Full Time Living in An RV/Camper

Full Time RV Living: it seems like a dream, right? More and more people (called “fulltimers” in the RV community) are doing it these days, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions:

How can you live in a camper or RV?
What’s it like living in an RV?
How much does it cost to live in an RV full time?

Living in a camper is not always the easiest thing to do. It does come with its drawbacks, such as less space, more repairs, and more legwork to get started.

However, living in an RV can help you save costs, travel more, and experience life in a freer way. Whether you can live in an RV full time

How to transition to full time RV living

Transitioning to actually living in your RV once you have it is probably the hardest part. It’s difficult to know what you’ll need before you move in.

Months before you plan to make the jump, begin getting rid of things that absolutely won’t fit in the RV, such as office and living room furniture, your huge collection of pots and pans, and your sports equipment. You can either sell it on Craigslist, eBay, and in garage sales, donate it to places like Goodwill, give it to people you know in need, or (if your city allows it, like Los Angeles does) leave it on the sidewalk!

You’ll need to get rid of at least half of your stuff 10x before it will fit in the RV. By that, I mean get rid of half of your stuff – then take all of your stuff, and get rid of half again. Then do it all again. And again. And again!!

When I first moved into my RV, I thought I had done a good enough job of getting rid of most of my things. I piled everything that was left into the RV and had no room to live. I thought I would make use of silly things like extra couch cushions, extra boxes, extra luggage, etc. RV storage space is far more limited than you can imagine – instead of adding everything that you have left over at once, it’s best to begin spending more and more time in the RV, adding only what you need – that way you don’t have to subtract later.

If there are things you need to keep, such as photos and keepsakes, I recommend keeping those with a family member rather than a storage room. Why? Storage rooms aren’t reliable and usually don’t cover photos and other valuables, they cost money, and it’s likely that everyone who wants to move into an RV has a family member nearby with 2 boxes worth of space in their attic or garage.

Currently, I’ve got a box of shoes and a box of special occasion clothes at a friends’ house in Los Angeles, my brother is driving my car, and my parents have some of my curtains and paint in their basement. I didn’t mean to get spread out.. it just kind of happened that way.. but so far it’s working out! My friend gets to borrow my clothes (she also got a lot of my furniture for free, so I’m sure she does’t mind ha!), my brother gets to drive a nice car, and my parents get to see me more often. 😛

What are the costs?

How much does it cost to live in an RV? This is something you gotta figure out before you make the jump, but it depends on a lot of things.

  • Will you have payments on your rig?
  • Are you going to boondock most of the time, or pay to stay in RV campgrounds?
  • What are your startup costs? (RV, solar system, kitchen supplies, etc.)
  • Will you still have a home base that you’ll need to pay for?
  • How for will you travel, and how often?
  • How much will insurance cost?
  • What kind of budget will you leave for entertainment?
  • How do you plan to make money on the road?

It’s possibly to be a successful full-time RVer on a very tight budget, such as 1000 per month, but this is assuming you’re keeping your traveling, entertainment, and boarding costs low, and you absolutely need to have a decent emergency fund with a few months’ worth of income to make sure you’re not out of luck when it comes to unexpected RV pairs, health expenses, and the like.

Random expenses can add up quickly on the road, so it’s better to be safer than sorry with a nice cushion. I never like to travel without at least $3000 in an easily accessible savings account in case something happens. This is in addition to a number of credit cards I have handy in case things really hit the fan.

This was clear both in the case of my first trip from Los Angeles to Seattle, as well as a more recent incident when I got stuck in the mud on a forest road and had to get wenched out at the price of $360. It was an expensive job even though it took the tow company only 10 minutes once they got to me. (And unfortunately, AAA will not cover these types of things as they won’t go more than 50 feet off the pavement.)

With that being said, these incidentals are definitely still worth it to me, because they are still cheaper than the price of rent, and I wouldn’t be able to experience everything I am without them. I’d rather deal with some surprises than stay safe, ignorant, and bored at home!

The main point here is that you can either RV on a shoestring budget, staying at free bondocking sites which often allow 14 day camping, and only moving a small amount when you have to, or you can RV like a king with an expensive rig, a lot of RV resorts, and far travels.

I like to keep it right in the middle and have happily explored the west in my first 7 months of RVing. 🙂

Who can really make it living in an RV?

As long as you have savings or income, anyone can live happily in an RV! There are only a few types of people I can imagine that wouldn’t like it.

If you don’t like the outdoors, RV living is probably not for you.

If you’re not an independent problem solver, RV living is not for you.

If you can’t entertain yourself easily in small spaces when nobody is around for a few days (if you’re traveling alone) or it gives you serious anxiety to think of leaving your life behind, RVing is not for you.

However, if you love adventure, don’t mind a bit of elbow grease to live the kind of life you want, and are sick of the daily grind… living in an RV could be the perfect solution to your woes!

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