Monday, December 23, 2013

Portable: Full-Timers

Villanueva State Park, New Mexico

I have two agendas for this post - one is to talk about full-timers and the other is to insinuate some of my loose-end New Mexico photos into the conversation. Specifically, my photos from Villanueva State Park, off of Highway 3.

What is a full-timer?

I didn't hear the term "full-timer" til my New Mexico Year was almost finished. Before I had the proper handle, I referred to them as semi-permanent park residents.

I first heard "full-timer" at Villanueva State Park when I emerged from the pit toilet at the upper campground, shared a greeting with a gentleman there, who self-identified as a full-timer. His portable house was either a van or a smallish truck with a camper shell.

A lil rascal outside a pit toilet, Villanueva State Park, New Mexico

Like the folks at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, this man was of a certain age. If I understood correctly, he was a scientist in the space industry in California before he retired.

Here's one definition of a full-timer from an RV perspective:  Full-Timing is living 365 days a year in an RV; Having an RV for a home.


I can live with every part of that sentence except for the use of the word RV, which I picture as a medium-to-large-to-massive rig that has more than one living space. My mental model about RVs has me scratching my head when I see the author of the definition note that "full-timing is an opportunity to .. live economically." 

I just don't get the economy of these unless one's financial bar is set significantly higher than mine to start with. Many RVs cost as much or more than a lot of houses in the U.S., they suck gas, maintenance is a frequent expense, and site rentals are not cheap. If you've got to trailer a car behind your rig and have reliable internet access, then your costs rise even further. 

So either I've got to be more relaxed about my understanding of what an RV is or I need to drill down some more for the niche of full-timers that reflect a clearer picture of the people I've met. 

Villanueva State Park, New Mexico


The definition above leaves out a component that I think is intrinsic to full-timers - migration, even if only twice a year to follow the winter or summer season. If one lives in a home-on-wheels (to broaden the definition) in the same place year-round, is one really a full-timer? I don't think so. I think you're a person who happens to live in a home with wheels, not much different from someone who resides in a mobile home or a tiny house that is permanently sited on a parcel of land.

Villanueva State Park, New Mexico

Full-timer niches

Moving beyond RVs, there are people - by choice - living (and migrating) full-time in: 
  • Trucks with shells
  • Vans (Good Luck Duck has a blogroll of van dwellers here)
  • Cars
I like the practical tips offered at Vagabond 101, which informs readers in a spare and straightforward way how to get started living a mobile life, whether by hitchhiking, train hopping, or car/truck/van dwelling. 

I don't rule out the possibility of some day living mobile in a van or a truck with a shell. I've ruled out car dwelling. I've already done a fair turn of sleeping in my car, and it's just too cramped. 

In the past, I've written about these full-timers (using the term loosely): 

.... and about that Villanueva State Park

The park has two levels. The lower level is pretty - the upper level is a wow. Every campsite up there with a walloping view; each has a three-sided stone shelter with a picnic table inside, and grand open windows. Well-maintained pit toilets. 

The park is off the lovely Highway 3 and near the historic village of Villanueva.

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