Is an RV the Perfect Retirement Lifestyle for You?

Endless choices and no boredom, but beware the costs

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••• Paul Sutherland\Getty Images

“Living the dream” is a phrase often heard among the RV crowd. This dream becomes a reality for thousands of people who choose to spend at least a portion (if not all) of their retirement traveling by motorhome.

Moving to a warmer climate to live out our last years in paradise is not a new idea. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association estimates that between 100,000 and 200,000 people are making their RV their home, at least for an extended period of time. 

Imagine the ability to travel from destination to destination without ever having to unpack. That is the beauty of traveling by RV in retirement.

Despite the fact that an RV lifestyle lets you hike the famous trails, see a bit of history firsthand, and visit the state and national parks, until current television shows began to focus on traveling in an RV, the question often asked by friends and family when hearing the “retiring to an RV” announcement, is "Why?" Some still wonder what you could possibly do to fill your retired days.

A Day in the Life of an RV Retiree

To answer that question, picture this scenario: As the sun reaches its warming point, reflecting off the swimming pool, it is another sparkling day. Your choice today is joining the exercise class in the pool, learning how to line dance, playing pickleball at the court, or learning to create jewelry or pottery in the craft room.


Out your window, the sparkling lake calls to you. Grab your tackle, some food, and a beer. Walk down to the dock and throw out the line. Unfold your chair and relax. Tomorrow you plan to haul your kayak or aluminum skimmer down from the top of the truck and repeat this routine in the middle of the lake. Wash the rig? Oh yeah, tomorrow. Maybe Jim, the mobile guy, is available for that chore.


The natural beauty of this park wakes you up to the sound of birds announcing another lovely day. The hike through the redwoods should take about three hours, then a wholesome lunch from your backpack, and home again. Watching the sun sink into the trees takes your breath away. Tip up a glass of local wine in your crystal goblet or plastic cup, your choice. Breathe in the clear air and the scent of the pines...aah, living the dream.

These scenarios could depict just about any adventure you want to live out. It's not exactly the James Bond type of adventure, but appropriate for the age. 

Pick Your Dream

Dreaming about taking a flight in a hot air balloon? You can plan a whole year pursuing this dream. If balloon festivals become your goal, travel to Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California in the winter. In the summer, move on to Idaho, Nebraska, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Maine.

If your dream is identifying and observing birds in their natural habitat, the warmer climes are home to thousands of species. Grand tours for the RV crowd occur every year, moving to favorite nesting grounds as appropriate.

Photography is another favorite among RV travelers; scrapbook projects and contests abound online for your best shots. Learn as you go with popular instructors along your travel path.

Endless Retirement Lifestyle Choices

Any more questions about what an RV retiree does to fill the day? I did forget to mention one popular activity: doing nothing. Dozing in the sun, reading a book, emailing friends, chatting with neighbors--all play a part in the average RV lifestyle week.

This lifestyle can be a very social one; you can make your new neighbor a best friend. Alone time is also your choice. Ignore the crowd, park alone in the desert or pines, and commune with nature as long as you like. Pick your dream!

Manufacturing and sales of recreational vehicles are skyrocketing. New RV designs are popping up to accommodate the buyers who plan to retire to their home on wheels. The term “full-time” in the RV world means committing to years traveling without a care in the world. No snow to shovel, no grass to mow, no house to maintain. That is living the dream!

Beware the Costs

For some retirees, this is the perfect way to see the country, but for those who are cost-conscious, it may be hard to justify the costs versus vacationing. With RVs ranging in price from $60K to $600K, it's hard to compare them to a home that's paid off or near being paid off and find financial benefit. RVs also depreciate rapidly; when you add in costs for gas, insurance, upkeep, food, and the many other expenses of being on the road, traditional vacationing will likely seem to be a better value for your money.

But retirement isn't all about dollars and cents. If it's your dream to travel the country during retirement, an RV might be the perfect way to have the adventure of a lifetime.

This article comes to us courtesy of Margo Armstrong, who spent most of her professional life writing documentation for high-tech corporations. Now semi-retired, she continues to travel the U.S. in her motorhome (19 years full-time, the last 5 years solo) exploring, writing ebooks, and sometimes work-camping for a season to get the true flavor of a locale. Margo’s blog,, follows all things related to the RV lifestyle. Her website,, contains hundreds of topics important to those interested in living the dream.