Old fashioned dreams of a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence are a thing of the past. Over the past couple of decades, the American dream has morphed into something more cost-effective, more modern. People are slowly coming to the realization of a new ideology by ditching a traditional home in favor of a more fluid lifestyle.
For many of those people, full-time living in an RV is becoming very attractive. With soaring home costs and the ability to work from home with nothing but a laptop and other mobile equipment, more people than ever can easily choose this lifestyle.
If you have been toying with the idea of living with the constant freedom of travel in a motorhome, or if you’re already there and need some pointers, you’ve come to the right place.
Find Your WHY
While living in an RV and traveling the country may sound fun at the outset, it really is a commitment and a serious lifestyle shift. You will be leaving your hometown, your friends, family, and familiarity. While you can easily keep in touch through phone and the internet, ask yourself why you are seriously considering living in an RV full-time? It may be beneficial to write down all of the pros and cons as it pertains to your situation.
This will lend a clearer understanding of your motivations for doing it, and if you should move forward. It will also help you to better focus and plan for attaining the lifestyle that best suits you.
Should You Keep or Sell Your Home?
Do you still want a home base to return to? If so, consider keeping your home and renting it out, or listing it as an Airbnb or Vrbo vacation home is an option. This in itself can be an investment, to make any repairs needed and to spruce it up for a constant stream of guests. That said, it can be a serious source of income while you travel around in your RV.
You may actually want to do this while your try out the RV lifestyle. You can always sell your home later. Of course, if you’ve been renting, you have even more freedom and not as much preparation for your departure.
This can be fun for some; a real nightmare for others – it all depends on your mindset. But when you’re RVing, you can’t take the vast majority of it with you – so get ready to trim the fat and toss the trash. The average American keeps more stuff in their house they never use than any other country on the planet. Let’s break the cycle!
There are many approaches to minimizing. Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is a good starting point and an excellent guide to downsizing in general. Our rule of thumb? If you haven’t used it in a year – it’s outa there! For family heirlooms and sentimental items, ask a trusted friend or family member to keep them for you, or consider renting out a small storage space.
Determine a Monthly Budget
This may seem difficult when you’re switching to a new lifestyle. How do you know how much you’ll spend on the road? It’s really not much different than you’re spending now. First, take a look at your expenses for the last three months.
Categorize the expenses you’ll continue with (food, insurance, dining out, gas, etc.) and factor in expenses relating to your RV. Will you be making payments on the RV? If possible, pay for it in cash. How much a month will you spend parking your RV at a campground or RV resort? This can be approximate, but whatever it is, make a budget and stick to it. Don’t forget to add in a little bit for emergency funds.
Choosing Your Rig
If you are truly making the switch to full-time RV living, make sure your rig is comfortable enough for you to live in day-in, day-out. If you’re on a budget, carefully consider your basic needs and buy your RV accordingly. If you can afford the convenient bells and whistles or a larger rig, by all means, go for it! This is, after all, your home.
Talk to other RVers about how they chose their rig. If you don’t know anyone personally, Facebook is a great resource, with lots of RV groups you can join to ask questions or even post your own news and advice.
Learn Your Rig Inside and Out
This may sound dull and boring, but read your RV owner’s manual front to back. Whether you purchase your RV from a dealer or from a private owner, have them walk you through the basics and any idiosyncrasies of your rig. You will want to know how to change the tires, work the water and sewage systems, and know the basic mechanics under the hood.
Of course, maintain your RV at regular intervals by getting the oil changed, checking the tire pressure, and other preventative maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Life on the road is not like life at home. You never knew what’s going to come around that bend. So have a plan. Know where you’ll be headed for at least the first three months; what campgrounds you’ll be at and what you want to see. Always have extra cash on hand should the unexpected emergency pop up. And most of all, approach your new life with an open heart and open mind – and have FUN.