How do you know if you should choose the full-time RV life? As someone who has recently made the decision to commit to full-time RV living, here are the things to carefully consider when deciding to go full-time.
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Is your favorite hobby shopping?
Most RVs are under 200 square feet of living space, and depending on the size you choose it could be much, much smaller than that. Can you make do with fewer possessions? Do you need a large selection of clothes to choose from in the morning? Do you participate in ‘retail therapy’? (Guilty on that one) Is your favorite hobby to go into a store and find the best deal, whether or not you need the item?
All these habits are counterproductive when living in a small space on wheels. I’m guilty of several of them, personally. The most common activity my sister and I participate in together is shopping on the weekend. As a full-time RVer, I won’t have space or the disposable income to spend money on “stuff” as I do now.
If you’re considering moving into an RV full-time, you’ll need to carefully consider your own shopping habits. Look at how you spend your evenings and weekends - if you’re a shopper (like I am), can those times spent shopping be filled with other, more meaningful activities? Going for a hike, finding a new swimming spot, visiting a museum?
Once I’m no longer living in an apartment on the surface of the sun (we just hit our 48th day of over 100 degrees in Austin), I plan to do a lot more activities outside. I love hiking and camping and even own my own kayak, but it’s hard to get motivated to go outside when it’s like walking into an oven. One of my main reasons for going full-time is to escape the misery of Austin summers.
What is your financial situation?
Most advice I’ve seen is to get your financial life in order before even considering living in an RV full-time. They advise not to go into debt to finance your RV lifestyle. This is sage advice. Not advice I will personally follow, but sage nonetheless.
As I’ve mentioned in other parts of this blog, I have a significant amount of debt. I went through a divorce last year, which required selling our house and losing quite a bit of money. Also, I have the aforementioned shopping addiction. I view RV life as a way for me to simplify and focus on paying things down. I know RV living can be expensive if you let it, but I plan to keep my costs low (hello, boondocking) and my spending as limited as possible to work towards my goal of financial independence.
I’m committing to living in an RV full-time for at least a year. After that I will reevaluate to determine if I’m making progress towards my financial goals or if it’s unreasonable to keep going and make a plan B.
You will need to do your own soul searching as to the right situation for you. Are you like me in that you have a pile of debt you and you can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Or are all your financial ducks in a row and you’re comfortable potentially being without income (or having a lower income)? When considering living full-time in an RV, these are the questions to start asking yourself.
How will you earn a living if you choose full-time RV life?
I don’t know about you, but I am not independently wealthy. I will need to earn a salary and realistically, I’m aiming to earn the same salary on the road as I do currently. It’s possible to do my current job, Scrum Master, from the road, but it’s not easy. It requires face to face interactions to really be successful, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find the right fit doing the same thing when I choose full-time RV life. Because of that, I’ve expanded my search to include other, similar positions.
For some jobs, it’s possible to ask your company if you can take your current position and do it remotely. If you’re in a position that would work if done remotely, it can’t hurt to ask! I know that my company wouldn’t go for that idea, so it’s off the table for me.
Instead, I’ve been doing a remote job search to try to find something to do full-time on the road. My plan is to keep as high a salary as I can for the first few years, get my debt under control, and eventually work less so I can enjoy the road more.
If you do not need as large of an income as I do, there are lots of options for earning money as you travel, either by working in each new place you visit, or finding short-term or part-time gigs online.
How will your pets handle being on the road?
If you have cats or dogs, do they like car rides? Are they nervous in new situations? Do they have any mobility issues that might prevent them from enjoying living in an RV? Do they have complicated health issues that require frequent vet visits?
My fur baby, Lola, is the only one I have to consult about life changes and she loves new places and people. She’s older, about 10, and around 60 lbs, with arthritis, so she can have a little trouble getting around. She’s not at the point that I think she can’t handle the RV full-time life, and I think she’d love exploring new places.
There are lots of full-timers who have cats and dogs and they love having their travel companions with them all the time. Wheelingit.us has a great section on their blog dedicated to all their trials and tribulations of living with animals on the road, including some major surgery!
Will your marriage survive if you choose the full-time RV life?
I’m no longer married, but for those that are - have you checked in on how strong it is lately? One of the things my now ex-husband told me as we were going through the divorce process was that when we were discussing going on the road full-time in an RV together, he realized that he couldn’t live in such a tiny space with me, and that was what helped him to realize he wanted a divorce.
Now, I’m not saying if you can’t live in an RV together you need to be that drastic! Not all relationships are made to survive tiny spaces and limited personal space, but that doesn’t mean you throw the whole thing down the toilet. Just be very honest with yourselves.
Dan and Lindsay over at Follow Your Detour have an excellent post about the benefits of full-time RVing to their marriage.
Do you enjoy being in nature?
RV’s are small (in case you hadn’t picked that up yet) so many people do the majority of their living outside to take advantage of the beautiful scenery. I’ve seen elaborate outdoor setups including rugs, grills, chairs, pet areas, and even white picket fences!
However, you don’t have to love ‘nature’ to choose full-time RV life. There are lots of other hobbies available that can be done indoors in a small space:
- - Knitting
- - Sewing (probably not quilting, those machines are huge!)
- - Stamp collecting
- - Reading
- - Writing
- - Online video gaming
- - Painting
- - Coloring books
...and a lot more! Again, this lifestyle is what you make of it and what is important to you! If you want to sacrifice clothing storage for paint supplies, go for it! Whatever makes you happy is what’s important, not what everyone else is doing!
Do you like change?
This one is really important, depending on how frequently you intend to travel. Personally, I love change. I especially love exploring new places and experiencing new things. Hence why I love to travel (especially alone).
Are you the type of person who lives by routine? Who only goes to a specific grocery store and gets upset when they change the layout?(Though I love change and I’m guilty of this one!) If you’re a creature of habit, constantly moving may not be the right answer for you. Now, just because you’re living in an RV doesn’t mean you have to move frequently. There are lots of people that live stationary all year round, or that only move once or twice a year.
If you’re the type of person who detests change and values consistency and routine, then your schedule may be different than mine. And that’s okay! The beauty of this type of life is that you can make it whatever works for you!
What else have you taken into consideration when planning to choose full-time RV life? What am I not thinking about that I should?
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