RV park life, is it affordable for low income?

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Lance22

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I been thinking about two avenues in the next few years.

One being the more realistic option. Buying a 10-20K RV trailer that weighs under 3,500lbs and towing it with my minivan 2-4 times a year to long term RV parks within cities. Maybe even staying at the LTVA and then driving to work at the big box retail store that I work at. Right now I'm a supervisor and make 22 an hour but if I transfer likely I'd go back down to an entry level worker which is around 15 bucks an hour.

I'm just NOT a boondock person. I did stay a year in the LTVA during the pandemic and enjoyed it but now I don't think it be for me. Quartzite is beautiful but I'd rather be living in town where I can walk to a few places, even if I have to drive locally 2 milles that's fine too.

I was thinking staying around Yuma during the winter and then maybe driving up to Flagstaff during the summer, or better yet New Mexico. I loved Santa Rosa and Las Vegas New Mexico state parks. ( I could have sworn Story lake had a first come first serve long term visitor area, unless it was stay limits..) I would defiantly would stay in Santa Rosa for a 3 day weekend and then back to work in the big town for the 4 day work week!

I'm in my prime, my late 30's some may call me lazy but I just want to have a work life balance where I work 30-36 hours a week and don't have to work 40+ hours a week.

Option 2 which is somthing I would perfer MORE is to buy a school bus likely one of the shorter ones a mix between a skoolie and a full size bus. They are more rare to see them but they do exist. I would slowly build that bus out and would tow my minivan then I could park the bus and drive my van to work daily. However I'm not a fan of big driving commutes. Right now I commute all of 6min one way.

I don't think that option is realistic because not easy to find long term parking for a bus. With option one I know im buying somthing poorly made and that will only last 10 years, 15 years at best before it's banned from the RV parks for being to "old"

Feels like I'm hitting a roadblock. Is this a more affordable option or is it as upside down as mobile home living?
 
if you truly want a cheaper monthly rv rent, you won't probably be staying in the cg's that put a hardcore 'no old ugly' campers permitted! :) Plus keep your rv looking decent you can easily be accepted into those rv parks that heavily vet the occupants if required. This usually is not that big of an issue actually.

there are tons of rv parks that lower the cost on a monthly, then like 3 month and cheaper for 6 month stay, and lease for a year cheaper so it is all about 'finding what is available in the location' you are in and finding the best cg for yourself on price, amenities you need and more. But alot of cgs become 'trailer parks' and kinda 'go off' into more ick than good sometimes, so vet yourself well on where ya might land longer term for sure.

Or ya could do the state park game. 2 wks in a state park, 1 week out somewhere and then book 2 wks again etc. Of course that is more work and about availability and be sure to book way in advance, but doable definitely. Online you can easily book 'around and around' on a few parks in a near location maybe for your location and do just that.

But if you 'are not a boondocker' type then you know your way forward to deal with state/county parks that offer campsites and then private cgs that can offer you all you need too.

You are ok in a way in that if you know how you wanna live daily, you got that 'set' for youself then you know how to proceed. Priority is key for you personally. Wanna move a bit for your control and pricing or 'stay in one place' longer term in rv park that will let ya do just that at a decent cost.....longer or move more? KNOW that and you know a firmer path on how to proceed best for yourself.

Mobile living is make it fit what you need. You can do it :)
 
There are some cheap RV parks in Yuma but do your due diligence such as calling the police and asking about any crime reports issues, noise complaint issues, or registered criminal types living at that location before you decide to invest funds to a long stay there. Yuma has more than its share of crimes and drugs due to its location.

You will have a better life in Lake Havasu City Arizona. It has big box stores and is a safer town to reside in. Not too cold in the winters but it does get hot in summer. Laughlin Nevada, Bullhead City areas is another viable option with Big Box Stores as is Pahrump, Nevada. Those areas all have lots of RV parks and BLM dispersed camping land in the vicinity.
 
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You are still young and have some options maybe you haven’t considered. Your minivan can be made to have a bed. If you work big box stores you can probably park overnight. Since most big box stores are in towns a health club or gym membership along with a library and restaurants might be able to provide everything else you need at a very low cost. If you want to travel or be in better locations seasonal work usually provides low cost housing or once you have done it a while shared apartments can work. As far as light weight trailers new ones are getting close to $30,000 and unless it is a teardrop probably will ll be more than a mini van can handle even one trip through the mountains of New Mexico. Tnttt.com foamies thread might solve that problem but a pickup truck with more tow capacity or topper with a cargo trailer makes more sense. Most parks are around $400 to $600 a month for long term monthly stays in Arizona.
 
The Yuma LTVA, Pilot Knob is not a very nice living space compared to the other LTVA areas. No vegetation at all, just dirt and dust. Plus it is right smack in the location close by by the border wall where there are lots of illegals crossing over into the USA. The Border Patrol vehicles hang out in the vicinity to scoop them up. It also gets a lot of sand blown in with westerly wind storms as the sand dunes are just a few miles to the west of that LTVA. Pilot knob mostly gets occupied by people who go there for the sand dune buggy fun. This year I was camped not far from there and every week had episodes strong winds.
 
^^^We had some really good stays in the mountain area not far from there a little to the north. I believe they were the Cargo Muchacho Mountains at the southern base.
 
Pilot Knob is south of I-8 at the exit with the Sidewinder Rd Chevron station. There is a free 14 night area and the LTVA. Never been there, never did that.

The I-8 rest area further west by the Dunes has free potable water. No dump site.

Cargo Muchacho Mountains ["loaded boy" named for young boys who carried gold out from the mines like pack mules] are north of I-8 further west at the Ogilby Road exit. After crossing the RR tracks look for American Girl Mine Rd on the right. Usually quiet, except for weekends when the nearby Glamis Dunes are overcrowded.

Tumco Mine Historic site is about five miles further north on the right. Dispersed camping there with cell signal and a self guided walking tour of the site.

Further north is Indian Pass Rd, dispersed camping there with cell signal for a couple of miles off Ogilby Rd.

Sometimes, there will be an informal air show from MCAS Yuma, with Apache gunships, Sea stallion helos, and an occasional KC-130 tanker aerial refueling a helo. Occasionally, the helos will fly low through the mountains at the east end of AGM Rd. following the terrain "Top Gun Maverick" style.
 
I been thinking about two avenues in the next few years.

One being the more realistic option. Buying a 10-20K RV trailer that weighs under 3,500lbs and towing it with my minivan…
This ^^^ is not realistic. A front wheel drive vehicle like a minivan is a horrible for either option. You cannot have it as a toad (pulled behind) because you cannot have four wheels down. It has to be on a trailer with its front wheels up. It cannot pull a trailer of any significant weight. A minivan’s hitch is for a bike rack.
Right now I'm a supervisor and make 22 an hour but if I transfer likely I'd go back down to an entry level worker which is around 15 bucks an hour.

I'm just NOT a boondock person. I did stay a year in the LTVA during the pandemic and enjoyed it but now I don't think it be for me. Quartzite is beautiful but I'd rather be living in town where I can walk to a few places, even if I have to drive locally 2 milles that's fine too.
You do not have to boondock if you can plan on more reasonable options but having the capacity when the campgrounds’ water freezes or when the electricity is off because of rolling blackouts. We’ve experienced both.
I was thinking staying around Yuma during the winter and then maybe driving up to Flagstaff during the summer, or better yet New Mexico.
You’d be doing that with the thousands of other s who have tried and failed. Flagstaff is no longer a friendly place for full-time RVers. Forest Service lands are overrun and overused and there have been massive closures over the years.

Las Vegas New Mexico
There is nothing in that town. A blink and it is gone. However there was a diesel shop that was pretty good there.

I'm in my prime, my late 30's some may call me lazy but I just want to have a work life balance where I work 30-36 hours a week and don't have to work 40+ hours a week.

Option 2 which is somthing I would perfer MORE is to buy a school bus likely one of the shorter ones a mix between a skoolie and a full size bus. They are more rare to see them but they do exist. I would slowly build that bus out and would tow my minivan then I could park the bus and drive my van to work daily. However I'm not a fan of big driving commutes. Right now I commute all of 6min one way.

I don't think that option is realistic because not easy to find long term parking for a bus. With option one I know im buying somthing poorly made and that will only last 10 years, 15 years at best before it's banned from the RV parks for being to "old"

Feels like I'm hitting a roadblock. Is this a more affordable option or is it as upside down as mobile home living?
The school bus idea is tough as there are so many windows and poor insulation.

I would suggest buying a Van like E350 with a body on frame and rear wheel drive so that you could ultimately tow something behind you.
 
Along the I-5 freeway here in Western Washington, the RV parks cost from $700 to $1,050 per month.
 
You are still young and have some options maybe you haven’t considered. Your minivan can be made to have a bed. If you work big box stores you can probably park overnight. Since most big box stores are in towns a health club or gym membership along with a library and restaurants might be able to provide everything else you need at a very low cost. If you want to travel or be in better locations seasonal work usually provides low cost housing or once you have done it a while shared apartments can work. As far as light weight trailers new ones are getting close to $30,000 and unless it is a teardrop probably will ll be more than a mini van can handle even one trip through the mountains of New Mexico. Tnttt.com foamies thread might solve that problem but a pickup truck with more tow capacity or topper with a cargo trailer makes more sense. Most parks are around $400 to $600 a month for long term monthly stays in Arizona.

I lived in my minivan for a year during the pandemic at the LTVA and New Mexico and Texas. More recently I was living in my minivan for a few months in Oklahoma this winter and found it miserably cold. I had to tap out for a week when it was 30MPH winds and some 8 degrees. Trying to sleep during THAT in a "park" (it was a snow drift with blowing snow and van rocking like the Kmart shacky 25 cent horsey ride) was pure misery.

I also have my eye on the Toyota Sinnia hybrid minivans too. My apartment that I pay an arm and a leg for heating and cooling costs made me realize that I can survive temps of 55 during the winter and teps of 78 in the summer VERY comfortably. Granted I have "bursts" typically of a few hours where I bump it up to 62 or down to 76 but I usually have a wide tollerence.

Yet waking up and the minivan being in the 20's or 30's really affected my productivity and my activities. My minivan has a problem with the blend doors for the heater so it takes 10min or more just to warm it up in the cabin to a "mild warmth" aka it takes the cold out of the cold but not really any heat heat.

I do wonder if I would be content with a hybrid Sinnia and simply keeping the climite control on 24/7 within the range of 55-78 for the most part (ie bumping it up to 62-65 for that short period when I'm getting ready and taking a sponge bath)

As for a pickup I thought about it but I'm a minimalist, everything I currently own can fit inside my minivan. Beyond a few big pieces that I keep in storage or my apartment, it would all fit in there quite comfortably too. I seen many 19-21 ft trailers in the 15-20K price range that peaks my interest. Even if I had to stay in the same metro year round in said 19-21ft trailer that would be more ideal actually! Then I could maintain my job year round. Then I would simply be just moving int own from RV park to RV park a few times a year at worst. Ideally staying in the same RV park long term.

Maybe it's a stupid question but say I live in Tucson Az. Would it be realistic to live there year round in an RV? Many of the camp grounds have electric, and water hookups.. well wouldn't it be possible to cool it down to 78 degrees still? How much solar (as a back up option) would be needed? I mean the heat of the day is the bulk of the issue so were talking about when the sun is overhead and no clouds aka peak solar energy producing times. You can fit a lot of solar pannels onto a 19-foot trailer!

Typically I work overnights so during the day I would need to cool it down to sleep which is 78 degrees and a fan blowing on me. Maybe I would have to grow my tolerence to 80 degrees? 82? Or switch to day side. Then I wouldn't need AC when I'm at work.. Then again that's a big decrease in quality of life given then I gotta go out and work during the peak heat of the day. Plus I kinda like working overnights in a warmer climate cause its still warm at night without the sun beating down on me.
 
This ^^^ is not realistic. A front wheel drive vehicle like a minivan is a horrible for either option. You cannot have it as a toad (pulled behind) because you cannot have four wheels down. It has to be on a trailer with its front wheels up. It cannot pull a trailer of any significant weight. A minivan’s hitch is for a bike rack.

You do not have to boondock if you can plan on more reasonable options but having the capacity when the campgrounds’ water freezes or when the electricity is off because of rolling blackouts. We’ve experienced both.

You’d be doing that with the thousands of other s who have tried and failed. Flagstaff is no longer a friendly place for full-time RVers. Forest Service lands are overrun and overused and there have been massive closures over the years.

Las Vegas New Mexico
There is nothing in that town. A blink and it is gone. However there was a diesel shop that was pretty good there.


The school bus idea is tough as there are so many windows and poor insulation.

I would suggest buying a Van like E350 with a body on frame and rear wheel drive so that you could ultimately tow something behind you.

My minivan is rated towing capacity of 3,500lbs. I know Honda Minivans don't have the best transmissions so towing to much is going to eventually wear out the transmission, however if I can adjust for that and tow very limitedly then that would be a much lesser impact. Ideally towing just intown would be best, or towing just a few times a year to the other side of the state and towing safely such as at night and at slower speeds and cooler temps to decrease the stress I think could be a better compormise.

No, it's not perfect but a van is a tool to be used. I drive conservatively and try to preserve that tool's longevity but tools are still used to serve a purpose. But I do get your point and would deffently not expect to be driving coast to coast without having to stop to buy a new mode of transit before said trip was completed.

I have lived van life and I have learned great life skills that carried over into how to survive during utilities shortages. I rotate between several power banks so I ALWAYS have days worth of power which is overkill since I STILL have my 200watt solar pannel system in my minivan and is simply a short walk away. Power outages don't affect me, beyond the shortage of climate control. This is the new America we are going to have more and more rolling blackouts it's unfortunate but reinvesting in a stable power grid means less ROI, and with deregulation we don't value a stable power grid. It is what it is.. power outages will only be more frequent. Not sure what the point of mentioning that is..

I don't want to have to keep moving from metro to metro for a seasonal rotation to avoid being at risk of being subject to blackouts due to weather extremes but perhaps that is necessary. ie winters in Arizona and summers in Montana or New Mexico.

As for the specific location yea, I have no idea quite yet because this land is so foreign to me to be honest. Aramillo, Lubbock, Oklahoma City, and Santa Fe are the cities I have had the most experience with in recent years. I tend to stick to the bigger cities over 100K to 1M typically.

I guess the big thing holding me back from buying a Van is that I used to own a Dodge car before and it was a complete POS. That's why I own a Honda now and would typically only consider a Honda or Toyota ever again. I just worry buying a van will become a big money pit as it would become my daily driver.
 
Tossing us$22 an hour times your 36 hours a week seems an awful lot like forty grand annually.
How are you defining 'low income'?

12K in credit card debt still
70K in student loans debt still

It will be a loooooooooooooooooooong time before that "moderate" income hits my bank account. 10+ years. Which I expect burnout will occur long before then, so dropping me back down to that low income of 15 per hour which IS low income living in an apartment which I have done most of my life.

Now if I can solve the question of how to live year-round comfortably outside of an apartment (there by removing that $800 a month fee / or $9,600 a year ) then maybe I'd be more optimistic

I mean I just want to live in a sizeable town 100,000-1,000,000 people. Live in a cheap and affordable place where I can go to the gym at the end of the day, trips to public places like the library and just live a decent life in a mild and warm climate.

Right now all the other rental places around me go for 1100-1500 for a 1br or a studio. Sure I could still afford that at 22 an hour but what happens when I get burnt out and drop down to entry level? Then I'm screwed.

Yea this moment of time I make decent money but it's a house of cards.. If I can't figure out my next move to go completely without an apartment I could become easily screwed out of everything. My paychecks right now are 1400 a month so if they jack up my rent to 1400 which isn't that unrealistic given all their OTHER rental locations are renting within that range already! My debt repayment timeline will get MUCH longer.

That's why I feel like im in panic mode trying to figure out a new plan.

Like can live in a 19ft trailer in Amarillo year round? Maybe I'd need to take the summers off and escape to Santa Rosa / Ft. Sumner / Storie Lake state parks in New Mexico and stay there the summers? Or maybe just stick it out in Amarillo? Tons of big box stores I can work there... Maybe during the summer I just pick up a 2nd part time job to keep me inside instead of wondering around outside in the heat?

Maybe it's a better idea to just have a mobile home instead? I deffently don't need the space but maybe that would be a better long term plan?

The more I seek answers the more confused I become.. I wish I felt better about my situation, I know by many standards I am far more comfortable than others but I still feel like Im just a few paychecks from bankruptcy. Which is far better than most living paycheck to paycheck.

I just don't have family or friends to fall back on. I'm on my own so if I fail completely then I'm walking the streets at night with absolutely nothing.. that is terrifying..
 
If you were my child or grandchild, and these were serious questions, this is what I would tell you…honestly, and coming from a lifetime of experience.

You say you are in your 30’s, a manager, making $22 an hour, have $12,000 in credit card debt and $70,000 in student loan debt.

That sounds a bit staggering, to me.

You float the idea of buying an RV for $10,000-$20,000, and that would presume you could get financing for that.

Add that payment to whatever other payments you are already making, plus lot rent and utilities, transportation, insurance, vehicle and RV maintenance, etc., and this just sounds like a disaster in the making. IMHO.

You talk about getting burned out and dropping down to non-managerial staff at $15 an hour, which seems a luxury you can’t afford, much less if you take on additional payments.

There are also other jobs, perhaps ones that will pay you better and have benefits.

If you were one of mine, I would say to stay where you are, take on no more debt, and pay off that credit card debt, first. The student loan debt is another story.

Get a second job, maybe a third, put everything you can to get yourself out from under, get yourself first out of the hole you are in, then save everything you can for a couple of years.

Once you have a good, solid savings account, then be thoughtful, look around and see what your options are.

One of the lessons of life is that, minus unlimited funds, most of us can’t have everything we want, exactly when we want to have it.

This is stated with kindness, but also honesty, as I don’t feel we are here to help people hurl themselves off cliffs.

IMHO.

Good luck to you.
 
If you were my child or grandchild, and these were serious questions, this is what I would tell you…honestly, and coming from a lifetime of experience.

You say you are in your 30’s, a manager, making $22 an hour, have $12,000 in credit card debt and $70,000 in student loan debt.

That sounds a bit staggering, to me.

You float the idea of buying an RV for $10,000-$20,000, and that would presume you could get financing for that.

Add that payment to whatever other payments you are already making, plus lot rent and utilities, transportation, insurance, vehicle and RV maintenance, etc., and this just sounds like a disaster in the making. IMHO.

You talk about getting burned out and dropping down to non-managerial staff at $15 an hour, which seems a luxury you can’t afford, much less if you take on additional payments.

There are also other jobs, perhaps ones that will pay you better and have benefits.

If you were one of mine, I would say to stay where you are, take on no more debt, and pay off that credit card debt, first. The student loan debt is another story.

Get a second job, maybe a third, put everything you can to get yourself out from under, get yourself first out of the hole you are in, then save everything you can for a couple of years.

Once you have a good, solid savings account, then be thoughtful, look around and see what your options are.

One of the lessons of life is that, minus unlimited funds, most of us can’t have everything we want, exactly when we want to have it.

This is stated with kindness, but also honesty, as I don’t feel we are here to help people hurl themselves off cliffs.

IMHO.

Good luck to you.

Honestly I don't think it's as shocking as you think it is..

Much of it was being unemployed during a pandemic where I lived on government lands in my minivan and lived off credit cards. Then vet bills for my dog that got cancer. They were at 18K at the height but are much more manageable now. I been working the last two years straight without a vacation or a day off outside of a sickday of actually being sick. So maybe I just need to take some of my vacation time and I won't feel as agitated.

I did that once having three jobs and that is a misery beyond anything. I know my numbers friend, 1200-1300 to debt repayment each month that's some 10-12 months for total repayment. If I get burnt out and move into my minivan and don't increase my expenses then that 15 an hour plus the decrease in rent expenses will ensure I can maintain that 1200 to credit card repayment and still meet that 10-12 months timeline.

Plus that 15K was for a brand new trailer! What if I get a 2 year old one maybe I could find one for 10-12K used. Maybe even a 5-year-old one and try it out for 5 years (estimating a 10 year total life expectancy) I do have 2K in savings as my emergency fund Plus by Aug I get a bonus check so thats 1,400 extra plus each paycheck I put away 75 bucks so by the fall I can have 4K saved up without even increasing my credit card payoff timeline. So a 3k downpayment and 1k emergency fund left on a 10K trailer that would decrease my rent from 800+ electricty (880ish) to 500-600 all-inclusive. (budgeting 80 for insurance) thats a savings of 300 a month or 3,600 a year.

ie I can repay 1500 towards credit cards vs 1200 assuming my apr is what 10-15% that still puts me in a better situation. Just much less flexability to live out of my minivan which isn't as desirable but does give me pause. Even if I delay acting upon this a year or 18 months. The act of me looking into this option now still is worthwhile.
 
I made it work for me years ago while in the military stationed in Tucson Arizona with a tent on BLM land and health club membership while I was single. Once married we made an RV work for us while we were still working. Where we worked we were allowed to park, with you working overnight it should be possible to park and sleep during the day possibly in the parking lot or nearby day use area. We used a nearby YMCA that opened at 5AM and closed at 10PM. It had a lounge with a TV, showers, sauna, pool, track, basketball courts and exercise equipment. Our work place provided a reduced priced membership to the YMCA that was less than $100 a year. There was a Dairy Queen next door. There was a park, library nearby we used our bicycles to go to. We usually went to a state park once a month for our days off to dump what little there was in our black tank and fill our fresh water tank. We basically had no rent although there was maintenance, propane and $40 campground fees when away from work place parking. Lots of things work but it is dependent on how you are willing live. Cheap transportation is key but if only moving every 6 months a tow service usually charges less than $2.00 a mile or even cheaper by some one at work with a truck looking to make a little extra cash. Most people staying in parks are on a fixed income usually away from the city as rent is cheaper. You can work for a site in most cases maybe on your days off to help cut expenses. We did at an Escapee’s club park while working at Lowe’s and Walmart as well. There are several smaller towns in Southern Arizona with big box stores as the population explodes you might consider as rents will be cheaper.
 
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I retired from the rat race at 38. My husband and I lived in a 24 sq ft truck camper for 2.5 years. However, we slept at night, when the temperature were cooler, and worked during the day when the temperatures were hotter.

If you could work during the day in hot summers and work at night during the colder night, then you wouldn’t need as much heating or cooling variations.

Using what you got, I would insulate it to keep it cooler and warmer. Cover the windows.

Typical deserts have between 100-120 day time summers. That is true for AZ, NV, So CA, and parts of NM. Once you start going up in elevation, usually 100 feet is 1 degree or thereabouts. An AC unit on an RV can take the temp down about 20 degrees, but if you’re at 120, you’re expending a ton of energy to keep yourself cool.

There is no way a AC unit on an RV will get the rig down to 80 degrees on a 120 degree day. The reason? RVs are not houses and are not insulated.
 
It is pretty funny to see only a 10 year life expectancy put on a trailer. My fiberglass trailer is 51 years old. There are other sister ships from the same factory still on the road. Go get a molded fiberglass trailer and stay away from those wood stick framed travel trailers that leak water like a sieve and start having rot and mold issues within 10 years.
 

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