Waking up with the sunlight streaming through the windows of your dream RV. Laidback mornings, sipping coffee lakeside. Exploring the country, free from the constraints of a workplace and a mortgage. Full-time RV living is a dream scenario for so many. According to the Washington Post, one million Americans are currently living full-time in their RVs.
Taking the leap requires a significant amount of planning. After all, this lifestyle, popular though it may be, is not something we all grew up seeing and learning about. The good news is that the information on how to live full-time in an RV is right at your fingertips.
This article will help you get started and move in the right direction. We share many resources that you can follow for more information on the subjects we cover.
What do I do with all my stuff?
Great question. In order to live full-time in your RV, you have to declutter and drastically reduce the amount of possessions you take along for the ride. They say you cannot take your worldly items with you when you go, and that is true for when you start full-time RV life, at least for the majority of your possessions.
This can be an emotional process. It will also take time. For some, there are several months of slowly simplifying each drawer and closet at a time. For others, they easily clear 80% of their possessions and then choose to rent a storage unit for sentimental items that would not fit or make sense on the RV. Money Crashers has a great outline of how to declutter and what to bring.
How should I budget each month?
RV living can be appealing, especially after retirement, because it frees full-time RVers from mortgage payments. However, just because living on your rig is cheaper than more traditional living situations does not mean it is free.
There is the price of your RV up front, then gas costs, food, electricity, phone and more. RVing Know How lists the average cost per month of full-time RV living as ranging from $500 to $1,500 per month. These rates depend on length of stay, the size of your RV, the location of the campsite, season, amenities, and other expenses like electric, cable, internet, phone, propane and fuel.
Here are some ways to cut costs during full-time RV living:
- America The Beautiful Pass: cost effective access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites that covers entrance fees and day use fees. You can learn more at the National Park Service.
- Keep your tire pressure dialed in to save up to 3% in fuel mileage, according to the United States Department of Energy.
Stay longer at each campground. The rate is generally lower and you will drive less. Here at Waggin’ Tail Ranch and RV Resort, there are significant savings for booking stays by the week or month. You can find our rates here.
- Book activities through Groupon.
- Find the cheapest gas with the Gasbuddy App.
- Boondocking or free dry RV Camping. Follow Your Detour offers a comprehensive free guide.
How do I know I am cut out for being a full-time RVer?
If you do not already have an RV, it is a good idea to rent one to make sure that this dream is actually something you would enjoy in reality. Test out which RVs work best for you and your lifestyle. Give yourself time to answer the question of whether buying an RV is an investment you are excited to make. When you are ready to buy, start researching in earnest knowing that you are one hundred percent on board with RV life!
Once you have your RV, keep doing shorter practice trips before leaping into full-time living. You will gain valuable experience with the safety net of your current home to return to for repairs, etc.
Learn as much as you can about the systems on your RV like the electrical system, fusebox and plumbing. Know how to patch leaks around the windows and doors. Pick up as many skills as you can before you hit the road. Do It Yourself RV has a lot of great resources for you in this area.
What if I need a permanent address?
You will require a permanent address somewhere. You need a home address to determine the address on your driver's license, what state your vehicle will undergo inspections and be registered, what address your bank accounts are attached to, mail forwarded to, and more. The good news is that you now have 49 different sets of rules and regulations to choose from! Each state has differences in taxes you will pay and your insurance rates. Do your research and pick a home state! Camping World lists South Dakota, Florida and Texas as the most popular states for full-time RVers to use as home states.
How do I plan my route?
This is a big question, as it is a big country! When you can go anywhere, it makes it hard to choose. The choice is one hundred percent yours. We recommend following the good weather so you do not have to deal with extreme temperatures or weather, but other than that this will be a personal decision.
Here are some helpful links to help you plan your route:
Transitioning to full-time RV living is both exciting and intimidating, but with the right preparation and knowledge, the intimidation will fade and just leave the excitement of location and financial freedom!