From planning to budgets and even pooping, there’s a lot to think about before committing to the RV lifestyle. It’s a huge shift from your regular life and will require you to make plenty of adjustments.
You should do your research, make a plan, set up a budget, and slowly shift to the lifestyle. Don’t think too much though, it might scare you off.
Changing your lifestyle can be very intimidating, and it can also be very stressful if you have a family or other people doing it with you. So, it can get difficult navigating through this life and you need all the help you can get.
Here are a few tips to help you out, when you’re starting. Once time has passed, you’ll figure out a lot of tips of your own.
The internet is a great tool in our age and you can pretty much search up anything you want to know. Read blogs, follow video logs and consume content that revolves around RV living. You’ll find plenty of hacks and tricks here and there from other people’s experiences and also get a clearer picture of what you’re signing up for.
Do your research about your RV as well. You should know it inside and out even before you move in. Read the manual on the internet, and once you have it with you go on a few test runs to get used to everything. The controls and mechanisms can be a little difficult to learn. They are vastly different from your regular cars. So, you’ll need to know your RV well.
- Insurance and Domicile
With all the excitement of starting your adventure, you might overlook the legal details of living in an RV. Whether you plan to travel or take up a more permanent residence, you’ll need to check with the laws in the state you are in.
Most states have different laws regarding setting up residency in an RV. Make sure to abide by them. These will affect things like voting registration, licenses, inspections, laws, and regulations, etc.
It’s also smart to get proper insurance for your RV, whether it’s moving or stationary. If you have a lawyer, check in with them to carefully plan things out. If not your state website should have all this information for you or you can just check out different insurance policies.
- Consider Minimalism
You’ve probably seen some videos when they were trending. Minimalism is your best friend when it comes to living in an RV. Since you are low on room, hoarding things will only cause trouble.
Keep only the things you need, and sell or donate the rest. Yes, that means your flat-screen TV too. It might sound difficult at first and you probably can’t even imagine living without a dishwasher, but you get used to it. Soon, you’ll realize that you don’t need most of the clutter in a large house anyway.
You will probably start with a lot, but keep a track of how much use you get out of each belonging in your RV. If you end up not using it much, just throw it away. It’ll become easier and easier with more experience.
- Make A Checklist
Planning and organizing are both important when it comes to living in such a small place. Especially if you will be traveling around, checklists will be a necessity. Try to keep a checklist of all the items you have. You will know where things are and they won’t get lost easily.
This is like an inventory of sorts and will also help when getting new things. You could make a rule to get a new thing in the RV only if you get rid of another. This will ensure that you never overcrowd the RV with useless junk.
Checklists are also important every time you travel. After you’ve done it once or twice, develop a routine of things to do before you drive off. Check the lights, water, generators, etc, and even the items so that you’re not forgetting anything.
- Waste Management
Perhaps the hardest thing to get used to for beginner RV full-timers is getting rid of your waste. If you are living in a moving vehicle, you have to properly manage what comes in and what goes out. Most RVs will have a simple waste management system, that won’t cause you trouble.
Be sure to read all the manuals and learn exactly how to get rid of waste properly. General hygiene rules apply even more strictly to RV toilets: always flush, keep it clean, sanitize, and use chemical cleaners for the smell. Since it’s a closed-off and small area, it can easily start to smell and grow bacteria. So regularly clean out your waste tank.
- Be Open To Conversations
If you are living with other people in such a restricted space, it can become very easy for fights to occur more and more. If you don’t get your desired space from others, it can be very draining and frustrating. So, it is very important to always talk things out. Have honest, heart-to-heart conversations with your RV buddies regularly.
When problems arise, discuss them and solve them together. And finally, expect to have a few fights. They are inevitable and it’s okay. Try to get some space by taking walks or keeping separate spaces for each of the members. Talk over each decision with the entire RV family to lessen conflicts.
- Prepare for The Worst
With such an unconventional lifestyle, it’s only normal that things will go wrong. Living in an RV can be hard a lot of the time and you will be dealing with problems of your own. It’s important to have patience and know you will figure it out.
Especially if you are traveling all 365 days, a lot can go wrong with the RV itself. Maybe it’s bad weather or your tire punctures in a secluded space, anything can happen. Always have a backup plan and be flexible. Take situations like this in good humor and try not to panic.
Keep an emergency kit always in the van, for physical injuries and such. Even a first aid kid for the RV can come in handy as well, with a few tools for beginners. Even if you don’t know much you can always get instructions from the internet. You should also keep a separate fund for repairs and purchases for RV maintenance.
- Get A Long-Term Data Plan
Even if you set up your home at an RV park, chances are you won’t get access to good Wi-Fi. If you’re going to be on the road, then WIFI isn’t an option anyway. So, it’s best to invest in a long-term data plan for your internet needs.
With a good data plan, you can pretty much do anything on the internet. Though some people want to live “off the grid” and choose to lose the internet, which is sort of the point of a nomadic lifestyle.
But I wouldn’t recommend losing the internet if you’re a beginner. There are a lot of little problems that can arise and you won’t find anyone to help you. The internet can help you out a lot with solutions. And let’s face it, living full time without the internet is not very realistic in this day and age. It’s not impossible, but it’s more convenient with it than without.
- Online Jobs
You might have assumed by now that you can’t keep up your desk job with this lifestyle. But you’ll need to earn obviously, to keep up with this lifestyle or any lifestyle for that matter. There are plenty of ways to learn while living in an RV. It may not be conventional but you have to be willing to take risks.
Online jobs are great for RV people. You can do your work remotely from your laptop no matter where you are. If stable internet is an issue, you can always go to the nearest place with WiFi for important meetings or events. This is great for people on the go.
If you are going to be traveling less and setting up a more permanent residence, then you can do regular jobs as well. Even if you stay in one place for just a few months, you can work in nearby places and earn some cash before you move on to the next thing. This also makes it more interesting as you won’t be in any one job long enough to get bored of it.
- Visiting Friends and Family
If you are living alone or away from your extended family it can get very lonely sometimes. Secluded from family events and friends checking in now and then. Try to schedule regular visits with your loved ones who still live-in town. Check-in on them frequently.
Plan travel routes so that you get to visit friends and family in different places. You can also invite people over to live with you for a few weeks. And you will be making many new friends on the way as well. All you need to do is be flexible, patient, and open.
- Give it time
Honestly, it can be very difficult living in an RV. There will be challenges that you might not even have thought of. You will need to make a lot of sacrifices and think twice before making any decision. Your entire life will change. There will be bad days and good days.
But these are things that will happen even in a regular home as well. You need to be calm and patient and deal with problems one by one. It will get easier with experience. You will get better at navigating the RV life, and you’ll also see why you chose this life as well. So keep patience and give the experience time. But most importantly, have fun!
Common Mistakes to Avoid While Living in an RV
Now that we have covered the tips on what to do while living in an RV full-time, let’s go over some tips on what you should avoid. Mistakes are normal, especially when you are a beginner. Even an experienced RV settler will make mistakes. So try to make a not to avoid them when you can.
- Forgetting to Charge the Generators
Remember to always properly charge generators and other equipment that needs charging regularly. People who are not used to living without power supplies always available, can often make this mistake and forget that you need to charge your generators fully.
This can be very problematic if your generator runs out in the middle of a trip. You could also ruin your batteries if you do not charge them properly. So do not forget to charge your generators.
- Getting the Wrong RV
RV stands for recreational vehicle and it encompasses a lot of different types of vehicles. There are lots of different models, types, and sizes of RV built to cater to different needs. Depending on how you are going to use your RV, your model will differ.
So don’t just buy the first RV you see. Check around, browse the internet and read up on what kinds would suit your needs. You could also rent out the RV for a few test days to test everything out. It’s a big investment so don’t make the wrong one.
- Not Learning How to Drive an RV
This might seem very obvious, but a lot of newbies make this mistake. Don’t assume that driving an RV is going to be like driving a car. Just because you have a driver’s license doesn’t mean you are capable of driving an RV.
RVs are huge and long and take up a lot of space on the road. Especially on roads with other vehicles or in narrow streets, it can be very difficult to drive. So, take time out to properly train yourself how to drive the RV.
- Following Google Maps
With everyone having a map on their cellphones, most of us are accustomed to just following Google maps when going to new places. You can’t always do that with an RV. Google maps are built with the average user in mind, which is not going to be an RV driver.
Not all roads are going to be able to take on an RV. They might be too narrow or have low bridges or even weight limits. It can be very dangerous driving on these roads with a heavy RV. This is why you should use GPS that is specifically developed for RVs. There are plenty of apps available and your RV should come in with a built-in GPS as well.
- Leaving Things “Hanging”
Sewage, water supplies, and power supplies are important mechanisms of RV life. Even the most experienced RV full-timers can often forget to unplug a pipe or a power supply after a refill. This might leave pipes or wires hanging behind your trailer and can break them or even cause harm to other people on the road.
So don’t forget to turn off pumps and heaters, close windows, check tires, unplug anything connected externally, etc. before you take off. This is where the checklist is really handy.
How Much Does It Cost to Live In An RV Full-time?
Depending on your expenses and how you live, living full time in an RV will usually cost you from about 1500- 3500 USD every month. This is without the cost of the RV itself, which will hopefully be a one-time investment.
This range is only an estimate and just like any other lifestyle, how much you spend is subjective to how you live. You could go for a luxury RV and buy a lot of cool, expensive accessories and gear for a high-end experience. That will cost you much more, even monthly.
And on the other end of the spectrum, you can get by on much less if you want to. Living in an RV does save you from a lot of the other one-time expenses of living in a house, most importantly the rent. You will also be saving on furniture, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. which you won’t need to buy even once for an RV.
But other than that, you will usually need similar monthly living expenses in an RV. This is because your monthly needs are still pretty much the same: food, water, electricity, internet, etc.
Give it a try.
Once you understand and experience the joys of this lifestyle you can never go back.