Retired couple taking a selfie in front of their RV.

Embracing the Full-Time RV Lifestyle

Are you ready to join the million-strong population of Americans who live in an RV full-time? In the Internet age, increasing numbers of people are starting the adventure of a lifetime embracing van life while being digital nomads. Alternatively, you may seek a retirement that keeps you active and satisfies your desire to explore the wider world. If you’re seriously thinking about embracing the full-time RV lifestyle, this guide outlines the essential considerations for making a success of this exciting lifestyle.

The Real Cost of RVing

One of the biggest appeals of living in an RV full-time is the apparent cost savings versus living on a brick-and-mortar property. But life in a decent RV is not as far from rent or mortgage-free living as you may initially think. Costs do add up on the road, but one of the key advantages of an RV is the flexibility and ability to tailor your lifestyle to your budget.

Retired couple taking a selfie in front of their RV.

Headline Costs of Living in an RV

  • Campsite fees (including state and national parks).
  • Fuel (gasoline/diesel/propane).
  • Vehicle payments for your RV and additional vehicles.
  • Vehicle repair and maintenance.
  • Insurance.
  • Cellular or satellite internet subscription or site Wi-Fi.
  • Food and replenishment of daily supplies.

Paying Your Way in an RV

A recreational vehicle is the dream of many desk-bound individuals. But to make this life change sustainable, you’ll need a firm plan for work or income. Getting the income-expenditure balance just right is the secret to enjoying your RV. From experience, RVers without a pension or significant savings tend to maintain their lifestyle in one of two ways:

  • Long-term remote work, either with a single position or multiple freelance jobs completed online.
  • Short-term jobs in the locations you visit, such as seasonal jobs or short contracts.

Choosing Your RV

RVs are as diverse as their owners. And since this vehicle will be your home, office, and recreational space rolled into one, it’s vital you put the effort into finding the RV that matches your needs. Factors that determine the type of RV you need include:

  • Budget.
  • Household size.
  • Storage requirements.
  • Intended annual mileage.
  • Duration of stay at campsites or RV parks.
  • Fresh, gray, and black tank capacity requirements.

Space is a big issue, especially if you will be working or homeschooling kids. Yet buying a massive vehicle with all the mod-cons can make finding a spot in a popular park difficult in the tourist season. More nimble vehicles offer individuals and couples more flexibility but you’ll be glad of extra tank space if you appreciate showering or using the toilet within your vehicle. Appliances make life easier for everyone, but they take up space and add to your energy costs. Prospective owners should consider onboard solar panels and a decent battery to offset energy demands.

Minimize to Maximize Your Living Space

A recreational vehicle is no place for hoarders. Downsizing will make it easier to make the most of the considerably smaller living space of an RV. Like Marie Kondo recommends, it’s wise to limit possessions to the most essential, or best-loved. You can sell your possessions, give them to charity, or opt for long-term storage in the location of your choice. 

Legal and Logistical Considerations

As a full-time RV resident, you must live lawfully and maintain a legal address. This may run contrary to van life freedom, but your vehicles need to be registered in your home state and you’ll need that address for banking, insurance, and other essential paperwork. 

RVers approach this challenge in a variety of ways. Some will maintain their home address. Others opt to be residents at a family member’s address. Alternatively, you can use a specialist service to establish an RV domicile in states like Florida or Texas. Remember, you’ll also need to arrange to forward mail to the locations you visit.

Where Oh Where Will You Stay?

In an RV the open road is yours. Take your time and experience the sights and scenery of the Americas by full-time traveling, with stops at campgrounds along the way. RV owners can stay at public or private RV parks and campgrounds, boondocking, or pre-arranged stays on private land. 

Privately owned RV parks tend to have the best amenities and are better equipped for an extended stay. National and state parks offer outstanding natural beauty but tend to offer fewer RV-dedicated amenities, with some being decidedly rustic. When locating your RV, experience tends to be the best teacher, and you’ll soon find out what type of campground suits you best. 

Always Plan Ahead

Living on the move requires a lot of planning, particularly the destinations you’ll park up at and enjoy. Get campground bookings in early, especially in popular tourist spots and the summer months. Be clear on how long you will stay in a particular location, as extensions may not always be available. Stays can be as short as a few days or as long as a few months, depending on the park. Always have a backup plan for unexpected circumstances like a breakdown, poor weather, or canceled booking. During the winter months, you may want to factor in a vacation rental.

Embrace the RV Life and Community 

The RV life has been popular for decades because of all the new destinations you can access and bucket list activities you can enjoy. One of the other great reasons to hit the road is that you can enjoy being part of a diverse community of RV owners and van life enthusiasts who have a passion for this way of life. You’ll find thriving online and offline communities of RV owners with lots of advice, and perhaps that towing cable, jump lead, or propane valve when you need it most. 

Start Your RV Journey With Cheyenne Camping Center

An amazing adventure awaits you and your RV, but your first step is to reach out and learn more about how to get started. Here at Cheyenne Camping Center, we have the expertise and RVs to ensure that you are fully equipped to embark on your full-time RV travels. Reach out by email or phone, or visit us at our Walcott, Iowa showroom.

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