RVing full time is a lot more complicated than the full time YouTube celebrities make it look. I’m not suggesting it’s impossible. But it requires a great deal of ongoing planning. And some additional challenges.
Even if you already own an RV, the skill sets required for full time are different than that of a vacation RVer.
As of the writing of this article, I’m not an expert full timer, but I can certainly give some insight about RV living for beginners. I can also give you some insight on things to know before full time Rving.
Let’s count down the most difficult parts of becoming a full time RVer to give you some insight on how to prepare for full-time RV living. As well as give you some things to know before full time RVing.
Here’s a list of nine struggles we’ve overcome (or still deal with).
- The Emotional Struggle Of Full Time RV Living
- Dealing With A New Grocery Store Every Few Weeks
- Preparing Your Finances
- Downsizing Your Life Before Full Time RV Living
- Avoiding Over Packing The Rig
- Living In A Small Space
- Staying In An Area You’re Not Fond Of
- Parting With So Much Cash For Fuel
- Setting Your Itinerary When You’re Living Full Time In An RV
A great friend of ours did a similar short term trip like us. And she and her (at the time) boyfriend said there were a few hours of silence right after they left.
Well sure enough, it was awkward silence when we left. In fact, I was a little sad.
Were we doing the right thing?
How would we handle difficult times?
Should we turn around and run toward safety?
Not a chance! We didn’t become successful in our other business by running toward safety. We embraced the challenge and overcame adversity in a big way.
And so we shall do the same for this adventure.
Now with that said. There are some difficult aspects to overcome. We’re a family of four living in a very small space. In fact, our living space is less than eight feet wide and twenty-three feet long. That’s small.
And there’s a forty gallon terrarium with our bearded dragon, Max in the only floor space we have. Let’s just say that we spend a lot of time outside.
Sometimes emotions run high, but then we look outside at the lake, the mountains or the beautiful pine forest. So, yeah, there’s some turbulence. But nothing that can’t be overcome.
Do we miss our friends? You bet we do! But we speak to them a lot. And they love watching our YouTube channel.
So, if you’re concerned about the emotional struggle of full time RVing, it’s not as bad as it may seam.
I used to enjoy grocery shopping… a lot! It was my sacred time to myself and to socialize with the staff and the regulars.
My formal education is in human metabolism. You can read that as the chemistry of nutrition. So, food is my thing.
You can follow my blog, gymfailedyou.com to learn more about fitness and nutrition. Anyway, back to grocery stores.
Going with a well prepared list to any grocery store that you don’t know the layout is annoying. Now, do that every week. It gets old, but I’m getting good at asking where everything is each time.
Asking is a real time saver. Get used to it for everything.
Regardless, if you’re looking to increase “your step count,” you’ll accomplish it by circling the grocery store many times.
It’s not impossible, but wrapping up debt, saving and setting a budget is essential. You can read more about the finance aspect in my article How We Prepared Our Finances For Full Time RV Living.
I’ve encountered several full timers who still carry a lot of debt. I can’t imagine living this lifestyle and being obligated to pay a lot every month. I’m not suggesting it’s impossible.
But I am advocating for you to pay down as much debt as possible before changing your path in life. Finances are one of the few things that can cripple anyone and everyone. Get it under control!
We spent seven months living with my parents to wrap up our last bit of debt before resetting our journey. It was essential for us. But it also turned out to be really rewarding!
You can make full time RV living as inexpensive or expensive as you like. But it really does require discipline.
Are you disciplined enough to stay within budget?
Are you disciplined to set a budget?
These are very important questions. My key point here is that you have to have a real financial plan before setting out full time in an RV.
I believe we were a little too cavalier about this once we made the decision. It’s easy to say, “we’re six months out from selling, I’ll just do an hours worth of sorting.” That’s a mistake.
Attack as much as possible daily and as early as possible. Waiting until the last minute equates to rash decisions.
There’s something liberating about seeing progress daily as your house grows more and more empty.
It also makes it easier to sell a lot of things by starting early. Used stuff doesn’t sell overnight. It needs time.
Let me say that again. You’ll need as much time as possible to sell a lot of your stuff. Start early!
I don’t think finding time to go through your things is the biggest issue. I believe it’s making the decision of what to keep, what to store and what to sell.
Okay, this is a big one! It’s so easy to say, “just in case we need it.” I now despise that saying! It encourages over packing. I’m a Boy Scout and I’m always prepared. But I’ve learned the hard way to stop packing the “just in case” stuff.
So far, I’ve found a Wall Mart on every corner of every town. I’m not a fan of the store, but they have what you need if you can’t find it locally.
I still ask locals where they shop for certain necessities before going to Wall Mart. Nonetheless, the point is, pack less and figure our what you really need before packing the kitchen sink.
And we’ve even ordered from Amazon while at state parks. So, wait until you’re on the road. You’ll appreciate the savings on fuel from not carrying non essential stuff.
I can’t emphasize that enough. Please, don’t over pack!!!!
This is definitely something that ranks highly on the “difficulty scale.” This is also more subjective since we all feel differently about our personal space.
And your rig may be bigger than our small 23DBS. Nonetheless, the saving grace is our ability to turn the outside space into our personal living space.
Put the large outdoor mat out, put the awning out and strategically place a few chairs and viola, a bigger space!
This does not apply if it’s raining.
Over time, we’ve learned to manage our small space very well. But, sometimes it would still be nice to escape to an empty part of the house.
But there are several positives that the trade off creates. As I currently write this, I’m looking directly at a lake surrounded by pine trees. The boys are riding their bikes and the awning has me shaded.
I can think of a worse office space.
When most consider full time RV living, they likely picture themselves in picturesque settings.
That’s definitely not the norm. Especially when you’re trying to cover a lot of ground quickly.
If you consider booking RV parks for a rest week in a popular area, it may not turn out as expected. I’ve seen some really ugly RV parks in popular destination towns.
Or you could book a “rest week” in an area that turns out to have nothing to do. I suppose that has its benefits if you just want to get work done.
But it does get old after awhile. We use those occasions to get as much work done as possible. The least productive locations happen to have nothing to do as well as no cell signal.
You learn to make the best of it under any circumstance. Adaptation is the name of the game. If I may use a common cliché.
It doesn’t matter what you have. If it’s an RV, it gets very poor fuel economy compared to a family sedan.
I consistently get ten miles to the gallon of diesel and that’s actually good. Sometime you have to fill up twice in one day. Zip… there goes a hundred dollars! It gets old fast!
But there’s no way around it when you’re full timing. If you remain stationary for longer periods of time, you save on fuel. To state the obvious of course.
But we grow tired of the same area after about a week and want to keep exploring. So, we accept that our fuel bill will be higher than normal.
I’ve tracked every fill up in my 2017 F250 since starting. I plan on doing an article revealing what one can really expect towing 10,000 lbs all over the country.
If you know your timeline and itinerary, it’s easy to calculate how much you’ll spend on fuel. Whatever that calculation is, add ten percent. We always use more than we think.
The bottom line is that you’ll need to come to terms with the phrase, “pain at the pump.”
Oh, and I want to make this important point about fuel costs and discounts. The discount plans are for the big truck stops. They always charge a lot more for diesel than fuel stations further off the highway.
So, if you’re small and agile (we’re fifty feet total), drive less than a mile from the highway and find a fuel station that costs a lot less. It’s worth it! And it’s almost never out of the way.
I suppose if you were full timing before Covid, this would not have been such a problem. After Covid, it seems as though everybody and their brother bought an RV.
This translates into packed campgrounds in national parks, state parks and private campgrounds. It’s great for business, but it makes it super difficult to plan an itinerary even remotely close to cool attractions.
I’ve now found that I have to base my trajectory on what’s available with the following aspects (in no particular order):
- Boondocking sites
- Inexpensive campgrounds of any type with availability
- Potable water
- Dump Stations
Whenever we have WiFi or a strong cell signal, I’m up before the family plotting our itinerary. I start with the direction, then the general area and finally base it on what’s available.
It’s not always the perfect scenario, but there are two things we all keep in mind. First, it’s all new and exciting to us!
And secondly, we’re all growing together as a family. That in itself, makes full timing worth all the effort.
The Most Important Aspect Of Full Time Living In An RV
Bottom line: You have to have a strong financial plan. Period!
If your finances are not in order, full timing will only do more damage.
So please, plan accordingly.
You can read more about how we prepared our finances in our article How We Prepared Our Finances For Full Time RV Living.
The most difficult aspect of full timing so far may be planning the itinerary, but finances are the most important!
Do We Have Any Full Time RV Regrets so far?
No way! Not a chance! I know it’s only been a little over a month. But, I can honestly say, THIS IS THE BEST DECISION WE’VE MADE IN A LONG TIME!
All of these “newbie” issues will soon become skill sets. We’ll have them system based before we know it and be able to focus more on the great aspects of full timing.
If you’ve thought about full timing, what’s your biggest concern or fear?