Looking into getting an RV for long term living

We are looking into getting an RV for long term living and are curious what others have found best for internet access esp. upload and download speeds as our jobs as photographers depend on our being able to process photos as quickly as possible for our sanity as well as awaiting editors and clients. We live in the Southern California area.
Any other tips are appreciated as well. Solar suggestions, etc.?

Since you’re looking for opinions, moved to IMHO (from MPSIMS).

Are you planning to be constantly mobile or spend long stretches at a single park?

My inlaws have done the wandering lifestyle a couple of times and satellite was horribly priced and slow. Their solution was a lot of coffee shops/fast food locations with free internet and signing up for internet packages whenever they stopped for a few weeks in one place. The combination of those and tethered internet through their phone plan got them through but it’s not pretty or easy.

I would recommend a fairly clear understanding by at least one of you on how to set up and make changes on the fly to your devices and an expensive caffeine habit will probably be your cheapest and most effective bet if you’re mobile. If you’re stationary make sure inquiries about internet are included in your park questions before deciding on a location.

Internet access is minor compared to the logistics/ economy involved. Our culture is not suited to gypsy living, with exceptions to carnival folk.

There is a huge culture of retired/semi-retired folks doing exactly this, all across the southern US. It doesn’t work for everyone, people like my inlaws love the lifestyle but can’t seem to live in that small a space. They go back and forth every couple of years between a house and an RV, but for those who are okay with the space limitations it’s a great lifestyle.

How much does the parking cost?

Free overnight camping can be found at many Walmart locations. Hookups not provided. Unless you really hit it off with a Walmart greeter or similar. :wink:

Wal-Mart is not all that welcoming any longer, probably because of garbage and sanitation issues. A large number of RV parks have daily, weekly and monthly rates. The latter can be quite low. On a daily basis, $30-$35/day at a privately owned park is not unusual, depending on whether or not you’re going to use hookups. State campgrounds are a bit less, and Forest Service campgrounds are dirt cheap, but there are usually no amenities other than outhouses and a communal water pump.

As for internet access: we had an ATT uplink with our laptop while we were on the road for five months. Horrible or no service unless you were near a major city. There’s a vast wasteland in between the west coast and the fringes of the east where there is little or no connectivity. There are a lot of RV parks that have wi-fi service, and more are getting with that program every year, as guests expect it. That said, if your space is at the back of the park and they don’t have relays situated throughout the park, you’re going to have to take your laptop to someplace closer to where the router is to get connected. If the OP is just planning to live in a trailer in SoCal, the chances of a decent connection are pretty good.

I’ve had very good luck tethering off my Verizon phone in some of the hyper-rural locations I work at. (In fact, I’m posting from it now. CAN YOU HEAR ME?) The network has also gotten noticeably better in terms of rural data connectivity in the few years I’ve been doing this job. The only problem is finding a way to get an affordable plan that gives you enough data if you’re using a lot of bandwidth. From what I understand, some of the pay-as-you-go plans work on the Verizon network and offer decent per-day unlimited bandwidth. That might be a good option if you’re moving around a lot, since you can just not use it when you’re out of service or have free wi-fi.

I do also have a Wilson cell booster that cost a few hundred bucks, but hugely improves cell reception out in the boonies, especially with data. If you do go the cell data route, you might consider semi-permanently mounting one of those on your rig.

Verizon is definitely going to provide better coverage than AT&T or Sprint or T-mobile in rural areas.

Probably you need have to have multiple options–at least both cellular and WiFi.

If your parents have Sprint and have had it since 2008 (or earlier) they can get a Mobile wi fi hotspot with unlimited access. By unlimited, I mean as much as they can use. I have a mobile spot and I use it for 25-35 gigs per month for the same rate as current Sprint users.

One disadvantage is that in certain areas of the rural West, the wi fi coverage is terrible or non-existent. However, if they are in or near a major city, they won’t have many (if any) issues. I haven’t found many,

One piece of advice: Your parents should choose the BEST RV that they can afford. When i purchased mine, there were many choices which cheaper, but that would have been smaller. If they plan on staying in it for an extended period, buying a roomy RV is (IMO) a must.

Yeah, $30-40 a night hookups run to $900-$1200 a month in parking and connection fees, plus tax, plus whatever else they hit you with.

Driving anywhere is going to cost you 50-80 cents a mile.

Then there’s depreciation on the damned things. Consider it a mobile house that costs as much as a house, but depreciates like a car. Sounds awesome, right?

Walmart isn’t as welcoming anymore because a lot of cities have straight up outlawed camping in their parking lots. I know my city has. If you’re a trucker, you can get away with parking in the back of the lot for a single night, but they’re going to roust your RV and tell you to head to one of the local (paid) campgrounds.

I looked into this as a permanent living situation a few years ago, and the thing that stuck with me is repairs. These things are cheaply made, and you’re going to be on your own for replacing parts, patching leaks, switching out appliances, etc. Not to mention handling the hoses for plumbing. If you’re handy and that’s no problem, that’s fine. If you want everything to just work, you’re going to be in for a world of hurt.

Think about it long and hard … break downs do occur, break in’s do occur, GEICO won’t cover you if your living out of your RV, not everyone you meet is really a friend in the RV world, lots of nuts out there, close is close in any RV park and the enemy watches your time schedule very closely, living on the road is not all it’s cut up to be, seven years experience talking to you here.

The best way to live in a small enclosed space such as an RV or a Airstream is on your own private property with security cameras and dogs and a garden and fresh water and sunsets with a friendly café nearby.

Think about it very carefully cost vs return of pleasure or headaches.

They’re not all cheaply made, but you’re going to pay for the better-built RVs. To me, it’s worth it. A Four Winds class C is nowhere near the quality of a comparable Winnebago. A Class A Fleetwood is not going to be anywhere in same ballpark as a Newmar, which in turn will look cheap next to a Prevost. I used to have a Bigfoot Class C which I felt was head and shoulders above most comparables. I now have a Pleasure-Way Class B, which I think beats out Road Trek in quality, hands down.

Mr. Quatro is correct. Not everyone out there is your friend, and most RVs are easy to break into. The locks on the doors are flimsy and simple, and the doors are the same. A guy with a pry bar and a few minutes can get in pretty easily. Also, most RVs are NOT designed to be lived in long term. The Class A buses are really the only ones that are specifically designed for that. RVs by their nature deteriorate quickly and humans exude a large amount of moisture on any given day.

Sounds like a good argument for buying a plot and buying an RV instead of a house, and a couple of dogs to guard it and keep you warm. I wonder what regions/municipalities have ordinances against camping (whether you own the land or not), probably many.

[Note the OP is thinking about doing this, not the OP’s parents]

The advice is wrong. A very substantial segment of the people doing this find out that it is not for them. So if you spend $150,000 for a new, nice motorhome and decide after a few months that this lifestyle is not for you by the time you have resold this vehicle you will have lost many tens of thousands of dollars (part of it being buying retail and selling wholesale and part of it substantial early depreciation). So you want to start with a more modest RV and see if you like the lifestyle and then change later if needed.

Also, 19 ft is the size of a DOT standard parking space. So a huge RV is going to be a problem for anything but an RV lot.

I read a blog by a guy who lives in an RV by himself and he says he recommends a small (around 20 ft) RV.

Please point out where I suggested spending $150k on an RV. I would never do that myself unless it was a used RV, in excellent condition and I planned on using it extensively. **But that’s what I would do, not what I would recommend for anyone else.
There are NUMEROUS used RVs for under $20k which are more than adequate for people wishing to live long-term in one long-term. They are Class A models,they would have low mileage and they would require minimal maintenance by an owner. If the people found that the RV was not to their liking, they could again resell it for slightly less than what they paid for it or simply park and use it on occasion.

Since you weren’t certain what I meant, it may have been wiser to ask rather than assume.

Living in a small RV is difficult, bordering on impossible for most people. While they are great for short trips, they are terrible for extended stays. Most people would end up either staying in motels/hotels or renting/buying a home , thus rendering the purchase of the RV, irrelevant.

I travel for work and I have spent extended periods in an RV. If I had to spend more than a few days in a small RV, I would simply stay in a motel or rent a small apartment as the space would be too claustrophobic and it would be too hard to keep the vehicle clean. I would not recommend this to anyone who isn’t experienced with RV travel and would have no problems with spending weeks or months in one.