15 Reasons You Will Regret an RV in Retirement

RV-savvy retirees talk about the downsides of spending retirement in a motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel or other recreational vehicle.

Two men with RV about to be towed near Yuma, Ariz.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re work-weary and ready for retirement, the call of the open road might beckon you to saddle up in a recreational vehicle and take off. No 9-to-5, the kids are grown and gone and the RV life seems compelling. Sell the house and move on! If you’re feeling that way, you aren’t alone. In the last 20 years, RV ownership in the U.S. has shot up 62%, according to a recent study by the RV Industry Association. RV ownership is at a record 11.2 million households, half of which are 55 and over. Another 9.6 million households plan to buy an RV in the next five years, the study found. Roughly 1 million Americans are living full time in them.

Sales at many RV dealerships have been blazing the past two years, sparked, in part, by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s not just retirees who want to hit the road; others now want to vacation in a self-enclosed traveling capsule that will let them avoid hotels and motels, as well as other people. 2021 was a record year for the industry, with over 600,000 units sold.

But is an RV in retirement right for you? We spoke with retirees who spend much of their time in recreational vehicles for their guidance on the cons of RV living in retirement. Key downsides?

“Emptying the sewer tanks. Cost of fuel. Rising costs of campgrounds. Having to manage mail forwarding, unreliable internet access for email and online banking. Managing deliveries from Amazon and prescription refills,” said Geoff Baker, 74, a retired commander with the British Royal Navy who has been RVing across America since 2011 with his wife, Laura, 67, a former safety manager at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. (Their home base is Polk City, Fla.)

Here’s what the Bakers and others had to say about the downsides of life on the road in an RV.

Bob Niedt
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

Bob is a Senior Online Editor at Kiplinger.com. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty, and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.