Earlier Retirement or Not?


We are hoping to solicit a few thoughts from you guys as to earlier retirement or not?  I’ve been busy working on parts of the blog space to include a new page regarding RV construction methods.  Not much to see here yet but I hope to make it informative as time goes on.

We originally planned to retire in 2023. I’m sure we are not the first to consider cutting a few years off the wait and entering the fulltime RV lifestyle earlier than later. I’ve been reading up on blogs, watching video and searching forums about those that went fulltime in their “earlier” years.  For us, the decision is go at 56 or 59? Financially, we could do either although leaving at 56 would cause us to work to earn about $6,000 annually we would be short until I’m eligible for social security.  Or, like many have suggested, perhaps we would find a way to get by with what we have.

Leaving earlier would also cause us to use some of the income from selling our home to purchase a rig.  In either case, we will be debt free.

We can’t help but think if we went earlier, and for some reason it was not the lifestyle we thought it would be, then we could still return to “regular jobs.” You all know the pros and cons of earlier retirement so no need to outline them here.

Granted there are other reasons not related to financial considerations that play a role. One area we have talked about is being younger while on the road may enable us to work at seasonal jobs we might not later be able to physically handle.

Here is another way to look at it.  For every $6,000 we were able to save today, we could leave a year earlier! Or better yet, for every $500 we save then we can take a month off the date of departure.  This is really starting to sound doable.  I think I’ll convert an old credit union account into our “retire early savings plan.” Right now the account holds our emergency money. So that I don’t forget, I drafted two retirement plans, one at 56 and the other at 59 years of age. Both plans included saving an additional $200 each month today.  So that $500 needs to be $700.

For those that have “retired” to a fulltime RV lifestyle, or decided to wait longer rather than shorter, do you have any wisdom to pass along? Karen and I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

Update: Started a new page to record extra savings we are using to take time off the clock and leave to retirement a little earlier. 

9 thoughts on “Earlier Retirement or Not?

  1. Hah!
    It just amazes me how every time I sit down at the computer, I find more blogs, conversation and information regarding this “fulltiming” lifestyle and how many people are doing it or planning it for the near future!
    You, my freind, are going through some of the EXACT decisions/timing/financial issues that I am, and though I just began reading your blog, I am really enjoying it.
    Thank you for sharing!
    And, you are damn near as anal as I am re lists, spreadsheets etc… lol Great minds really do think alike.
    The “digital notebook” is a great idea, I probably should be doing the same thing to organize all my thoughts.
    There are so many parrallels, I can’t even begin to describe them right now.
    I too have a timeline of around 8 years, but am trying to do it earlier somehow, I too have become debt free and am working on a savings account. I too am battling over the “class” of RV to settle on, I too already have lists of blogs, spreadsheets of RVs, am going to RV shows (going to look at a couple prospects this morning actually) lol. Heck, we are nearly neighbors! I am in NW Arkansas, near the Buffalo river. I also plan to work on the road.
    One thing I’d like to ask right now though is this. Somewhere in your blog, I read that you have pulled around a travel trailer and have ruled out that option…. Why is that? How much difference can there be between a tt and a 5th wheel? I am not a fan of using a big pick up for a runaround car, so I have been thinking a 5th wheel was not for me.
    Quickly it seems to me that (as far as “lugging them around”) they are all very similar…

    CLASS A’s probably drive (handling and power) the best, they are luxurious and roomy, but they are expensive to buy and maintain. They are low (and usually BIG) so locations for camping are extremely limited (and expensive), (you have to drag, load, and unload an efficient car (which could work good)) (2 engines to insure and maintain)

    BIG CLASS C’s seem more cheaply made, probably wont last as long, are a little less luxurious, but cheaper and slightly cheaper to maintain (more standard) but the big ones dont drive well, are also severly restricted as far as location opportunities, and you STILL have to drag, hitch and unhitch a little car around with you. Im betting they are underpowered and dont haul a car down the road very comfortably. (2 engines to insure and maintain)

    BIG 5th WHEELS CAN be very luxurious, heavy and spacious, CAN cost less than the above (or more), But require a big heavy innefficient pickup truck which you have to use as your daily runner and hitch/unhitch when you set and unset your trailer everytime you park. If they are very big, they too can limit your camp locations…. BUT, you only have one engine to maintain, and insurance is cheaper.

    BIG TRAVEL TRAILERS again, CAN be pretty spacious, are usually less money (and less quality), but can be pulled by more versatile vehicles (such as an SUV) which can also act as a runner. You still have to deal with camp space limitations, hitching, unhitching and towing (this would probably be the most uncomfortable “tow” rig… But, there is only one engine to maintain, and this is probably the cheapest BIG option.

    SMALLER 5th wheels seem like they could work pretty good for me (except for the pick up truck issue which I am uncomfortable with (possibly there are some out there with which you could use a smaller more efficient p/u)).

    SMALLER travel trailers seem to be a pretty good match, most are terribly cheap, and I still dread the towing/handling/hitching and setting up issues. But your regular vehicle can pull them, and I am already maintaining and insuring that.

    SMALLER CLASS C’s are more efficient, and can tow a small car if needed. You might be able to get away without a car depending on your lifestyle. They can get to ALLOT of places the above units can not, and still have all the comforts of home (albeit a little more “condensed”)

    CLASS B+ are even more efficient and can go nearly anywhere. You probably wouldnt need a car, but they are tight and space is definitly limited. They also, can COST as much as a small Class A! which is disheartening. They have terribly small water tanks and such.

    CLASS B’s are extremely cool for traveling, long term living, not so much. They definitly wouldnt require a car, but there is hardly any storage space, water, etc and they too, are extremely expensive for there size.

    Then of course, there is always the lowly CAMPER VAN, with a bed in the back and a removable porta potty…. (probably getting too old and spoilt for that) 🙂

    There is no real LINE of distinction between Comfort and traveling with these RVs, it all blurs, and it is all so personal.

    But please, let me know why you have discounted the travel trailer from your options. As you have used one, I’m really interested in your findings.


    • Scott, pleased to meet you and thank you for the fine reply to the post.

      We owned a 30 foot travel trailer but left it parked so I can not respond much to how they tow. We did own a small pop-up and I’ve pulled trailers up to 20 foot. The reason we seem to find ourselves focusing on a fifth wheel is livability which includes storage capacity. We figure at some point we would be parked for longer periods of time. I know our 30 foot travel trailer worked very well for weekends and the occasional week. Then again I’ve read about a lot of folks traveling fulltime in a travel trailer.

      Suppose I can break the decision as to what class down to this:

      What type of RV living is planned (longer stays or not)? Then, what is the budget? Do we want more comfort when driving or when parked? What we, or you or anyone else would consider livability? Comparing the cons and pros of having one vehicle that is a large truck.

      When we considered all of the above, a fifth wheel appears to meet our need best. For me the largest downside to that is, like for you, having the larger truck. I’ve never pulled a fifth wheel but trust what others, to include friends, say which is they are easier to tow that a travel trailer. It is also an established fact in general travel trailers do not have the same storage as a fifth wheel. Suppose there is a reason all the over-the-road trucks pull fifth wheels also.

      I did like having everything on one level with our travel trailer. I can see why some would fulltime in it for that reason alone.

      Our second choice would be a Class A – with the main reason being we would have a smaller toad to drive around in. The livability of a fifth wheel, parked for extended stays, was more important to us.

      Not to bring up another topic, but we have also considered having a smaller vehicle follow and then use it for day to day driving. We plan to be on the road for a while before we further consider this option.

      One last comment. We had kept the travel trailer parked in a paid lot at the lake. There were rental lots nearby and folks would pull their rigs there and park for short periods. One older couple stayed a few days and had a 30′ fifth wheel. They had owned one of everything and downsized. They liked being able to get into most places, having a small truck (not a one ton) and said the fifth wheel was the easiest to tow. Karen and I have not decided on length yet, but are leaning towards 35 foot or more. We are also leaning towards the idea of buying our third rig – first. Compared to buying something well used or less expensive to see how we like it. Seems like with all this time to plan we really should be able to make the right decision the first time.

      Hope to hear from you again. Much of my family lives in southern Missouri.


  2. First of all, let me say that is an excellent set of questions you are asking yourself…

    Yes, a fifth wheel is sounding like it might be the rig for you, reading more of your blog tells me you may be spending more extended times in one place than I plan to. Actually the more I read, the more I see we DON’T have in common – your in California, not Missourri… 🙂 One of them damned “caleefornyuns”! Everyone, and everyones uses are different, and I suppose thats why there are 42,398,845 different models of “R.V.s” out there.

    I didnt go into it because my first post was already so long, but I spent some time living in a van when I was in my 20’s, and then worked a month-at-a-time trips out of a sportsmobile (class B) in my 30’s. Both times were some of the best periods of my life, so I guess I keep reminiscing about that, and it influences my thought process. The “freedom” to go where and when you want is a very important aspect to me, so the thought of lugging around big beastly rig kind of turns me off (even though they ARE beautiful and sinfully comfortable) I am an artist, and intend on selling my work as I travel, so I do need some (but not much) storage for gear. I am also toting a beautiful young woman (aka wife) with me this time, and though she claims to be game for “anything I choose”, I KNOW just how cramped a van can get with ONE person on a rainy day…. two would be extremely crowded. We hike and Bike allot, and LIKE to spend our time outside… but there IS weather.

    I was pretty sure I was going to invest in something like a “Travato” (Winnebago/Promaster product) until we both got in one, pretended to do daily functions and tried to get in and out of the shower, the dinette, and use the kitchen…. yikes, I’m not as nimble as I was in my twenties… who knew?

    That got me looking at larger class C’s which are great…
    …but they are expensive for the square footage as compared to a travel trailer….
    …and I already have a van that will pull a trailer….
    …but it tuirns out most of the lightwieght trailers are built pretty crappy…
    …and so it goes, on and on, searching for that perfect rig.

    …maybe I should just put that porta potti back in the van and carry on.



  3. Actually we do live in Missouri, north part of Kansas City.

    I think traveling anyway one wants to will work. One blog I follow is that of a husband and wife traveling in a truck camper and they seem to be happy with it and are able to workamp from it as well.

    If you already have a van that will pull a trailer you are half way there.


  4. For us the biggest concern before going on the road was health care costs. That is a huge expense that needed to be considered. Luckily we were covered through my wife’s work. We did not know how much we would be spending while on the road either. After the first year, it looks like $3,000/month but we have been moving a lot and not being too frugal, we could easily cut down on that.

    Once you get on the road, you will find there are a lot of jobs out there. Working 3-6 months a year at Amazon or somewhere else can often fund the rest of the year. Other jobs like camp hosting will not provide an income but will save money in site fees. We have seen camp hosts that are in their early 70’s and are able to do theses jobs without a problem.

    My personal opinion, try to go earlier than later. It is a scary step but definitely doable.


    • I’ll have to have commercial insurance, Karen would have just been of age for Medicare. Figure one of those high deductible plans is in my future. Really not trying to let healthcare cause us to wait.


  5. Mark..
    I just found your blog today after reading John n Sharon’s blog, On the Road to Retirement. I have read this far in just an hour or two.
    My husband and I retired in Dec 2013. Our plan was to buy a used rv and travel as much as possible. Decided after lots of looking to go with a new Heartland Big Horn and we love “Bentley”.
    Last year and so far this year the time in it seems to increase and now we are talking about full time with hopes of having a place we can park near our hometown (Oswego, KS in SEK southwest of Pittsburg.) for 1-2 months at a time as we pass through our near the area. We have 3 children and 6 g-kids in the area. We have 3 other children, 2 in Wichita and 1 in NY. We plan to head to NY in 4 weeks or so.
    We have been talking about selling our home in the near future.
    Wow, it’s alot to think about and so much prep work is needed. I’m starting to consider the paper purge and scanning of documents myself. Biggest task to me. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your posts!
    Cheri Peine


    • I’ve got family in the Pittsburg KS area (last name Orr) as well as in Mt. Vernon, MO so we have passed through the area. It’s been a while but we stopped at Fort Scott on the way from Kansas City to Mt. Vernon.

      Can’t wait to tour a Big Horn. Two people I trust say it is a great value. Hope someday to do a post and get some feedback from you. Thanks again for the comments!


  6. Pingback: Budgeting – Part One | Our Future in an RV

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