RV Snowbirds: Should You Travel This Winter Or Stay In One Spot?
Setting Up a Permanent Base vs. Continual Travel for Snowbirds
According to a 2023 KOA report, RV ownership has soared by over 62% in the last twenty years, with almost 12 million RV-owning households counted in 2022. As the leaves begin to fall and the temperatures drop, many of these RV enthusiasts are not ready to park their homes-on-wheels in storage just yet. Instead, they’re looking to chase the warmth of the sun as snowbirds.
But with the RV packed, a question lingers: Is it wiser to nestle into one cozy area for the winter, or is the season best enjoyed by migrating from one sunny locale to another? This article explores the benefits and nuances of both staying put and staying mobile during the snowbird season.
Why set up a permanent base?
In the past, when I heard the term “snowbird,” it evoked images of individuals from snowy northern and northeastern states migrating to Florida for the winter. My mind didn’t specifically ponder if they traveled in an RV or had multiple homes. Now, as I evaluate my own RV status, I can associate that term with RVers who consistently seek the same warm climate annually.
Several years ago, we established a permanent base in the Phoenix area, traveling and work camping in the summer to escape the heat. Many friends have their permanent bases in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, or even Canada, and they join our 55-plus community to relish the splendid winter weather.
Pros of a home base
Feeling of a permanent community
One of the joys of having a permanent community is the sense of belonging. As full-time RVers and work campers, meeting new people and spending quality time with them is delightful. However, the looming realization that we might never cross paths with many of these individuals again does cast a shadow. Having a home base as a snowbird ensures that, even if you part ways for a season, reunions are always on the horizon.
A permanent home base offers storage opportunities that an RV can’t match, freeing you from the claustrophobic realization that your entire life is encapsulated in that aluminum shell.
Many RVers lean on services like GoodSam or Escapees to secure a permanent address and manage their mail. We opted for Escapees, anchoring our address in Livingston, Texas. A home base simplifies mail processes, and our resort even offers mail forwarding during our summer absence.
Cons of a home base
Financial responsibilities associated with a home base, such as mortgages, taxes, and maintenance, might deter some. Even our modest park model has had repair bills that felt overwhelming. Potential HOA fees or site rental costs could also be factors, irrespective of year-round residence.
Security during absences
Ensuring your property remains safe during travels is crucial. We benefit from a gated community and a weekly check by a trusted individual. However, residential areas might necessitate more intricate arrangements.
Navigating health care is a common conundrum for RVers. Does your insurance only cover treatments in your home state? We’re bound to Arizona for medical services, and out-of-state treatments would incur higher expenses.
Fetching prescription refills during travels can be a hurdle. While chains like Walmart or Walgreens offer nationwide services, meticulous planning is essential. Our insurer, for instance, only mails prescriptions to our permanent address.
For perpetual travelers, vehicle registration requires forethought. Some states mandate annual safety inspections, while others are more lenient. Additionally, online registration can be handy, but timing is crucial to avoid expired tags.
Should I stick with full-time RVing or become a snowbird?
Life often has a way of answering our questions before we articulate them. We hadn’t planned on a home base, and we weren’t weary of the road. But that’s the allure of RVing: the freedom to choose. Whether you’re captivated by the open road or appreciate the comforts of a community, there’s no wrong choice.
Both full-time RVing and maintaining a home base present their pros and cons. RVing champions simplicity, while a home base, although accompanied by additional expenses, provides a community to return to. Regardless of your choice, plan thoughtfully, cherish your RV adventures, and always prioritize living life on your terms.
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