RV's Becoming Homes, Not Just Fun Vehicles

Jan 26, 2018

RV's are increasingly becoming full-time homes.
Credit (Follow Your Detour)

A growing number of Americans are finding that snails may have the right idea after all by taking their home with them wherever they go. RV sales are up 17 percent in the last year, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, and industry insiders maintain part of the popularity of RVs may have to do with the increasing cost of home ownership.

Lindsay McKenzie and her husband have been living full-time in their RV since last April. They made the decision after high housing costs drove them to purchase a home far away from the amenities they wanted. "We couldn't afford Denver," she states. "It was way too expensive. We had student loan debt, so it was just not even an option for us to live near the city. "We ended up in the suburbs and were just not as happy out there, so we were finding ourselves not doing the things we love to do as often. "

Lindsay and her husband now travel across the country and have adjusted their careers to accommodate working remotely. They also write a travel blog, "Follow Your Detour." While the high cost of homeownership was only a part of their decision, they've been able to pay off $100,000 in student loan debt and save $25,000 in an emergency fund.

Jeannine Patane is the founder of RV Compass, a group designed to connect full-time RVers in person and online. She's currently conducting a survey to find out exactly how many people are making the switch to living in their motorhome full time, but has a hunch the numbers are growing. "You look at the people that are retired and they're looking at what they have for their budget and what they're putting it towards, and the majority of their money is going towards their housing," she states. "How much do they have to travel? We have little to travel because we're putting so much towards our house. For a lot of people, that's the turning decision right there. is. 'Well, we can get an RV and take our home with us.'"

Lindsay's husband, Daniel McKenzie, says they have no plans anytime soon to give up living in their RV full time. Their mobility has taken them around the country on an adventure. "Financially, the lifestyle can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you make it," he says. "There's a lot of people that move into the RV strictly from a financial perspective because they can find free places to live and they downsize and they don't need as much and you can really reduce your cost of living that way."

While the McKenzies were able to afford a home, some economists believe that some retirees are being forced into living in RVs full-time because they lost their savings in the Great Recession or haven't saved enough for retirement. Patane and others say there's a growing need for more RV parks across the country, particularly in urban areas.