- Name: Kathleen M.
- Location: “Everywhere and Nowhere” our RV
- Age: 70
- Retired At: 65
- Marital Status: Married
- Profession: Trust Department for a bank
Just 6 weeks shy of Kathleen’s 66th birthday, she retired. She and her husband Dennis decided on something pretty unconventional: They sold their house and now live full-time in a motorhome, traveling from place to place as they wish.
She was a part-time teller for Pioneer Savings & Loan in the late ‘80s, shortly before the recession in the early ’90s. She moved to Barnett Bank and navigated through several mergers while working her way up to customer service representative and then mortgage loan processor. When she retired, she was in the Trust Department for what was her fifth and final bank.
Kathleen and Dennis will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in February. They have five children and six grandchildren. They’re spread across the country from Florida to Chicago to Los Angeles. Despite their traveling lifestyle, they’re very close and talk weekly, if not daily. We talked with Kathleen about her retirement.
Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you?
Kathleen: As a full-time RVer, we don’t have many “boring” days and what we do depends entirely on where we are currently parked. Many of our days are spent fixing or maintaining the 2005 Class A motorhome that we live in. Just like your house and car, something always needs to be repaired, replaced, or improved. Luckily, my husband was a building contractor and car enthusiast who brought many of his tools with him. He is my MacGyver and can usually figure out how to do whatever needs to be done. In 5 years, the coach has only been in a repair shop a handful of times.
When we are camped in a state park or national forest (where cell reception is often non-existent), we go for a hike or find a trail and ride our E-bikes. Sometimes we pack lunch and have a picnic. We love to visit the local attractions including municipal museums, lighthouses, and cultural events. We eschew chain restaurants or fast food in favor of “Ma and Pa” diners, bakeries, and cafés. And we’ve really expanded our palates… crawfish etouffee, anyone?!
Your Retirement Plan
Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?
Kathleen: I had never even heard of “Full-Time RVing” until my husband brought it up! It took him nearly 2 years to convince me to try it, but I’m so glad he did!
Best Part About Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement?
Kathleen: The places we’ve been, the sites we’ve seen, the people we’ve met, and the experiences we’ve had would never have happened if we sat in a house watching Wheel of Fortune or playing games on the computer all day.
Challenges In Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?
Kathleen: It’s really hard to be away from the kids and grandkids and miss the school plays or soccer games, so we find excuses to visit often. Everyone adjusts and the visits home become much more precious and appreciated.
Cost Of Retirement
Retirement Awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs. How do you manage your money now? Do you have a budget, meet with your advisor on a regular basis, et cetera?
Kathleen: Living in a motorhome can be expensive, especially with diesel well over $5 a gallon. Every RV, whether a big diesel pusher or a small travel trailer, will break down at some point. So you have to budget for repairs and be prepared for unexpected downtime. If you live in your vehicle and it needs extensive repairs or they can’t get the parts, you end up packing a suitcase and going to a hotel. Make the most of it and explore the area! We struggled to stay within our budget the first couple of years, but we’re much better at it now. Our financial planner keeps us on track. We hope to continue on the road as long as our health permits it!
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone about to retire?
Kathleen: Once we decided to try full-time RVing, we knew we couldn’t afford to buy a well-made coach and continue to make mortgage payments on the house. So we sold the house, donated 2,400 square feet worth of stuff, and only took the essentials that would fit in a 400-square-foot “box.” Our old kitchen had 23 full-sized cabinets. The RV has five small ones. But my husband often remarks that I create the best meals in that tiny space.
Things I Wish I Would Have Known
Retirement Awaits: What are a few things you wish someone would have told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?
Kathleen: The lifestyle we’ve chosen isn’t all roses, though. It’s hard to be a “vagabond” — to pull up your roots and hit the road.
Best Retirement Vacation
Retirement Awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?
Kathleen: Our Google Timeline shows that we have visited over 2,800 places in 5 years! My favorites would have to include Gettysburg, JFK Library in Boston, Crater Lake in Oregon, and Bryce Canyon in Utah. This is a big, beautiful country and there are so many quaint small towns, vibrant cities, unusual landscapes, and breathtaking views that we could never see it all. We plan to continue exploring, though, so long as our health holds out!
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