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A Whole New Chapter in Audrey's Great RV Adventure
Old 11-23-2009, 07:17 PM   #1
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A Whole New Chapter in Audrey's Great RV Adventure

Well, our RV decided to buy a house!

Yep - you read that right. Our RV saw a house it wanted built, and we decided it might just be perfect for us humans too!



This is a totally unique type of house that truly integrates the RV into the living space. Both the house (a small two bedroom - less than 1000 square feet) and the RV open out into a shared courtyard area which is private from the street. The street “front door” actually opens into the courtyard. When “at home” the RV becomes our guest quarters. Otherwise, the RV is ready to roll at any time for when we are ready to take off for extended travel. We see this as perfect kind of “transitional” living for serious RV part-timers, really designed for 6 months home/6 months traveling, or whatever the schedule might be for any given year.

This slideshow (from which the above image was taken) does a pretty good job of illustrating the development concept Retama Village Photos - Bentsen Palm Development - Rio Grande Valley, Texas. These “Casita” homes are integrated into a neighborhood development that has small retirement homes plus large RV pad sites with “coach houses”. It's a 55+ retirement community.

The development does all the landscaping (for common “look” with native plants no less) and all yard maintenance. In our opinion they have the most spectacular “native wildscape” type landscaping we have ever seen. We’ve admired it for years.

We have spent a lot of time down in the south Texas border area for the last 6 years because the wildlife and parks are incredible down here. It’s our absolute favorite winter wildlife spot. So we know the area very well. When they started building something that accommodated our RVing lifestyle, we thought we better take a good look. The winters down here in the valley are wonderful. And the rest of the year - well, we’ll probably be traveling much of that as spring-summer-fall is prime travel season for RVing!

We had been talking resuming our overseas travel (it's been 7 years!) and thus occasionally leaving our motorhome behind parked somewhere. We had also been discussing some of the limitations of always being on the road - mainly lack of a full kitchen, small art studio/print shop, and how difficult it is sometimes to get adequate regular exercise. This small home solves these problems for us - the community has exercise and pool facilities, we are right next to a world class state park, and there are extensive bicycle trails in the development, and we don’t have to do any exterior maintenance of the home.

So our great RVing adventure continues........ just in a slightly different (and oops! a wee bit more expensive) form.

Audrey

P.S. I figure some of you folks are probably shocked - right?
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:23 PM   #2
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P.S. I figure some of you folks are probably shocked - right?
Naaah.

Nothing lasts forever and your purchase looks to be a logical next step in your big adventure. Enjoy!
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:25 PM   #3
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Naaah.

Nothing lasts forever and your purchase looks to be a logical next step in your big adventure. Enjoy!
Now, how come I knew you'd be the first to respond?!!

Yeah - I figured it would make sense to you and other owners of big rigs.

Audrey
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:31 PM   #4
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Oh, and by the way - since we have been full-timing for 4.5 years and own no other principle residence we should qualify for the very recently extended version of first-time home buyers tax credit. We just about fell over when we were told.

Audrey
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:40 PM   #5
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Oh man Audrey, I looked at the Retama Village last spring. You couldn't pick a better place, right there by Bentsen State park and all those wonderful birds. A maybe a bobcat or two. I am beyond jealous!
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:43 PM   #6
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... It's a 55+ retirement community.
But you are not yet 55!

What's next? Putting the "bus" on blocks?
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:47 PM   #7
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But you are not yet 55!
Well, DH will be 55 next May - so that's close enough. We'll probably close at the end of April. There is an 80% rule on the 55+ occupancy (one member per household) - so I guess they have enough room in their quota for us young whippersnappers!

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What's next? Putting the "bus" on blocks?
No way!! We'll be rolling a lot! And anyway the summer weather here will be chasing us away - summer is miserable. Gotta have the RV just for that!

Audrey
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:49 PM   #8
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This is actually a really cool compromise between having just a rolling home and having a larger "fixed" home for guests and such.
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:50 PM   #9
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Keep us updated on how you "whippersnappers" get along with the true geezers!
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:53 PM   #10
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That's a neat idea. If I were designing it, I'd make the RV parking area lower than the main floor level so that you can go into the RV without going up steps. It would be fun if the entry to the RV were like a jetway, making it feel like it were just another room in the house.
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:54 PM   #11
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Oh man Audrey, I looked at the Retama Village last spring. You couldn't pick a better place, right there by Bentsen State park and all those wonderful birds. A maybe a bobcat or two. I am beyond jealous!
Yep - location is the whole point! What sold us is that they were building the right house/landscape for us in the right spot for great winter living.

Even more than birds and mammals, this is a world-class butterfly haven (DH thinks he is in photography heaven whenever we are here), and our landscaping will be oriented towards attracting butterflies.

I knew you would get it! We noticed 3 of these "strange" new RV buildings last Nov&March, and then 7 more had been built by this November, and we decided we had better go see what the heck was going on in Retama Village!

Come down and buy one of the RV sites with the coach house! You can still keep your "principle residence" in Minnesota for health insurance purposes.

Audrey
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Old 11-23-2009, 08:05 PM   #12
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I am sorely tempted. It looks like I am going to be down there again in February before I go west in March and am going to look at those sites. The coach house lots are a nice compromise for me.

Maybe I can start to learn my butterflies!
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Old 11-23-2009, 08:05 PM   #13
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That's a neat idea. If I were designing it, I'd make the RV parking area lower than the main floor level so that you can go into the RV without going up steps. It would be fun if the entry to the RV were like a jetway, making it feel like it were just another room in the house.
That's a really cool idea except that you need really access to the "basement" compartments and having it parked at a lower level would make that difficult.

We decided that visitors younger than us will have to stay in the motorhome as the "guest quarters", whereas older visitors - we will stay in the motorhome and let them use our master bedroom.

The 2nd "bedroom" will be a hobby room - apparently 90% of the owners are using it as a hobby room and "banishing" guests to the RV.

Did I mention that it has full RV hookups there in the covered "Coach Port"? Our coach port will be 70 feet long! With a 10 foot storage unit at the back (leaving 60 feet covered parking for RV plus car).

Audrey
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Old 11-23-2009, 08:16 PM   #14
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I am sorely tempted. It looks like I am going to be down there again in February before I go west in March and am going to look at those sites. The coach house lots are a nice compromise for me.

Maybe I can start to learn my butterflies!
It's best to be here in November for butterflies, they seem to disappear by mid spring. Well, not all of them. There are still a few around in February and we would be happy to point them out. Of course we love birds too!

We can finally meet in person! John and I will be staying in Retama Village during the build (Jan - April).

Audrey
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Old 11-23-2009, 08:36 PM   #15
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Here to entice Martha further

The "Bungalow Coach House" sites in Retama Village:



Slide show for the sites: Retama Village Photos

The newer Phase II Coach House sites have a larger coach houses with room for living or sleeping area (or combo), kitchen and full bath. That might be enticing for an RVer in a smaller RV who wanted to spend several months here but wanted a little more living space.

Audrey
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:19 PM   #16
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Congratulations, Audrey. I have seen similar concepts here in Florida but they don't sound quite as nice as what you found. I had a hunch you might down-time your RV life based on some comments about house-only amenities that you missed.

Sounds like a great solution. Many happy, healthy years in your new abode. Do they have guest pads if we ever find ourselves in the area?
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:30 PM   #17
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Congrats Audrey. What a brilliant concept! It sounds like it could offer the best of both worlds. I really love the idea of the front door opening directly into the courtyard, so cool!
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:36 PM   #18
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That looks like the perfect next step in your adventure !
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:45 PM   #19
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Congratulations, Audrey. I have seen similar concepts here in Florida but they don't sound quite as nice as what you found. I had a hunch you might down-time your RV life based on some comments about house-only amenities that you missed.
Yes, this concept is unique. Other houses that contain RVs have the RVs in an enclosed garage, and the houses tend to be much larger to balance the enormous garage. The open covered parking and center courtyard concept with small attached house appears to be unique.

I'm building an outdoor kitchen in the courtyard (well, just a 4 ft counter with a sink and cabinets/drawers) and my "dream grill", the weber Genesis E-320. I just couldn't fit that grill in our motorhome!

Oh yeah, and I'll have a real kitchen indoors too!!!!

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Do they have guest pads if we ever find ourselves in the area?
Some of the owners of the "Coach Sites" rent their spots on a monthly basis. But there is also a full service RV park next door - which is where we are camped right now. This is the most beautiful naturally landscaped RV park we have ever enjoyed - which is why we kept coming back! Oh yeah and the fact that Bentsen State Park and two world-class butterfly gardens are right next door!

We had planned to come down to south Florida after Xmas in GA and would have contacted you about visiting before passing through the Tampa area, but now we're returning here while they build our house!

Audrey
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Old 11-23-2009, 10:26 PM   #20
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Congrats Audrey. What a brilliant concept! It sounds like it could offer the best of both worlds. I really love the idea of the front door opening directly into the courtyard, so cool!
Yeah - it was the courtyard-centric concept that really got to us!

Audrey
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