Workamping before retirement isn’t for everyone, but for this Illinois couple it’s working out great. Even their dogs are benefiting from the experience.
“We started to have friends get cancer, have heart attacks, and pass away and realized we are not promised tomorrow and decided to do this while we can still enjoy it,” says Julie, 60. The retired teacher and her husband Curt, 57, embraced the lifestyle three years ago after learning about workamping ins and outs from full-timers who were doing it themselves.
“We have an RV park back home where we own our site. We got to know our workampers well and talked about the lifestyle with many of them. We thought it sounded like a fun life style (and it is!),” she says.
After leaving the education and construction fields, she and Curt instantly fell in love with the freedom to see new places and meet new people. The radical change in their lifestyle came easy to everyone, including their rescue dogs.
“My dogs have loved the lifestyle too. We rescue so of course they come with their own issues,” she explains. “My older dog was painfully timid. She lived most of her life behind a chair. Once we went full time she became a different dog. She would go up to people which she would never do before. I was very happy that the last three years of her life were happy because of our change in lifestyle.”
As a bonus, she and Curt are able to spend more time with their dogs than ever before. “We have no commute time, we come home for lunch and always seem to be with them.”
Although it might seem like having dogs can be a disadvantage of workamping, Curt and Julie say that pet parenthood hasn’t hurt them as full-time RVers and workampers. “Having dogs has never been an issue with any job we had, and never had to skip a job because of them,” she says.
A Reality Check for Workamping Before Retirement
Of course workamping and full-time RVing isn’t all glamorous. Being far away from family can be tough. And finding a doctor is a pain. In addition, getting a decent hair cut from a trustworthy stylist is an ongoing battle when you live on the road. Despite these occasional hurdles, they wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Workamping jobs are plentiful and they have had their pick of seasonal jobs. Some were great, one or two were not, and a handful are fun enough to do all over again. This summer you’ll find the freewheeling couple workamping on a ranch resort in Utah’s canyon country for the second summer in a row. Although the work is hard and the hours long, the million-dollar campsite views cannot be beat.
Julie and Curt have nuggets of wisdom to share with anyone thinking about trying out the workamping lifestyle. “My advice would be to forget being materialistic and enjoy experiences instead. Go to places you have never been before and be open to new things. The jobs are seasonal so if you don’t like it or the area you are in, remember it won’t last long and you can always find another job somewhere else.”