The call of the open road. Full time RV living has a certain charm and dreams of adventure. And, while it can be an adventure, sometimes it’s more than you bargain for! If you’re considering full time RV living, read on for more information on everything from choosing the right home on wheels to equipping your new home.
Choosing the Right RV
Before starting full time RV living, you need to choose which RV is best for you. You’ve probably heard the old saying, “size matters.” That’s probably never more true than when picking out your new home.
The first thing you’ll want to consider is what vehicle you’ll use to transport your home and what its towing capacity is. That will be the biggest factor in deciding whether you purchase a 5th-wheel or pull-behind trailer, or even a motorhome that you drive.
You also need to consider how comfortable you’ll be pulling, backing, and parking up to 45’ worth of trailer behind your truck.
After that decision has been made, it’s time to decide what amenities you would like in your home. Do you need more than one bathroom? Would you like an outdoor kitchen? What appliances are important to you? Do you need a toy hauler so you can take along your 4-wheelers?
Luckily, there are RVs that will accommodate all these things and more. The sky (and your budget) is the limit!
Try renting an RV, or a few, before making your final decision. You might be surprised to find things you didn’t even think about that are important to make full time RV living doable for you.
One more thing to think about when shopping for your new (or new to you) RV is financing and insurance. Lenders tend to shy away from those who will be living full time in their RV.
The same goes for insurance coverage. This is a time when lots of research is needed. There are plenty of horror stories of full time RVers who find out too late their insurance policy isn’t valid.
Knowing the Cost
Now that you’ve decided which new home is best for you, it’s time to consider the cost of living on the road full time. Most everyone budgets for food, entertainment, and fuel. Keep reading for some costs you might not have considered.
Where to Park
If you have a seasonal destination in mind, you can get reservations and know all your costs upfront. But, if you don’t plan on being stationary, or while traveling to your destination, knowing where you can park overnight is essential.
Campground costs can vary significantly based on location, hook-ups, and amenities like a pool or laundry facilities.
Boondocking may be an option, but it comes with drawbacks. How comfortable are you pulling off the side of the road or into a rest area to sleep for the night?
Of course, you can always check with the local big box stores and restaurants to see what their rules are. Most even have the rules posted in their parking lots.
As with any home and vehicle, maintenance is an essential part of full time RV living. From changing the oil to checking the tires, and everything in between, routine maintenance is cheaper and less frustrating than being broken down on the side of the highway.
Check out our post on RV Maintenance for information to keep your home in tip-top shape from top to bottom.
Does your new home come equipped with a laundry area? If not, you’ll need to budget for laundry facilities, and laundromats are not cheap!
You’ll also need to find a laundromat. This can be challenging at times.
Be sure to check out those Love’s and Pilot/Flying J sites, as several of their locations have laundry facilities.
If you plan to go to a laundromat, our best suggestion—other than taking plenty of quarters—is to utilize Google Maps. Plug in the address and check out the satellite view to see where the laundromat is located and if there is sufficient parking for your RV.
If you’re living in your RV full time and not stationary with a permanent address, you may be wondering how to receive mail and packages. If you’re lucky to have a family member or friend who will let you send mail to their house, that’s great.
If that’s not an option for you, a mail service like Escapees RV Mail Forwarding might be. Escapees not only gives you an actual street address, but they’ll also scan your first-class mail and throw away the junk.
They can even open and review over the phone with you anything that looks important. Of course, their plan costs vary according to which services you choose.
You’ll also need to budget for things like roadside assistance and subscriptions to helpful apps. Keep reading for more information about those services.
You probably LOLed when you saw this heading! There is no way to avoid stress when living full time in your RV. But, we’ve got some tips to help keep the stress at bay as much as possible.
Make a Plan
Map out the best route by utilizing an app like RV Trip Wizard. One of the great features of this app is that you can input the model and length of your home, and it will map out the best route for you.
Look for large fuel stops so you don’t have to try to maneuver your rig into a small mom-and-pop gas station.
Kids and Fur Babies
There is nothing like exploring this great country with your kids and fur babies! Being able to visit historic sites and not just read about them, explore National Parks together, and camp out under the stars is awesome!
On the other hand, everyone going stir-crazy inside a 400-square-foot space while it’s pouring down rain outside—not so much. Be prepared with lots of activities for those days!
If you plan to travel with your fur babies, check out our article on RVing with Pets for helpful information before you hit the road.
Being caught in a storm while full time RV living can be a very stressful situation. You’d probably think you can just move to another area when you know a storm is approaching, and in some cases, you may be able to do that. But, more often than not, you won’t have time to get out of the path of a storm.
Make a plan for what you’re going to do in the case of inclement weather, and make sure everyone knows the plan.
If you know there’s going to be a thunderstorm with high winds, take down the awnings and pull in the slides, fill your water tanks for added weight, and know where you’re going to go to get out of your home if necessary.
If you’re living full time in your RV, you’ll also have to prepare for winter weather. If you’re not able to spend the winter in warmer climates, full time RV living in colder states is not only possible, it can be downright cozy, if you’re prepared.
Skirting is a must if you’re stationary. There are plenty of skirting options to be found online. Or, if you’re watching your budget, bales of straw wrapped in black plastic will do the trick. Keeping the cold air from getting under, and up into your home, is the goal.
For that cozy aspect, pick up an electric fireplace. You can watch the flames dance while it’s snowing outside, just like in a Hallmark movie. It’s also a great way to supplement your propane heat and cut down on trips on snowy roads to refill your tanks.
Being Prepared for Emergencies
We’ve already covered inclement weather, but what about other emergencies that come up while living full time in your RV?
Before embarking on your full time RV living adventure, be sure to get a copy of your medical records from your family doctor. While most offices now have an app with all your information available, it’s best to keep a hard copy that anyone can grab in case of a medical emergency.
While you’re at the doctor’s office, go ahead and get refills for your prescription medications. Then, fill them at national chain drug stores. That way, your prescription is more easily accessible no matter where you travel.
Even with the best maintenance routine, roadside emergencies can, and will happen. That’s why membership in a roadside assistance club, like Good Sam, is another cost to consider.
Equipping Your RV
Now let’s talk about equipping your home for full time RV living!
As you probably already know, storage can be a challenge while living in an RV. Look for things that store away easily or can do double duty. We’ll take a look room-by-room for some great options.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, so there’s no better place to start. Before we start talking about the practical, take a look at these super cute RV dishes that are lightweight and unbreakable.
This pot and pan organizer should fit perfectly in the cabinet above the microwave to give you easy access to your pans. Add these pot and pan protectors, and you can turn the lids upside down to store them on top of each pan without worrying about scratches.
A shower dispenser is an item you’ll be glad you have. Especially one that is easy to refill. No more bottles rolling around in the shower while you’re on the go.
Chances are you have plenty of cabinets and shelves in the living room to tuck things away. But, you can never have too much storage while living in an RV. Grab a stylish ottoman that doubles as a footrest and storage area.
In the bedroom, take advantage of the space under the bed and the bottom of the closet to store away items you don’t use all the time, like seasonal clothes, shoes, and blankets. These moving bags keep your items clean and contained without squishing them.
Wrapping up Full Time RV Living
Full time RV living is a lot of fun, a lot of work, and so worth it! Find your RV, equip it with things that make you smile, pack up the kids and pets, and hit the road.
There will be days when it’s the best adventure you’ve ever had and days when you want to throw in the towel. But there’s nothing like it!
For more great ideas about living full time in your RV, check out Beyond the Tent for articles about everything from the best campgrounds to ideas about what to cook for dinner.