More than 1 million Americans made the transition from living in houses or apartments to living in RVs year-round. Some travel the country while others choose to be stationary, but the lifestyle still offers one great benefit: freedom.
Living on the road allows you to see new sites and experience new things on a daily basis without having to give up the comforts of home.
Getting started with the full-time RV life can be daunting if you’re not sure where to start. Worse, the naysayers in your life can make you rethink your plans.
Use this guide to help you plan your entry into the RV lifestyle the right way.
Start Downsizing Early
Before you can start looking at RVs and plotting your entry into full-time RV living, you need to get rid of stuff around your home. Downsizing is one of the biggest challenges for new RVers and the temptation to bring everything with you is very real.
Instead of trying to cram every closet and cabinet in your RV full of stuff, be selective.
Go through each room of your home and look at the things you’ve acquired. Separate items in each room into three piles: keep, nice-to-have, and donate/sell/give away.
Items that you know you absolutely need and can’t live without can go in the “keep” pile. Things that you want to take with you but don’t need get tossed in the “nice-to-have” pile and items that you know you don’t want get tossed in the “donate” pile.
Do this for each room and once you’re done, pull the items you need and want to keep together. Go through this pile again. You’ll likely find that there are a few more things you can get rid of.
Remember, RVs have limited storage space and you’ll need to use a lot of that space for food, RV equipment, clothes, and daily necessities. If the RV is too full, it will be unsafe to drive and will blow through tank after tank of gas quickly.
Choose the Right Rig for RV Life
All RVs can work for full-time RV living, but that doesn’t mean they’re all ideal for the job. You need to think about the type of RV that will truly fit your new lifestyle and budget.
First, think about the size of the rig that will work best for you. This means thinking about how you’ll travel.
If you’re traveling as a family with several kids, you’ll need more space and more sleeping areas. However, if you’re traveling alone, you’ll be able to get away with a much smaller RV.
You’ll also want to think about how you’ll camp most often.
If you’re planning to live on the cheap and want to boondock on BLM land or at Forest Service campsites, you’ll need to invest in a good solar setup or high-powered generator. You’ll also want to look for a rugged off-road friendly setup to make it easier to get to those out-of-the-way campsites.
If you’re planning on camping at developed sites and RV resorts, you can focus on the amenities the rig offers and choose something a bit more luxurious.
Think About Where You Want to Go
The beauty of RV life is that you’re free to move whenever the mood strikes. Use this to your advantage and start planning out the places you want to see before you leave your house.
Make a list of sites and attractions you want to experience and prioritize them. Then, look for RV parks and campsites nearby.
Remember, RV parks close to national parks and tourist attractions are often more expensive. You may need to look for places to stay that are a bit further away to preserve your budget.
It’s also a good idea to think about where you want to spend the seasons. Many full-time RVers choose to follow the weather and head north in the summer and south in the winter. Others choose to follow the discounts and visit attractions during the off-season when the weather is less ideal.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it. You just need to make sure you have a clear plan in place.
Consider How You’ll Pay for Things
Even if you boondock and camp for free, you’ll still need to have money to pay for things on the road. You have two main choices here: find a way to continue earning money from your RV or use your savings.
If you’re planning on staying in your RV for a few months (think an extended road trip), your savings will likely be enough to get you through. However, if you’re planning on living the RV life for several years, you’ll need to find a way to earn a regular income.
The best place to start is with your current job.
Ask your boss if there’s any way you can work remotely rather than being bound to the office. If so, great! You’ll be able to do what you’re comfortable doing and can maintain the salary you’re used to.
If your boss won’t let you go remote or your job doesn’t make it possible, you’ll need to look for other options. You can take side jobs as you go, work seasonally for the tourist industry, or even work at RV parks in exchange for a free site and a modest salary.
Regardless of what you choose to do, you’ll need to set a budget and stick to it if you want the RV lifestyle to be sustainable.
Look for Full-Time RV Insurance
Just because your house travels with you doesn’t mean you won’t need homeowners’ insurance. Luckily, there are RV-specific policies that protect your investment without breaking the bank.
The experts at Leisureland RV recommend looking for full-time specific RV insurance rather than choosing a policy that offers the bare minimum of coverage. Believe it or not, some insurance providers will deny your claim if they find out you’re living in your RV but chose to purchase standard RV coverage.
If you’re not sure what to look for, discuss your options with your insurance agent. Let them know that you’ll be living in your RV full-time and how many of your personal belongings will be traveling with you.
They’ll be able to help you find the right coverage for your needs and your rig.
Take Your RV on Several Practice Runs
There’s a steep learning curve when it comes to getting to know the ins and outs of your RV. Though your dealership should do a walkthrough of your rig’s systems before you take it off the lot, you’ll still want to practice with it before you move in.
Take your RV on at least two practice runs before you hit the road. During those practice sessions, make sure you understand how to use the features in your RV, how to dump the tanks, and how to drive the rig safely. If you have any questions, ask your dealership for clarification before you move in.
The last thing you want to do is be far away from a familiar place only to find that you’re not sure how to use your RV.
Plan for Maintenance
RVs are durable, but they still need regular maintenance if they’re going to last for years. This means you’ll need to develop a maintenance plan to stay on top of things.
Get in the habit of inspecting your seals once a month. If you notice any damage, make a note of it and hire an RV technician to repair it or learn how to do it yourself.
You’ll also want to check your tire pressure before every trip to make sure your RV stays safe on the road.
Don’t Be Afraid
RV living is challenging, but it shouldn’t be something you’re intimidated by. Instead, embrace the challenge and push yourself to experience new things. Get out of your comfort zone and travel to places you never thought you’d visit.
Don’t listen to the people in your life who think that it’s a bad idea or can’t imagine themselves taking the leap.
Making the transition to life on the road takes time and can feel overwhelming during the first few months. Be patient with yourself, lean into those challenges, and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Living the RV Life Takes Planning, But It’s Worth It
Making the decision to live the RV life full-time is exciting. However, it takes a lot of planning and determination. Keep this guide handy and you’ll be able to make the transition smoothly.
Remember to give yourself permission to have fun and don’t get scared off when things don’t go according to plan. Spontaneity is all part of the learning process and can be one of the biggest joys of RV living.
Looking for additional tips to help you transition from a sticks-and-bricks house into a tiny home or RV? Check out our latest posts for more helpful information.