Have you ever considered the RV Lifestyle? Dreamed of being ‘footloose and fancy free’? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just hit the road and go wherever you want, whenever you want? Perhaps hitting the beaches of sunny Florida or California in the winter and running to Colorado or maybe the coast of Maine to escape summer heat? There’s always the option of going to Mexico and Canada to experience different cultures and savor regional foods. Yes, the “Open Road” has a very strong pull and it sounds like the ideal lifestyle. But…is it? Are you ready to give up your home? If you get sick, how will you find good medical care? Where will you get your mail? After living in a large home or apartment, can you adjust to living in a vehicle that is 8’6” (average width) and 45’ long? 45’ is the maximum vehicle length allowed. That maxes out to 387 sq. feet…maybe not what you’ve been used to.
There are many important questions to ask yourself before you take the leap. Let’s explore some of them. Food for thought. Presently, there are over a million Americans who live in their RV full time. Many say they are happier and that the full-time RV lifestyle has improved their relationships.
Are you Ready to Sell?
On the other hand, it’s not for everyone. You need to have the right vehicle, right companion(s) and of course, the right financial situation to make it work. Some of the questions you might want to ask yourself: are you ready to sell the family home? Would it be smarter to rent it out for a year while you give the RV lifestyle a try? That might be a good option.
Either way, you’d have to make hard decisions to downsize and to sell or store your furnishings. What do you do with a king-size bed and double dresser? How about your kitchen appliances? Many RV’s come with a 3 burner stove, some have small ovens and a microwave, but there’s not enough counter space for the “KitchenAid” Mixer and the “Cuisinart” Food Processor, so how prepared are you to do without those kitchen gadgets, that you take for granted?
Can You Truly Afford RV Living?
How about finances? Are you going to need to earn money while you’re full-timing? You may already have a blog or virtual business, which is great. You can continue to earn an income as you travel. However, there are many ways that you can earn money while traveling and in researching information. Let’s explore some options you may find interesting. These are suggestions only and in no way considered recommendations.
There are many and varied jobs to be had as you travel throughout the country. In fact, you can access websites like Workamper.com where many seasonal jobs are listed all over the continent. You might be a hospitality worker for the summer in Alaska or pump propane at an RV park in Florida in exchange for a full hookup site and modest wage. You might be surprised by the opportunities that are available.
In listening to a couple of podcasts, that were very interesting, here were some suggestions. One of the couples found work driving a shuttle bus around the parking lot of the Dollywood Theme park; another bargained with their employer to reimburse RV travel expenses rather than pay the airfare and hotel bills for their employee. This arrangement saved the company a great deal of money, so it was a win/win situation for both parties. There are many unique options available. A little creativity and research will help you find the right situation for you. Of course, campground hosts are always a good option and available at many state owned campgrounds.
Another opportunity is the Amazon CamperForce program. Amazon brings together RV’ers for seasonal ‘work camping’ jobs at their various fulfillment centers. They offer full and part time jobs and even go so far as having a 401K plan when you become qualified. Certainly something to look into, if you’re looking for work,
Financial considerations don’t only include your current financial position. There are many things to consider as you look ahead. How much does it really cost to live on the road? What if one significant event happens? An unexpected death, injury, accident, illness or divorce can totally upend any well-intended financial plan.
It won’t happen overnight, but a well structured budget to obtain a debt free status and an emergency cash fund bank account is paramount before hitting the road. There are many books available offering a common sense approach to finding financial freedom.
The Real Costs of Full Time RVing
Another consideration to contend with, which we can’t escape…even on the road, are taxes; state, local and federal. Along with that, you’ll have insurance, and vehicle registration and of course, a place to receive your mail. You will need to establish an official state of residence for these purposes. Then apply for the correct RV insurance, and register your vehicle. There are reliable mail forwarding companies and some of them will help you choose a state of residence and set up proper paperwork to establish your residency. (Some popular RV resident states have no state income tax. South Dakota, Florida and Texas are among the most popular state choices for RVers.)
How’s your health? RV’ing is a pretty healthy lifestyle, but if you need regular medical care, this lifestyle may not be right for you. At any rate, if you choose to hit the road, make sure you have the proper medical insurance coverage that will take care of you and your family, wherever you travel; whatever your needs.
Kids, Pets and Dealing With the RV Life
Speaking of families, there are many full-timers who travel with their kids and pets. Each state has different homeschooling laws, so check with your state of residency for specific guidelines. Not only will you be teaching reading, writing and math, but you’ll be giving your kids an education in geography, geology and diverse cultures they’d never get in a classroom.
Traveling with the family pet means you’ll need to keep them current with their necessary immunizations and have proper sleeping, eating and exercise arrangements. Remember, some dog breeds are not acceptable at campgrounds, so be aware. Also, you won’t have a fenced-in backyard, so your animals cannot roam free. Leashes will be necessary, mainly for the safety of your animal. If you’re camping in the wilderness remember, coyotes, cougars and snakes were there first.
Kids and pets need to move around, so plan to stop frequently, letting them all have a potty break and an area to play and “run off some steam”. Be mindful that both kids and pets may experience motion sickness, so checking with the proper medical advisors about motion sickness pills may just save the day. This almost goes without saying, but always have a well stocked First-Aid kit ready and available to include treatment for all members of your family. Keep your fire extinguishers charged and up to date.
If you’re still anxious to get out and start your RV life, what kind of vehicle is best for you? Wow! That’s one of the biggest questions of all. So many options and styles are available. Sometimes, the biggest isn’t always the best. It’ll depend on your family size, where you intend to travel, what you consider essential and what is pure unnecessary fluff.
The Harsh Realities of the RV Life. What? No Dishwasher?
Do you need a dishwasher? Is a washing machine and dryer absolutely necessary? Do you fit in the shower? Need a king-sized bed? Are you taking the ATVs, motorcycles, bikes and skateboards? All these are important considerations. After all, the RV is now home.
Research is absolutely your best friend here. Take the time to consider all the different styles of RVs available. Just from a personal point of view our first Class A motorhome turned out to be disappointing because we didn’t have a small vehicle to go exploring when we got to our destination. So, we found our ultimate favorite RV type was a well equipped truck (with enough horsepower to tow a 10,000 pound rig) and trailer. As a family we had many trailers and motorhomes. My personal favorite for a day-to-day living experience was a 32’ travel trailer. On the other hand, when we got the 28’ 5th wheel, my husband found that it was easier to maneuver, drive and park. So, take a few rigs for a test drive and you’ll find the one that’s right for you.
Are you ready for surprises? Full time RVing will give you something new and exciting everyday to thrill and surprise you. You can follow the sun year ‘round or hunker down in a cozy RV park with luxury amenities and settle in for months at a time (or even lease your space year to year).
There is no right or wrong way to live in your RV. You’ll make friends throughout the country and be able to be with family without being WITH the family, so you’ll definitely be more welcome.
It’s a nomadic way of life, offering the opportunity to experience every wonderful thing about our beautiful country. There are 63 National Parks waiting to be explored; each with its own grandeur and distinct geography. There are hundreds of state and local parks waiting for your visit.
If the shoe fits…wear it! Get out there and be a part of the one million people that have no permanent address. Is your new address going to be “Everywhere, USA”?
If you are still ‘on the fence’ about taking the leap to a 24/7 RV lifestyle, there are some options you may want to consider before you make the final commitment. There are “Trailer Park RV Resorts” located throughout the United States. There is a current Retro trend, to refurbish the Airstream trailers, so popular in the 50’s through the 70’s. Vintage trailers are usually re-built from the floor up; have funky but cute decor, fully air conditioned and heated and have complete kitchens. Many have flat screen TV’s, Wi-Fi and showers. There are also other resorts doing the same thing with various trailer brands, so you’ll find several options. Most of the RV resorts are multi-functional, if you have your own rig, you can rent a space and enjoy the same amenities. Some of those perks include a pool, playground, bike rentals, outdoor games or even a restaurant. Rent a space and experience the lifestyle for yourself. It will give you a taste of the RV full time life.
Other options popping up are individual wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms and attractions forming a network offering RVers their private grounds as overnight “boondocking” sites. There is an annual fee to join one of these networks ranging from $50-$100 annually, but there are over 2,000 locations listed at harvesthosts.com, for example, so it might bear investigation When joining the network, there is no overnight charge for parking your rig for the night. If you have an RV, trying this for a few months should also give you an idea if full-timing it is right for you.
Big decisions need thought and planning. We’re sure you’ll make the right decision for you, so we wish you “Happy Trails”.
Sagan Life® offers this information for your consideration, but does not specifically recommend or endorse any of the above options. We have no business affiliation with any of these organizations.