Hello. Sadly, I think our RV trip must come to an end. DH and I sat down last night and we looked at our budget from 2008 (living in a rental house) and 2009 (living in the RV all year.) DH had no work for 7 months in 2009, so we were as frugal as we could be. That said, it cost us over $17,000 MORE annually to live in our RV over living in our rental house ($1200 rent). Now, our RV is not paid for, so we are making payments on it. I think the main areas that money is spent on is: RV park fees, maintenance on this RV, the RV payment itself. Plus, I did not factor in the depreciation on this RV when looking at those figures.
We are brainstorming at the moment to figure out what our next move will be. One idea is to sell this RV and move into a much older one that is paid for and has no depreciation left. But I'm also feeling the itch to move back into a house anyway, so I don't know yet what is going to happen. We also need to consider that we don't know where DH's next job will be (and this one ends in June.) We may need to stay in an RV to remain flexible in that department. I am highly stressed over this whole deal!
Anyway, I'll try to answer some of your questions. You are right, your monthly costs will vary. I would say that all of your typical costs (food, clothes, books, etc.) will remain the same. Then factor in any payment you will make on your RV. Then there are the RV park fees. The least expensive way to do it is to pay monthly, but you probably aren't going to always stay a month everywhere you go. It all depends on your location and if you are in "peak season" or not. I think we pay on average about $800 per month on RV park fees, but we do a lot of nightly/weekly stays that are more expensive. If you do a lot of boondocking, then your picture will look very different.
We decided last years' travel based on visiting family because we had not seen them in years. That trip took us from Oregon to south Florida and back. awesome trip!
This year, we left Oregon due to DD1's asthma (which is improving here in Arizona). We planned to go to Florida again because her asthma does well there, but since she is improving here, we keep adding time to our stay. We will eventually get to TX where our family is and make some decisions about what we are going to do.
Lifestyle: yes - be extremely flexible! Many forms of that "unexpected" comes in the form of RV repairs, so have funding for that too. I find it difficult to pass up all of the awesome looking opportunities we find as we travel, but that gets expensive to go/see/do every roadside thing you find. I also found that I had to do a lot more planning than I thought I would. If you just "go with the wind," you may find that you don't have an RV spot for the time that you wanted. This is especially true if you follow the crowds (FL in winter, CO in summer, etc.)
Make friends - definitely! One thing about life on the road - you go outside a lot, and so does everyone else. We seem to be a very friendly sort! (road-trippers, that is.) There are plenty of homeschooling families on the road out here!
I can't speak to the comments questions. Everyone I know is very happy for us and supportive of us, thinking we are giving our girls the trip of a lifetime.
Things I'm finding challenging at the moment: finding space for homeschooling books. I saw an older Bounder RV yesterday that had much better cabinetry than our newer coach. Our coach has more window area (so cabinets are shorter, vertically speaking), but I can't stand books upright in the cabinets above the windows. There's something to be said about that. I am also missing having a fenced yard because I have a toddler. So if we are outside, there is no "sitting and relaxing" going on - we are always right by her side as she wanders around. I'm also finding the lack of space challenging because my older DD can't escape our younger DD when she wants to work on a project at the kitchen table. But I suspect I'd be having the same issues if we lived in a house, but at least DD1 would have a room to go in if she wanted.
OK, that's my thoughts at the moment.