Road Thrills: Low-Cost Living and Million-Dollar Views

You wake up in the morning and decide you’re tired of the view…so, you pick up and head to another natural beauty spot that takes your fancy. That’s your reality when you live full-time in an RV (recreational vehicle). You get to choose your surroundings…and change them with the seasons.

“You’re living on real estate—even if it’s only for a short time—that other people pay half a million dollars or more to have a house on,” says Alan Sills, 58, who has been living full-time in an RV—in various U.S. locations—since 2011. “You wake up on a spring or summer morning at a campsite where you walk out and there is a lake 50 feet away. It’s your entire front yard—you’ve got the ultimate playground.”

It was the idea of being fully mobile and never having to stay in any one place for an extended period that appealed to Alan.

For Roger Gallagher, 66, and his wife, Mary, 75, moving around was also part of the reason they took to living in an RV full-time. Both were previously truck drivers and adored seeing the U.S. from the road. But they were also drawn to the life for financial purposes. “We pay $133.70 a month,” Roger explains. “That includes our lights, water, sewer, sometimes TV and cable, and our rent. Where else can you live for $133 a month?”

For 51-year-old Pat Williams, who is in her first few months of full-time RV-ing, this is something she had been dreaming of since 2006. It took her a decade to make the leap. She is still earning on the road with her online marketing business— and loves every minute of her new life.

“When I started my journey—with my own impossible dreams—my vision was ridiculously farfetched. I got the idea from a work of fiction about frontiersmen who hooked their wagons to a star and took off into the mountains in search of land and gold. I wanted all of that for myself, but I also wanted to devote half as many hours to work while earning twice as much money.

“My former work colleagues made fun of me…and family members worried about me. But I downsized—freeing up some cash—left the smog-clogged city, and hit the road in search of green pastures. Two years later, I was living in the mountains, tucked between an abandoned gold mine and a ski resort. There was an old-fashioned, red covered bridge and a roaring river less than 100 yards from my door. I brewed “cowboy coffee” in an old, enamel pot on top of a woodstove.

“I didn’t have a covered wagon, but my housing costs were a scant 15% of my income…although financial advisors recommend that it should be 30%. My income was twice what I had made at the old job that I hated…but I was only working about two weeks a month, on my own schedule…from home. I even tried my hand at panning for gold…I realized one afternoon that my preposterous, novel-based dream had evolved into my daily routine.

“I never found gold, only a few semi-precious gemstones, but I did strike out on my own to launch a profitable, online, freelance business. Ever since then, I’ve had a portable way to earn a good, honest living, doing what I love. This enables me to travel whenever I want, wherever I want.”

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