The Surprising Cost of Our New RV Home

When I tell people about our plans to spend the next year+ living in a fancy 38 foot 5th wheel trailer, I can see in people’s eyes the question that most aren’t bold enough to ask – how much did that cost, and how can you possibly afford it if you just quit your job!?

If I’m being honest with myself, all of this life upheaval at once probably hasn’t been the best financial decision, but we’ve decided to do it anyway. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was burned out at work, and spending a year working for my self is the best move I can envision for my mental health right now (P.S. I am now a month in, and so far it’s going great!). Spending a bunch of money on a truck and trailer, on the other hand, was a more complex decision. So… how much did we spend? Here’s a breakdown of rough costs so far:

  • Used 2014 Ford F-250 Truck – purchase price, taxes, repairs, and registration all together: ~$32,000
  • Used 2016 Jayco Eagle 5th Wheel – purchase price, taxes, and registration all together: ~$37,000
  • Insurance, truck hitch, living fundamentals, and other accessories for RV Living: ~$4,000

So essentially, we’ve spent about $73,000 (!) to get everything squared away before we hit the road next month. We had mentally budgeted about $70k, so we’re pretty close to our target number.

Now, the full truth – all of you personal finance wizards may want to cover your ears eyes for this next part — we used loans to purchase the truck and trailer. My partner and I keep separate finances, and much of my net worth is tied up in investments, so the most straightforward path for us to make this happen was to take out loans for our new home, and treat the payments as “rent” that we split. While we are away from Colorado, we are also renting out our house, which will cover our mortgage and part of our new loan payments. After this adventure is done and we are safely settled back in a traditional house, we will hopefully sell the truck and trailer combo to recover most of the remaining balance. Or, if we love living in the trailer, it can continue to be our home as our old house continues to make money as an investment property.

It is easy to get stuck second-guessing yourself, especially when you imagine what all of your personal finance friends would say if they knew the details, but we’re pretty happy with our final set up. We certainly could have found a much more affordable RV solution (check out my friends at Evolving Escapades and the great older RV they found), but after weighing all of the factors, we’re pretty happy with what we have. We got a good deal on a very new trailer that will easily be large enough for 2 people and a dog, without feeling cramped. We have a competent tow vehicle to get from place to place, and most importantly, we don’t feel as though we’re over-extended financially. Even without working my old job, I am confident that between my self employment income, additional hustling, and the cash buffer I’ve saved over the past 2 years, as well as my SO’s work as a traveling medical professional, we can both easily provide half of the shared monthly expenses. In the worst case scenario, I can liquidate some investments and pay everything off.

I allowed myself to worry and fret over the details for a few months before I determined that this decision is more about pushing myself out of my comfort zone and exploring the greater world than it is about money, and that it’s okay if it costs some money in the long run to make it happen. I have also realized that the challenge of covering my monthly expenses is a good motivator for me as I work for myself – I’d rather not spend the cash buffer if I don’t have to. I don’t know exactly what life will be like for the next year, but I know it will be challenging, humbling, and I will learn and grow as I adapt to a new style of work, and an entirely new lifestyle. I think we are both excited to see how it goes!

So, here’s your chance – please tell us what you think about our extravagant spending and blasphemous use of loans in the comments below :)

Posted in Gap Year Experiment, RV Living