The thought of becoming a full-time RVer can be exciting. However, there is a lot of work that must be done before you can actually make that dream a reality.
In this post, we’ll go over what you need to do to become a full-time RVer.
Carefully read through these steps and you’ll be better equipped to take on the challenge of full-time RV life.
1) Decide Where You Want to Go
Some full-timers become full-timers so that they can continuously travel. Others don’t travel at all. Most do something in between. They’ll travel to different destinations and they’ll stay until they’ve seen everything they’ve wanted to see and have done everything they’ve wanted to do in the area.
Before becoming a full-time RVer, you’ll want to determine what type of full-timer you want to be. Will you travel to a new place every day? Will you stop for weeks or even months at a time? Have you considered moving into an RV and staying in one area while only using your RV occasionally for vacations and road trips?
It is good to know what you want to do in advance.
The reason for this is that your budget, your lifestyle, and the rest of your travel plans will all vary based on your travel needs.
For example, if you plan on staying in one place, you may be able to get a job in the area. On the other hand, if you’re traveling often, you may need to look into getting a web-based job. Travel slowly, and you may decide to get a seasonal job.
2) Downsize Sooner Than Later
Even if you’re a bit of a minimalist, you might still find you have more than an RV can hold.
For example, even a one bedroom apartment might consist of a couch, a coffee table, a couple of end tables, an entertainment stand, a dining room set, and a whole host of other furniture that simply will not fit into an RV.
Begin downsizing now and you’ll have a lot less to worry about when you do finally go full time. Also, downsizing early gives you the opportunity to sell some of your possessions.
This can help offset some of the initial costs of RVing and can make giving up your prized possessions much easier.
Some people may find that they aren’t quite ready to give everything up and this is OK. If you’re one of these people, you might want to start thinking about storage options. Do you have a friend or family member with some extra attic or garage space? If so, you might be able to get them to store your items for a year or two. If not, you can always look into paying for storage at a storage facility.
3) Make a Plan for Getting Out of Your Current Home
Have you decided what to do with your current home yet? If not, you basically have three options to consider.
The first option is to just keep your home for a while. Some people do this when they first start full-timing because they worry that they might not like it. If you decide to go this route, you’ll probably want to consider getting a house sitter. A house sitter can run your plumbing and take care of your yard and your mail so that you won’t have any unforeseen problems when you come back.
Another option is to rent your house out. If you live somewhere where you can find good tenants, this is a great option as it allows you to continue to build equity while giving you an additional source of income. Many full-timers who own their homes decide to do this as it provides them with extra money and a place to eventually come back to.
The third option is to simply sell your home. Some people will do this to help fund their new adventure. They’ll sell the home and use the money to buy an RV and to travel the country without ever having to work while doing so.
4) Decide on a Home State
Whether you own a home or not, you’ll have to decide on a home state to call your own. Some people do this based on where their family members live, others do it based on where they’ll be spending most of their time, and others will do it just for legal purposes.
In this United States, you may want to consider which state has the most advantages for you. For example, high-income earners may want to choose a state that does not have state income taxes. Others with larger RVs may want to choose a state that will not make them get a special RV license.
Before choosing a state, you may want to consult with a tax professional as well as a lawyer to see what your options are. At the end of the day, you’ll have to pay taxes and you’ll have to keep up-to-date on vehicle registrations so it is important that you have someplace to call home.
5) Create a Plan for Getting Medical Care
Getting medical care while full-timing can be tricky. Different insurance plans have different options and it is hard to get consistent care when you’re switching doctors on a regular basis.
One way to get around this might be to plan on going back to the area that has your doctors offices. For example, if you currently live in Cleveland Ohio, you might want to declare that as your home state going forward. You can then plan to head back to Ohio on an annual basis for regular checkups. This way, you’ll get to visit family and friends and you’ll have someplace to stay should you have any prolonged medical issues.
A health issue doesn’t have to stop you from full-timing, but you should take some extra precautions before hitting the road. If you have any serious health complications, you may want to speak with your doctors before hitting the road. Once you do hit the road, travel slowly so that you can research the local hospitals and urgent cares in the areas you’ll be visiting before you drive to them.
6) Create a Mail System
We’d all like to get away from our junk mail from time to time, but there are some times when you need or even just want to have access to mail.
However, when you’re out on the road, this can get complicated.
You’ll have to think about how and where to get your mail delivered to you or you just won’t be able to have any. In this case, you won’t be able to get letters and packages sent to you and you may miss vital information.
You can get around this by getting a P.O. Box, getting mail delivered to the campground you’ll be in, or by sending your mail to a friend or relatives house.
Whatever you decide to do, you’ll want to take steps to reduce the amount of mail you’re getting so you, your P.O. box, and your friends and relatives don’t become overwhelmed by it.
You may not think you get a lot of mail now, but leave it un-tended for a month or two and it can quickly pile up. Leave it for a year and you may end up having to rent a larger box.
7) Consider Your Social Obligations
Full-timing can be very exciting and you can end up meeting a lot of friends while out on the road. For others, it can be very isolating and it can ruin past relationships.
Make sure you consider your friends and family members before you leave. Help them to understand that you aren’t abandoning them and make plans to visit often.
Being in-touch but out of reach can reduce the amount of time you have to take between visits but ultimately you will have to see your friends or you will eventually lose them.
Sometimes people end up quitting full-timing simply because they become lonely while out on the road. Keep in touch with your current friends while making new ones wherever you go and you won’t have this issue.
8) Save Money In Smart Ways
RVing doesn’t have to be expensive but it does cost money. RVs need maintenance, fuel, insurance, and a place to park. These costs can all be reduced but you’ll never be able to completely eliminate them.
Not only this, but your everyday costs will still continue to follow you around on the road. You’ll need money for food, health insurance, and entertainment.
I’d recommend that you at least plan to have a few months of living expenses before you head out.
Find out what your expenses will be and start to save money each month until you’ve reached your financial goal.
If you’ve decided not to work at all while out on the road, you may have to save even more money. Some people save up money for their entire trip so that they can head out for several years without worrying about having to work. If you’re one of these people, you may end up having to save up for quite some time before you start your journey.
9) Agree on a Budget Early On
Do you know how much money you will be spending each month while out on the road? If not, you may want to think about it. Most people assume that RV life will be cheaper, but it is often more expensive.
RV life generally has many additional costs associated with it. Many tourist destinations cost money to enter and many campgrounds cost more than an apartment dweller’s monthly rent.
On top of this, you end up having to spend money in areas that were previously free.
For example, you’ll probably have to visit a laundry facility each week to wash your clothes. If you’re coming from a house, you won’t be used to this added expense. While a few dollars a week in laundry fees might not sound like much, it is one of those costs that can add up over time.
Combine it with extra fuel fees, and maintenance fees and you might find that you spend more to live in an RV than you ever did when you lived in a house or an apartment.
10) Think About How to Make Money On The Road
Many full-timers have retired and are financially ready to get on the road without any money worries. These people will just need to choose an appropriate budget and they’ll be able to live in their RV indefinitely.
Others will need to make money while out on the road.
This can be done in many ways and anybody who is capable of RVing will be capable of finding ways to make money while doing so.
If you already have a skill that you can use to make money online, you can easily do so. Computer programmers, IT professionals, customer service representatives, writers, marketers, and many others will find that there are plenty of jobs for them online.
Others may have to find work locally instead. This can be done by traveling seasonally or by choosing jobs that they can travel with. For example, an Uber driver might be able to tour an entire state while using their tow vehicle to make money taxiing people around town at night.
Another example might be someone moving to different cities and bartending in each one. Since this skill is universal, it usually isn’t hard to find work in new places on a regular basis.
11) Research RVs Beforehand
Once you’ve planned everything out, you’ll want to start thinking about RVs. Do you already have an RV? If so, will this RV be appropriate for full-timing?
Consider the type of traveling you’ll be doing and you’ll be able to research the RVs that will work for you. For example, if you plan on doing a lot of short trips over rough terrain, you may want to research 4×4 RVs.
Others, looking to stay in areas for longer lengths of time might want to consider larger RVs with more living space. For example, a person who is staying in one area for several months might want to bring a large class A RV with a tow car behind it.
This way, they’ll be able to leave their RV hooked up while they head off into town or to work in their tow car.
Do a lot of research and rent a few RVs so that you’ll know exactly what to expect when you do make your final purchase.
12) Get An RV and Use It
Before going full time, I’d recommend that you get an RV and learn how to use it. It is much less stressful to learn RVing one weekend at a time than it is to completely jump into the lifestyle.
Using your RV for a while before going full time will give you the chance to find out whether or not you even want to go full time at all.
Many people find that while they do love RVing, it isn’t something that they want to do on a continuous basis. These people end up going on several long vacations each year while still maintaining their current home. If these people had sold their home right away, they wouldn’t have had a home to go home to.
13) Learn Basic RV Maintenance
Since you’re getting to know your RV before heading out, you should probably learn how to do some basic maintenance on it as well. Learn how to fix a leaking room (We have a complete guide for you here!), clean out the plumbing, and change tires and you’ll be prepared for many of the issues you might have while traveling.
Learning basic maintenance will help you in emergency situations and it will help you save money as well.
It will also give you some peace of mind when out in remote areas as you’ll know that you can repair your RV yourself if you have to.
14) Create an Exit Plan Before Leaving
Some people plan to RV full-time for several years before quitting and others plan to do it until they die. Regardless of your plans, you should decide on a way to gracefully exit the full-time lifestyle in advance. There are many reasons why you might eventually end up quitting and it is nice to have a plan in place for doing so beforehand.
This is especially true if you end up having to quit because of an emergency.
For example, you may develop a health issue that forces you to stop full-timing.
If this happens, having a plan in place will help to reduce the additional stress that transitioning back into stationary life might cause.
In another instance, you may have a financial emergency. If you’ve saved enough money to transition back into a stationary life, you’ll have some breathing room to find a new job when you do so.
There are many steps that you’ll want to consider before going full time in an RV. Plan these steps carefully and do not feel like you need to rush these steps. The longer you spend planning, the better your trip will ultimately be.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.