Can Our RV Lifestyle Coexist with Homeownership?

Tiny Trailer Inns Spokane ResidentI know my thoughts about the homeownership myth seem contradictory to what Jim and I are doing right now (buying a house), but hear me out. . .

For too long, Americans have been shammed into believing in the homeownership myth. We have been fooled by our banks, our lenders and even my financial guru, Suze Orman, into believing that buying a home is the greatest investment we’ll ever make.

It’s a lie. Over the years there have been studies that show that if you take the amount you spend on a home and put that same amount into the stock market, even in horrible markets like we have now now, the stocks will always yield a greater investment over the long term than the house will. So, why have we always been so convinced by financial “experts” that overextending ourselves to buy a show home is such a great investment?

Now that people are waking up to the fact that buying a house isn’t going to get us on the Forbes Who’s Who List, could we be entering a new era when people finally understand the true cost of home ownership?

South by Southwest Cupcake Camper GirlI just finished reading John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, his classic road trip journey into the heart of 1950s America. In one section of the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find Steinbeck’s musings about the exciting new era of trailers and mobile homes in the 1950s. He was captivated at the thought of a home on wheels, and interviewed trailer park dwellers to ask them about their choices to live in a trailer instead of a stick house. One of them explains:

“Who knows that is in store tomorrow? . . . If a plant or factory closes down, you’re not trapped with property you can’t sell. Suppose the husband has a job and is buying a house and there’s a layoff. The value goes out of his house. But if he has a mobile home he rents a trucking service and moves on and he hasn’t lost anything. He may never have to do it, but the fact that he can is a comfort to him.”

Steinbeck goes on to say that even if the homes are financed through a lender,

“the payments, even if high and festoned with interest, are no worse than renting an apartment and fighting the owner for heat. And where could you rent such a comfortable ground-floor apartment with a place for your car outside the door? Where else could the kids have a dog?”

And so, I ask you, dear reader, when was it that trailer parks started getting such a bad rap?

Steinbeck asks a father living in a trailer court: “One of our most treasured feelings concerns roots, growing up rooted in some soil or some community.” How did they feel about raising their children without roots? The man answers him with:

“How many people today have what you are talking about? What roots are there in an apartment twelve floors up? What roots are in a housing development of hundreds and thousands of small dwellings almost exactly alike?”

Steinbeck wonders, “Don’t you miss some kind of permanence?”

The father answers::

“Who’s got permanence? Factory closes down, you move on. Good times and things opening up, you move on where it’s better. You got roots and you sit and starve. You take the pioneers in this history books. They were moovers. Take up land, sell it, move on. . . “

He adds: ” . . . suppose the place I work goes broke. I’ve got to move where there’s a job. I get to my job in three minutes. You want I should drive twenty miles because I’ve got roots?”

Even back in the 1950s, being able to go where the money is just made so much sense. I’d like to know when this ideaology fell by the wayside, and we started believing that being a chained to a mortgage and a big house was the smart thing to do. Everyone wants a nice place to live, but what’s the real cost of that lifestyle?

So, why are Jim and I buying property? Because there’s got to be a happy medium, dontcha think? For starters, it’s nice to have a break from campground fees. And we also need a place for our stuff! We think we can reconcile our need to roam with property ownership, because we’re only buying what we can afford, and won’t be indebted to a bank. Without that threat hanging over our heads, we’ll still have the freedom to live on relatively little income, move with the seasons like snowbirds, and go where the work is, if and when we need to.

At least, that’s the plan.

11 thoughts on “Can Our RV Lifestyle Coexist with Homeownership?”

  1. Does anyone have any knowledge of rv sites or even towns perhaps in Arizona, during the Winter that has a healthy, hipper crowd. (without being a huge city) Don’t get me wrong my husband and I like all kinds of people. BUT, we’re not into the drinking a lot people at the parks are into nor just hanging with 80 year olds. We spend our summers in BC,Canada and would like a place, an open minded,healthy place for our Winters. Any ideas most welcome!

    • To hook up with truly hip travelers check out NüRVers! While yes, you may find many that like to imbibe, the forums there may be a good place to start by asking the younger, hipper crowd… such as members like Sarah and Matt who eat raw and roll in a veggie oil powered bus. Thanks for the comment!

    • Kim & I love Silver City, NM, a bit colder than southern AZ, but wonderful small town with good food, music, lots of arts & crafts, and low prices on most things. The Silver City RV Park is within walking distance of the old downtown, and offers good monthly & seasonal rates. We liked the place so much, we just bought a property here…see our blog for stories on other things the area has to offer. (Link above right “Kim & Sam’s Big Adventures”

  2. I get what you are saying about being able to move to the jobs,
    BUT!! if I had not bought 6 houses and let the renters pay for them for me,

    I would not be worth $500,000.00 today in my old age, I still have a nice Class A and can go where I want and let the renters send the rent money to my checking account at the bank.

    I have enough if i die tomorrow my wife won’t have to go get a job at 71 years, and my parents left me something, so i can leave my kids something so they will have a better life.

    Can a travel trailer do that.? Think about others ,not just yourself.

    Not being mean , just sensible

    • Hi Ed, thanks for your comment, how did you find us? I know you’re not being mean, you’re just looking at things from a far different perspective than me.

      All I’m saying is, what’s the true cost of working to support homes, and all that material wealth? Were you traveling and seeing the world in that Class A while you were young and could get out and explore the rugged outback, or did you work all your life and wait until you retired with (assuming) more limited mobility than someone my age? Just curious.

      That’s nice that your parents left you something, and you made enough money to help your kids out, but not all of us are in that boat. Since I’m on my own, I prefer to make the most of life’s experiences and travel while I’m young and physically able, rather than watch the years go by from behind a desk. I’m willing to have less of an income and material things to achieve this. Most of the older folks we meet on the road say that they wish they would’ve done what we are doing, instead of waiting till retirement.

      I don’t get what you mean by “think about others, not just yourself.” Care to explain?

    • Things like that are one of the reasons I have no desire to have children. Call me selfish, but I don’t want to have to think about anyone’s future but my own and my partner’s. And really, my partner would be irresponsible if he didn’t have his own way of supporting himself without me.

  3. so, what happened? what house (property) did you end up buying…the 1865sqft in the pix???

    on the home ownership, perhaps you should come and take the workshops with Kim & I on the owner-built, energy efficient, low-cost homes?? drop me an email if you need more details…


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