Low-Cost Living in Beautiful Places
Erica Mills writing on RVing…
You wake up in the morning and decide you’re tired of the view…so, you pick up and head to another natural beauty spot that takes your fancy. That’s your reality when you live full-time in an RV (recreational vehicle). You get to choose your surroundings…and change them with the seasons.
“You’re living on real estate—even if it’s only for a short time—that other people pay half a million dollars or more to have a house on,” says Alan Sills, 58, who has been living full-time in an RV since 2011 and hosts the website RVAcrossAmerica.net. “You wake up on a spring or summer morning at a campsite where you walk out and there is a lake 50 feet away. It’s your entire front yard—you’ve got the ultimate playground.”
It was the idea of being fully mobile and never having to stay in any one place for an extended period of time that really appealed to Alan. Now, he spends most of his time in what he calls the “Inter-Mountain West,” which includes New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.
He spends his summers in Casper, Wyoming where he has a seasonal job at an RV dealership. Then, in winter, he becomes a ski instructor in McCall, Idaho. In between, he travels about 10 weeks a year to wherever takes his fancy.
Alan was an educator for 20-plus years in New Jersey but relocated to Florida in 2006 when his dad was ill. When his dad passed in 2011, Alan decided it was time to “travel and enjoy life.” He’s been on the road ever since in his fifth wheel RV. As well as skiing, he also has plenty of time for other outdoor pursuits, like hiking and bicycling.
“It’s a hard life but somebody’s got to do it,” he says.
For this lifestyle, Alan says you can make it as economical or high-cost as you want. At the campground he was staying in for the winter, he was paying $475 per month in campground fees, plus electric and propane. The savings are clear. The lowest rent for an apartment in the same community is $600 per month, but most people were paying $1,000 or $1,200.
Alan splits his time between two seasonal jobs, meaning he can spend the summer in one location and the winter in another.
He also maintains his own website through which he gets additional income from banner ads and referral fees for products he is comfortable recommending. And he has a YouTube channel, which brings browsers to his website.
Wherever you park your RV is home, at least for a couple of days. But you can choose your state of domicile—which could save you a lot of money in taxes.
“Because you don’t own a house, you can basically pick whatever residence you want,” Alan explains.
And, because where you choose your residence can affect how much tax you have to pay, choosing wisely can save you a packet.
Alan chose South Dakota because of its incredibly easy residence requirement—you just have to stay one night in South Dakota to meet the requirement and get your license.
Florida and Texas also have easy residence requirements. This can have big savings implications if you’re a full-time RVer. For example, if you buy your vehicle in a state that doesn’t collect state taxes, you could save yourself thousands of dollars.
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