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Executive Diversions
Business Observer Monday, Dec. 16, 2019 2 years ago

Admitted workaholic heads to ‘Hilton on wheels' to recharge

Karen Mosteller has a welcome respite from the grind.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributor

Executive: Karen Mosteller, 52. She’s a consulting partner at accounting firm Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co., with offices in Fort Myers and Naples. With a focus on the health care industry, she offers accounting, consulting and strategic business solutions for medical and dental practices and other clients.

Diversion: RVing. “I love to be outdoors,” she says. “Even though you have everything in life you could want inside an RV, the reason to go is to get out and explore what’s around you.”

Early start: Mosteller, who grew up on the south side of Chicago, first went camping at 3 weeks old — the first of many family getaways outdoors. “It was our time away as a family, she says. “It made you unplug, and it made us kids stay out of trouble.”

‘I love to be outdoors. Even though you have everything in life you could want inside an RV, the reason to go is to get out and explore what’s around you.’ Karen Mosteller, firm Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co.

Family tradition: Mosteller and her husband, Chip, started camping with their two kids while living in Florida. They slept in tents at first. “But after my husband was in Desert Storm, he said, ‘No more tent camping,’” she recalls. The family saved up to buy their first RV with necessities like air-conditioning and a bed for her husband.

On their own: Now that their kids are adults, Mosteller and her husband go RVing to spend time together as a couple. “We make it a point to use it at least once a month,” she says. They might spend long weekends in spots like the Florida Keys, St. Augustine or the Ocala area and often travel with other couple friends.

Set the date: Scheduling trips ahead of time is a must to accommodate all the couples’ work schedules and other commitments. “We physically make a calendar with a schedule for the whole year,” Mosteller says. “If we don’t schedule it, everyone gets busy.”

Easy escape: For Mosteller, RVing is a way to make herself literally step away from the office. “I’ve struggled with unplugging from work because I’m a 24/7 type of person,” she says. “I’m a workaholic by my own choice; I would rather be working on a client’s project versus sitting in front of a TV. But if we’re RVing, we’re hiking, boating, sitting by the water. It does get me away from a computer, which I’m tied to for my profession. And it does help you to recharge and gives you that break so you can come back to work refreshed and ready to go.”

Plan the route: When Chip retires at the end of January, after 28 years working for the city of Cape Coral, the couple plans to hit the road for longer stretches during which Mosteller will work from the RV. “As long as I have Wi-Fi and a phone, I can do 75% to 80% of my job remotely,” she says. She’ll fly back for meetings when needed. On their RVing bucket list: traveling in the western U.S. to different national parks and visiting New Mexico during one of its hot-air balloon festivals.

Stefania Pifferi. Karen Mosteller has gone RVing with her husband, Chip, for years. Some upcoming trips the couple has planned include  the western United States and New Mexico.

Wheels of choice: Mosteller is a devotee of Tiffin Motorhomes. The couple is on its third RV from that company. “Once you own a Tiffin, you become a Tiffin snob,” she laughs. “We swear by that company.” Their current ride has room for a king-sized bed (her husband’s request) and can tow their truck behind it.

Just go: Having an RV makes it easy to head out of town. “It’s already packed and ready to go whenever we’re ready to go,” Mosteller says. “We just buy food like we would for the weekend and throw it in there and go. And it’s not roughing it at all; it’s definitely the Hilton on wheels.”

Numbers game: Because she’s a CPA, Mosteller inherently understands the numbers behind owning an RV. “If you do the math, it’s probably not the best investment economically because it depreciates,” she says. “You have to commit to using it like we do. Otherwise, don’t waste your money on an RV; you can go to a hotel for a lot cheaper.”

The Mostellers started with a 31-foot Winnebago for around $80,000 16 years ago. Tiffin RVs tend to be higher-end; a 45-foot Tiffin Bus can run from $350,000-$500,000. 

Buy smart: Another key piece of RV advice: Know what you want from the get-go, and save up to get it, so you don’t have to buy multiple RVs like Mosteller has over the years in order to upgrade. “In hindsight, I wish we had saved, done our wish list and gone from our starter RV to the one we have now instead of buying the two in between,” she says. “You really need to do your homework and make the purchase just one time, if possible.”

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