Choosing a Park
There are a couple of steps that need to be taken in finding a year round RV park. As a general rule the Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds are not year round. I do know of some people who utilize their sites in season but the rule is you can't stay for longer than 2 weeks. To get around this, RVers will usually just move to another spot within the same campground every 2 weeks. The people running the park don't have a problem with this I hear, so long as there is communication. They are pretty cheap, so this may make it worth while to consider this.
That is about all you can do. If you do move into a park that doesn't suit your liking, your house has wheels. You can pull up stakes and move any time you like. We pay by the month, and if we leave in the middle of the month we do not get prorated, so we will stick it out til the end of the month, then move. You don't need to give notice, but we usually give a day or two's notice just in case we want to go back. All the RV park owners in any given area know each other. It's better to be nice than to get a bad reputation. You won't be looked on poorly for giving no notice, but you will be looked on with a little more respect if you give notice that you are pulling out a day or two ahead of time. (Also, and this goes without saying I suppose, leave the pad nice and clean when you do move.)
A word on choosing your pad. You will ideally want a cement pad or at the very least gravel. The downside to dirt is, it rains and you will constantly be leveling your RV. We like to choose a spot under or near a tree for shade. Winter isn't much of a problem for us and I'd rather be a little chilly than a little warm.
We are actually currently looking at moving to a place right on Keystone Lake here soon, and we know that come summer it will likely be a little more commotion, but we have spoken with the woman running the park and she has and extremely low tolerance for noise, police being called out, etc. When we do move, at that time I will take some pictures so you can see exactly what is entailed for us when we pull up stakes. You'll get to see exactly what our home looks like, Linda! :)
Propane UsageElectric is free as I've said before. RV people will forgo propane whenever they can due to the fact that propane costs and electric doesn't. It's not a very big bill and I'll usually use my oven to cook with if incoming money isn't too tight. When it is tight I'll use a turkey roaster to bake bread, pies, and any meal requiring and oven. A better solution is to use a toaster oven. I did have one of those, but unfortunately it died on me and so bad even Daniel couldn't bring it back from the dead. I have a fry daddy that I use for soups and stews, but it would be better to have a crock pot as the fry daddy fries great but cooks soups and such unevenly. I have often thought about getting a hot plate also. Anything you use propane for, try to find an electric option.
Most RV's can get chilly in the winter. We are blessed in having a great insulation package. During the winter we utilize 2-3 space heaters because we have 50 amp capability. Some RV's have only 30 amps. We have to be sure each is plugged in on different breakers and the third is actually plugged in outside via extension cord. Most RV parks provide both 30 and 50 amp plug ins plus a 110 outlet. We utilize that outlet for our deep freeze (which is outside under our tongue), or an extra space heater. We don't even have to use the propane powered furnace until it gets below 0° and even when we do, it is extremely efficient. Some RV's are propane hogs, but it seems most newer one's are pretty good. If we used the oven and heater all the time, Daniel estimates we'd go through about one 30 pound tank every month or two. A 30 pound tank costs us about $23.00. So it is cheap even if we didn't use space heaters and electric appliances.
Making Ends MeetMany, many, many times we have made ends meet due to Daniel's ability to fix stuff. At least once every summer, someone needs their air conditioner replaced or fixed. A couple of times a year someone will have black water tank issues. Daniel has replaced three floors. He has replaced one toilet and repaired yet another. Some people choose to have their own internet provider and Daniel has helped people with connection issues and whatnot. Most of the time people pay in barter but sometimes it's cash. Either works for us. We usually go into it with the mindset of not requiring anything if we have spoken to the people more than twice and they are year rounders.
For myself, I do crochet and cook for people. Sometimes it's an entire dinner. Sometimes it's just a loaf of homemade bread or a jar of jam. I ask nothing at all in return and am usually given nothing but gratitude...until the time comes where we are in a bad way and need something. You'd be amazed at how fast word travels and just how quickly people come out of the woodwork to help.
Every once in a while someone will pull up stakes and don't want to take things with them because it's just a hassle. We've gotten a nearly new propane grill in this manner. The guy even threw in the bottle of propane that went with it. He also gave us a bunch of perishable food because where he was going, the food would go bad before he got there. All that happened was, we could see he was alone and unhooking his sewer line and so forth, so Daniel went out to see if he could help. So yeah, the guy took his help and repaid us in that manner. I felt he gave us too much for what Daniel did, so I gave him a really nice blanket I had crocheted. The man was extremely thankful. He ended up giving us a LOT of propane for our RV then also. It was enough we lived on it for almost a year cooking and heating our home with it.
There are a few people who don't give back, but mostly it is because they or we move before we can do so. I will say that I am not sorry, for it instills a mindset in all RV people. I don't think we've ever come across anyone who wouldn't help if needed. We take care of each other because when we need help, it is truly because we aren't lazy and know how to fix most things ourselves. We are self-sufficient, but everyone needs help sometimes.
Something I do not have a lot of knowledge on is boon docking. Boon docking is basically free camping. Boon docking could be just a discreet overnight parking in a Walmart parking lot or camping at a free campsite. Almost certainly you will have no amenities including electricity, water, or sewer. Now, RV's are built to hold out for a while without such things, but not for forever. There is a black water tank for sewage, white water tank for clean water storage for washing and cooking and such, and a battery bank (we have two marine batteries in ours). I'll probably post more on how the electricity works and such in another post. Here's a link to a boondocker's web site.
Types of RV's
There are the Winnebago type that you drive.
There are goosenecks, called so because of the type of hitch needed to tow it. It's a hitch with a ball just like you are used to seeing when say a guy is towing a trailer with landscaping tools on it.
There's the fifth wheel which is what we have. It requires a special hitch to tow.
There's a camper on a truck or people even turn buses and van's into RV's.
Here's the inside of a bus renovated into an RV.
And here's a van turned into an RV.
Since living in an RV I've seen many, many types and my imagination runs wild with ideas of how, once paid off, we can perhaps do something like this. I love living a downsized lifestyle.
In ClosingWhen we move, I'll take a lot of pictures so that you guys will know all about how to uncouple your sewer line and why it's important not to leave your black water tank open. How to prevent smells and weird noises, and probably 20 or 30 other things I'm not thinking of right now. I can promise you I am thinking of them when we put down stakes. I look forward to showing you guys my home and am excited about the prospect of showing you the freedom we have as opposed to someone who rents or owns a stick-built home. I'll put those pictures in an RV section I think. It will be similar to the "$$Money$$ section. (Btw, thank you for noticing Linda!)