This is a guest post by Henry Buell.
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Finishing a deployment can be rough – even if it wasn’t combat oriented. This is especially true if it’s your last deployment and you’re looking down the long road of retirement. The readjustment to civilian life is just one of the many difficulties you’ll face. Settling down into a new home, and in many cases a radically different way of living, are just the beginning.
For some people it works out well, but others can’t really find their roots in a home after decades of foreign posts and deployments around the world. The lifestyle is just a little too vanilla, and really, there’s nothing wrong with that.
In fact, a great many veterans end up taking up partially nomadic lifestyles on motorcycles, but others go all in and opt for life in an RV or sailboat. If you’re in the latter category, then you’ll want to consider a two important things before committing.
The first is your finances. Living on a military pension is very much doable, but requires some planning. Coming from a military background, you’ve fortunately spent a lifetime planning, so a few “financial tips” will set you on the right track to realizing the freedoms of RV life.
The second is just what sort of RV you’ll be living in. As a general rule there are two main types, with each having advantages and disadvantages, depending on how you plan to live. A great place to review the various models is at “Bish RV”, where you can get an idea of the market, and what’s in your budget. The two main types are as follows:
Motorhome RVs: These are the traditional ‘big bus’ style RVs, though there are smaller versions as well. They’re self contained, portable, and generally will take you anywhere. The only downsides are that if you have an engine or living space issue, you’re out of both home and transportation until it’s fixed. The upside is that you can always trailer a second vehicle, but that adds significantly to fuel and initial purchase cost considerations.
Trailers: There are two varieties of trailers.
The first is your standard ‘hitch’ trailer, which you just hook to the back of a truck or car, depending on the size, and off you go. They’re easy to set up, but can have stability issues – particularly in high winds, or in the case of a blowout. Otherwise, they’re pretty easy to maintain and keep up with.
The second is your 5th wheel, which, like a tractor and trailer, hitches into the bed of a truck. These are pretty much the cream of the crop, as they maximize the availability of both home and vehicle (detachable units), and they’re extremely stable on the road. As an added bonus, they have larger living space, and more importantly, waste receptacles. This lets you coast instead of camp when between destinations, such as sleeping overnight in truck stop parking, or in a large parking lot. They’re pretty much all upside, with no real downside other than fuel costs, but that can be managed if you budget properly.
Of course, your family might not be as willing to accept your lifestyle plans – especially as many of them will be expecting you to “finally return home” after a lifetime of missing holidays. The good news is that you can reassure them of at least holiday availability, and if you work out the details in advance, show them the financials and why it works.
Whatever you decide on as home when you finally transition back to civilian life, it’s important to recognize that not every lifestyle is for everyone. The RV lets you more or less vacation at will, taking your home, and even family or grandchildren with you for much less than you’d think.