Many companies featured on Money advertise with us. Opinions are our own, but compensation and
in-depth research may determine where and how companies appear. Learn more about how we make money.

Courtesy of Mike Craig

Mike Craig got inspired to live and work in America’s national parks for a very simple reason: He didn’t want to sit down.

“I got tired of being a couch potato,” says the 62-year-old retiree of his life after ending his career in information technology in 2016. “My wife was still working. We had the RV idea—drive around, figure out where we want to retire. I lived in northeastern Illinois most of my life and was tired of the snow.”

After buying a new, 31-foot-long Coachmen motor home for around $100,000 the same year—while his wife Gayle Craig was still putting in hours at a medical office doing insurance billing—Mike got resourceful. A former camper before older age made the hobby more taxing, he navigated his browser to, a government portal to match potential unpaid volunteers with opportunities, including some with accommodations.

Mike wanted to both keep busy and avoid the sometimes hefty costs of RV parking. After submitting an application, he got an offer and in 2017 took up residency at a Bureau of Land Management park in Moab, Utah, leaving Gayle back in the townhouse they own in Illinois.

A million Americans live full-time in RVs (a.k.a. recreational vehicles, which include motor homes and trailers), according to the RV Industry Association (RVIA). Given the roving nature of the lifestyle, many RV residents are retirees.