More and more RV owners are deciding to hit the road to try full-time RV living. But traveling full-time brings about big changes.
Living on the road, while it may sound intriguing (and it is!), is different from taking a long road trip with the prospect of returning home eventually. Full-time RVers have a lot of adjustments to make initially.
Many people attempt full-time RVing because they think they’ll save money by living in an RV. That can be true. But there are lots of other things you might not think about when considering hitting the road for a full-time RV lifestyle. We’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years now, so obviously we think it’s great!
So, today we’re taking a look at RV living full time.
What is Full Time RV Living?
Simply put, full-time RV living is using your RV as your full-time residence. Full-timers don’t have another home of the sticks & bricks variety. We live in our RVs all the time.
So, living full time in an RV means buying an RV and making it your permanent residence.
This requires some preparation and a whole lot of adjusting!
How to Prepare For Full-Time RV Living
Preparing for full time RV life requires a lot of thought. Let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be able to answer in preparation for living on the road in an RV.
Where Will You Park Your RV at Night?
Unless you’re living in an RV in one park or on one piece of property where you remain static, you have to consider where you’re going to park your RV to sleep every night.
Nightly stays at RV parks can be expensive, so going from one RV park to another isn’t a great choice for many RVers. There are many options available to you, but the key is to understand those options as they relate to where you are on any given day.
Here are some viable options depending on where you’re traveling:
- Commercial RV park
- State park
- City park
- National Forest campground
- Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, or other stores that allow overnight parking
- Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome locations
- National parks (if your rig is the appropriate size for the park you’re visiting)
- Boondocking (camping off the grid… our personal favorite!)
- Family and friends’ property (better known as Moochdocking!)
We want to draw your attention to a few of our previous posts that you’ll find very helpful as you plan where to park from night to night.
Be sure to check out our post on free overnight RV parking. The information in that post will help you to find safe and convenient places to sleep, and save money, too.
Our post “Can You Camp In an RV Parking Lot?” has some very important information about grabbing a night’s sleep at a Walmart or other parking lot.
You’ll definitely want to learn how to be adept at boondocking. That way, not only can you stay in some of the most fabulous remote locations with natural wonders as your backyard, but you’ll also be able to stay in parking lots, Harvest Hosts or Boondockers Welcome locations, and other places where you won’t have the ability to connect to utilities.
Once you learn how to be comfortable boondocking, it may just become your favorite way to camp. (It’s definitely 0urs!) To get you started in cutting the cord,” we suggest our video on boondocking for newbies in which we illustrate a great way to learn the art of boondocking by practicing at a campground:
No matter what class of RV you have, we also suggest taking a look at our complete guide to Class A RV Boondocking, the 11 Best Ways to Find RV Boondocking Spots, the 7 Best Free Camping Apps for the Avid Boondocker, and our post offering 27 boondocking tips.
If you think you may want to visit family and friends from time to time, you may want to take a good look at our post on plugging in an RV so that you’ll have a fair understanding of your rig’s power requirements.
You may also find this video helpful:
Bear in mind that you’ll want to carry a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord and some dogbone adapters like these to allow you to use household electrical systems for your basic electrical needs (but not for appliances that draw high current).
- Converts Electrical Connection Type: Designed to allow you to hookup to your campground's power pedestal, adapting the electrical connection to fit...
- High Conductivity: Heavy-duty 50-amp male (NEMA 14-50P) and 30-amp female (NEMA TT-30R) electrical heads. Rated for 125 volts/3750 watts. Constructed...
- Adapter Connection: Designed to connect to a standard 30-amp power pedestal and adapts the connection to fit a standard residential plug
- Contoured Design: Allows for easy removal from the outlet
- Converts Electrical Connection Type: Designed to allow you to hookup to your campground's power pedestal or a standard 15-amp outlet at home, adapting...
- High Conductivity: Heavy-duty 30-amp male (NEMA 5-15P) and 30-amp female (NEMA TT-30R) electrical heads. Rated for 125 volts/1875 watts. Constructed...
Continuing with our thoughts on how to prepare for full-time RV living…
Practice Living In Your RV
Before you head out on the road full-time, go camping. Do some boondocking. Spend time in your RV.
If you’ve been living in a large house, and especially if you’re planning to live full-time in an RV with another person (or several), it’s important to become accustomed to living in a small space.
If you’re not aware of what day-to-day life is like in a space the size of your RV, you may be in for a bit of a rude awakening at first.
Practice living in your RV. This will allow you to understand where you may need to make some concessions and compromises. It will also allow you time to design your living space so that it’s a comfortable place to live.
It’s also a good idea to take some time to practice living in your RV before you run out and buy all the things you think you’ll need. We generally need far less “stuff” than we anticipate.
Living in your RV for a while before you hit the road full time will give you a bird’s eye view of what you don’t need and what you do need so that you can obtain what you need while you’re still close to home.
The experience will probably even shine a light on some modifications you’d like to make to your RV. If you fall in love with boondocking, as we have, adding solar panels and lithium batteries may be high on the list. A composting toilet may not be far behind.
Be Prepared for How Much It Costs to Live In an RV Full-Time
While you may save money living in an RV, it’s important to understand in advance what some of your costs of living will be.
Our post on full-time RV living expenses should be helpful. It’s a long post and hopefully thorough. We’ve lived on the road in our RV for almost 20 years now. So, hopefully, the information in that post will offer you some idea of the costs you need to consider as you look forward to full-time RV life.
You may also plan (or need) to continue working on the road. Consider options for earning a living on the road as a workamper.
Understand the Pros and Cons of Living in an RV Full Time
And finally, as is the case with any other lifestyle, there are pros and cons to living in an RV full time.
While it’s glorious to be able to turn the key to your house and drive away to a brand new location, being on the move constantly can be tiring.
Changing your backyard to a beach, a desert, a forest, or a national park anytime you want is fantastic! But having to closely monitor water and power usage (for boondocking at least), regularly dump your holding tanks, and stay on the alert for the availability of internet connectivity fall squarely into the “cons” category.
But once you’ve come to understand what full-time RV living entails, you’ll know whether the trade-offs of living like a nomad are worthwhile for you. With a couple of decades in our wake, the full-time RV lifestyle is definitely worthwhile for us!
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