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Full Time RVing, Is it right for you?

Our Camper We're living in a 24' Class C, some folks live in 35' 5th wheel campers and others live in luxurious 40' motorhomes. No matter what type of RV you have, you can live in it full time. Don't believe me? Just drive to the nearest local campground with long-term residents and take a look at who lives in what.

But is the lifestyle for you? You should have a solid reason for wanting to forego the "normal" life and live the RV life. The good thing is, only YOU have to think your reason is a good one. Everyone will quickly give you their opinion, but opinions are like belly buttons... everybody has one and they are worth their weight in lint.

Fulltiming is a state of mind. Don't let others tell you what you should or should not do, only you can make decisions of that nature. The way I see it, if the person offering me advice doesn't have a perfect life, then he's not really qualified to be telling me how to live mine.

The RV lifestyle is popular with several groups: Retirees, those whose jobs relocate often, those who want to see this amazing country of ours or people who just want a simpler life. For many, it is great not having a house to maintain. House cleaning is quick and easy, there's no yard to mow and there's no snow removal in the winter. Every day you can enjoy scenery that city folks only dream of, and when you're tired of it, you can change it!

A really good book on the subject of fulltiming is Fulltiming: An Introduction to Full-time RVing. Even though you won't have your own garden, your own driveway or your own mailbox out by the road, you will have your own home.

Your RV is your home, it just happens to be portable. You can be very happy in your RV as long as you understand what happiness is: Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want.

When the subject of full-timing comes up, the same general questions are raised. We'll try to cover most of them here for you.

Can I afford it?

People always ask, "What does it take to fulltime?". The answer is really very simple... whatever you have. Just as with living in a regular house or apartment, you live there using whatever financial resources you have. It is no different when living in an RV. The more money you have, the more you will spend. We live on $1500 per month just fine, others can't fathom that.

What do I do with all my stuff?

Get rid of it all. This is what we did...

  • Sell items at a yard sale or consignment shop, pocket the money.
  • Donate it to your favorite charity, a needy family, veterans, etc.
  • Throw it away because it wasn't worth anything to anyone but you. :)
  • Scan pictures and give the originals to family members.
  • Give keepsake and heirloom items to kids, relatives.
  • Remember, it's just "stuff". Your life is more than "stuff".

Put it in storage or have family keep it.

  • Get ready for a monthly storage fee!
  • Worry about if and when you will be back to see your stuff.
  • What about damage or theft while it is in storage?
  • Will your family get tired of storing your stuff?
  • Are you keeping things in case you might quit fulltiming?
  • Uh oh, sounds like second thoughts there.

Keep your house and all your stuff in it.

  • Grats on being able to afford that.
  • Great if you think you might change your mind.
  • Good if you think you'll be homeless without it.

This can be a tough decision. Do your things have sentimental value as well as monetary value? Only you can decide what has value to you and what you can live without. As for us, the more we threw out the more we wanted to throw out. If it had a memory attached to it, we took a picture of the item then got rid of it.

How do you get your mail?

We use a mail forwarding service. There are many to choose from so pick the one that offers the best price and service that suits your needs. We use in Florida. All of our mail goes to them and they send it to us wherever we are on a schedule we choose. Depending on the service plan you choose, you can get:

  • Physical street address in FL to receive packages and FL state benefits.
  • Request a scan, download a scanned image of your letter.
  • View and forward your mail online option.
  • Shred all requested unwanted mail.
  • Unlimited weekly mailings.
  • Custom mail sorting.
  • Hold mail up to six months.
  • Go over mail via telephone - open mail if requested.
  • FREE Fax Services Available
  • FREE email address at with your Mail Forwarding Service.
  • Select the frequency of shipments to your location.
  • Choose what mail items you want us to forward, scan, trash or hold.
  • You choose where and how your mail forwarding is done (First Class, Priority, USPS, FedEx)

The service costs as little as $9 per month plus the postage to have it sent to us. We pay our bills online or have direct debit so we don't have much mail. If you would like to sign up with MyRVMail, call 800-844-3969 and be sure to let them know you heard about them from the RV Road Trip site.

What if I want to go full-time but my husband/wife doesn't?

If there's any hesitation on the part of either one of you, don't even consider it. Living in an RV means living in close, tight quarters, and if both of you aren't trying to make it work, it won't. If you don't get along exceptionally well, don't do it. Living so close together will greatly aggravate any annoyances that are a part of your relationship. Are you sure your partnership is strong enough to survive it? In a tiny RV, there's no room for egos or attitudes. Both partners will have to be prepared to compromise a lot.

What about safety?

Most people we've talked to said they have never had a problem that made them feel afraid. We've never talked to anyone who has had an problem, but we've heard of some. You can't live in fear of what could happen. If you use the same precautions you do now, you'll be fine. Don't be paranoid and use common sense.

What type of RV do I need?

That depends on how much room you want and how much stuff you want carry around with you. We're in a 24' Class C so we don't have a lot of room for extra stuff. We RV because we operate a campground ministry, so we have to keep supplies for that in the few extra storage areas we have. Also, some manufacturers will void your warranty if you live in your RV fulltime. They will say it wasn't built to withstand long-term everyday use. Read the fine print carefully before buying.

Let's go over the 3 most common RV types for fulltiming:
Travel Trailer - This is a bumper pulled camper and although some may disagree, you can easily fulltime in one. Things to consider are:

  • Lower cost than a 5th wheel or motorhome
  • Lightweight, some can be towed by a 1/2 ton truck
  • Great if you already own a truck to tow it
  • Easier to get into small camp sites
  • Longer towing length than a 5th wheel of the same square footage
  • Less storage areas
  • Takes longer to set up than a motorhome
  • Can you back a trailer into a campsite?

5th Wheel - This has a hitch in the bed of a truck rather than on the bumper. Things to consider are:

  • Lower cost than a motorhome
  • Takes a stronger truck to pull it
  • Efficient use of space above truck bed
  • Lots of storage
  • Great if you already own a truck to tow it
  • Bedroom & bathroom are usually up some stairs
  • Takes longer to set up than a motorhome
  • Can you back a trailer into a campsite?

Motorhome - Drive train and camper all in one. Things to consider are:

  • Easy set up. Pull in, push a few buttons and you're done.
  • Access to everything inside while traveling
  • Usually comes with a generator
  • Generally longer engine & transmission warranties than trucks
  • Lots of storage
  • You need a TOAD (towed) vehicle to run errands
  • Hard to fit in some campgrounds
  • Much more expensive to purchase
  • If drive train breaks down, there goes your home to the repair shop.
  • May be intimidating for some to drive

Buy what you need and can afford. Whatever you get or already have will do, don't worry about what the Jones' have. When we decided to look for a camper, our "must haves" were a walk-around queen bed, a full kitchen and bath and no slides. We shopped around until we found a camper just right for us. We bought ours used and saved a lot of money and immediately started making RV Mods to suit our fulltime needs. We are extremely happy with our little RV.

What about Fluffy and Spike? (Pets)

Most campgrounds allow pets and as long as you have room in your RV for them, you'll all be fine. I wouldn't suggest having a large pet (Great Dane) or one that is high energy (Jack Russell Terrier) as they would be very cramped even in the largest motorhome. Many, many fulltimers have their pets with them and there is rarely a problem. One important note, if you take your pet outside to poop, clean it up!

What if we have kids?

We suggest you bring them with you. All kidding aside, kids can be home schooled on the road and they can stay in touch with friends the same way you do. You will create some amazing memories while traveling as a family and your kids will love it.

How do I stay in touch?

Another easy answer... cell phone and internet. If you don't have a cell phone, get one. Wal-Mart carries Straight Talk brand phones that use the Verizon network with unlimited* usage for $45 per month. If you can get by with the 3G service, Total Wireless has even cheaper monthly plans using Verizon's network. If you are an AT&T fan, check out Cricket Wireless. If you don't have one already, get a laptop that has Wi-Fi capabilities. You can get free internet access at thousands of hot spots nationwide. You can also pay for internet access via an air card or satellite dish if you want. Cell phones, email, FaceBook, blogs, etc are all good, easy ways to stay in touch while you roam around the country in your RV.

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