How many full-time RVers are there?


Joe and I aren’t alone in our desire to become nomads late in life.

When we  pull out of Auburn, New York, we’ll be joining an estimated 250,000 to 1 million people living in their RVs full time. At least those are the numbers I see on blogs. Nobody really knows the actual number because no one has accurately counted them.

The U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t separate out full-time RV living from other housing structures. The American Community Survey for the years 2009-2011 estimated that the nation has 131.8 million housing structures. The vast majority of those, 61.5 percent, were traditional single family homes.

Then there are various kinds of row homes and apartment buildings.

The closest the survey comes to counting something like an RV is the estimated 8.6 million mobile homes, or 6.5 percent of the nation’s housing stock.

The Census Bureau puts RV living in the “other” category, which is where it puts occupied boats and people living in a van. The “others” represent an estimated 111,000 or 0.1 percent of the nation’s housing structures.

Based on what I see on full-time RV Facebook groups and books I’ve read, the full-time Rvers are way under represented in the survey.

In California, the housing crisis is so severe in some areas that people are living full time in RVs that they’re parking on city streets.

The Facebook sites that I belong to also show a number of young families with mom and dad and two, three, six or eight kids living in fifth wheel bunkhouse pulled by a big truck.  In many of those cases the kids are home schooled and the family is nomadic, traveling around the country  as parents chase jobs.

I’m also seeing a number of military families on Facebook who are living in RVs as they move from post to post.

Then there are those who buy a used RV and are parking it for free on a friend or family member’s land. They don’t travel.

In June, Joe and I will pull our 32-foot Jayco Precept out of the driveway and put Auburn in the rear view mirror. And at that point, I guess, we’ll fall off the Census Bureau’s radar. We’ll be “others.”

Our legal address will be at my daughter’s in Pittsburgh, but our home will be on the road.20180127_155455

Nobody wants your junk

This is Harvey.


He has guarded my box garden for years, through bunny invasions, liquid summers and pesky deer.

I’ve liked Harvey ever since I saw him in the Walmart garden center. I’m always happy to see him when I’m checking on the tomatoes. He hides behind them when the plants are full of leaves.

But we’re moving into a 32-foot motor home and Harvey, and all the other little things I’ve collected over the years won’t fit. They have to go.

The teapots I got as Christmas presents, the antique furniture, the books I had to have hard copies of, the fancy Christmas dishes and the Pampered Chef I bought out of guilt at my girlfriends’ parties, all has to go.

Here’s a hard truth. No one wants your crap.

In some countries it’s considered rude to die and leave your junk around for other people to ditch. Old people get rid of stuff before they die. In Sweden it’s called “death cleaning.”

So far, my daughters have passed on taking my childhood solid maple bedroom furniture, the child’s rocker Aunt Frankie gave me, the tea cups collected by my grandmother, the baseball signed by the Pirates who won the 1960 World Series.

They either don’t want the stuff because it’s not their style or they don’t have room to store it. They have their own junk.

A friend advised calling an auctioneer to sell the stuff off.

On the phone the auctioneer said he would be happy to come over to see what we had. When he came over he barely glanced at our stuff before trying to get us to sell the house through an auction, where we would pay for all the advertising up front and he would take a cut of the proceeds.

We said no thanks. We just want you to auction off our junk. He told us he couldn’t sell our stuff. There wasn’t enough of it to make it worth his while. I guess we should have been hoarders. Then he told a racist joke and left.

I’ve found homes for some things.

One daughter took her grandmother’s pedal sewing machine. I donated two other electric sewing machines. Another person has said she’ll take the piano for her church youth center.

And the rest of the stuff is gradually going to our local Rescue Mission. Maybe they’ll make some money off my junk.

What I’m finding is that I can do without. I don’t need fancy Christmas dishes to enjoy the holiday with my family. I don’t need heavy Pampered Chef cookware to make a meal. And I don’t need a blanket from World War II just because my mom got it as a wedding present.

So I’m saying goodbye to things including Harvey.

I ‘ll miss ya Harve. But I’m sure someone will pick you off the Rescue Mission shelf and put you in their garden. The tomatoes should be good this year.