Permanent living on the road in a motor home.

Submitted: Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 17:33
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We are selling our home and intend to purchase a motor home. We are uncertain at this time whether to purchase a smaller house also or just go with the motor home living? We would like to hear from you good people out there the pros and cons of living permanently on the road without having grass roots to return to . Thanks and kind regards Ray and Pam

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Reply By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 19:09

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 19:09
There are lots of people who do just that and many end up "trapped" in the no longer registered motorhome stuck in a van park.
What happens is that they are happily travelling around without a care in the world and then one of the couple gets terminally ill and can no longer travel due to the need to be near doctors and medical facilities. Eventually the partner is left alone in a motorhome that needs lots of TLC to get it roadworthy again which never happens due to lack of funds etc.
I suspect that some have a nest egg put away that is intended to be used to purchase a home at some stage in the future but it is whittled away by bills and unforseen expenses never mind inflation and they find they cannot reenter the housing market.
Personally I'd be buying a place where you wish to spend your future years so that you always have a place to come back to.
Don't forget there are plenty of couples who start out with good intentions but find that one of them find the lifestyle is not for them and then need somewhere for a base.
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Follow Up By: Member - Josh- Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 19:21

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 19:21
There are lots of people who do just that and many end up "trapped" in the no longer registered motorhome stuck in a van park.
What happens is that they are happily travelling around without a care in the world and then one of the couple gets terminally ill and can no longer travel due to the need to be near doctors and medical facilities.
"lots of people"??????? where are all these people. I have seen quite the opposite. People love the freedom of not being tied down and decide to spend the rest of their life on the road.
Not sure where you getting this "lots of people" from.
Most if not all the people we met on the road full time struggle going back to living in a house.

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Follow Up By: On Patrol & TONI - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:27

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:27
Hi Josh
you seem to be challenging the definition of "lots" and missing the real point Peter is making.

He did not come right out and say don't do it, rather he offered salient advice of the perils of such a plan.

That is what I believe Peter is eluding to mate.

My wife & I are planning just such a thing right this moment, however we will downsize our house to release some of the capital to fund our trip and in so doing leave ourselves a cushion to fall back on if things happen to ruin that dream.

Yes Josh you "see" the happy ones because the not so happy ones are not so visible, that in no way suggests the don't exist, whether they be "lots" or "few"

Cheers Colin.
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Follow Up By: Member - Josh- Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 21:56

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 21:56
Just quoting Peter "There are lots of people who do just that and many end up "trapped" in the no longer registered motorhome stuck in a van park. I didn't say they don't exist, just clarifying "lots" cause I seriously only know of one couple that it has happened they way. The wife hated it and they pulled the pin.
If the origanal poster reads lots without understanding they could think "wow it must happen to a lot of people so mabye not worth going, and miss out on the most amazing trip ever. As I said I directly quoted "lots" from peter. Most people we told when selling our house and doing the trip thought we were crazy.
What if you hate it?
What if it doesn't work out?
What if something goes wrong?
Some of those people are now doing big trips cause we had the guts to give it ago.
If you read the post below this one I asked questions relevant to making a decision about selling/buying or nothing at all.

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Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 22:40

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 22:40
Well as I personally know two couples who had the misfortune to end up stuck in a van park with no way of ever moving on or disposing of their now immobile mobile home it is one of the things that they should consider when people talk of selling up and hitting the road especially if they are of retirement age with little chance of earning money to enable a change later on.
I'm not saying you should or shouldn't just consider the repurcussions down the track.
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Follow Up By: ross - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 23:44

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 23:44
If you cant afford a house AND a motorhome,get the house.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 10:50

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 10:50
The trouble is Ross, it would make it slow going dragging a house around Australia LOL.

Thousands of people rent homes in this country - and in many other countries rental is even more common. Owing a home is nice, but touring Australia is even better.


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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:00

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:00
Ooops - typo. Should read: Owning a home is nice. Owing on it something else.

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Follow Up By: Rockape - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:34

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:34
I have got to agree with you.

My mum and dad sold their home to travel and were fine. A few years later they decided to quit travelling because they weren't getting any younger.

Now in this time the late 80's slump and inflation took a toll on their savings. They were able to get a small home back in Townsville but only by the skin of their teeth.

If they had let it go for a few more years they would have been screwed.

I no what I would do and that is what you have already thrown around. Down size to a smaller house and then get a travelling unit that is not so expensive.

We have already downsized ready for extended travelling as our lads were ready to go out on their own and have not found a problem with a small house (9years). I have a big shed so that maintains marital harmony. I don't have an expensive van or an expensive tug but we do what everyone else can.

Another thing to take into consideration with a motor home is the fact that everywhere you go so goes your home and that can be a pain. Also there was a discussion on here recently about house sitters and most of the replies were positive.

Hope you make the correct that suits you both.

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:35

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:35
Hi all

"If you can't afford a house AND a motorhome, get a " good 4WD and if you want pampering then get a good camper trailer as well and just do out and back trips.

We considered selling and buying just that. Thank god we didn't! I have to be back in Canberra or a major city medical centre every four weeks for treatments. So far it has been Canberra. Neither Brisbane nor Cairns could help when we asked so the Cape trip was cut short.

Before 23 December 2008 we were both as fit as a mallee bull. I was just feeling very tired. Oh so lucky not to have sold up.

Instead purchased a "god" 100 series are 4.2 TD and do the odd trip out and back home. Almost 100% self reliant with it.

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Reply By: Member - Josh- Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 19:33

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 19:33
A little more info might be a bit helpful. How old are. Your finacial situation. Long term intentions. I know these are personal questions but here's why. If your 60 and this is like your retirement then it may be different to if your 25 and doing this for a couple years then settling down to have a family.
We sold our house and used part of that money to fund our 3 yrs on the road. We loved the fact that we had no cares to worry about. We have young kids so not at the retirement end of life.
Lots of people us we were crazy selling the house but I wouldn't swap what we did for anything, but it was what suited us.
We did meet a number of people on the road who had kept properties and had to cut their trip short cause they had tennant problems.
We also didn't really plan going back to where we started from even though we had family and friends there. We found much better places to live, like in our trailer lol. Both our girls would rather be in a trailer on the road than in a house.
All these things need to be taken into consideration.
What ever you do enjoy your trip and have fun.

AnswerID: 476878

Reply By: pop2jocem - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 19:59

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 19:59
Hi Ray and Pam,,

As others have said a lot depends on what stage you guys are at in your lives and your financial situation. Not sure how sensitive you are about divulging your ages and I could definitely understand you not putting your personal financial info out on a public forum so I can only base my reply on a situation I saw in my family.
This couple, both in there early 50's at the time, sold a paid off house and bought a large van and tow vehicle. They also had enough money to purchase a cheap block in a small country town and put a house on it. They certainly enjoyed their time touring but personal circumstances caused them to sell that property and move closer to family. They still own the van and vehicle but now find themselves with a mortgage again and the touring is on the back burner for 5 years or so I am told.
My point being that circumstances can change with time and none of us, that I know of, can see the future. They did the right thing in not putting all their eggs in one basket so to speak.

AnswerID: 476881

Reply By: patsproule - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:17

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:17
Plenty do it. There is a whole new suburb here in Wagga Wagga full of people doing same. Council even give them the land for free, dont charge them rates or fees of any kind and even generously used some of my rates to renovate the toilet block for them! Sounds ideal to me. Go for it :)
AnswerID: 476884

Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:32

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:32
Hi Ray and Pam

More questions than answers from me too - these are questions you need to ask yourself (not tell us all) if you haven't already considered all these aspects.

How much camping/touring have you done before? If not a lot of long term stuff, what if it is not the life for you after all? This scenario does happen. If not already practised and certain, don't jump in the deep end all at once.

What will you do with favourite possessions?

Will you miss family (children, grandchildren)?

Do you have ageing parents that may need a bit of help in the future?

How will you cope with each other 24/7 in a confined space?

I hasten to add that we are not full time on the road, and to not have a home base would not really suit either of us.

While the scenario of what happens if health issues prevent further travel and you have no home can be considered - so what? You could always rent as many people do, or even find a nice caravan park suitable for semi permanents.

My personal opinion is that when you sell your home, invest in a rental property in a safe rental area, and ensure you have a good managing agent. Then when the time comes to stop travelling, you have something to sell to purchase another home, or if that is difficult, at least you have somewhere to live until you can purchase something more suitable.

I have a few more questions and some answers on this and the subsequent pages, including an article about the pitfalls of renting: Full time on the road



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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:46

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:46
I should have added, consult a good taxation accountant if you haven't already done so before selling your home. There can be capital gains implications, or further down the track Centrelink issues if you are planning on getting a pension.


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Reply By: magic2 - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:43

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 20:43
thank you for your replies . We are a retired couple in our 60s have owned houses all our life. We don't desire owning another house at this time. Hoping to avoid any unnecessary mistakes we have posed this question to people who may have been in this or a similar situation. Thanks again and regards Ray and Pam
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Follow Up By: ross - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 23:54

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 23:54
How about in 10 years time? IMO ,if you dont want to own a house,maybe a unit or flat that you can go back to.
I think you need to keep your options open and not paint yourself into a corner.
Motorhomes are not real estate and dont increase in value,or even hold their value.
They are also subject to high maintenance costs from mechanical wear and tear and road damage.

At the end of the day its all about money and you should only do what you can afford to do.
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Follow Up By: Member - Josh- Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 02:20

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 02:20
At the end of the day its all about money and you should only do what you can afford to do.
Depends on your priority/point of veiw. For us it was about family not money. If it was about money I would not have done the trip. True though, you can only do what you can afford. We owned our own house. I had a great job. I had just got a promotion which meant I was in a very good position in the company and on excellent money. I walked away from it all and would do it again.
We rent now, yeah we might buy again one day. We spent 15 months living in Tassie when we finished travelling. Now we are in Vic. Who knows where it will be next year.
We are not tied down to anything and are still free to do what ever we want. It works for us, does not work for every one.
After christmas we were talking about our trip and the girls said they wanted to travel again. We said "what about all your presents and toys etc. Their response was if we could travel again we would get rid of it all. They are not materialistic. They are aged 8 and 10. To them time together is more important.
As I said I would not swap anything we have done for a house or a job.
I worked for a guy who was very wealthy. owned everything. He died very lonely.
Owning a house or anything else is not the be all and end all of life. Society would tell you it is.
Just my opinion.

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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 09:24

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 09:24
Josh, I congratulate you on having the courage to take time while you are young and do what you have done. You and your family will be the richer for it in ways that money just can't buy.

But you still have plenty of years ahead of you when hopefully you will be in good health and able to earn a good living so that, should you wish to buy a permanent home, you will be able to take out and repay a mortgage.

Its a rather different situation for Ray and Pam who are in their 60s. Their income earning years are probably behind them and while their health may be good now, what about in 10 years time.

Like others we have certainly spoken to folk who are on the road, (in that they are living in a van or motorhome,) but following an unforseen change in circumstance were not moving far because they couldn't afford to and have no home to return to. Not a happy situation to be in.

From my retiree aged point of view having a home base is very important as ones health begins to become a bit less robust. Unfortunately in retirement it is pretty much "all about the money" whether we like it or not.

Pam and Ray dont say how much experience they have with travelling, but if they have not done many longish trips then I would suggest they do so before committing to irrevocable steps. The alternative that has already been suggested is to join the growing band of happy housesitters and travel around that way.


J and V
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Reply By: aboutfivebucks (Pilbara) - Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 21:11

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 21:11
WATCH OUT - We target people like you.

Were fortunate enough to always be living in remote tourist locations. We look for people like yourselves (in your new motor home life) when were looking for someone to house-sit our house.

We enjoy offering permanent 'on the road travelers' our house when were out of town.

Go for it. I say.

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Reply By: Member - Royce- Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 09:11

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 09:11
How exciting.... don't think too long.

Weigh things up, make the decision and never dwell on it if things go wrong because the next few years of your life might well be the best. Good luck.
AnswerID: 476944

Reply By: Member - Richard H - West NSW - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 12:49

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 12:49
I agree with Peter. It's wonderful to hit the road, but you need somewhere to fall back on if the need arises.

An example: Travelling in W.A. some years ago just south of Carnarvon, and we stopped at a rest area for five days, just to have a rest, do some dobying and grease the van. Next to us was an elderly gentleman and his wife in a not so new Coaster Bus. She was ill, and the husband didn't quite know what to do. So my late wife stuck her bib in and found that the lady just wasn't ill, she was as Crook as Rookwood & not far from living there. So we bundled her up, unhitched and drove her into Carnarvon Hospital, where she was admitted, and that night flown to Perth.

It turned out that this couple had been on the road for years, and moved each pension day. Their worldly possession were the Coaster and it's contents.

Well, as it turned out the lady died a couple of days alter, and one of the W.A. coppers came out and told him. They had a daughter in N.S.W. and he was literally buggered. So we stopped what we were doing/going, and got him into Carnarvon, found a caravan park, helped him set up, stayed until the daughter arrived, which was nearly a week as she came by train and bus. Got him some charitable support and gave CentreLink a visit with him.

This poor old bugger had nothing. I think that there's a lot like him about the place, and since then I've kept an eye out for them. These aren't the people in new 21 foot vans with a new FWD up front, they are the occupants of ancient station wagons, buses and car/caravan rigs that you see as almost permanent residents of rest areas. De Gray River was a case in point.

I'm not knocking these people, they probably have had the time of their lives, but the trouble is you get old, and unless you have a firm base, where do you go?
AnswerID: 476977

Reply By: Bill BD - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 14:17

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 14:17
Ray/Pam - the thing to remember is while you are on the road property prices are creeping up, while your savings aren't. It doesn't take too long before that nice wad of cash will no longer buy you the house you want. Historically and on average, Aust house prices double every 10 years. The housing market is slow now but that won't last forever. Even if you had a 50% increase over 10 years it would be hard for most people. So, my take on this is to buy property or find a secure investment that will give enough return to make sure you can get into property if you need to in the future.
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Reply By: Life Member - esarby (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 15:41

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 15:41
I read some time ago about a couple that sold up and travelled this great country. They did the things that most people do for a while and then they settled down and made a decision that has change their lives.They have in my mind found what they were looking for in life, as many of us do as we travel through out lives. A point that we must always think of is, if you do not do it, then you will never know what would of happen if you had done it. By making a choice to do something different, you move on in life. Who knows what is around the corner, what is waiting around the corner if you stay where you are? I have made many moves in my short life and will never regret it. We all move during our lives. some are good moves and some are not so good moves. The couple that I mentioned at the start of my post, are well know to us all. David and Michelle decided to do it and look where they are today. They might of made the wrong move and returned to their previous situation.

But. "If you never never go, you will never never know"

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Follow Up By: Bill BD - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:29

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:29
I think the question is not "should or shouldn't", rather, wether to keep an investment in property while travelling.
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Reply By: hazo - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:50

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:50
This time last year we rented our house and did an 8 month stint full time on the road (we had a side trip of 8 weeks to europe and Thailand)

When we returned we found our house had been "let go" and felt shabby, we were lost moving from one room to another with boredom etc.
We would never rent a house out again so we took the plunge and sold up everything !

We are in our 3rd week of full time living in our caravan, we have no mortgage, no rates, no lawns to mow, and will invest our money till we decide to maybe move into a retirement village or rent somewhere.

The feeling of freedom is amazing, we are currently looking at a larger 5th wheeler as we are a little tight on space but would not swap it for the world.

All has not been smooth healthwise, I am currently awaiting urgent surgery on a knee problem, after surgery I will recuperate and recover sitting at the side of a wonderfull beach where we are currently staying.

Would we go back to a house ? not at the moment and maybe never ! we have both discussed this and if anything should happen to either of us we do have a contingency plan in place.

Life is not a rehearsal, just follow your dreams and do it ! we had a ball last year and the only downside was the worry of how the house was coping with the tennants, this year we have no such worries.

As my dad used to say "there are no pockets in a shroud" and no matter how wealthy you are you cannot take it with you.

We are now living our dream and enjoying life to the full (yes even with a crook knee) Lol!
AnswerID: 477008

Reply By: Rockape - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:56

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 16:56
Ray and Pam,

If you are set on a motor home and don't mind wheeling a big unit around. There is a Denning Bus in the classified section that has had just about a full rebuild. It seems to tick most of the boxes especially with the car trailer.

The price seems very reasonable. Have a look for yourselves.


AnswerID: 477009

Reply By: Member - Wamuranman - Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 17:28

Sunday, Feb 05, 2012 at 17:28
HI Ray & Pam,

My view is that it is always desirable to have funds available to purchase another smaller property at some stage in the future should you so desire. But I would not buy another smaller property straight away. The benefit of doing what you want to do now rather than say 10 years ago – is that we are not facing a property boom with rapidly increasing prices like we were across most of Australia from 2001 onwards.

If I was in your position I would purchase a moderately priced motor home that allows sufficient funds to be invested for a future property purchase. I would simply invest the amount safely in a fixed term deposit with a bank or some such safe investment. This gives you flexibility to decide where you may want to live in the future – it could be a nice location you have not even travelled to yet. Also no housesitters to worry about, bills to pay etc etc.

The reason I believe you can do this with some degree of comfort is that house prices are currently falling in most parts of Australia. Some property strategists are saying there will be significant falls in coming years. For example “US real estate analyst Jordan Wirsz believes Australia is heading towards a property bloodbath as the global economic downturn spreads.” (Based on recent article in He is predicting falls of up to 60%. I do not agree with his prediction but I do believe there will be further moderate falls in the coming years or at best the prices will go sideways for maybe 8 to 10 years until affordability catches up. Have a look at the graph of property prices below and you may agree that there is no need to rush in buy straight away as further increases in prices in the immediate future are unlikely.

Good luck in whatever you do.

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AnswerID: 477017

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