As we move along in nearly 9 months of full-time RV travel, Mitch and I are often asked whether we have made progress in one of our key missions of the trip: finding another place to live that is warmer and cheaper than New England. With palm trees. Within commuting distance of a major airport for Mitch’s work and our continued wanderlust. Big enough community to keep it entertaining and convenient. Far enough away from a big city so that we can afford a big backyard space with a pool. Proximity to skiing is a plus.
As a matter of fact, we have narrowed down our choices somewhat! Here’s a little recap of our favorite and not-so-favorites.
Keep in mind, we can do our jobs from anywhere, which makes us incredibly lucky and enables us to even ponder where in the world we want to live. Another caveat: I’m writing with a broad brush about our concerns of hot, nice, affordable, how rainy, etc., without writing a book about the subtleties. Sometimes you just fall in love with a place (or not) and you just can’t put your finger on why.
New Mexico is a New No! Santa Fe was way too cold for us. It’s a charming little town, but it’s up on the Colorado Plateau at 7000′ elevation — we didn’t know that. That gives its sky a lovely deep blue. And makes it really, really too cold. Even in April when we were there. It snows there. And it’s a pretty small town. Not for us. ABQ is right out for the same cool weather as Santa Fe.
Florida has some great points — sandal weather nearly all winter. We have friends and family there. Killer, gorgeous beaches. Dolphins! Manatees! (Read about our experience with manatees by clicking here.)
But its green tropical flora and fauna comes at a price: regular rain, clouds, and humidity. It may be shorts weather in the Keys almost all winter, but in other parts of the state, in November, December, January, and February, we have seen disappointing cold, overcast weather. The heat combined with humidity is not comfortable in June, July or August, when the clouds build up daily into thunderstorms.
“It clears up almost every day,” people say. Well, yes, but it rains and is cloudy almost every day. And that interrupts our outdoor, active plans on any given day. And the no see-ums — those little invisible bugs with teeth like barracudas? Um, I can see-um just fine because they often attack in thick GIANT CLOUDS in the undeveloped natural areas that we typically like to visit like beaches, state parks, and wildlife refuges.
Moreover, Florida’s average age is higher than any other state in the US. This is where we learned what “Silver Alerts” are — we had only heard of “Amber Alerts,” where little kids go missing. In Florida, it’s old folks. They leave for the Country Buffet in their Buick and forget where they are.
Where more younger people tend to congregate, like in Miami or the Keys, we really like it, but the cost of property and the cost of living is over-the-top expensive. So we’re leaning away from Florida. But we’ll be back to the Keys for 7 weeks in the fall. So we like it enough for long visits!
In spite of the fact that we have friends and family in Texas — and we made new great friends (Padiers, I’m talking to you!) — the Lone Star State is rather down on our list, as is the entire Gulf Coast, mostly for reasons of weather, like Florida. And culture. Texas knows why. Even Austin was a bit disappointing after all we’d heard. The traffic there was about as bad as it gets (hello, Atlanta), even the week after the South By Southwest Music Fest had cleared out. (Read my post about quirky-cool Austin.)
Even so, we plan to go back and visit Austin and San Antonio again next spring, and to see Big Bend National Park, which we hear is phenomenal and remote. Big Bend is located in the western elbow of Texas on the sunshine map — bonus!
The weather in Texas really tried our patience. That Gulf Coast and Texas rain followed us around the whole month of February and March. And they were still officially experiencing drought somehow! I wore my ski parka and my fur hat to Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama! Gah! As Mitch says, “Desapunte.” (Click here to read about our not-desapunte Mardi Gras experience and see the fur hat.)
Arizona has its merits, but only Tucson made the grade for us. Phoenix is often smoggy and lacks personality, no offense to Phoenix. We have friends in Phoenix, some of whom like it, and some who actually told us, “Don’t move to Phoenix.”
But Tucson has that old town frontier feeling and is just gorgeous. We didn’t have enough time in Tucson because we didn’t know how appealing we would find it. So we will be back to explore Tucson again next winter. The only thing missing is serious skiing.
And we like Las Vegas, Nevada. A lot. Still. Especially me. It’s my home state. Once Nevada, always Nevada. Yes, I know, the Strip is loud and dirty and crowded and touristy and expensive. But so is the French Quarter in New Orleans and everyone loves that! It’s fun! But the Strip is only one part of Vegas. The rest of the region is really beautiful and has so much to do! It has everything we want. And it’s income tax free. And everyone would come to visit. So there’s that.
And San Diego has almost everything we want, except we would have to figure out which inland town to live in. That is no small feat. The coastline (and all of California’s coastline) has a cold and wet foggy marine layer of atmosphere, like San Francisco and London. It dissipates most afternoons, or as you move east away from the coast; even a few miles inland it’s quite hot and desert-y, just the way we like it. But we didn’t really get to visit inland much. So… next year. Some people in San Diego said we should check out Palm Springs. We already have! So we came full circle.
Which brings me to…Palm Springs. California has an expensive cost of living, but groceries and services in Palm Springs were really less expensive than we were used to in Boston. Even the housing is not unreasonable. We both like Palm Springs. It’s a town with manicured landscaping, flowers, and beautiful vistas of palm trees and blue mountains. And it’s HOT. WE LIKE HOT. We like it in the dry sauna at 180F. We have both been to very, very hot desert-y places in the summertime and LIKED IT! WE LIKES IT! Our Precious. We could live on Venus and like it for the two minutes it would take our skin to fry off.
Here are some pictures from our two visits to Palm Springs, since our full-time adventures began, that explain why we love Palm Springs.
I didn’t include pictures of the shopping, the numerous al fresco bars and restaurants, the flowers that are everywhere all year long — and need I mention the Coachella Music and Arts Fest? If I need to mention it, you haven’t read my post about it! Palm Springs is the bomb!
We haven’t made any decisions yet, but Tucson, Vegas, Palm Springs, and north inland San Diego are higher on our list now than they were when we started. We still have a lot of California to see this summer, but stay tuned for more on where we might want to live someday. Mitch and I can definitely see picking a spot to make our home base in a few years. If we do buy a sticks & bricks home, we like the idea of keeping the RV in storage so we can hit the road often and stay in cool places like the Keys that are expensive to live in.
For now, home is where we park the RV.
The Perfect Day in San Francisco
Read about our adventures from the beginning.
What do we do for work? Read more About Us.
May 9, 2015 at 12:33 am
Love it!! Having seen just a little of the wonderful USA I am SOOOOO jealous that you have such a lot of VARIED country to choose from-what an adventure to find your ‘perfect place’, and not have to go through applying for visas/citizenship etc etc. in England we can choose coastal and rainy, city and rainy or hilly and rainy. That’s it.
And for the record I would choose Capitola near Santa Cruz. Make sure you check it out. No rain WHATSOEVER the whole of January. Anyway, loving the blog xx
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May 11, 2015 at 7:49 pm
Thanks, guys! The US is an amazing and varied country. Capitola! I have never heard of it but we will definitely check it out when we are there in two weeks! Thanks for the suggestion! No rain in January — I’m in love already! 🙂
Wayne and Brenda Girard
May 11, 2015 at 8:04 pm
Hi, just subscribed to your blog. We were at Chula Vista and met you in the hot tub. Our quest mirrors yours. We are both Ca. natives and will not be moving back-TMP & TMC. Too many cars and Too many people!! We too like Nevada, but we were raised in the Mojave desert so the heat is no problem for us either. We spent 3 weeks (waiting to get the rv fixed) in Rockport, TX. We really like the area-great restaurants, beaches, fishing, boating. They have several communities where your home is on a deep salt water canal leading out to the Gulf. Porpoises come in to feed in your backyard!! We also liked Tucson. The elevation is around 3000 ft so the nights cool down in the summer unlike Phoenix. Plus no insects. We also like the Reno/Carson City area.. great skiing at Tahoe, huge airport, big city with casinos, etc…. yet you can live in the country which is high desert terrain. Good Luck in your search.
Wayne and Brenda Girard
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May 11, 2015 at 8:37 pm
Hi Wayne and Brenda! Thanks for looking us up!
Where in California did you live? Rockport, TX was where we met a bunch of new friends! Nice town but it was quite cold and overcast when we were there in March. We liked Port Aransas on Padre Island a lot too — we plan to go back to the Gulf Waters RV park there again and hope for better weather next year.
No insects is an advantage of Reno/Carson, also, where I grew up. I LOVE Reno. My heart is in Reno — the people are great and it’s such a green gem! So quirky and cool! Alas, it’s too cold for us in the winter — the winters are far milder than Boston’s, of course! But Reno gets dumped on with snow. They have to shovel it off their cars and sidewalks. And it’s 40F for a high in winter months on average. The skiing is indeed great! We are considering the other side of the Sierras — the desert communities in the Sacramento area and inland central CA, but again, the cost of living and taxes ratchet up over there.
So who knows?
We have heard a few people say they started out looking for their next place to live, and they are still full-time RVing 20 years later. Maybe that’s the thing for us all! 😀
May 19, 2015 at 5:38 am
I’d not live in the deep South too just because I hate hot weather for months on end. I prefer 4 seasons for sure! The beach/water has always drawn me so I’d pick something with some water views. Northern CA or Oregon maybe?
May 19, 2015 at 4:15 pm
So interesting, Andrea! That seems to be a popular view. We hate *cold* weather for months on end. We’d welcome the chance to be too hot for months on end. The preference seems to stem from where you’ve lived and what you’ve experienced before. Where have you lived or where are you from?
Brant and Holly Ward
May 20, 2015 at 2:53 pm
Caught your blog on the Internet as we also have a 2014 Tuscany 45LT. We can relate to your “ups and downs” of the RV learning curve. (Loved your comment about not running your dryer at the same time as your fireplace. We also discovered they are on the same fuse. ) Some days you say “what in the world have we done!” And other days you’re sitting outside admiring a beautiful sunset in a majestic park in the USA and you say “how blessed we are!” Once the dust settles after new RV ownership it is an amazing experience. We are not full timers but get out in our Tuscany as much as possible. We live north of San Antonio and love our central TX location in the Hill Country. Also centrally located for traveling in the South. And no state income tax here! Yes, it does get hot in the summer, but that’s when we travel to Colorado. Would love to cross paths with you at some point in future travels. Will you be attending the Thor Diesel Rally in October?
May 20, 2015 at 5:46 pm
Hi Brant and Holly,
Thanks for reading! Oh, we would love to meet another owner of the same rig. The Tuscany 45LT is a rare beastie! With 20,000 miles on our rig, we are doing much better with our learning curve and warranty issues. North of San Antonio is the place we would consider if we did live in Texas. We are keen to hit Fredericksburg next time we are there, and see downtown New Branfels instead of just the Camping World Service Center.
We won’t be near any of the Thor Rallies in the next year, but maybe we’ll see you in Texas next spring. And I just found the Thor Diesel Club on facebook, so thanks for the lead!
Kathy & Ken
May 21, 2015 at 3:58 pm
We just bought a 2014 Tuscany 44 MT and have enjoyed your blog. Got a lot of helpful info from you. What brand of induction cookware did you purchase?
May 22, 2015 at 11:12 am
Glad we could help! That’s why we write! We bough Cuisinart induction ready and dishwasher safe pots and pans. We have one saucepan, a skillet, and a pasta pot. That is really all we have needed since we only have two burners.
May 21, 2015 at 8:09 pm
We have a 2014 Tuscany 44MT. Got a lot of helpful info from you.
June 3, 2015 at 11:24 pm
A few suggestions, even though this is the first one of your blog posts I’ve ever read…
Park of the Sierras – closest, bestest RV park near Yosemite. Amazing people. http://parksierra.net/pages/escapees.html
Big Bend – up in the mountains for the summer, down on the river in winter. Can’t miss Marathon, TX and Eve’s Garden.
Ajijic, MX – had to throw this in as it’s our current location. Best climate in the Western Hemisphere.
June 4, 2015 at 12:07 am
Nice to e-meet you. Thanks for the tips!
I looked up Park of the Sierras, and it looks great, but it’s almost an hour further from Yosemite Valley than Yosemite Lakes RV Park near Groveland, although its location near the south gate would be closer to Mariposa Grove. We like it At Yosemite Lakes five miles from the west gate and would stay again for its location. But we were wondering where all the big rigs stay when they visit Yosemite. We only saw a few others in our park. Maybe they’re all at Park of the Sierras!
Big Bend is on the agenda for March! We can’t wait.
You’re in MEXICO?? What kind of RV did you take to Mexico? Wow! I will have to check out your stories on your site.
See you in the warm places,
March 1, 2016 at 10:02 am
Sorry for the delayed response here…
We sold our pop-up after living in it for seven months. We then flew to Mexico and visited many places and a few other countries as well.
We’re now back in Austin until I vest and the wife can retire. So we’re still retiring pretty early, but in stages…
March 1, 2016 at 6:13 pm
Living in a pop-up for 7 months is a bold move! We have many places we’d like to visit internationally, too.
We didn’t retire, but the RV lifestyle feels to us like the next closest thing. We are lucky indeed that we can both work from (almost) anywhere.
Best of luck with your plans!
October 28, 2015 at 2:48 pm
We just booked our trip to Palm Springs for Jan. 26 to 30. I know, I know … we’ll miss you, but that’s the way it worked out to coordinate a visit with my cousin in Palm Springs and four days in San Fran to see Jenna. Can you give us a list of “must do” or recommended things to do for the five days we’re there? I’m sure Joshua Tree would be on the list. Keep in mind I’m in good shape and can walk a good distance, but I’m older and physical activity makes me whine a lot. (Truth be told, I whined a lot when I was younger too.) We’re actually staying in Palm Desert.
Also, I have a line to a Real Estate broker in Palm Springs via a friend who’s parents live there. Let me know if you’re at all interested.
Enjoy the warmth of the Keys!
November 2, 2015 at 3:35 pm
Hi Carol! You crack me up!
Joshua Tree is indeed at the top of the must-do list in the Palm Springs area. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of Mt. Jacinto is also supposed to be great, and is on our list for next time. Indian Canyons and Palm Canyon are just a short drive away on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, with many hikes of different levels, with palm trees along cook rock canyons with desert views and springs. And don’t miss the VillageFest market every Thursday evening starting at 6 pm in downtown Palm Springs! Palm Desert’s El Paseo Shopping District is another destination — it’s the Rodeo Drive of the desert. Have fun and take lots of pics to post on Facebook! –Val