RVers Put Down Roots for the Winter

December 8, 2021

There are a variety of ways RVers can spend the cold weather months – find a winter “home,” travel throughout the Southern United States, or head even farther south to tropical climes. Two long-time American Coach owners who live on the road full time share how they’ve decided to winter.


Denise and David Hillemann

The Hillemanns own a 2019 American Eagle from American Coach and tow their pickup truck and side-by-side four-wheeler.

Own: 45-foot, 2019 American Eagle from American Coach

Fun Facts: The Hillemanns’ current motorhome was the first 2019 American Eagle that came off the line. Their very first American Coach was an American Heritage that had been designed and used by a NASCAR driver.

Winter: November – May at Palms RV Resort in Yuma, AZ. The couple previously wintered in Port St. Lucie, FL, for 12 years.

Favorite Coach Elements: The Hillemanns have a long list of interior amenities they love in their American Eagle – the washer/dryer, dishwasher, fireplace, articulating king bed, and especially the spacious shower. In addition, the power of the Cummins engine can’t be overlooked.

In 2009, the Hillemanns, who originally lived in Baltimore for almost 20 years, decided to permanently escape winter after spending a month in Florida and returning home to a major snowstorm. They made the move to Yuma, Arizona in 2020 after nearly a decade in Florida.

“We were ready to leave Florida and were looking to change things up,” says David.

For the Hillemanns, Yuma has a number of draws – nearby trails and dunes provide lots of four-wheeling opportunities, golf courses abound, and Los Algodones in Mexico is just 10 miles away.

There are other advantages, too.

“We love the low humidity in Arizona, there are no mosquitos, and every day is a good hair day,” adds Denise.

Los Algodones, a small city in Baja California, is widely known for its dental tourism that serves Americans and Canadians.

“We originally found Yuma because we went to Algodones for dental work,” says David. “Now, we head to Algodones once or twice a week for lunch. It’s such a popular destination that sometimes there’s a three-hour wait to cross the border.”

Before considering a move to Yuma, the couple visited the Palms several times and fell in love with the 55-plus community.

“We recommend talking to as many owners as possible about different places they winter. Visit multiple parks multiple times and be sure to visit during the time you want to live there,” advises David.


Claudia and Jack Rutherford

Own: 45-foot, 2017 American Eagle Heritage Edition from American Coach

Winter: November to April at RiverBend Motorcoach Resort in La Belle, FL

Fun Fact: The Rutherfords’ American Eagle motorhome is featured on the RiverBend Motorcoach Resort’s home page.

Favorite Coach Elements: The Rutherfords love the exterior graphics and vibrant blue of their American Coach. And, since their coach has all the amenities – two bathrooms, dishwasher, washer/dryer, satellite TV, etc. – they say it’s just like living in a stick house except it’s mobile.

The Rutherfords, who previously lived in a small town in Pennsylvania and began full-time RV life just one year ago, had several considerations when they selected their winter home.

Jack loves to fish so being near water was a priority. Having friends at the resort and a location south of Tampa to ensure warm weather were other top considerations.

The RiverBend Motorcoach Resort in La Belle, Florida met all those criteria. It’s on the Caloosahatchee River so fishing opportunities abound. It is a welcoming, friendly resort with a plethora of activities from pickleball to remote car racing to yoga. Plus, the Rutherfords already had friends at the resort.

“Friends are really what drew us here,” says Claudia. “There’s a group of about 15 American Coach owners so we started off having a connection with people right away.”

Another element that appealed to the Rutherfords was the resort’s rural location. It’s surrounded by citrus groves and cattle ranches.

“We had a farm in Pennsylvania until just last year, so we were attracted to the quiet agricultural feel. We actually have the best of both worlds because we’re just 30 minutes from Fort Myers so we can go into town to eat out, shop, or stock up on supplies,” says Claudia.

And, while the Rutherfords sold everything a year ago to live life on the road, they had spent the past eight winters at RiverBend to escape Pennsylvania’s cold temps.

“Before purchasing a lot or making a long-term commitment to a resort, my advice is to check out where your friends are staying. Visit those places a few times to get a feel for each of them,” adds Claudia.

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