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.”
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Yep, this is another way of making it work. I am happy for you guys, not always can people be so fortunate.
If you are currently working at a company and thinking that the RV lifestyle is for you, here are a couple things you should concider.
(1) most RV parks allow up too a 2 week stay. And have to qualify ( in Southern California) for residency or monthly rates.
For example; within the 50 mile radius of where we stay, all of the RV parks that allow monthly stays have a waiting list.
So just don’t think it is smooth sailing into any RV park you decide on.
Do your homework.
Plus, I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news but if you are considering something like this you need to know the facts.
Yes, some places are different than other places. Maybe because I live near hospitals, theme park, lakes and other attractions, it might be considered a hot spot and alot of people would like to stay here. And yes, that RV park I saw in the middle of the desert may be empty but there’s no waiting list I bet. Just saying.
Do your homework.
I know thier are traveling nurses that move RV park to RV park about every 3 months or so. It takes planning and coordination to make it work. But they manage it.
There are lots of people with careers that make it work. Going from place to place, state to state. Just do your homework and get informed.
There are ways of going about it that can make it very smooth and enjoyable and then there are the horror stories. (Don’t be a horror story, do your homework. ).
Hope this helps
John Sweeney says
The problem is finding the jobs…
Crazy Cat Couple says
Your story is very inspiring. We are on the verge of finalizing the sale of some rental properties we have and hope to follow your same path. Thanks for sharing your story.
Thinking of workamping with my husband when we are 59. How do you bridge the gap and pay for health insurance?
Deb Chamberlain says
Very interesting and encouraging story. We’d love to do this (and had planned for it when getting our RV) but have no idea how to even start.
Linn Ashton says
Try looking at the areas of interest for you and your spouse, then see which parks are around, even state parks as well, then see the booking records , (how busy they are when they are busy…etc.)
Then set down and mock up a travel plan and see if you can coordinate that to real time scheduling.
Just athought.Happy trails friends…
Peter and Laurie says
Loved your article. My wife and I are retired. This is the second season of our version of work camping. We volunteer in the Pennsylvania State Park system. As campground hosts. It is fun to meet so many new and experienced campers. This was a test to find out if we really want to do this. I believe we will be venturing of next season. I want to work our way west.
Terry Donald Dickson says
I started after retirement. But if your still in the working class, the first place to start is to find a way to support your lifestyle. Next is to downsize everything you own. Family heirlooms can be given to family. Everything else, you sell if you can or donate to charity. You have to get down to the very basics. It’s not as hard as you would think, and after you start, it can actually be fun. Start off slow. Take a long vacation and be sure your ready for the lifestyle.
I have been traveling and workamping for the past four years, and wouldn’t change a thing. But that’s just me. You have to make your own decisions.