Living and traveling full-time in your RV usually means letting go of big and small possessions, from extra sets of dishes to the roof over your head. Like it or not these objects define who we are and what we’ve accomplished during our time on the planet, which can make it tough to walk away from them. Life gets even more intense when we face the biggest possession of all and wonder: “Should I keep or sell my home when full-timing?”
Anyone who has put sweat equity and emotions into a home they love knows how difficult it is to let go. We try to tell ourselves “It’s just a thing!” but for most people a home means so much more than that. My own home-ownership experience only lasted ten years so I can imagine how much more difficult this dilemma is for someone who has raised a family in the same home for decades.
Whatever your own situation, all home-owners need to consider different scenarios if they want to hit the road.
There are no Right or Wrong Choices
Spoiler alert: my husband and I sold our home. Why? Because keeping it didn’t make sense for us. The rural California rental market was weak when we hit the road in 2007 and any rental income we received would barely cover taxes, insurance and the mortgage. We considered hanging onto it because the housing market was still going strong and we had visions of making even more money from it in the coming years. However when the U.S. economy tanked the following year, we were beyond grateful that we didn’t have a mortgage.
Everyone is different and only you know if owning a home when full-time RVing is right for you. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, it’s wise to dig deep and decide soon. Start by taking a look at your individual scenario and ask yourself:
- Why do I want to keep it? Do I love the neighborhood that much? Will maintaining ownership make me feel secure? Or will it keep me awake at night knowing we’re not there to keep an eye on things?
- If we sell, will we have enough proceeds left to buy something again someday?
- Where can we put our possessions if we let it go? What will storage cost?
- Do we have the income to support home-ownership costs while we travel?
- If we keep the house, who can look after it? Will we have to pay a property manager? What will it cost?
- Am I OK renting the house? Do I want to be a long-distance landlord? How do I feel about strangers living in my home?
Being a long-distance landlord takes money. Even if you have renters that can cover your basics like mortgage, taxes and insurance, you’ll still need a financial cushion to cover wear and tear. Are you financially able to do that?
Before making a decision it’s wise to talk to knowledgeable realtors who understand your local real estate market. A realtor can give you a better idea of housing trends and what kind of financial position you’ll be in as a landlord, homeowner, or home seller.
Some people will try to tell you otherwise, but there are no right or wrong ways to go. Deciding to keep or sell your home when full-timing is as individual as you are. As long as you can sleep at night with your chosen outcome, you’ll still get to experience the ultimate freedom of a life with ever-changing scenery and ongoing adventure!