Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life as an RV'er

Full-time RV-ing runs in our family. It is an alternate lifestyle, not better or worse, just different. Todd and I had the normal lifestyle where I worked at Motorola every day, we had a nice house and rode when we could. With the recent economy we may have been a little nuts to quit two great jobs, but selling our house in 2006 was perfect! I love traveling and living on the road, but sometimes the easy money and good benefits while sitting at a desk sound pretty good. Todd loves building his own company even though it is much more stressful than working for a steady paycheck.  

My grandparents were full-timers for 9 years in an Avion trailer (looks like an Airstream) then settled in Durango, CO and my Aunt and Uncle are full-timing right now, in fact we stay in some of the same areas. If you are considering a RV or becoming a full-timer buy used and get a Good Sam Extended Warranty plan. And yes, they give (20 year) mortgages on RVs (a depreciating asset), the trick is to buy something well below blue book so when you sell it in a couple years you'll break even minus "rent" (interest payments and RV space rental rates). We were planning to sell in 2008 and this plan was brilliant...

I am asked daily "where are you from?" I have many answers. If someone is just being polite I say New Mexico, unless I am in New Mexico. If I think someone may actually want to chat I say "I live on the road".  Most people think oh, how fun.  It is fun and different.  I don't spend much time in campgrounds (too expensive), but rent full-hookup RV spaces people have built on property they own. This usually works out well, occasionally people underestimate the size of our motorhome. I have learned to ask the right questions, to a non-RV'er I'll ask "Can you park a semi there?". For the last month I have been living at a RV Repair center getting a huge list of repairs taken care of. Todd has been traveling for work.


Repairs so far:
Body work (insurance)
New Tires ($!)
Fridge - new cooling unit (extended warranty)
Slide-out - repairing the damage done by another repair facility (La Mesa) and the original problem. The original issue is covered under extended warranty but I am still trying to get reimbursed from La Mesa.
Interior woodwork
Radio - replacement (extended warranty)
Engine cover - reattached (extended warranty)
Water pump - (extended warranty)
Towed Vehicle (Truck) - Welded tow mount to frame, no more tightening loose bolts!

In process:
Slide out - Interior threshold and hydraulic system fluid levels topped off
Windshield - Replacement (insurance)
Winegard satellite dish - Replacement (extended warranty)
New slideout topper - Install
Awning - Adjustment

To be dealt with later:
Intermittent dash gauges
intermittent windshield wipers

Removing slideout rams to repair LaMesa's damage

In addition to driving our house around and having things come loose or fail we run into all kinds of issues, like staying in one state past 30 days. States usually require you to have local registration after 30 days, but it is illegal for us to try and obtain residency in most states unless it is our legal domicile (own or rent a home or apartment, have bills to that address, etc.).  South Dakota is the best legal domicile for us since they are RV friendly and you do not have to reside there for it to be your legal domicile. SD has no state income taxes or vehicle emissions requirements (no traveling back to SD with all vehicles once a year). Texas, Alaska, and Montana are a few others that would work, but have different rules.

Another RV'er issue is Dish Network, they will not ship a DVR to us, they have to bring it to our house (South Dakota mail service address). Every time I need a new DVR I spend 2 hours on the phone with Dish. Also our spot beam (local channels) is directed to South Dakota so we never get the local channels over satellite. Health insurance is fun, we have to go with the most expensive option since we are always out-of-(South Dakota) network. I wish there was an option to be a National resident instead of a state resident. Voting is another one, since South Dakota has a huge number of RV residents who never live in SD there is an un-written rule that we (out-of-state RV'ers) do not vote in their local elections.

Our mail service is awesome they do our vehicle registration, send us a daily email letting us know what mail we received that day and send our mail wherever we are.
But the best part is riding all over the place, making friends and never getting bored of the same old route. I am headed out for a road ride in Fountain Hills, AZ.