How to Prepare for Full-Time RV Living

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RV motorhome pulled off on the side of the road beside the ocean

Are you considering living full-time in your RV? Even if you’re exploring the option, we’re here to tell you more about the lifestyle and what you need to know if you decide to commit to living on the road.

There’s no doubt there are challenges in RV living, but you’ll also reap some pretty big rewards living this lifestyle.

Below are five areas to focus on when you decide to prepare for full-time RV living and travel.


1. Doing Your Research

If you are new to RVing, or even if you’ve done some RV camping, you’ll still need to do extensive research.

When we started our RVing journey, we had next to no experience camping in an RV, let alone living in one. YouTube, blogs, Instagram, and Facebook groups are all great places to learn more about the lifestyle.

computer screen with a search for YouTube videos about RVing

When you start your search for the perfect RV, you’ll need to be able to answer the below questions.

  • What type of RV do you want? (Camper van, fifth wheel, motorhome, travel trailer, etc.)
  • How big (long) of an RV do you want?
  • What type of features do you want? (Slideouts, solar panels, island bed, etc.)

To figure out the answer to the above questions, you’ll need to establish how you want to travel and camp.

  • Do you want to boondock (also known as dry camping with no hookups or amenities), stay at national and state parks or resorts?
  • Do you need lots of resources (power, water, propane, gas), or can you be more conservative?
  • Do you want to be able to pick up and go quickly, or does staying in one spot for weeks or months at a time suit you?

The best way to start answering these questions is to rent a few different RVs and see firsthand the advantages and challenges of various RV types.

Outdoorsy is a great resource for renting RVs from private owners. This will give you a chance to get your feet wet and see what your priorities are when it comes to buying an RV.

Spend time researching online and getting firsthand experience camping in different RVs. With these resources, you can narrow down the RV you need for fill-time living.

Read more about How to Choose the Best RV to Live in Full-Time.


2. Starting to Downsize Your Things

Downsizing your stuff is one of the larger challenges of moving to a life on the road. Depending on your current living situation, it could even be your most significant roadblock to a full-time RVing.

bins with 'sell' and 'donate' sticky notes attached

With the right attitude, organization, and a lot of motivation – you can downsize from your home to an RV. Here are a few things to help you get started when the process might seem overwhelming.

  1. MAKE A LIST OF YOUR BELONGINGS. One of the reasons I felt overwhelmed when I started downsizing was I didn’t know what I had. Once I made a list, I could organize what to keep, what to get rid of, where to sell things, etc.
  2. START MOVING TO DIGITAL. Clear out books, movies, music, and paper by moving to digital versions. Save movies or music you can’t get digitally using a cloud service. Scan paper copies using your phone and file digitally in an app like OneNote or Evernote.
  3. SET GOALS. Set aside time each week to downsize. Make a list of tasks – clean out the linen closet, declutter a kitchen drawer, etc. Set a goal to complete at least one task each week. Additionally, set a goal to sell or donate a certain number of items each week.
  4. STOP BUYING THINGS. Not only do you need to get rid of stuff, but you need to stop bringing new things into your home as well. Start with a 30-day shopping ban where you don’t buy anything unless it’s a necessity. During that time, create a review process for purchasing items in the future.

For more tips on how to downsize, check out How to Declutter and Downsize Your Stuff.


3. Finding a Way to Work from Your RV

How you’ll make money on the road can be a significant issue when preparing for RV life. Especially for those in their prime earning years, creating a consistent income stream while balancing an RV lifestyle can have a learning curve.

woman holding a fanned out hand of one hundred dollar bills

Here are three strategies for making money remotely and a few tips for each.

Employment

If you’re currently employed in a remote job, you may already be well on your way to taking your home on the road. If your job doesn’t have a remote option, but your skills can be used in location-neutral work, you can transition to a remote role with another company.

  • Research websites that specialize in remote work job listings. Even though it is a paid service, we like FlexJobs for finding quality remote and flexible job opportunities.
  • Consider the flexibility and resource requirements for your remote job. Does it require you to be available at specific times five-days a week? Will you need a strong internet signal during that time? Will you need to travel often for work? The answers to these questions will impact where, when, and how you travel in your RV.

Starting a Business

Starting a business can be appealing to those seeking an RV life. Flexibility and control are undoubtedly what draw people into an entrepreneurial option. Of course, starting a business from scratch is no easy feat. Here are a couple of tips for planning your transition.

  • Launch and establish your business before you get on the road. Transitioning to RV living will require so much of your time and energy. It will be nearly impossible to devote that same needed attention to starting a business.
  • Be prepared to find a life/work balance. Running a business allows flexibility, but it also creates a position of constant availability. This is especially true in a small space where your office easily bleeds into your living environment.

Passive Income

Another popular option for income on the road is to develop passive income streams. Passive income is usually a form of income that requires resources upfront (time, money, etc.) and continues to earn revenue with significantly fewer resources going forward.

  • A real estate portfolio, dividends, and profits from selling stock photos or licensing music are just a few examples of passive income. These assets can become substantial contributors to your monthly earnings.
  • Similar to starting a business, passive income takes time to build. However, if you choose this route, it can offer the most flexibility for a life of travel.

How Do Other RVers Work While Living in an RV?

Learn more from the below articles.


4. Transitioning to RV Living

Living a life on the road can bring about some logistical complications. This is especially true if you are planning to sell your sticks-and-bricks home.

Here are a few items you’ll need to research to get ready for the full-time RV lifestyle.

Internet

Although not as big of a challenge as five years ago, getting wireless internet still requires the right cellular plans and hardware to meet your needs.

iphone screen showing data and wifi icons

Your structure for getting internet might include one or more of the below.

  • mobile phone plan
  • hotspot plan
  • data extender
  • WiFi extender

Many people who live a mobile lifestyle don’t rely on one connection alone. If you work on the road, you will want various options for getting online and even a couple of carrier options (one for your mobile phone and another for your hot spot).

Be aware that most RV resort WiFi is either slow or not accessible from all the resort’s RV spots. Having a WiFi extender or an option to use a cellular plan can be a necessity depending on your need for internet access.

Check out this article from Stairs Up – Handle In on Staying Connected on the Road.

Mail

Something as simple as receiving mail can get complicated quickly when you are considering traveling full-time. Luckily, there are a few options that have been springing up for RVers and other travelers.

close up of mailbox
  • My RV Mail provides you with a Florida address and offers an app to manage your mail – scans, forwarding, shredding, etc. They also offer check depositing services. Their monthly plans start at $9.
  • Traveling Mailbox offers similar services as My RV Mail but has more states for address options. Their monthly plans start at $15.
  • Escapees RV Club offers mail forwarding with their membership and provides you with a Texas, Florida, or South Dakota address.

Another change you’ll want to start making is to receive as much important information digitally as possible. You can manage and pay regular bills such as cell phones, insurance, and credit cards online.

In our years of full-time travel, there have only been a few things we really needed that have come in the mail.

If you are like us, you might consider using a trusted friend or family member’s address. As long as they agree to it and you don’t require a lot of mail forwarding, it can be a good option to save money and chat with your family once a month!

Health Insurance

Health insurance is a huge topic in the U.S. traveling community. Many full-timers (including us) previously relied on employer benefits for health insurance. That makes healthcare an unfamiliar area to a lot of us.

stethoscope on table

To get started, you’ll want to consider your health insurance choices based on the below.

  • YOUR HOME BASE – Whether or not you have one might sway your decision and impact where you can shop. Many insurance plans, including the Healthcare Marketplace, won’t provide coverage outside of your home state.
  • YOUR CURRENT HEALTH – This can be a huge factor. If you are in your 20s and healthy, you may not even want major medical coverage (what we usually refer to as traditional health insurance) and can opt for basic coverage.
  • YOUR ABILITY TO SELF-INSURE – After searching the current insurance market, many folks choose to self-insure. You can also do this as a part of your overall health insurance strategy. If you’re financially able to set aside money to be used for your healthcare needs, it could prove a good option in combination with a less traditional coverage plan.

We’re the Russos has a great article on RV Health Insurance, including what options have and haven’t worked for them. The Wayward Home also has an article that provides an overview of RV Health Insurance and Coverage on the Road.


5. Mentally Preparing to Tell People What You’re Doing

Yes, planning to RV full-time is super exciting. If you’re like me, once you started planning your escape into a world of traveling, you couldn’t think about anything else. It was the most fantastic idea you’d ever had!

man sitting on log in front of mountain lake

Don’t forget that not everyone will see your leap of faith this way.

Some will be skeptical of this new life you’ve chosen to embark on, and that’s ok. Remember, you don’t need everyone to react with the level of enthusiasm you have for this lifestyle.

Even with the more recent migration to full-time RVing, you might find a stigma around this life that it’s a downgrade from a traditional lifestyle. When we were shifting into RV (and boat) life, I tried to educate people about this way of living. However, I also accept you can’t convince everyone becoming a full-time RVer can be an enriching experience.

If you are confident in pursuing this lifestyle, don’t let people with different goals and passions stray you away from yours.

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Getting Started as an RV Beginner

When you are preparing to live as a full-time RVer, there is so much to learn. I guarantee that at some time in the process, you’ll feel overwhelmed. 

Remember, everyone who’s living this lifestyle at some point knew nothing about it. To gain experience, you have to jump in and get a little uncomfortable to start feeling more confident.

We hope you found some helpful tips in this article and feel a little more fearless planning a shift into this fantastic lifestyle.


Want more beginner tips on RVing and how to get started?

Check out our RV gear lists, info on how to choose an RV, pros and cons of the lifestyle, and more in our guide.


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11 Comments

  1. This is such an informative post! You really covered it all and love the links to the Escapees – they have so many resources!

    1. Thanks Sammy! I hope it will make it a little less intimidating for folks to start planning for the lifestyle!

  2. Morgan this is SO HELPFUL!! I wish I would’ve had this resource when we first started! Seriously, this was so great and will be so helpful for others! I can’t wait to share!

    1. Thanks so much Jodie! I am hoping it will give new RVers a place to start and be a guide to taking those first difficult steps!

  3. I am getting ready to RV full time. I have a few questions. I would like to ask, if you don’t mind. Please contact me if your interested in answering my questions. Thanks shana, sshanab1@yahoo.com

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