You’ve made the decision to go small and begin the life of a full time RVer. Now the pressing question is, how do you adapt and transition after a lifetime of living in standard stick-and-brick dwellings? These tips for transitioning to full-time RVing will help get you ready to downsize and head off on that life of adventure you’ve always dreamed of!
Ease Into It
Up until now you may have only spent a week or two in your RV and you’re thinking “Hey, I can live like this every day!” Make sure that you will be just as happy in a few months as you are in a few weeks on the road. Take some longer trips and spend more time in your camper before you completely commit to this plan. Just as people can stand or even enjoy their mother in-law’s company for a week, but wouldn’t want to move her in, you might enjoy your RV for a week or two before you're ready to spend some time apart. Head out for a month, then three, and maybe even six. Then make the commitment if you’re still feeling like full timing is the way to go for you.
Make a Budget
Creating a budget will not only include how much you will spend on what, but where your income will come from. Are you planning to keep the job you have, and will that feasibly work when you're on the go? Do you have a plan to work from home or in this case from the road? Have you considered Workamping and other ways to supplement your income? Even if you stay at a free spot every night, you still have to pay for expenses like gas for the tow vehicle or motorhome, propane for the appliances, water fill ups when you cannot find it free, the paid sanitation stops, electricity to keep the battery charged, etc. Don’t just head out unprepared. Make sure you understand how much this is going to cost for the lifestyle you plan to live with consideration to how much you’ll be making. Now, try to live on that budgeted amount for a while as you’re easing into it.
It’s time to downsize your possessions since you’ll have much less space. So how do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of? Start with the obvious. The things you haven’t used in more than 6 months are usually items you can get rid of easily. Next you need to evaluate how much space you have in your camper. Start putting the essential “can’t-live-without” items in the rig first and then see what space you have left for luxury items. You may find that some of what you thought you couldn’t live without, is something you’ll have to learn to go without because there are other more important items that need to take its place. If you have a lot of stuff, take a look at an episode of hoarders. Not that we’re saying you’re anywhere near there, but the system they use to pick what stays and what goes is excellent.
Plan Your Journey
Many who envision a full time RV lifestyle see themselves picking up and moving to a new place every day or two. Not only will that stretch you thin, it’s going to stretch your budget thin. Plan where you’ll stay ahead of time and plan to stay for a while. The longer you stay in one place, the less you’ll have to spend on gas getting there and the less wear and tear you’ll put on your RV and tow vehicle. Moving around all the time can get pretty stressful as well and the whole point of a simpler life is to relax more and stress less. Take your time seeing the sights and limit your travel a bit.
One thing some forget to consider is how you will receive your mail. You need to get this set up before you completely transition so that you’re not missing anything important. There are a few options and what works varies from person to person.
If you’re planning to come back to or stay in one area a lot a P.O. box is a great way to go! This way you just pick up your stack of mail when you’re in the area. If you don’t plan to be in one area much then you need to get your mail sent to you. You can do this by setting up a mail forward at a campground through the post office, or by having your mail sent to a trusted relative of friend who can then send it to you wherever you are.
The most flexible mail system we’ve found is through Earth Class Mail. You have your mail sent to them, they scan the outside of it, and email the scan to you. You then tell them if you want it to be opened or shredded. If you have them open it, they will scan and send you what’s inside and you can choose what to do with it at that point. If it’s something you need the original of, they can send it to you at an address you provide. If the scan is fine and you don’t need it, they can shred it. The nice things is, you only pay for what you have them open so the items that are obvious junk mail can just be shredded and done away with!
Join a Club
RV clubs offer tons of benefits and discounts! Clubs such as Good Sam and Escapees RV Club have forums for discussions, recommendations, and reviews on campgrounds, and you can get a discount on campground fees at participating campgrounds. These are also great resources to find seasonal jobs and workamping opportunities. While there are fees to join these clubs, you will find that the savings and benefits outweigh the cost.
Check out some forums on full timing for more information. You can ask specific questions that are on your mind and get answers from others that are full timing right now! The experienced are the best sources to get accurate info and you’ll find a range of valuable opinions. If you've got experience fulltime RVing, share your opinions in the comment section!