Jump to content

fulltime living/travelling


Recommended Posts

Hello to all, we regard ourselves as fairly experienced motorhomers, having started with Fiat Amigo's and Bedford cf's, but hey we learn something new every day, We would like advice from people who are actually living long term in their vans mostly about their budgets.

We are intending to give up work next May and take our already closed final salary pensions at 55, giving us a modest income of around £8000/annum, now excluding major expenses like tax,ins,servicing,repairs, which would come from a capital budget, (as we intend to sell our house and spend approx half the equity on a small house/flat, which our son will live in and will maintain an english address,) the remainder to be for capital/dissaster situations. we would like to spend maybe up to eight months in europe and return to uk in April, for van and family duties, but still be in the van on cl's etc.

So are we in cloud cuckoo land? we are not looking to live the high life just an enjoyable one, we have a 125 honda on the back for a run around, so we don't have to drive the van everywhere thus saving quite a lot on fuel, we are members of the two main clubs, and have the Winter sun book for Spanish rally sites throughout the winter with the CCC, but at an average of 18 euros/night seems too rich for our budget, lots on websites about closure of aire services in the winter, and people fulltiming who must be lottery winners to live how they do! so how do YOU and us ordinary folk manage, we have met several couples who have been fulltimers, but meeting someone new, we feel it rude to start asking a thousand questions! at least this way you don't have to contribute if you think it too personal.

Does anyone know of a meeting of fulltimers thats held here in the uk anytime? does anyone winter in the uk, do you keep records of costs, how do you put up with the rain etc, in such a small space? we realise this might be a little public or delicate an issuse for a forum, so if you would rather speak one to one, you can mail us direct, please do, sorry it's dragged on abit, thanks for your patience and any information given, regards Bri and Jan



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Brian, I don't full time mself but I have looked into it extensively for the future, and we have "long term toured" for up to 5 months.


With regards to budgeting, I think £8,000 might mean you are right on the lower limits for day to day living. We used £,1200 for our tours but if we had stayed in one place longer there would have been a saving on fuel but even so I don't think it would amount to more than a couple of hundred pounds or so over month.


Campsites are generally cheaper when you book solo rather than via the club rally system. An ACSI card will also reduce your fees. In Spain and Portugal, which is the usual winter migration place for us and most othe Brits, the sites will give discounts of upto 60-70% on their nightly rate for units staying over 31 days. They also usually put the electric on a meter for the long term stayers, so a solar panel will help there because you will not be using their eectric for your battery charging. A German guy I stayed next to reduced his electric bill by over 50% from the previous year after he fitted a 2 large tilting, (not tracking), panels to his roof.


Morocco is becoming the latest country people migrate to. Prices are lower there for fuel, food and sites. I have no knowledge of it though myself but research on here and other forums will help


We have some friends who full time and they have paid 10 Euros or less per night for a long term stay. When back in the UK they could usually get a good lay up site for about £10.00 a night for a long term stay. But you will have to stay away from the main club sites for that of course!


Eating out is where you will spend the most so it is important to learn where the cheaper supermarkets and shops are so you can cook and eat "at home. Avoid, Le Clerc and the bigger places are they are expensive.


Your vans insurance may be a bit dearer too if you full time, so make sure you do your research there. Same with insurance for your bike.


The aire system in France is very good but you can usually only stay for a night or 3 at the most so that will mean moving on, and reports are that the prices are increasing on them if you need electric or for water. In Winter, unless you are in the South, France is not a good place to winter up, in my opinion, many sites close down and the weather can get cold.


You could try going onto Motorhome Facts website. They have a specific thread for ful timing and they will answer all your questions there in more detail.


Finally, don't hesitate to ask people you meet on the road who are full timing. Many will happily speak to you about the lifestyle and pass on tips and advice. They are usually happy to speak because they can then be all smug about what is a pretty good way of spending your retirement!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

B-) Back in October 1996 I had done the calculations and decided I could afford to live on our savings/income until I reached 65 and got my basic State pension. We had LESS than £8,000 a year to live on and during that time have bought and sold several RV/Motorhomes. I now receive my State pension and we have NEVER been so WELL OFF. I STILL have some savings left.

The thing NOT to do is live as if you are on holiday. We have seen many along the way who sold everything back in the UK and hit the high roads or ended up on a camp site in Spain for 2 to 3 years before having spent up and having to go back to the UK with nothing. ;-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that you will find that Safeguard will provide Insurance for European travel for 360 days, no restictions. They also provide a very good Multi-trip insurance package but not sure if it covers trips for more than 60 days in duration ?


As already stated, www.motorhomefun.co.uk has a dedicated thread to Full Timing and there are currently some good dicussions going on around the advantages and disadvantages.


As far as pitch prices go, as well as all the other recommendations you will receive (France Passion, ACSI, Camping Cheques etc.) do some independent research on the Internet, you will find that a lot of sites offer deals for staying for prolonged periods, I even saw one in Spain whilst browsing that worked out at 7Euro pn including hook up if you stayed in excess of 30 nights !!


If you also do a google search 'Full Timing in a Motorhome' it will give you a whole host of information from people who are actually out there doing it. Again, one article I read, amongst many, even provided some base prices for everyday consumables and eating out.


Although I am a long way from being able to get the full timing freedom, I have played around with figures to see how much I would need and got an Annual Cost to around £11,000. However, this included everything from return ferry crossings, annual service, MOT, Tax, Insurance, estimated gas usage, mobile phone top ups, living costs (including Hairdresser for OH) etc. etc.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Snail and welcome to the mad house! :-D


£8,000 a year is not a massive amount so you really do need to be sure that it is enough. We've been doing our sums, not to go full-timing, but to be able to leave work early (ages 52 and 47). My husband won't be able to get his work's pension (at a slightly reduced rate) until he's 60, so we've got to manage for 8 years on our savings with no other income at all as we don't want to HAVE to work for a living again if we can help it (rather do some work for charity instead). Anyway, over the last few years we've been saving hard and have enough tucked away to do what we want until the pension kicks in to top it up, but, whilst we will be keeping our bungalow which for all intents and purposes will only cost us for the standard types of bills, we recon we need £10,000 minimum, so we've included a safety margin of 20%, and have budgeted for £12,000 a year in outgoings which includes holiday spending.


If possible, I'd suggest going back over your expenditure over the last couple of years or so and realistically assess how much you have really spent on day to day living at home, using that to assess how much of it would still need to be spent if you were living in your 'van full time insead - you'll still have food costs, fuel, clothing, washing, site fees, van costs (insurance, service etc), by doing this you can then determine whether what you propose is feasible on your budget.


From what I've read, observed, and heard from full-timers, living in a van is different to a holiday as has been suggested, if you like to eat out a lot, on your proposed budget it won't be realistic and you may also find some of the other things you like to do now, will be an extra expense you cannot afford. This then brings up the question as to exactly what do you expect living in a 'van full-time to offer you and can you realistically do it. Ultimately it is your choice and only you can know. I wish you well in whatever you decide. :-D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think, if you want to find out about the pros and cons from existing practitioners, the best starting point will be here: http://tinyurl.com/pqx7re

The Williamsons have been doing this long term, and I believe will respond to queries.  However, the website is a fund of information so, after you've read that lot, you just may have all your answers.

There is a quiet message in the above posts that, put bluntly, says you can't afford this!  I think I agree.  What seems to be missing is the disaster planning.  You may be allergic to such scenarios, but it is wise to have some contingency up your sleeve, so that you have a plan to cope if disaster strikes.  Serious illness, or expensive mechanical failure, are two, but also damage to your van.  Insurance yes, but you seldom get back quite what you have lost.  You need a buffer.  Half the value of your house may prove sufficient, but the possibility exists that it may not.  At least, it may not if you just want to pick up the pieces and carry on.

Bear in mind that the idea of cheap anywhere is a fading dream.  There will always be places where prices generally are that bit lower, but the whole idea underlying the EC is that costs, and therefore prices, will tend to even out over time.  Finely balanced budgets, in the face of rising fuel prices and increasing pressures on "wild" camping locations, can only become even more squeezed over time.  It's that buffer thing again.

Not for me to say, of course, but working out how much your pensions would benefit if you continue working beyond 55 would probably be an instructive calculation.  Would two or three more years of full income, with the same period of pension contributions, possibly generate those missing buffers?

Final thought.  I think it fair to say that no European vans are constructed to withstand full time living.  Used in the way you propose, items such a water pumps, toilet tanks, heaters, cookers etc will all be inclined to be more troublesome that if the van is only used for holidays.  So, is your van really up to what you propose?  If it isn't, it could become very costly to maintain (those buffers again) but could also cause you serious dislocation to your plans while awaiting spares/repairs in whatever country you happen to be in at the time.  In that respect, a make with a Europe wide support network would seem a good starting point.

Hope this helps, and good luck with whatever you decide.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, While it is fair to say that I hve no experience of full timing in motorhome, I am full timing in retirement at home having retired at age 52

and accepted a redundancy package that was invested.


When the magic 65 came, the income albeit not full amount was very welcome.


However at current age of 72, with the current financial situation as it is, I wonder what the next 5 years is going to bring. Galloping inflation, Real, not government statistics, increases above inflation of council tax, fuel tax, and every other tax that you can think of, pathetic returns on investments,

maintenance costs of vehicle,house, etc.


My guess is that your budget would be extremely tight even if you could find freebie sites for most of the time. I wonder if you might consider summer work on the continent to boost the finances. We did 4 seasons as holiday rep on a campsite when we retired, and that gave us the freedom to enjoy the summer all expenses paid and a small wage to pay for food, and save costs at home, no gas electric,phone bills.


Good luck with your future, enjoy it while you can, and as been said already, have a plan B just in case.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

Having just discovered this thread via the search engine, (hurrah!!), I noticed that Snail the OP never even bothered to thank folk for responding.


I'd just like to say thanks for the time and effort folk put into this, I've found it very interesting reading as it is something we're aiming to do in the (hopefully) not too distant future.


Albeit with some changes, we're happy to and would need to do some part time work, site sitting/managing that sort of thing, I've bags of Joe Public experience and my much better half is a logistics genius so will be happy to run the office. At least that's what she says...


We'll generate enough capital from the sale of our main home to fund a new van and have capital left over. We also own a lovely new maintenance free apartment which we can come home to as and when. We may consider short lets on it but not on the open market just to friends or relatives who may be in short term need.


All food for thought for us and thanks again.







Link to comment
Share on other sites

LordThornber - 2010-08-27 5:38 PM


Having just discovered this thread via the search engine, (hurrah!!), I noticed that Snail the OP never even bothered to thank folk for responding.


I'd just like to say thanks for the time and effort folk put into this, I've found it very interesting reading as it is something we're aiming to do in the (hopefully) not too distant future.



Yes its very bad when people posting a question then don't have the decency to at least thank others for their replies.


However 'snail' was possibly put off by the pathetic response. Over 500 views which attracted just nine replies, seven of which were made on the same day. I have noticed that almost any new thread on here often dies within two or three days. There is an air of apathy.


This same subject discussion ran on Fun for months on end attracting a huge response with almost as many posting as were viewing. Fulltiming presents an interesting subject as there are that many hoops to jump through it is not quite so easy to do as what some may think. One thing to bear in mind is that being a citizen of this country means the authorities and powers that be do not appreciate ANYONE attempting to disappear off the radar. 'They' want to know what you are doing and why, so demand you have a residential address.......and that's just the start of you having to bend the rulebook. There is much much more which follows on from that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...