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johnyelland1234

Strange Scenario, or not. Opinions wanted please - Year long living

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Hey all,

 

I'm new to the forum and have come here to peruse the threads for random information that might help me. But, I might as well reach out and ask for advice from members.

 

I'm a bit of a loner. I'm a HGV driver by trade and run an e-commerce business on the side. The thought of buying a house and signing up to a 25 year mortgage, then paying constant council tax, heating and water bills and pretty much getting shafted by companies left right and centre, also that a house also cannot move, which means I'd be stuck in one place. To be honest, it makes me feel sick to my stomach. Is this what life has to be?

 

The UK seems to be extremely expensive too. My insurance for my motorycle goes up each year, and is at £550. My car is the same and that goes up by about £100 per year, despite getting more no claims (I have 10 years now).

 

Anyway, I've been looking at getting something that I can live in all year round, but still be able to travel. As a HGV driver, I work 4 days on and 4 days off. So if I want to go away to the EU, I can book 4 days off and basically get 12 days to travel and see places. I'm self employed anyway so can basically take as much time off as I want, I just won't get paid for it.

 

When I am working, I can park my motorhome/caravan/whatever at the RDC for those 4 days, and then go somewhere else for my 4 days off. The RDC has a shower room and stuff that I can use, but I'd probably just use my own. If I just need somewhere to park it locally, I can park outside my mothers house. She lives on an unadopted road in the country and there's a huge amount of space. I know the farmer and he'd be fine with me parking in on his road.

 

If travelling, I'd stay in laybys and the odd country road, but use camping parks every so often for a break if I stay in one place for a while.

 

I was in the RAF for 9 years, and before I got married lived in on base block accommodation. I paid £36 a month all in for a room that was basically a bedroom, with a small en-suite. I loved it, it was all I needed and my friends were just down the corridor.

 

I got married and then got a bitter divorce. Now as a HGV driver, working in a sole occupation, doing a degree and running this side e-commerce business, friends can be hard to find and time can be at a premium.

 

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So, what are my options? I have all DVLA licences so can drive anything I want. I also have a 2015 Honda VFR1200X which I would want to take with me (or downsize to something lighter as its 300kg). This is so when I go to Europe I can go off on that. I've just booked a month in Corsica, and go in June. I'm going on the bike, but staying in AirBnB's. The accomodation all in has cost around £1,800, which isn't too bad for a month in summer.

 

I want to go away a few times each year preferably to see places in Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia.

 

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Other than that, space is nice but not essential. Heat can be provided by a cab heater, but I'm fine with the cold. Air con would be important as I might go somewhere hot, I think they run off butane bottles?

 

-----

 

Here's what I've been looking at:

 

Caravans

image.png.c9dee7ffe4f20e0e6c060b89d83571a7.png

 

Good bit of space, but needs another vehicle to tow it which is an additional cost. Would need air con and cab heater retrofitted most likely. Also, i'd essentially be towing almost dead weight. If I go somewhere with hills or loose surface such as gravel or ice, then it'd be harder but by no means impossible. On alibaba, these look cool:

 

image.thumb.png.aa61ca3d5421de63fa9306e64f9c0a79.png

Of course the cost to import would be prohibitive.

 

Then I can get  a fifth wheel trailer:

image.png.da4796b0b2f102f6634fbf706212ea20.png

 

Lots of space, and pretty cool. But, I would have to get a pickup truck too which can be expensive in the UK. Demand seems high. Again, aircon and cab heater may need to be retrofitted.

 

Lastly, and currently my favourite option, American RV:

 

image.thumb.png.a92da9ffe26e8379fcb5da8cb615811f.png

Totally self contained, probably has cab heater and aircon fitted. One tax and insurance bill. If it's left hand drive, I'd probably try to re-register it in France via a PO box and then not pay tax and only have to MOT it every 24 months, plus I could maybe get cheaper insurance over there that might extend to the UK. Engine charges batteries when moving. Rigid which makes it easier to reverse (no blind side). 

 

It would also be able to take a motorcycle on the back. Where as on a caravan or fifth wheel trailer, this adds a degree of instability to both. I'm not sure it's advisable to put a 300kg bike on the back of a standard caravan. In fact, just typing that makes me feel silly, so it's probably correct...

 

I'd be absolutely at home in this RV. It's more than big enough, and I'd have the freedom to go wherever I want.

 

Only downside is it'd be thirsty on diesel. If I can get hold of a petrol one I'd consider LPG'ing it which might remove the tax in the UK anyway. The other downside is that they are expensive. This one is £25,000 on eBay.

 

When I get back from Corsica, I'd be paying my bike off, which is my only debt. I can either save up for a year or two, or get an RV on finance and just pay it monthly, although £25,000 is a fair size finance. I'm highly employable as a HGV driver so job security isn't a worry. The issue is getting finance on a vehicle from a private trader like from eBay.

 

Of course, with no bills pretty much, I'd be able to save a fair bit of money and as I can't fill it with junk, I might actually be able to enjoy life. Maybe even save up for a large deposit and buy a house in the UK on a buy to let. So the tenants can pay the mortgage. Let them pay the mortgage and fees for me.

 

I'd probably settle eventually, but I doubt it 'd be in the UK. Maybe Spain or in central europe.

 

So that's my issue(s). I'd really appreciate any input that you may have. 

 

(PS, no wife or kids, I'm 33 and from Durham UK)

 

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My choice would be a motorhome like a Hymer on a Merc chassis under 8m with a garage for upto a 300 kg load that can take a smaller motorbike .. RVs have the problem of fuel guzzling 10 mpg but limits on being excepted on sites so limits where you can park it . With a smaller motorhome you have the choice of wild camping in Lay-bys easier or car parks and pub car parks using Brit stops . In the EU using Aires would be easier in motorhome than RV as space can be limited . 5th wheel route you could buy a toy mover that would allow you to carry a motorbike but again you need a larger pickup and also limited on sites .

 

Dave

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Posted (edited)

 

Hi,

Sounds a great idea. If I were you I would go with the UK / Euro spec motor homes available. You could still get a decent sized one for your needs and I would buy one of these for my Bike.  That way you can use all campsites without any size restriction. The MH would be better on fuel, 2.8 diesel say. You can get similar to these with swivel wheels and are fixed to the back of the MH so reversing would be easier. Good Luck. Oh and I remember singly blocks as well, def miss it.

 

 

Here is the swivel version. 

 

 

Edited by MDM
extra vid

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34 minutes ago, MDM said:

 

Hi,

Sounds a great idea. If I were you I would go with the UK / Euro spec motor homes available. You could still get a decent sized one for your needs and I would buy one of these for my Bike.  That way you can use all campsites without any size restriction. The MH would be better on fuel, 2.8 diesel say. You can get similar to these with swivel wheels and are fixed to the back of the MH so reversing would be easier. Good Luck. Oh and I remember singly blocks as well, def miss it.

 

 

Here is the swivel version. 

 

 

 

 

and here is a better version to the Spanish one.

 

 

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12 hours ago, johnyelland1234 said:

Lastly, and currently my favourite option, American RV:

 

Totally self contained, probably has cab heater and aircon fitted. One tax and insurance bill. If it's left hand drive, I'd probably try to re-register it in France via a PO box and then not pay tax and only have to MOT it every 24 months, plus I could maybe get cheaper insurance over there that might extend to the UK. Engine charges batteries when moving. Rigid which makes it easier to reverse (no blind side). 

 

It would also be able to take a motorcycle on the back. Where as on a caravan or fifth wheel trailer, this adds a degree of instability to both. I'm not sure it's advisable to put a 300kg bike on the back of a standard caravan. In fact, just typing that makes me feel silly, so it's probably correct...

 

I'd be absolutely at home in this RV. It's more than big enough, and I'd have the freedom to go wherever I want.

 

Only downside is it'd be thirsty on diesel. If I can get hold of a petrol one I'd consider LPG'ing it which might remove the tax in the UK anyway. The other downside is that they are expensive. This one is £25,000 on eBay.

I'll let others chip in with their ideas about your other alternatives but as an RV owner I'll fill in a few thoughts about them for you, understanding that size would not be an issue regarding your driving licence.

 

As you say, they are completely self contained. There will be a cab heater run from the engine but the space heating for the rest of the coach is normally gas powered from an onboard LPG tank and will usually consist of a blow air system with the fan running from the onboard 12V leisure batteries. Mos have either one or two roof mounted air con units that run from 120VAC, either from an EHU or the installed generator. A 16A EHU will normally only run one A/C unit, so you would need to run the genny if you have two units (we have one unit and it is fine for cooling the whole coach via air ducts in the ceiling). 

 

I don'y know the rules regarding registration in France, so I cannot say whether a PO Box address is acceptable, equally I cannot confirm that an MOT would not be required every year. As far as road tax is concerned, our RV is £165 a year in the UK which compares favourable with our old 4x4 that was around £450 a year. Our RV insurance is just over £500 a year all  in, to include a number of named contents such as laptop, bikes etc.

Driving and reversing is a doddle but you'd know that if you're used to trucks, and most have a rear view camera that looks at he ground immediately behind the vehicle's blind spot. Some later models also have side cameras to cover the blind spots below the driver's field of view through the side windows.

 

A motorbike could either be trailed on a trailer, or mounted on a platform fitted directly to the 2" towing receiver. Be aware of each country's rules if you are thinking of having a rigid but supported rack, as you'll probably find that the wheels need would to be braked, and many from the USA are not. As an aside I've towed various caravans with pedal cycles on a rear rack, and they have always been stable but 300kg is probably too much for a touring caravan or European motorhome, both because of the strength of the rear wall, and the payload allowance.

 

Diesel would be costly for a vehicle doing around 8 to 10 mpg, therefore a petrol alternative is probably more viable, especially if converted to run on LPG. Be aware that conversion a few years back cost around £5000 in the UK for a 7 litre V10 Ford engine (so try to find one that someone else has already paid out for this. We had our last one converted but haven't bothered with our current one as we do not do the mileage to justify it.

Yep! They're expensive to buy so I won't add any more to that thought.

 

Where to park up may be an issue as not many caravan sites cater for this size of unit, and while an Aire may be acceptable for an occasional overnight stop, I don't think I would want to leave an outfit unattended in one.

 

Similarly quiet side roads are for vehicle movement not camping, so you stand a good chance of being moved on. We have always used formal campsites and not had problems with that providing you book ahead - a phone call is usually sufficient as you can then explain in detail exactly what the vehicle is, and while the wheelbase needs to be on hard standing, the back end can overhang rough ground, even shrubbery if needed.

 

All the best,

Gordon. 

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Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it. 

 

Indeed size isn't an issue for me. I've driven touring coaches too and an RV is more like a coach than a truck. Also reversing is fine, a camera is a bonus but not essential.

 

Road tax for £165 per year sounds great. I was thinking it would attract HGV rates. Can't remember how much that is, but I expected around the £500 mark.

 

LPG is the way to go I think. I have a friend that imports american cars and he had a 5.7 V8 Dodge Ram which ran on LPG and he didn't pay any tax and it was cheaper to run than his normal car.

 

As for the motorbike. I've seen videos where they get additional mounting points welded to the rear chassis which shares the overall weight. Still, with this done people were putting 250kg bikes on, not 300kg. I may have to downsize the bike eventually. I should be able to straight swap for a Honda CFR450L which is a third lighter and just as capable off road.

 

That Yo Trailers supported bike trailer is pretty cool. I like that very much. Not sure if I'd need it if I got a full size RV with a smaller bike, but I've book marked it for sure.

 

As for the smaller euro type motorhome, I'm not sure. There are some large ones on ebay, but nothing like an RV which is pretty much a house on wheels. If I have the licence, I think I might as well go big.

 

But, the price is interesting. A fairly new large euro motorhome, creeps up to the same price as an american RV. I always thought people drove euro spec motorhomes usually to so because they don't have the licence for larger vehicles? Not sure...

 

Parking up may be an issue, camp sites are fine but what about the additional cost? Paying £30 per night is kinda B&B territory isn't it? When I say parking in country roads, I would always mean parking in places where it would never impede traffic. Such as dirt laybys (if thats what they're called) adjacent to country roads, or tucked in the corner of a certain supermarket chain car park. I deliver to a very popular super market chain, so I know which car parks are pretty much free when it closes.

 

Other alternatives are laybys, along with the truckers, industrial estates, and just at the side of the road where legal to get some sleep. If I ever got asked to move on, well, I'd just move one. No dramas.

 

Overseas, I'd more than likely stay almost exclusively at sites, but it depends on what the country is like.

 

Thanks for the heads up about the space, I'd definitely phone ahead and make sure they can accommodate such a vehicle.

 

Gordon, I had a look at a walk around of your type of motorhome from an american seller on youtube. That's a cool RV.

 

The LPG aspect of it is important. eBay has a few that are LPG converted, and the cost doesn't seem that prohibitive.

 

 

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A friend of mine repaired pumps (big ones) and he had a merc mobile workshop where he lived upfront and the workshop is at the back.

He sold his house while times were good and concentrated on earning money, he earned a lot! and bought quite  a few big houses which he rented out, he used to stay rent free on jobs and if small jobs came up he used camp/caravan sites. 

 

The last I heard of him was he'd retired and lived in one of his big houses and employs people to do his work.  This came from a close friend who bought a dismantlers and within 10 years sold to a consortium enabling him to moved back to Hampshire with a very large pocketful of money.

 

Tis food for thought, but I had a  family and didn't take risks...……..

 

 

 

 

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Wow, good timing there. I've seen racing motorhome type things. I even saw one that had a fold down back end where you could ride a bike into it Knightrider style. 

 

If only we could all do what your friend did. I bet there were times when he got fed up though, but it was all worth it in the end ;)

 

That's the good thing about having no real bills while I'm living in it at work. I just have to work 4 days and then get time off. Hell I might even put some over time in, not like I have to travel.

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3 hours ago, johnyelland1234 said:

Also reversing is fine, a camera is a bonus but not essential.

A rear camera is  pretty useful when when reversing with a trailer that is narrower than the RV. Otherwise, I agree the large side mirrors alone are fine.

3 hours ago, johnyelland1234 said:

supported bike trailer is pretty cool. I like that very much. Not sure if I'd need it if I got a full size RV with a smaller bike, but I've book marked it for sure.

image.png image.png   

The first image shows the kind of vehicles I have towed behind our RV, and the second shows a motorcycle rack that fits directly to the towbar receiver but does not have wheels. It is, in effect, a shelf with an extendable load ramp for the motorcycle.

image.png image.png 

Similar arrangements can be found on European motorhomes but weight is the major consideration.

image.png

These are the kind of bike racks I've fitted to our previous caravans but no way would I consider them appropriate for a motorcycle.

 

 

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John ..with reference to your observations about the American RV in the image you used... £25000 ???

Show me where this beast is for sale cos that looks like £100000 worth of metal .

eBay you say...I say be careful...

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31 minutes ago, barrychas said:

John ..with reference to your observations about the American RV in the image you used... £25000 ???

Show me where this beast is for sale cos that looks like £100000 worth of metal .

eBay you say...I say be careful...

 

Absolutely. I'd only ever go to see whatever I'm interested in, in person.

 

I actually thought it was a little expensive. It's a bit old. I'll dig out the link:

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/American-RV-Motorhome-Windsor-Monaco-10-litres-Deisel-pusher-44-000-miles/123732829433?hash=item1ccf0d24f9:g:uQsAAOSwHF5cfTZD

 

It's a 2000 model. I'm not affiliated with the seller in any way mind.

 

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Thanks for those extra pictures. A support trailer may be the way to go. Just need to make sure it's braked. I think I read somewhere that in Spain it has to be?

 

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A 1997 Damon Daybreak (30ft) has just been listed on ebay for £12k. Looks ok, but would need updating inside. Petrol engine but not LPG.  That'd be ok, I'd get the work done inside and then decide on LPG if need be.

 

Not that I'm going to buy anything yet, but the info provided is very useful.

 

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You say: - The thought of buying a house and signing up to a 25 year mortgage, then paying constant council tax, heating and water bills and pretty much getting shafted by companies left right and centre.

Why do you think that you get shafted by so may companies?

Buying a house in most places in the UK has proved an investment, you pay for it over 25 years because you don't have so much money up front. I have a house bought and paid for, yes it took years to pay for it but now it's mine.

With no permanent address would insurance be a problem?

Where would you live when you get old? Would you continue with the traveller style life?

Alan

 

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Capital gains on a house compared to depreciation on a motorhome has to be considered as well.I

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Posted (edited)

I know of a number of people that invest in buying RVs for about £200,000 - £250,000 and then they are hired out through the hiring businesses for hospitality functions like the British GP and horse racing events and filming industry at thousands a day when you don't use it .

 

So RVs are not always a loss ?

 

 

Dave

Edited by CommanderDave

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I'd say enjoy it while you can. As ever there are issues to overcome but not many.

Permanent address for insurance - I would assume you'll be able to use your mother's address for that? 

A lot of the RV's you see advertised on ebay are companies who just use ebay for the adverts, so there's less risk than buying privately. We peruse those ads fairly regularly as we will go off travelling in an RV type motorhome once we retire & sell up. You can get an RV for pretty much the same money as a European style motorhome, assuming you are buying a used vehicle. Many have a garage  big enough for a motorbike, though maybe not one as big as yours, but you've already considered downsizing that. 

When we had our motorhome a few years ago, we often stayed in car parks and other places as there wasn't always a campsite with space where we wanted to be. Never got moved on, or even disturbed.  

You've got plenty of time to do what you want to do - settling down isn't for everyone & even if you do fancy that at some later stage there's nowt to stop you doing that either.

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3 hours ago, AlanNancy said:

You say: - The thought of buying a house and signing up to a 25 year mortgage, then paying constant council tax, heating and water bills and pretty much getting shafted by companies left right and centre.

Why do you think that you get shafted by so may companies?

Buying a house in most places in the UK has proved an investment, you pay for it over 25 years because you don't have so much money up front. I have a house bought and paid for, yes it took years to pay for it but now it's mine.

With no permanent address would insurance be a problem?

Where would you live when you get old? Would you continue with the traveller style life?

Alan

 

 

I feel it's ridiculously expensive here. Companies have far too much sway. Insurance is a prime example.

 

I had a VFR1200F before I got my crosstourer. I left work, slid on some diesel and dropped it. No biggy, I thought I'd just get the insurance company to fix it. 

 

It took them 3 days to pick it up, and another month to repair some relatively minor damage. I paid my £450 excess and I got my bike back and it's all fine. 5 months later, the oil warning light came on and I got it recovered to a Honda dealer. Turns out the insurance companies repairers replaced a scuffed side casing on the engine and left a paper towel the size of my arm inside the engine.

 

To cut a long story short, they tried to give me book price for my bike despite it having more than that on finance. I also fitted brand new tyres before it happened too.

 

I ended up taking them to the ombudsman and won. I got my finance cleared, and money for my tyres, modifications and general compensation. But the company fought tooth and nail to make it as cheap as possible. All in all it took a goof few months to get it all sorted.

 

I know how consumerism works, people go work and earn money and then companies try to take as much as they can that they can get away with.

 

What's really annoying me at the minute is I go to Durham city to sit in coffee shops and work on my degree. Every single day without fail I get hassled by people who want me to sign up for charity direct debits or they ask how I pay my energy bills so I can switch. Not resolved by an RV but still really annoying. It's like that scene from the start of Airplane.

 

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Buying a house may have been a sound investment a few decades ago, but I'm not sure it's the case now. That time seems to have past from what I see.

 

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Insurance would be registered at my mothers address. I doubt it would be a problem as RV's are typically used for travelling around.

 

---

 

I'm not old yet, got at least a few more years in me yet. But from my viewpoint, living in an RV is quite nice. I'm going to visit my grand mother today, as I do every Sunday that I'm not working and she is in a care home. I think an RV is so much better than that.

 

My main reason for getting an RV, is to be able to go where I want, when I want. If I bought a house, I'm locked in to staying in that one place. I'd have energy bills, and contracts with companies for minimum terms. As I said above, I might still buy a house, as I'd have a decent disposable income to save a deposit once I'm in the RV. Then I could get a buy to let mortgage and let the tenants pay rent and pay the mortgage off for me.

 

Sure I could move, but how much hassle is that? 

 

As for depreciation, sure that's an issue. But I don't think RV's would depreciate all that much. I mean a 2000 reg one that I used in my example was £25,000. And that's 19 years old. If it were a car, then yes, but RV's seem to hold value quite well.

 

---

 

I want to be able to just start the engine and go where I want. No ties, no big hassles in moving. I have no partner, no kids, no wife or anything. I don't think I'd enjoy living in one place for a large portion of my life, I see no benefit to settling down. Say a better job comes up down south, I can literally jump in my RV and go there, I won't have to commute by train or anything like that.

 

I'm also a keen photographer. I've been visiting sites in the UK at the minute and Corsica is my big holiday. I've visited Whitby Abbey, Barnard Castle, Durham Cathedral and Egglestone Abbey in the past few weeks, and want to try and visit all of the English Heritage sites.

 

 

 

https://johnyelland.smugmug.com/organize/By-Location/England/

 

^^ Check out my smugmug page.

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Unable to give any advice, as your plan would not be to my liking... BUT - sounds quite feasible with a bit of planning and an adventurous attitude.

Better to do it now while you can, even if you later decide it was not such a good idea.

Be too sad to spend your life wishing you had gone ahead and done it.

Good luck and happy travels.

 

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If you are going to "full time" its better to do it legally so that the "world of consumerism" and you don't fall out. There are insurance companies providing specialist insurance for travellers. If you lie about the vehicle location to an insurance company, you risk losing heavily if you claim.

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Of course everything would be legal and above board. In regards to insurance, it will have a registered address, but I surely wouldn't have to tell the insurance company every time I park over night somewhere else? It just needs an address as its registered main address, but I would expect most RV/camper insurance companies take it as a given that you'll be camping out in it.

 

The location in regards to insurance is unimportant, it's where it's officially kept. If you take your car to work and someone breaks in and steals it, your insurance will still pay out even though it's not parked outside your home. If you say that you registered it at home but you actually live full time 100 miles away, then it would be a problem.

 

I'll look into that specialist insurance for travellers, but specialist insurance types seems to give the insurance companies an excuse to add many more 00's to your quote.

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I think the wording on insurance is like traveling to and from permanent place of work, so if traveling you might not fit this. Just saying.

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Another one to maybe think about is buying a used Mercedes sprinter van - the really big lwb one - & convert that in to a livable space for touring. There are loads of videos on youtube of people who have done it & lived in them. 

Advantage is not having to tow a caravan - you can still your towing your bike - not spending big money on an RV or motorhome & you can convert it to your own spec. You say you need minimal space. 

Also there would be no having to check if your van will fit on a site. 

Fuel economy -it's just a big van with a fairly economical diesel in it. 

And if you ever want to give up that way of life there is a ready made market of people who want these vans but haven't got either the time or the skills to be able to do one. 

Just an idea. 

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Posted (edited)

Hmm ? Intresting wee Thread. Your "Shackleton" attitude is commendable and I admire your free spirit but without a massive Bank Account I think you will struggle big time. See many Threads on here on living and touring in a caravan / motorhome as a way of life to escape the Rat Race but you never really find out how they got on in achieving their goal as they seem to just disappear. Some do get their dream but many don't.

 

The way I would look at it is the auld "negatives versus the positives ". Me being an auld Grump would  say there is more negatives plus the unforeseen situation like illness with a drop in income for what ever reasons, long cold winters. We just don't know what's round the corner ? Buying a second hand vehicle with its on going issues is a big one for me. Reliability is expensive but I wish you good luck and apologise for not being supportive but that's just me..... ;)

 

GAS ...B)

Edited by Grumpy Auld Smeesh
spelling

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As regards registering it in France (or any other country)  you need to make sure that you are then actually legal if you want to drive it in the UK.

Take a look at this http://www.hughesguides.com/foreignvehicles.pdf

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Some good points here, especially the part about the lwb van. I could do that, but if you buy one already converted, they are close to the price of a RV. Then if I bought one and did the conversion myself, it'd be cheaper, but that's a added cost too.

 

But getting a vehicle and converting is certainly a good idea and I'll think on about that.

 

I know people seem to either make or break in regards to living full time in the van/rv etc. For some it's a disaster, for others, they do it well and enjoy it. 

 

If the unforeseeable did happen, then I could always just rent a home and sell the camper. My employment is almost secure, but no job is entirely bulletproof. My mum always has a spare room if it gets really bad.

 

cold winters, don't mind about that. It's a good idea to make a comprehensive list of positives and negatives on all options. No need to be positive, I'm asking for honest opinions and advice.

 

Thanks for that link bspks, it was an interesting read. So if I were to re-register the vehicle, it'd need to comply with that.

 

 

 

 

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