2016 was our fourth full year of fulltiming, and marked our last year as a “fulltiming family”. Like the years before, it was filled with making new friends, meeting up with old friends, and plenty of new adventures.
Casey stopped travelling with us in January, when she moved into the apartment with Nick. I wasn’t sure how she’d feel about the change, but she has adapted well to his schedule, and seems to really enjoy living with him (he spoils her!)
Bryce was with us for most of the year, but then in August, he moved into the dorms at Michigan State University, and we were officially empty-nesters.
We did, however, pick up a travelling guest for several weeks when we introduced Tom’s Dad to the fulltime lifestyle.
Nicolas was still in Charleston this year for his nuclear power training, and we were really pleased that our flexible lifestyle allowed us stay near enough to him that he was able to spend several of his 4-day weekends with us,
and also stay with us during the evacuation for Hurricane Matthew.
After travelling to Michigan (without the motorhome) with Nicolas for Christmas, and then getting him settled into his new apartment, we headed south into Florida, criss-crossing the state,
and hitting every coast – the Atlantic, the Gulf, and the Panhandle.
When Spring arrived (or, when we thought it should have arrived – WRONG!), we travelled north to have some issues addressed on the motorhome at ARG (a.k.a. Monaco) in Decatur, IN. On the down side, we had freezing temperatures and 3” of snow; on the upside, we found our new tow vehicle.
We spent the late spring and summer in Michigan, and in the fall we travelled east and south to add a couple new states (Pennsylvania and Virginia) to our map on the way to South Carolina.
We stayed in 30 campgrounds over the course of the year, including 4-1/2 months at our workamping location in Michigan, Silver Creek RV Resort,
where we had plenty of opportunities to take the Jeep out on the sand dunes,
and 2-1/2 months at our volunteer site at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge.
We visited (5) new National Park properties, most of them in the fall with Tom’s Dad.
We travelled a total of 5689 miles in the motorhome, and consumed 764 gallons of diesel (averaging 7.45 mpg) at a total cost of $1753 for a cost per mile of 31 cents. Not too bad! We were stationary for 7 months of the year (workamping and volunteering) and the motorhome does not move at all when we’re stationary, unlike the truck which would still occasionally get driven, even though we had the car. We did have several days (both in the spring and the fall) when we needed to use the aquahot system for heat, which used diesel, but didn’t seem to have an appreciable effect on our diesel usage.
We spent a total of $4931 on campground fees during the year, which when averaged over 12 months, comes to $411/month. When we remove the 7 months that we were workamping or volunteering, the monthly average cost becomes $986. This is considerably higher, but that’s one of the benefits of workamping and volunteering – keeping your overall campground fees down so that you can stay wherever you want the rest of the year.
Our total expenses for the year, with major expenses disregarded (Jeep purchase, Roth IRA contributions, and Bryce’s college expenses) came to just under $36,000, or $3000/month. We have no debt on the motorhome or Jeep, since I’m still working our health insurance is provided by my employer, and we have money set aside for college so that does not factor into our standard expenses.
We’re pretty happy with this amount – it’s right in line with our budget, and it is reduced from the previous years’ expenses when there were 4 of us, and we were covering more miles. The upcoming year will be the real test, now that it just Tom and I (although we’ll have Bryce back for a few months in the summer). I’ve already noticed a decline in our grocery expenses!
We’re still loving this life! We’re having fun, meeting lots of like-minded people, catching up with friends we’ve met over the years, and we’re able to be where we need to be when we need to be there to support our sons as they begin to build their own adult lives. Some might say we’ve deserted them, but I don’t agree at all. We’ve raised them to stand on their own two feet, given them the skills they need to be successful in the paths they’ve chosen, and they know we will be there to support them when needed and to celebrate their successes with them.