Preparing to live full-time in your RV
Monday, April 16, 2018
Living full-time in an RV can be wonderful. Not quite as wonderful is preparing for it. Depending on your status, it can take months to be ready to start life as a full-timer.
Here are some tips on getting ready.
I am putting this one first for a reason. Don't start the process of full-timing until you've reviewed your finances.
Can you afford to full-time? For many people, the costs are close to equal to living in a home, but how are you paying your expenses? Do you have enough saved or do you need to continue to work? Perhaps you can plan your trips to workcamp?
Many people work from their RV, but make sure you have the equipment and services planned. For instance, I used local internet when I could but purchased more data on my phone plan. I had both a computer and backup storage (which was added after I had a hard drive failure). I used the local library or the RV office for my printing needs.
Another point on finances is to have your money in a bank that you can access as you travel. We searched for the bigger banks that have locations around the country. We couldn't always find one nearby, but we tended to get enough cash to last us to the next time we were near a bank. Most purchases went on our credit card, and most bills were paid online.
While you probably already have an RV, you need to decide if the one you have is the one you want to live in full-time. My feeling is to go as small as you can. Smaller RVs (less than 30 feet) are easier to maneuver and fit into more campgrounds. The opposing view is that you want more space to store your stuff and to give you a little personal space when you spend all your time with another person and/or pet.
If you are living in a trailer or fifth wheel, you'll need to have a truck. With most motorhomes over 20 feet, you need to have a toad (a vehicle you pull behind your RV to use after you set up). Most people pull a small car, while some people will have one or two motorcycles.
There are various connections you may need to have installed. These may include a tow bar or a dolly, a platform for motorcycle storage or a fifth wheel hitch. I prefer a tow bar versus a dolly. The connection is made faster. When you are doing this a lot, it is worth the extra cost. You may also want to bring bikes or kayaks so you need to have mounting brackets.
Putting the car on the dolly.
The biggest issue, of course is to sell your home. The timing is difficult here. You need to be ready to go within a few weeks once you put your house for sale, but it can also take months to sell a home.
Some people have started full-timing while their home is still for sale. Paperwork for a house sale can be done online now. You just need to have someone to keep the house clean and the grass mowed.
Full-timing means you have to fit everything into your RV or find a way to store your stuff. The best method is selling as much stuff as you can before you full-time. This may mean eBay, garage sales, Craigslist, giving to friends and relatives, and donations.
There is lots of information on this, but the thing to keep in mind is you only want to keep things that bring you joy. In our case, this included furniture that my husband built along with boxes of books that I love. We kept a storage unit during our full-time period.
Did I mention that packing a storage unit is hard work?
Other things to consider include mail forwarding. Sometimes a family member will agree to be your "home address" and forward your mail, but there are several good mail services out there.
Our "Christmas tree" — be sure to pack holiday items, too!
Your home address is also important. State income taxes, insurance rates and vehicle registration fees are all dependent on your selection of your home state.
A surprising issue is your insurance company. Some require a permanent address and will not allow a forwarding service. We had to change insurance companies for our car and RV once we dropped our home insurance off the account. Very frustrating! So check with your agent on their rules.
I spent quite a bit of time figuring out what paperwork needed to come with us. Things like several years of taxes came just in case. I consolidated our medical papers into a computer file. I scanned other paperwork to save space.
A final point to consider is DVDs and books. Full-time RVing isn't quite like camping weekend trips where all your time is spent hiking or sitting around a campfire. There is a lot of downtime where you can enjoy reading or watching TV. Ebooks are a good solution to the space limitations. We kept a good selection of DVDs to watch when TV service was limited. We saved more space by leaving the DVD cases in storage and had the discs in one case.
All of this may sound like hard work, but as you return from a hike and enjoy the view from your campsite, it will be worth it!
Camping at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona.
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