RVing in retirement?

montana_janFebruary 20, 2006

We bought a RV camper last year to take on summertime fishing trips here in Montana. But now, we are considering taking it to Arizona for the winters. Anyone ever live in a rv for any lenght of time? Any suggestions of where to go in Arizona for the winters? thanks, Montana_Jan

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My daughter left Minnesota & lived in an RV (ultimately reaching a 40 footer) for 4 years, traveling around the country. She spent winters in an RV park in Gold Canyon, Az., near Mesa and Apache Junction. She now lives in a park house in the same RV park. FYI, park houses are not really much bigger than an RV, just fixed in place.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2006 at 1:05PM
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My husband and I could never manage an RV. We really need our space, and our space away from each other. Once he retires we are thinking we will need two offices, two computers and a workshop for him.

I know several people who have moved to Yuma. There is such a huge snowbird community there that it is easy to fit in and make friends I think.

The idea of sort of transient living is very unappealing to me. I want to be a full member of my community - church, senior center etc. I don't like the idea of requiring two banks, 2 doctors, 2 churches, 2 sets of friends. We may go to Arizona but we will probably stay at least 9 months a year and spend the other 3 months with our daughter who has an extra house on her property and can use summer childcare.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 3:38PM
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I don't know about RV living, but perhaps I can make some suggestions for living in general in Arizona, as we spent ten years there. Central through southern AZ is snowbird paradise in the winter. Surely an RV organization can provide you with ideas for the places that would suit you best.

We lived in Tucson, which is prettier and less polluted than Phoenix (and has an easier climate), and is very friendly. Actually, though, AZ in general is quite a friendly place. Because it's geared for snowbirds, there are many thriving communities for part-time residents. Northwest Tucson is growing fast; I'd look for a situation somewhat to the east, nearer to the foothills.

Phoenix has the Mesa area to the south, the Sun City towns to the northwest, and Scottsdale/Fountain Hills to the east. There are some fine medical centers in the Scottsdale area, but that's true of Tucson also. All offer excellent care for seniors.

If I were considering an out-of-the-way place such as Yuma, I would head for Sierra Vista, about 45 miles south of Tucson, instead. Much more beautiful and with some seasonal variation in the weather. Yuma is to me one of the ugliest places on earth. Sierra Vista is the southern edge of a long line of small and sometimes charming communities, many built for snowbirds.

Our very favorite place in AZ is the Verde Valley, about midway between Phoenix and Flagstaff. It has the growing town of Cottonwood and to the north, Sedona. If you are used to Montana fishing trips, you might really enjoy the beauty and outdoors activities of this wonderful region. Wherever you decide to go, I think that you are going to find some very nice people!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 9:47PM
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Hi Montana Jan,

Looks as though you'd need to add a hefty trailer hitch to your motor home ...

... and then buy a house trailer to tow along.

To enable there to be a separation of church from state, when the circumstances indicated, so to speak.

My ex- used to spend three winter months touring FL - TX in her (25 footer, I think it was).

Then, when our daughter worked in AZ for a few years, she extended over to there.

Daughter lived in Prescott for time, later moved to Phoenix, largely for business reason, but think she liked Prescott better, for the climate (as she was used to Ontario, Canada) and she could go hiking and mountain climbing.

How be you try cutting your living space to that available in a motor home for a while and see how well you like it?

ole joyful (who'd need a tractor trailer to drive behind the motor home to carry all his stuff)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 2:33PM
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sable, we are looking at Tucson. We have a rental a couple of blocks from the college. We love to be in the thick of things but are concerned it may be pretty noisy and unsafe to leave to any length of time.

Our friends are building in Heritage Highlands and it is lovely there (Dove Mt.)It is a gated community so they can feel pretty secure about being snowbirds. The downside is that there aren't the amenities nearby that I like and I don't drive at night. My husband would never put up with a rule book that specified the type and number of plants etc. My brother lives in Sun City Grand and he and his wife love that there are so many rules, but my husbsand would break out in hives.

I had someone tell me recently that it is difficult to get medical care in Arizona because there are so many seniors trying to get on patient lists. Apparently that isn't something you experienced?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 11:05AM
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Thanks everyone for such great advice. We are now considering the Apache Junction, Cottonwood, and Show Low areas. LOL, Joyfulguy-- My husband will need a fishing hole to go to often or something else to do --- or our marriage will never last in retirement. I talked to a guy at one of the rv retirement communities at Mesa and he said they have so many activities that the only time anyone is ever at the rv is to sleep, so maybe it will work for us. Thanks again everyone. Montana_ Jan

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 11:28AM
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Devorah - Do you own the rental, or are you planning on renting it yourself as a tryout? I'll just be honest here. We are very, very familiar with the University of Arizona area. We got our degrees there, taught there, and our kids also attended after we moved away. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could persuade me to live in that vicinity. It has a high crime rate, is really unattractive, and the shops, etc., are mainly for college kids (nice restaurants, though). But I grew up in the heart of Chicago, and my tolerance for crime, unkempt buildings and cheap stores is now zero. If we were returning to Tucson, I would look either east of Craycroft and/or north of River Road. But the U of A does have a lot to offer and much of it is at night. However, my parents joined the U of A's Elderhostel and loved it. Many of the activities were during the day.

I checkout out Heritage Highlands and it looks like a lovely place. At this point in my life I am so tired of property upkeep, that I'd gladly go along with whatever they wanted - it's probably all easy-care desert landscaping anyway. But that is a personal matter.

We weren't seniors when we lived in Tucson, so I don't know about the situation for finding medical care. Surely that is something that could be checked on by contacting the U of A Medical Center or Tucson Medical Center. Or one of the groups that works with visiting snowbirds and seniors.

When are you planning on moving? Will you be there year-round?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 2:46PM
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We aren't planning to move for another 6 1/2 yers. We bought the house on the spur of the moment. Our daughter invests in rental houses in the U. district and I accompanied her on one of her trips and came home a half owner in a house. I am very concerned about the crime rate, noise etc., but love the idea of being so close to museums, shops, medical etc. I hate driving.

I have lived the suburban life for a long time, so I am not sure I can take the grit of city living. I am going to Phoenix today and will be in Tucson over the weekend. I am going to inspect my friend's house in Heritage Highlands for her while we are there. It will be an interesting contrast to our small, old house in the city. Except for the tax thing, I don't feel locked into having to live there. We felt that by buying something now we at least wouldn't be priced out of the market.

I really appreciate your candor. Last summer when I was in Tucson, my stomach turned over at the thought of moving there. We had to step over people dead drunk on the sidewalk just to get to our car. I got more used to it as time went on. This will be the first time that my husband and I have ever been to Arizona together, so it should be very interesting for us. One place I want to check out is academy village which is east of town. It is a small retirement community that was started by retired professors from the college. It's an interesting concept but I am a little sceptical of the funding.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 4:09PM
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Montana Jan, we have been considering RVing full time. DH probably has 6-7 yrs. before retirement, but he really wants to get an RV ( a Lazy Daze ) and travel around in it. I do, too, but I don't know if I could do it full time. I need my space! Winters would be fine since we live in one of the cooler areas of CA. There used to be an RV site with lots of good forums. I am forgetting the name. Did you do a search for RV forums?

Sable, I've enjoyed reading your info on Arizona. My brother lives in Gilbert and likes it most of the time, just not the summer heat. We are considering looking at places in the north central area, around Payson. He says it's similar to where we are now. We are used to having lots of room around us, but know we may have to trade that for proximity to good health care facilities and shopping. If you come across any info for this area, please let me know, if it's not too much trouble.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 5:41PM
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Angelcub - As far as I know, Payson is rather isolated. Your brother could probably provide you with more info than I can, since we no longer live in AZ. As I mentioned, we are serious fans of the Verde Valley and the whole area between Prescott and Sedona. For one thing, the climate is milder, resembling four actual seasons, and the summers are not vicious, as they are from Phoenix south. I noticed that you are on the north side of the San Gabriels. Are you near Tehachapi? We love that area too. We could live there easily, but I'm afraid that no one would ever come to visit!

Devorah - How was your trip? Did anything interesting turn up?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 3:52AM
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We got in from Phoenix at 12:30 this morning. It was a good trip, but much too busy. We visited my brother who had major surgery and found him to be much better than I expected.

We got around a fair bit. My brother lives in Surprise. There is nothing there that attracts me. We went to Glendale which I found to be very charming and I would like to see more of it. We spent a little time in downtown Phoenix - much too congested. We took the back road to Tucson so saw a bit of Mesa and Apache Junction. I thought Apache junction looked very nice. We visited several retirement communities in the Marana/Tucson area. Now that it is built up we don't think so much of our friend's place in Heritage Hills. We visited Saddlebrooke and thought it was too remote. We thought Academy Village on the east side of Tucson was great but too remote and too expensive. It is wonderful if you can afford it, but the homeowner's dues are $450 a month for a couple. We were happy to go see our rental downtown and do a little yard work. The West University District is really gentrifying. I think it is just going to get better and better and the opportunities for all sorts of cultural experiences are tremendous. University Avenue is exploding with ethnic restaurants that are priced for student budgets. We visited the art museum on the day that turned out to be free, and we visited the downtown development that promises average heating and cooling costs for just 66 cents a day but there is a 200k premium over what houses cost elsewhere. The development was really well thought out though and close to downtown amenities. Garages were in the back, all the houses had front porches and there was a common area down the middle. Everything was handicap accessible and the houses were as wired as it is possible to get. It is Armory Park del Sol and designed by the guy who did biosphere. He is also buying some of the old downtown office buildings and is going to put in upscale urban lofts. The old downtown ice house has already been converted. The non-existant downtown nightlife is now changing as performing arts centers and cafes spring up. The downtown convention center has been a real impetus for change.

I am already missing the heat. The weather was perfect. It was 80 degrees during the day and cooled to 40 degrees at night. We took most of our meals outside. In Tucson we stayed at a Comfort Inn out on Tanque Verde and we were very pleased with our choice. It was relatively inexpensive, the rooms were just ordinary, but the interior courtyards were delightful and set up to promote conversation with the other guests. They have free chips, salsa, beer and wine Monday through Friday. The breakfast was just what you would expect in most average priced hotels, but the eating area was nicer.

We visited Wickenburg. That's a little higher elevevation so a bit cooler, but still lacks medical facilities though that will come. It is also heavy duty rattlesnake country which is a big turn off for me.

I also think the area around Prescott and Cottenwood is more beautiful than the low desert, but since my husband can't take the cold in Seattle, he certainly wouldn't handle the winter temperatures there so it would not be an improvement for us. If we go, and we are quite sure now that we will, I think it will be Tucson for us.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 2:53PM
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Devorah - You posted such an interesting report of your trip and I apologize for taking such a long time getting back, after asking about it.

We have a very close friend who is on the Tucson Planning Commission and knows the area inside and out. I read him your remarks about the city. He said that your assessment was spot on, that it would take not all that many people serious about gentrification to make the downtown area a very attractive place to live, and that yes, prices are high there, but the amenities are good. He also said that the old downtown ice house has just won a design award.

You said that you're already missing the heat. Have you been there in the summer? If not, I suggest that you try it. If you're unfamiliar with the desert summer, you'll encounter a new definition for "hot". When we lived there, I kept a cartoon in the laundry room - a group of people standing around in Hell, and one of them is saying, "Yes, but it's a dry heat". The Prescott-Cottonwood-Sedona-Flagstaff-Grand Canyon region will be a wonderful escape from the low desert in the summer. Those places are what we miss most about Arizona. You may also join those Tucsonans who flee to San Diego every summer for a few weeks, just to be able to walk outside without fainting!

I'm glad that your brother is doing so well, and I hope that your plans will come to happy fruition. It's ironic that as we are dreaming about visiting eldest DS in Seattle and seeing more of that area, you are dreaming of Tucson!


    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 4:39AM
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I have been baptised in the fire so to speak - I spent two weeks the first of August last year painting my daughter's rental house. The house wasn't air conditioned. I just became accustomed to walking around in a full body sweat. I quickly learned not to walk even a couple of blocks without a water bottle. We had a nice condo to sleep in at night so that made a huge difference. I also recognize that there is a big difference between managing the heat for a couple of weeks vs. several months. My brother got very sick of the heat last year. My younger daughter has an extra small house on her farm, so we expect to spend the summers up here in Washington. The difficulty there is that we would have to find someone to housesit for the summer quarter because I don't think that you can leave a house unattended that isn't part of a gated community.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 12:37PM
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Hi - I'm usually over in the Home Decorating forum, but my DBF is interested in Rv'ing, so I thought I'd do a search on the topic, and ended up in this thread.

I live in Texas now, but grew up in Tucson, and my parents still live there. Just wanted to respond to the comments about getting medical care - Mom and Dad have lived in Tucson for over 50 years, and they don't seem to have any problem gettin in to see the doctors they need to see. Just thought I'd pass that info along.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 8:34PM
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You should also check over at the rv.net forum--they have lots of people that rv full time or for long parts of the year.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 9:48AM
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While my daughter lived first in Prescott, then in Phoenix for a few years recently, she used to like to come back to Ontario for a few weeks at the height of summer.

Said we didn't know what heat was!

She's fortunate - can carry on her business wherever she has a high-speed internet connection.

She's back here more or less permanently, now - came back to care for her mother during terminal illness, has a man-friend here.

Enjoy your summer, everyone.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 12:02PM
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We bought an r.v. a couple years ago,planning on traveling after retirement.Then gas prices made it nearly impossible to leave the yard!And as for selling it--no luck so far. We'd still like to get outta Dodge. Would like to know if anyone out there gets parttime work while traveling, & if so, where's good places to go to find work? Prefer South/Southwest locations-I live where winters are awful! Thanks all, & happy r.v.ing!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 3:35PM
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Cottonwood has a excellant hospital. They really carried for both myself with infection and my husband when he got sick. They checked his out completly as they suspected heart problems. Good market, Fry's and nice Walmart. Prescott is good too and not bad weather most of the time.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 7:58PM
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