Considerations When Living in Your RV Full Time
Updated: Jun 23
Living full time in an RV is a monumental proposition that comes with exclusive experiences. It’s an opportunity to travel to many exciting places you might not otherwise get to see. Plus, it’s a chance to minimize personal clutter and adopt a simplistic lifestyle. When toying with the idea of going completely mobile, however, there are many factors to acknowledge. Here are some considerations to make when living in your RV full time.
Decide What Kind of RV You Want
If you don’t already own one, figure out what type of RV will meet your needs based on how and where you plan on using it. When it comes to living in an RV year-round, the amount of space is especially important to consider.
There are many classifications of RVs to choose from. Some are all-in-one motor homes and others are trailers that need another vehicle to pull them. While you may be able to get away with a small pop-up trailer for short getaways, it’s not a great long-term option. A motor home can be the best choice to fit all your essential items. From largest to smallest, the most common types are Class A, Class C, and Class B. With larger Class A motorized units, you may prefer to also tow a smaller car behind. This makes it easier to get away to the grocery store or other outings during longer stays without breaking camp. Larger fifth wheels or travel trailers can also be a great way to live the full-time RV life. Many offer the upscale living and storage that comes with a motorized option, yet they have the convenience of the tow vehicle to allow for away excursions. Maintaining just one motor vehicle also has its advantages. Go and check out each type in person to get a better idea of which one you would want to make your residence. Talk to as many full-timers as you can to gain their perspective; most are happy to share the benefits and pitfalls of an RV based on their experience with you. Once you narrow down the type of unit you prefer, try renting one for a week to get a better feel for it before you make a purchase.
Owning an RV that meets certain criteria can also open the door to tax deductions—either as a second home or primary residence. Talk to a tax expert, as they can reveal a slew of write-offs you may not be aware of.
The most important point is to do your research—don’t just buy the first one you look at. One of the best ways to do this is to check out related blogs about the brands and models in consideration. Further, if you’re buying used, consider having a qualified RV inspection company inspect it. You want to know what you’re getting in advance, as this can save you thousands of dollars and major headaches down the line.
Scope out the RV Lifestyle
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran, you may find taking a course from a local RV school to be very beneficial. In these classes, instructors will teach you everything from how to drive and turn an RV around to a personal walkthrough where they show you how certain features work. You can find RV schooling offered at many rallies or shows as well. Instructors may be available to perform training with you as needed or personalize a course for you and your unit. Another benefit of taking this course is that some insurance companies will even offer a discount if you present them with a certificate of completion.
A little education can go a long way in making your travels safe and enjoyable. Besides, you don’t want to be that guy that everybody is watching and shaking their heads at. Without classes, you’ll likely see spectators pulling out a lawn chair to watch the entertaining display you put on while behind the wheel.
Before you take a class, however, it may be wise to see if living in your RV full time is a lifestyle you can fully commit to. Try living out of your RV for extended periods while you still have your stationary house. This way, you can get a general feel for RV living and determine what supplies and appliances you can and can’t do without.
Even as you start your RV journey, try staying in the same area that you have been living in for a few weeks or months. The change will seem less jarring if your surroundings are still familiar, even as you make drastic adjustments in other aspects. Once you feel more comfortable, you can freely move on to new places.
Clean Out Your Belongings
Since an RV has much less space than the traditional home, you will inevitably need to sort through your possessions. Make this process easier by going through your house one room at a time and fill boxes with stuff to give away or sell. Additionally, use a trash bag for things that you want to completely throw out.
Contemplate what will be useful in your RV, and try to keep what you bring to a minimum. For instance, you might want to bring a pressure cooker to make food quickly but sell your juicer because you only use it once a month. You can follow the same line of thinking for clothing as well.
Take note that certain paraphernalia that you rarely employ in your house may become important in an RV. For example, you could use foldable chairs and an outdoor rug every time you stop and set up at a campsite. More durable dishes and cups can also become crucial items due to the constant shaking of the RV’s interior as you drive.
Once you have set up your RV, place a piece of masking tape on everything you have placed within it. Then, as you use each item, remove the tape. After six to eight months, go through your items and discard anything with the tape still attached—you did not use these items which means they’re unnecessary.
Think About Finances
Living in a camper full time is an adventurous undertaking that involves many grounded considerations you must account for. Chief among these is the state of your finances.
As a constant traveler, you may have to find jobs to support yourself that aren’t location-based. Daunting as it may seem, there are ways to go about this, and many people have successfully done so already. In our digital age, it is possible to find online work that you can do without ever stepping foot in an office. You can also find methods of generating passive income through avenues like investments. Moreover, there are a plethora of temporary jobs you may take up, such as working on the campgrounds of RV parks you stay at.
Do some research as you phase out of your current job. Finding online jobs can provide you with more security since they will be constant no matter where you go. On the other hand, you may prefer more physical work and apply to temporary jobs where there are more movement and interaction. Look at what jobs are open in the areas you plan to travel to.
No matter what your source of income is, plan a budget so that you don’t overspend and find yourself in trouble. Living full time in an RV eliminates a lot of expenses most people have, but it may also mean a smaller income.
Officially Document Your RV Home
Some other serious concerns you should take care of have to do with your unique living situation. The first one is handling your mail—you should try to move as many bills as you can from paper to paperless mediums. This is easily doable on the websites of establishments such as your bank as well as your mobile telephone and insurance companies. For other reasons such as taxation, you also need to be aware of your driver and vehicle registrations, where you register to vote, as well as health insurance options. Ultimately, you must establish a state residency of which will require a physical address. Consider asking a relative, close friend, or even finding a service such as a UPS Store where you can have mail delivered. This way, if needed, they can forward your mail to whatever location you plan to stay for a longer period. Further, it’s important to note that the state of the union you choose to place your residency can greatly affect your lifestyle. There are a few places that reap the benefit of not having a state income tax as well as lower vehicle registration or insurance. As such, this could render substantial savings right from the start.
Permanently dwelling in an RV also may obligate you by law to obtain full-time RV insurance. Towable units remain mostly covered under your tow vehicle’s insurance for physical damage; however, comprehensive add-ons may be necessary for an RV serving as a primary residence. For motorized RVs, as with your car, you must have insurance to operate on the road. Keep in mind that an RV is a house on wheels—your policy should cover it as you would a stationary home as well as a vehicle. Look into what coverage best suits you as you switch over.
Research Campgrounds and Prepare
The final task is to research the regions you plan on visiting, their available campsites, and the climates. Now that you have the freedom to go anywhere you want, you can take the time to find appealing spots. Then, determine where you can make stops by looking at what RV-friendly campgrounds are in those locations. Satisfyingly, most scenic natural areas have someplace where RVs can halt for some time. Here, visitors can explore the beautiful landscape to their heart’s content. Today, full-time RVing and travel are easier due to the array of mobile apps at your disposal—some are free, while others you have to pay for. From RV-friendly, unit-based destination routing to a directory of lodging options, RV dump stations, and the best fuel pricing near you, these apps can do just about everything. These mobile apps will help you save money, prepare for emergencies, and overall, make your travels more enjoyable.
On that note, don’t overlook your mobile calling plan. Running apps requires data, and phone usage may increase once you’re on the road. Therefore, make sure your plan will cover these increases.
Contingent on where you decide to go, you will have to adapt to the environment accordingly. A good illustration of this is driving to northern regions during the winter months—for example, maybe to visit relatives during the holidays. In frigid conditions, you will need to think about outfitting or making modifications to your RV before your journey. Typically, the furnace most RVs come with is substantial enough; however, one or two stand-alone additional heating units may be useful. Closing off and insulating ceiling vents and some windows can make a big difference to cabin heating as well. Additionally, when staying for longer periods in one place, put skirting around the bottom of your RV. This will greatly reduce the wind from pulling off heat from your floor. Further, the skirting will keep your cabin warmer and lower heating cost, which will better protect your water systems beneath the floor. Further, you can install RV tank heating pads and pipe heaters—these help keep water systems from freezing in colder temperatures. For all your RV tank and pipe heating needs, UltraHeat provides the best and most relied upon products on the market. Our team can help you avoid frozen plumbing and burst pipes during your coldest trips. We are glad to help full-time RV residents and RVer’s just going out for a short-term trip to minimize stress so they can prepare perfectly for the winter months.