The trail began with a friend prodding me to live more efficiently – more economically – maybe in a mobile home. Well, it really had to do with me complaining about the cost of taking college courses and the solution offered was to live a more frugal life which would include living small, as in a mobile home or trailer. Initially, that idea kinda stunk. As time went along, the thought of living in a trailer, not a mobile home, started to gain some traction with me. My friend’s idea had indeed planted a seed!
At the time, I was renting a nice condominium in Reno, Nevada. It was less than 30 minutes from work and just a few miles away from the many community events held in Reno and Sparks year-round. The condo was 15 minutes from beautiful hiking trails, which led anywhere I wanted to go in the forests surrounding Lake Tahoe. I really had no use for all the living space it offered as it was only me, so paring my life down wasn’t all that bad of an idea. I wanted a smaller place, cozier, and less sterile. Oh, and I wanted it to be something I was buying as I’m not crazy about paying for someone else’s long term investment. A trailer started to make still more sense, but maybe what I needed was a full-blown RV…
Using my friend’s suggestion as a springboard, I started looking at RVs as a possibility for becoming my daily living quarters. A couple I knew had sold all their worldly belongings and ventured off in a motorhome to see the U.S. At the time of hearing of this, I was surprised and also thought they were nuts. Of course at the time, the thought of me having a triple-digit percentage loss of value in my home was nuts, too.
The search for a suitable RV began in mid 2011 on the internet. The more RVs I looked at the more I was convinced buying something like a six or seven-year old diesel pusher coach for somewhere around $150,000 was the ticket to my dream. Just a few short years ago, these behemoths had sold for up to $400,000 new, and had washers and dryers, microwaves, automatic diesel generators, lots of room and could tow anything. Compared to a fifth-wheel trailer or a travel trailer, the motor coach had it all. Not only that, but it was fantastically convenient – no setting up besides pressing a few buttons. The diesels were that much better than the gasoline models as they would last forever and have decent operating costs. I was sold on the platform, but then needed to weed through the many manufacturers and used models to settle on my perfect retirement villa.
After exhaustive research, I decided either Country Coach or Alpine were the only brands to go with. There were good features with many of the other brands, but they all seemed to lack the premium touches found in those two premium coaches. Unfortunately, both manufacturers had gone out of business during the recession, leaving a fair concern for availability of OEM parts. Other than that, they were truly the best upper-middle range coaches, especially the Country Coach.
The availability of parts worried me a little, but that was nothing like what I discovered when I called the Nevada DMV and my insurance agent. Ouch! What stopped me cold in my tracks was learning how much the insurance, sales tax and annual license fees would be in Nevada. It was to the tune of thousands of dollars per year. Yeah, I know how full-timer RVists license their rigs in South Dakota or Florida, but I’m not planning on leaving Nevada for the Great Plains anytime soon.
Nevada has a confiscatory vehicle registration plan which indirectly and rather quietly funnels enormous sums of money through a backdoor into public schools. It is called a Government Services Fee and is added to the minimal $33.00 annual DMV registration fee. The Government Services Fee is formula based using the original MSRP to determine the annual charge. For a 6-year old RV with an MSRP of $400,000, the registration fee is about $2,400 per year. Insurance was about the same through Allstate; all that together was an extra $400 per month for registration and insurance making the motorhome out of the question. Those peripheral recurring costs were just too much for me so a Plan B had to be developed.
Stay tuned, folks!