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An Alternative Lifestyle--Living and Traveling Full-time in a Recreational Vehicle
This book is about an exciting, glamorous, fulfilling, and surprisingly affordable lifestyle that is particularly attractive to retired people. This way of life has become so popular that close to a million (mostly retirees) have adopted it. People enjoying this carefree lifestyle are called full-timers. They are people who live full-time in a recreational vehicle (RV) and travel in that vehicle. 

"Full-time" and "travel" are the key words here. Many people live full-time in a travel trailer and the unit is seldom moved. Others (usually retirees) take their RVs south for the winter and many people take extended trips (sometimes months) in their RVs, but they always go back to a permanent home. These people are not full-timers as we use the term in this book. 

The full-timers that we are writing about do not have a home other than the RV that they live in, and they can be found traveling the United States as well as Mexico and Canada. Full-timers may have a few personal things in a small storage locker or at a relative's home, but there is no traditional home. The RV is home. The concept of not having a permanently based home is important because of the economic implications which we will discuss in this book. 

We started our full-timing life on March 30, 1989. Since that time, we have traveled throughout the 48 contiguous states, living exclusively in our motorhome, and are more enthusiastic than ever about our chosen lifestyle. Our original plans called for settling down after two or three years, but now we can't imagine doing that. 

There are several books and many articles on full-timing, and for the most part they are interesting and motivational. Unlike the others, this book deals, in depth, with the social and economic aspects of the lifestyle. We discuss the good as well as the bad days. At the end of each chapter we add some articles from our diary, letters, or Movin' On (our Newsletters). These articles will give a personal glimpse into full-timing. 

Since Ron is a retired finance director, we examine closely the financial aspect of full-timing. Although full-timing can be an economical lifestyle, this book is not about living frugally. We don't suggest parking in shopping center parking lots and roadside rest areas overnight to save money. People on limited retirement incomes may successfully full-time using a variety of money saving strategies; however, our approach will emphasize full-timing as a lifestyle rather than an economic necessity. 

This is not a book about repairs either. Most "how to" full-time books go into much detail on the inner workings of the RV. Instead, we have included a list of reference publications that will aid those seeking cost-cutting ideas. These publications provide information on free campsites as well as do-it- yourself repair methods. 

A laptop computer has enabled us to accumulate and analyze every expenditure made since March 30, 1989. All expenditures were recorded. Campground fees, gasoline costs, maintenance costs, and all other expenses were tabulated and averaged---even the quarters spent in the laundromat. 

For many, the economics of full-timing will take a back seat to the social aspects of this nomadic lifestyle. At first glance there are enough problems to scare off even the most adventurous. Leaving family and friends, receiving mail, handling financial affairs, dealing with mechanical breakdowns, and organizing travel schedules typify the problems that people ask us about. We will discuss them all candidly with you. Most logistical problems, if not all, can be planned for. In the following chapters we will discuss them in detail. Unexpected problems---we call adventures. 

The first printing of this book has sold out early and the response was gratifying. When planning a second printing, we looked at that chapter of our book dealing with change. We found that our full-timing adventure had been filled with changes. Rather than simply reprinting, we incorporated some of these changes in a second edition of An Alternative Lifestyle. In that second edition we wrote about our experience in buying a new larger motorhome (1993-34 foot Bounder) and in doing reinforced our personal preference for motorhomes as a full-timing vehicle. Since the first edition, Barb changed her ideas on what a well supplied kitchen should have. In the second edition we also added more Newsletters articles and more photos. 

In each subsequent printing of the second edition (six) we made minor changes to keep the facts current. But at the end of 1996 as we were again looking at another printing, we decided that our lives had changed enough that we needed to do another complete revision. One main focus in this editiion is the updating of the Newsletters stories to let you know we really are still full-timing and loving it. So many wrote and wondered if we were still "out there" and what we were up to. We have changed the pace of our lifestyle and have again changed motorhomes (a luxurious 39 foot American Dream wide body disel pusher). At first we covered a lot of territory in a year; now we may sit in one place for three fo five months. One thing that hasn't changed is our enthusiasm for the full-timing lifestyle. 

We do not see our lives as complicated and full of problems; in fact, we are similar to a lot of other retirees. We visit family, do laundry, go for drives in the country, grocery shop, play cards with friends, dine out, golf, read, attend potlucks, go to church, clean house, watch movies, and and try to excercise daily. However, our house is small, and we have no yard to maintain. For us, there's much more time to play. 

The big difference between us and other retirees is that we move ---sometimes once a week --- sometimes once a month. We move whenever we feel like it. And always around the corner there is a new place to see and new people to meet. We could spend a lifetime (and probably will) seeing this beautiful land and not see it all. In those states we have already visited, there are many towns, villages, parks, mountains, seashores, and historical sites that we missed the first time through. There are many places we would like to revisit and stay longer. So much to see and experience, so little time to do it. Let's get going then. Explore with us the ins and outs of full-timing; after which, you may decide to join us. 

 Copyright © 1998, Movin' On with Ron & BarbTM- All Rights Reserved