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I sent this in an email to Bob but thought I would post it here too for good measure Shy 
"Was wondering if you could make any suggestions on some decisions I need to make before I go mobile in two years.  I'm 63 years old and trying to wait till I can qualify for full retirement and medicare before I start living full time in a van.  Right now I'm working on selling off stuff and putting the money in savings along with my income tax refunds.  The decisions come into play when I start thinking about what to buy first since I can't afford to buy things all at once.  I have lots of camping gear: tent; inflatable mattress; camping stove; tarps; water containers; etc.  So I'm set to camp in primitive areas which I do on a fairly regular basis during the fall, winter and spring.  But I don't camp in the summers (live in Florida) because I don't have an RV or van with an air conditioner.  I plan on making the move to camping full time the year before I retire and will do so in my usual camping areas.  I am thinking that I can camp in my truck as I usually do for that year.  My wife will be camping with me and will camp in the tent.  She is unemployed and will be staying in the campsite while I commute to work.  So I was wondering what I should get first, solar or a generator to run the AC.  I am also planning on building a portable shower, toilet and kitchen on a small trailer and when I get solar installing it on this unit so I can leave it at the campsite for my wife while I am at work.  So I was also wondering when I should get the van.  I know that you suggest an emergency fund too but if I put my savings towards the emergency fund I don't know how long it will take to get the other things I need to transition from my normal mode of camping to living in the van and the trailer.  Thanks for any advice you can offerSmile"
Live for a year in a tent?
No car for her, no support network for her...... you will have left her old one behind. Just sit at a campsite day after day after day after day..........

I cannot imagine this working out for either of you, by the time the year is up she may be done with camping, burned out, finished, kaput. There go your travel dreams too.

My suggestion would to be first buy the rig you plan to travel in and live in now.

During the next year you can try it out, make adjustments and tweak it so it fits you both. Get comfortable in it.
Now when this year of isolation rolls around, she will at least have a "home" she is comfortable in.
Florida is hot, humid and buggy. No way would I ever tent camp for a year down there. I'm an avid backpacker, I can make do with very little but this tent camping for a year would be just shy of a living hell for my Wife and I.
Your Wife is probably different from mine too........

Best of luck in any case!

Dave
Um, I kind have to agree with DJkeev...Camping in a tent for year? Sounds rather miserable. Of course, you can test it out and see if it works but have a well thought out plan "B" in the likely hood it doesn't work out. 

I might say get a Honda EU 2000 first before solar as a Generator can come in real handy although, you do need a way to charge the batteries such as with some type of charger. Ideally you could the Generator and solar at the same time. But, depending on the quality level, I'd set aside $1700-$2000 for gen and good solar...300 watts. Solar is not my area though so you'd be better to listen to others on that.

Good luck
Have you considered a used Class C like this one?

1993 COACHMEN RV $6,500

[Image: 58035748b314e919a513dae1.jpg?width=1024&...quality=70]
Being a woman, all I can say is, Yikes! My husband and I are recently retired and new full timers with a van and a small trailer. We have solar, a potty and shower, fridge and tiny cooker and I still sometimes feel like a pioneer woman. If you want her to still be there when you return from your commute, get your van or RV first! Then you two can enjoy your first year on the road. There are so many adjustments you have to make anyway, don't make it worse. Everything from showering to cooking takes longer and is a different process. It can be fun but without even the simplest 'luxuries', it could be grueling. Just for safety she should have a door to shut! Hope this was helpful and good luck with your decisions.
Yes, I'm with the others. And I'm dying to know whose idea that is.
Add sudden strong storms with pouring rain and high winds when she has no place to get out of it other than a tent. That notion is one I would never entertain. I would be looking for a deal on a cargo trailer at the very least.
I would get the trailer and start making that comfortable, (don't skimp on insulation). If you take the van to work, having a comfortable vehicle sitting in a parking lot isn't going to be nice for the other person staying at camp. You can get an old beater car to pull the trailer with.

I am going with a generator before solar. The start up costs are less for the same power output. A generator rated at a constant 1,800 watts continous will put out the same energy as a regular household outlet with a 15 amp breaker, (120 volts times 15 amps is 1,800 watts). You could add batteries, a charger, and a large inverter and get more momentary power than the generator alone could handle. In my setup I will have the generator only power a battery charger and all the loads will get their power from the inverter hooked up to the batteries. The batteries and inverter will act as a shock absorber for several things coming on at the same time, (like refrigerator and Air conditioner), and at the end of the day, the batteries should be fully charged. I may only need to run the generator a few hours a day.

When shopping for a generator ignore the peak rating that is usually printed on the side of the unit. The machine will only deliver that amount of power for seconds. Look for continuous power output. I bought a 800 watt generator to power a 40 amp charger. It couldn't handle it. In the fine print the generator was rated for 700 watts continuous, and the charger consumed 725 during maximum charge. The generator would shut down to protect itself. Had the generator put out 800 watts continuous, (probably 1,000 watts peak), it would have been just right. The choice I had at that point was a larger generator or a smaller battery charger. I went with a 1,200 watt generator, (1,000 watts continuous) . This system will run a 5,000 BTU Air conditioner, but if I had it all to do over I would go with a 2,000 watt generator and a 65 amp charger.
thanks for all the input  Shy
this is the reason i posted now.  seems like everyone is suggesting to get the van and a generator first.  finances preclude us purchasing the van now as we are living paycheck to paycheck and don't have anywhere near the income to economize enough to put aside enough money to purchase a second vehicle.  but i am intending to save my income tax refunds for the next 2 years and that  should give us enough Shy  
once we move into the van the savings in rent should easily purchase a generator.
Tell us a bit about your dream vehicle.
IF you had the funds, what kind of unit would you get to travel in?
Just a car?
A basic full size Van?
A Class B Van all set up and ready to go?
A Class C with many of home's luxuries?
A Class A, which actually IS a home!? (Often 400sf of living space or more) 



There are very affordable older units on the market everyday. Especially now as Winter closes in and people decide to upgrade or liquidate their vacation unit. Many are ready to roll.

Network, many older people have a unit that they just want gone! These are often the parents of co workers and friends of yours. Let your needs be known to those around you,  you might be surprised at what "falls" into your lap! 

For example......
I just picked up a very nice 2003 Dodge Conversion LWB Van for $2500. It was a great buy for units of this age and mileage most often run from $5,000-$7,000! 
 It needs very little work except setting up the interior as we desire. It will become a Class B if all goes as planned. 
There are aesthetic improvements I want to make to the unit make but they aren't "must do" items.
It has new tires and a recent alignment.
Runs strong, I'd jump in tomorrow and go if I had to. 

Almost any budget with sone rearranging of priorities can afford an outlay of this modest amount.
I haven't yet insured the Van or put on plates, I did title it in my name.  
I'll wait until my desired changes are made to make it street legal. 

So outside of the initial cost, for me there is no more expense until I begin remodeling it into a camper. I of course am in essense "self insuring" for if it is stolen or a tree should fall upon it......... I lose.

Baby Steps..... Take Affordable baby steps paying for yout future as you go.
Get a night job flipping burgers to achieve your dream, if you can. 

Dave
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