Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Best Ways to Live on a Limited Income: 8 RV Resort Stories

This post if for those of you that wonder what it would be like to live in less than 400 square feet. The very smallest of homes can be found in RV resorts across the country. People either come to visit in the winter or live in the tiny doll houses year around. The latter group does this mostly out of necessity but in some cases they have found ways to live beautifully as well as frugally in that small space.

There are two couples that live year around on my street.  They have beautiful park models and everything they could want even though their space is very small.  The amenities in the park allow people to use their homes for all those personal things and the community space for activities that require spreading out. In many ways it is like a Cohousing arrangement.  A sewing room holds very large tables so those that love to quilt can have the room they need.  Sewing machines line one wall so they can be used by residents.  A shop has all kinds of tools for members of the wood shop club.  A lapidary room provides all the tools necessary for rock cutting and silversmithing. They share things that they only need occasionally. For example, one person stores the ladder while another shares a rug shampooer. It is a very economical arrangement for everyone.
Block Party...R. and W. are just retired and traveling in an RV.
J. and C. come for the winter from northern Wisconsin.

These people have found a way to make their income go a long way.  The luxuries they yearn for are more affordable because they are not spending a fortune on housing amenities.  Many of the year around residents are widows/widowers or have divorced. Some of them are living on a limited income and are managing to do it with very little help from family.

The Stories
  1. R. and C. lived in northern Arizona where he worked as a teacher for most of his career.  They still have deep roots in the community they moved from. They had her mother living close by here in the park for many years.  They have an income from the Arizona retirement fund that is very, very limited.  I do not know their personal business but he has talked about their situation informally.  They are younger than we are.  She was always a stay at home mom and never worked at a job that provided retirement or even social security.  He plays pickle ball almost every day and they do go north for a short period of time in the summer.  They have found a wonderful life here for themselves.  
  2. W. and E. live in a beautiful park model that they have spend 15 years remodeling...they are working to get it just the way they want. They are from Illinois. E. worked as a nurse here in Tucson until she reached retirement age and W. was a business man. They have made themselves indispensable in this resort.  W. might be the mayor if there was such a thing.  He knows the workings of the park so he our go-to person.
  3. L. lives on doggie row. She stays year around and lives on a very limited income. She did not even turn on her air conditioner for many years. The story is that in the summer when it got too hot, she slept on the couch in the coffee room. We have a TV room too so she could spend most of her day in the cool.  The airconditioner went 24 hours a day in the common areas.
  4. P. lives very close...he is alone but has a friend that lives down the street.  This couple eats together, dances together and comes to happy hour together. But they do not live together.  They have separate lives, finances and homes with their own belongings.  It is a wonderful arrangement. They stay in the park year around. 
  5. T. is P.'s friend.  She has survive two or more husbands and has children living in the midwest.  She is an independent person of great resources.  She buys her shoes at the Tanque Verde swap meet and gets her clothes at a store that sells at close out prices (Cato's). She always looks beautiful and her park model is well maintained.  
  6. V. and R. have family here in Tucson. They care for their grandchild frequently. They have a newer park model and like all of the people mentioned above, do not own a second house.  They pour all their energy into their home here in the park. They are very active in their church.
  7. S. is not a year round resident but she does knows how to make her money go a long ways. She dresses entirely with clothes from thrift shops. Christmas decorations and even her bicycle have been purchased second hand (Second Time Around Sports).  
  8. L. has turned her park model into a two bedroom home. She has moved her living room outdoors and has a heater she can use if she holds a party for a large group.  She has turned the living room into a dining room and has a small comfortable seating area she uses when she is alone.  It is just darling.
People do need things done in this park but the maintenance people and residents are willing to help with handy man jobs.  This makes living here even more affordable.  And we all share what we do not need with someone that needs it.  I have a neighbor's bedspread on my bed and her husband used my husband's saw to reface kitchen cabinets.  They gave us the paving stones we use for our back patio and I will send my basket of succulents home with her this spring.  It is a very simple informal bartering system that works for everyone.

Life goes on here when the snow birds leave.  Over 100 people live here year around.We have a city owned recreational facility nearby.  It adjoins the community college campus and a walking park.  Seniors can use the exercise facilities for a little fee or can join and pay for a season of use.  There is no need for them to spend much on this type of activity.

I love this place.  It might be my second home town...small, gossipy, busy, sunny, friendly. And unlike what you have heard, we are surrounded by younger boomers in increasing numbers. We watch carefully for bikes whizzing by and love to watch tennis players and pickle ball games. In fact, I really would have to tell you that I feel much younger here than I do anyplace I have ever been.

Have a wonderful day.


1 comment:

  1. Cj from Central ILMarch 20, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    I love to hear the stories of others on a limited income such as myself. Soon we are taking the leep to AZ we hope. Any hold backs...the fact I must still work, find a job and keep insurance! I love following you! So insightful, amusing, and just seem like such a dear fun person!
    Happy day!


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