Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The RV Lifestyle - Spending the Winter in Florida

When the leaves start falling and the furnace starts running, I start counting the days until I'll leave for Florida.  One of the reasons I bought my current RV was so I could use it to escape New England winters.  I love summers in New England and I love traveling across the country in the spring and fall.  But, I really look forward to going to Florida for the winter.  I don't do winter activities and I'd much rather be sitting on the beach in January instead of the being stuck inside and complaining about the cold for three months.

Spending the winter living in an RV is a different type of RV travel.  You can drive to a warm place like Florida or Arizona and do a some road tripping for a several weeks.  I've done that - driving and exploring various parts of Florida for about a month.  But now, I do my RV road tripping in the spring and fall and like to find a nice place to stay put for most of winter.  For me, it's drive-the-rig-south-and-park-it-for-three-months type of RVing. 

Its the stationary version of RVing and lots of folks do it.  Some like to go to the southern Arizona desert in places like Quartzsite and park out in the desert for little or no cost.  I've been to Quartzsite and it's not for me.  I prefer finding a nice RV park that has amenities, activities, and has an attraction nearby like a beach.  After spending the past six years wintering on Florida, my favorite winter roost is the Fort Myers area.  Its has a nice tropical climate and its right near the ocean.  I found I like the west coast of Florida much more that the Atlantic side.  Things seem to be a little less expensive and its more laid back.

Spending the winter in an RV park is big change from where I normally live.  I reside in a small town in a very rural part of New England.  My neighbors are trees, cows, and corn stalks.  The only sounds at night are the coyotes yipping.  When I go to Florida, its a dramatic change of habitat and pace.  While I like rural living, I like being able to make a change for a few months to be closer to people and urban conveniences.  It makes me appreciate both types of living.

Walking Fort Myers Beach
At the RV park, I give up my three acres and spacious country home for a parking spot with a concrete pad.  We're packed in pretty close together with neighbors just few feet away.  You can't help but meet and interact with people.  I'm there for an extended time (not just a short vacation) so it helps if there are activities in the park or things to do nearby.  I like the group breakfasts / dinners and sporting activities that they have in the RV park.  They're things I don't get to do at home. I also like bicycling, reading, and going to the beach (nice things to be able to do in the winter).

Waterfront sites at San Carlos RV Park

The big rigs parked for the winter

So, what's a typical day like.  Here's a sample of things that happen on a typical day.
  • I often wake up smelling bacon wafting into the RV from a neighbor cooking breakfast outside.
  • I say high or stop and chat with 2-3 people on my way to take a shower.  I usually see a half dozen more people by noon.  These impromptu chats happen often and through out the day in the RV park.
  • I get on the Internet to write, check the news, and keep in touch with my family.
  • I take a nice long walk or bike ride just about every day.  In fact, I usually spend most of my day outside.
  • I go to an activity if there's one I signed up for or run some errands, if needed. Two to three times a week I ride down to the local fish market and get fresh-off-the-boat seafood. Sometimes we go out for a drive and explore the area.
  • Almost every day is a beach day and I either ride my bike or take the bus to the beach.  Its only a mile away.
  • Many restaurants have free live music at happy hours so I may go to one that's near by or just go to the daily happy hour in the RV park. You don't have to drink alcohol or spend a lot of money to enjoy a happy hour.  Its a great chance to meet other snowbirds and enjoy some free entertainment.
  • We eat out more when in Florida.  Everything is so close - we can walk to many restaurants.
Its definitely the easy life.  However, after 2-3 months of this easy life, I'm ready to work my way back home where there's more space and more work to do.

The cost to stay at an RV park can be all over the place.  At the place I stay, its about $3,900 for a three month stay.  For that I get water, electric, sewer, a pool, showers, laundry, and free wifi. That averages out to be about $44 per day.  I used to pay around $2,900 to rent an ocean side condo for a month so for me the RV park is a good deal.  There are cheaper places to stay, but I like being close to the ocean and for that I'm paying a little bit of a premium.

Also, many places in southern Florida fill up quickly for the winter season.  I made my reservations in May for my winter stay.  Most of the state parks in southern Florida are booked solid a year in advance for the winter months.  Its best to make reservations well in advance if you're planning for an extended stay during the winter.  Northern Florida is different.  There's plenty of places with availability but its a lot colder and they can get some nights with freezing temps.  Here's a link to a "snowbird" guide put out by Good Sam.

The RV park lifestyle is not for everyone.  But I like it for a winter stay.  I think its fairly economical and its sure beats staying home and looking at the snow and counting the days until it goes away.  With my RV, its so easy to make it go away with just a couple days of driving south.

J. Dawg on the beach in January


2 comments:

  1. Great simple practical info about happy hour. I will have to remember that.
    Phyllis in Oklahoma

    ReplyDelete