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Getting Around the High Cost of Living

Then there's the attraction of being able to sleep in your own bed, rather than in one in a hotel.

"It's just more comfortable with your own things," said Lisa Philtott, who used to live with her husband in an RV at Aquia Pines and now works there.


Remi Bergeron works on his computer at a work station he created to fit over the steering wheel of his RV. (Andrea Bruce Woodall -- The Washington Post)

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RV Campgrounds: These are some of the sites around the metro area that allow long-term RV camping.
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Metro Business: Coverage of Washington area businesses and the local economy.

And there can be other perks.

Campground offices at Cherry Hill and Hillwood take on customers' day-to-day needs the way an apartment building would, accepting mail and offering laundry rooms, for example. All the Forneys had to do when they moved into Cherry Hill was hook into the campground's electrical and water lines and call the telephone company to set up a landline. Cherry Hill also provides a heated pool, a sauna and game and exercise rooms. Metrobus provides service to the Greenbelt and College Park Metro stations.

But for all the comforts, there also are everyday sacrifices.

"The thing I miss most is a dishwasher," said Vicki Jackson, 52, a Pentagon budget analyst living year-round in her 35-foot Winnebago Sightseer at Gainesville's Hillwood with her husband. "That and a washer and dryer."

Then there's the loneliness that Kathy Justice, 48, must combat on quiet days when her husband, Darrel, 48, is at work at a Federal Aviation Administration facility in Fauquier County. The couple live in a 38-foot RV at Hillwood four nights a week and return to their permanent home in Williamsburg on Darrel's days off.

"The first time [I drove home], I cried all the way," she said. " 'I can't do this, I can't do this,' I thought. But there's no other choice."

Now Kathy Justice fills the hours making runs to the new Super Target store a stone's throw from her campground, working on scrapbooks and quilts and talking to friends and family on her cell phone.

"It's not an ideal situation, but at least we do get a break," she said.

Justice keeps tabs on who is living around her: Male or female? Married? Occupation?

"It took a while to get that feeling of security," she said. "But then you realize everyone is doing the same thing as we are."

Still, she counts the days until Darrel retires and this all ends.

"It's gotten old," she said, standing beside her RV one chilly evening. "It's not how we expected to spend our life at this age."

But it's the practical thing to do.


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