significantly interfered with our goals, so if it weren’t for the pandemic, we would have succeeded here. Additionally, you’ll see that in our situation, ownership expenses outweigh the low nightly rent.
A Few Minor Expense
Most likely, some of the cash payments we made, notably for our travel expenditures, are still unknown. We used propane to heat, and the expense was covered by the gas and camping fees. We would occasionally fill the propane tank at a petrol station, and other times we would do it at a park. It is not material, as we like to say in financial auditing.
$107,800.90 In Total, Or $208.92 Per Night
Rather than any suggested plan, this is somewhat of a case study.
Meeting new individuals and hearing their stories was one of the things I most appreciated. One of the finest stories was told by a woman occupying the spot right next to us. Her appearance almost alone gave away the fact that she had experienced hardship. It was a much more difficult story.
She suffered from dyslexia and spent her childhood in foster care. Her siblings were split off, and she lost contact with them. One of her brothers had a successful career in the military before moving into the security industry. He was committed to locating his sister. He did find her.
He gave her a pickup truck to pull the fifth wheel, a Thousand Trails membership, and a fifth wheel. It cost around $30,000 all total. Depending on her membership, she spends the first 21 days at a TT camp and the next seven days camping nearby.
I appreciate the brother, who, of course, I have never met, which is the primary reason why I enjoy the story. However, it also demonstrates how reasonably priced RV living can be.
Since it cost us more than $200 each night, I’ll be honest and say that I was a little surprised. When I compare it to the expense of that much trip via Road Scholar, it is not that bad. We might have volunteered in the state or national parks, where you can get a free hookup if Covid-19 hadn’t been around.
The pandemic’s collateral impact of impatience with repairs eventually got to us. On a more positive side, we are also eager to visit some other nations.