Last week I covered the dark side of full-time RV’ing. I gave you a bunch of reasons why you shouldn’t do it and all the problems you would run into. No more of that stuff!!!…lol.
Before I start, remember one thing. Just as you would have good and bad days in a sticks and bricks, you will have them in your Rv too. That being said I absolutely love this lifestyle and can’t see any end in sight. I wish I would have discovered this lifestyle years ago.
Let’s Get Started!!!
Let’s get started. Remember, I will take each topic in the order I covered it last week. The first thing that I brought up last week was your “why”. Did you think about that? What was your “why”? My “why” was to live a more simple life while exploring this great country and all the history that goes with it. See what this thing called nature is. I also wanted to be surrounded by happy people. Most everyone in corporate America seems to be miserable. Everyone seems to hate their jobs.
Think about it. Everywhere you go, Dmv, supermarkets, convenience stores etc no one is smiling. It’s the same old routine every day. In all the years I have been camping whether it be in a tent or RV, most everyone in campgrounds is happy. They are away from the daily grind and either relaxing with their families and friends or spending some alone time. Either way, they are happy. That is where I want to be. Surrounded by happy people.
Am I Looking To Go Off-Grid?
My intent is not to go off grid and avoid as many people as I can. It’s quite the opposite. It’s about learning more about people. Their cultures and their histories. To help people along the way whether it’s showing them how to solve a problem with their RV or just helping a family have a better vacation. Again, surround myself with happy people.
The second thing I brought up last week is your house. Why would you want to give up your house? I spoke about entertaining, big backyards, long hot showers, lots of space, and a garage. I also spoke about permanent residency, how would you get your mail, and driver’s license and car registrations. If you were to move into an RV how would you ever live with your spouse/partner in an RV in such a small space?
Is It Monday Already?
While it’s nice to have a big house and yard with a garage, it’s not so nice to be paying the super high mortgage that goes with it. You are working all week long, sometimes extra hours, just so you can pay for the house, taxes, and insurance. Then the weekend finally comes and instead of going out and exploring or having fun you are still working. This time not at your job but around the house, Mowing, raking, cleaning, painting, clearing out the gutters, and fixing anything that may be broken. You’re finally done with all that and Monday’s here. You get to start the cycle all over again. Maybe that’s why people are cranky…lol
In my case, I had rented an apartment so I did not have a lot of the maintenance and lawn care items to tend to. The problem was that I was born and raised on Long Island so after a while I had pretty much seen everything there was to see and do in the area. In an RV, when you have done everything there is to do in an area, you move to the next one. Now you have all new things to do and explore.
Is That All I Owe?
In an RV you might still owe money on your unit and be making payments and you will still need insurance but unless you bought a top of the line diesel pusher motorhome they will not be as large as most house mortgages.
In a house, you can take a pretty long hot shower with good water pressure. In an RV you will not have that luxury but you do have options. Most campgrounds have shower facilities that are generally clean. Throw on some shower shoes and grab your bathroom bag and you will get your nice long hot shower. For me it has never been a problem. I have no hair so a long shower is not needed…lol. The RV shower is just fine. Chris has on occasion opted for the campground showers.
You Want Me To Shower In There?
On the outside chance the campground bathrooms/showers are really nasty, or you are boondocking there is another option. If you have a gym membership like a Planet Fitness, you could always grab a nice long hot shower there. I have always found the bathrooms/showers to be clean there.
As far as home maintenance goes some people actually find enjoyment in working around the house and doing things like gardening and fixing things on their time off. They have no interest in running around hiking, exploring, or anything else that takes them away from their house. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that but in those cases full time RVing would not be a good fit for them.
Where Are We Going Today?
As for me, I would rather be exploring, hiking, or riding my motorcycle. So if you are like me, full RV’ing could be a great option. If you love hiking, exploring and doing things but love the security of your house, that’s ok too. You could always become what I call a “weekend warrior”. Just go away a couple of weekends, maybe even a full week or two, or maybe even become a snowbird if you’re retired and can get away for 6 months to warmer weather.
As far as being afraid to give up your house because you will have no legal residence and no way to get your mail, there are solutions for that too. I won’t sugar coat this. Domicile issues are tricky. You will need to do your research. There are 3 states that I know of that are RV domicile friendly. They are South Dakota, Florida, and Texas. We chose Florida so I can only explain the how we obtained residency in Florida. Escapees has some good information on Domicile.
Time To Pick A State
Each state has it’s pros and cons so I would definitely spend some time researching this. Look at things like tax structures, vehicle registrations, vehicle inspections, vehicle insurance, and health insurance.
We chose Florida for a couple of reasons. Chris’ kids are all living in Florida so that was one reason. We also looked at taxes. There are no state income taxes and they will not tax my pension. Vehicle registrations costs are similar to that as New York but there are no vehicle inspections. Medical insurance was not an issue as I carry it through my retirement.
Off To The County Clerks Office
The process of becoming a resident was super easy with the help of our mail service. The mail service we chose supplied us with a “legal” address in Florida’s eyes. They walked us through the entire process. More on mail service in a minute. As far as becoming a resident, we had to fill out a form (supplied by the mail service) called an “Intent to domicile” and file it with the Clay county clerk’s office. It must be notarized but that was no problem because the county clerk’s office is a notary!!!. Basically what this form says is that when we finally (if ever) get to a point where we are going to settle down in one place, it will be Florida.
Then it was off to DMV. We had to show the letter, our old licenses, bring two pieces of mail addressed to our new address, and do the normal eye test and that’s it. In Florida, when you register a vehicle for the first time, the DMV clerk comes out to physically check the vehicle identification number on the vehicle you are going to register. This presented a problem because I was not unhooking the camper and dragging the RV and motorcycle to the DMV which was in another county from where we were camping. Another simple solution. We filled out the registration forms for the RV and motorcycle and called the local sheriff’s office. They sent an officer to verify the RV and motorcycle Vin and sign off on the form. Easy peasy!!!
WooHoo, We Are Now Florida Residents!!!
We drove the truck to DMV, showed her the signed paperwork for the RV and bike and she came out and physically looked at the truck and we were set. Well almost. We walked out with Florida licenses and registrations for the RV and truck. We had a small issue with the bike. That another whole story. Check out my blog on the bike issue.
So with the domicile issue covered, let me go back and explain the mail. Some people will use friends and relatives address for their mail deliveries and domicile addresses. We chose not to. We did not want to put that responsibility/hassle on anyone. We chose a mail service. A mail service will supply you with a mailing address and handle all your mail according to your instructions. Some mail services (such as the one we chose) can be used as legal addresses also.
Our File Cabinet In The Sky!!!
Our mail comes in and they scan the front of the envelope. They email you the scan and wait for your instructions. You can either have them forward it to the campground you are at, shred it, or hold it. We pay for an additional service that we can also have the contents scanned. Many things we get we don’t need to have the actual document but we want a copy. We have them scan it and shred it. We take the scanned document and put it in our electronic file cabinet in the sky (the cloud…lol).
There are quite a few services that handle mail. We use St Brendan’s Isle and have been completely satisfied with their service. UPS, Good Sam, and Escapees all have similar mail services. As always do your research to see which one works best for you.
I Need My Own Space
The last thing to discuss under the house issue is “space”. I am not talking about how big the interior is physical, I am talking about having your own personal space. Everyone needs “alone” time. In a house, you might go down into the basement, in the garage, or maybe even your own room while your spouse/partner is elsewhere. Where would you go in an RV? They are not all that big. Well, there are ways to get alone time. I have covered this in another blog post and suggest you take a look at it. Living together in an RV.
Kids– This is another big one and one that will start lots of debates. I have no small children anymore but if I did I would still choose this lifestyle. If your kids are older and out on there own like mine, have them visit. It’s like they will have built-in vacation spots. Every time you are in a new location and they visit, they get to enjoy that area as if they are on vacation. Don’t forget, you are mobile. You can always stay at a campground near them every once in a while to visit them.
If they are younger and/or school age, homeschooling is always an option. There is a lot of “crap” that goes on in today’s school system. If you are willing to do the research necessary to homeschool your kids, this is a great option. You will need to find out the necessary steps to take per your state of domicile. It is not easy and you will need to be disciplined but the results can be rewarding. How cool is it when you can say instead of turn to page 61 to learn about Mt Rushmore you say, open the living room shade and there is Mt Rushmore, we will be visiting it today!!!
Some people say socialization skills will suffer. In my opinion, they will learn these skills through meeting numerous families in campgrounds and areas of exploration. In my years of camping, I have met people from all over the world. Helping out with the RV chores won’t bring the same arguments you would get when you ask them to do their chores around the house either. RV chores are much less and will go much quicker.
There Are Some Great Resources
As I have said earlier. I do not have young children who are school age. There are however many good Facebook groups and blogs that are dedicated to being on the road with young families. They are great resources and support groups. Just do a google search and take it from there. Here is an example of one Facebook group to get you started. Fulltime Families Fan Page
Jobs– Here is another hot topic. Can you support yourself on the road? Yes, you can!!! There is plenty of work to do while you travel. You have your obvious campground jobs but there is plenty of not so obvious work that can be found. You can also start your own business. You could work for someone else while you build your own business just as you would in sticks and bricks. I have a page called How to Make Money on the Road that you can check out for ideas to get started.
Here It Comes/Financials
Financials– This is the base of everything. The idea of RVing full time is to enjoy life with a little less stress. If you owe a ton of money or start this lifestyle with no backup money, you could be setting yourself up for failure. You need to remember that you will be driving your “home” down the road at 65mph. That is like being in an earthquake everytime you change locations.
Automobiles are made under strict guidelines and safety regulations. RV’s have no such thing. Most Rv’s, even the expensive ones are made rather cheaply. Most RV’s are not made to be lived in full time either. Things will break and need repair just as if you were in sticks and bricks. Just as if you were in sticks and bricks, you will need money to repair the items that break. What I like to do is if something breaks, I like to repair it with better quality materials. Having broken items with no money is stressful. Have some money put away for unexpected repairs.
I Owe How Much?
The other part of that is debt. If you are carrying a lot of debt, you will be narrowing the jobs that you will be able to do. Most campground jobs pay around minimum wage. That might not be enough to cover your debt. It would just mean you would have to find a little better paying job. If you are camping next to a major city, you can usually find better-paying jobs there. The best advice I can give you is to enter this lifestyle with as little debt as possible.
No matter if you work on or off the campground, the benefit to the RV’ing lifestyle is that on your time off, you will be in new areas to go out and explore. Chris and I both work. Nine times out of ten, when we get our days off we are hiking, exploring, or riding the motorcycle. The one out of ten, we just throw on sweats or shorts (we don’t do cold…lol) and set up our camping chairs and relax.
That Nasty 5 Letter Word/Taxes
When it comes to taxes, yes you will still owe. Just because you are in an RV does not mean you get to skip on paying taxes. Nothing will ruin your day faster than having the IRS or a state come after you for unpaid taxes…lol. If you work in multiple states as we do, your taxes can get tricky.
We use Turbotax online and so far it has been easy. They walk you through each step. Bt the answers to their questions, they will let you know if you need to file in multiple states. If you are uncomfortable with doing your own, find a CPA or tax professional that understands your mobile lifestyle. Whatever you decide, make sure you pay your taxes. Just keep records as you would in sticks and bricks and file your taxes on time and you will have no problems at all.
Try Using Banking Programs/Software
One more thing under financials. I recommend you make and follow a budget. That way you will know where you stand at all times. There are some great banking software programs out there. For PC’s there is quicken and for Apple there is Banktivity. These will help you keep all your finances in order easily and quickly. That helps at tax time and also leaves you time to explore.
Speaking of banking, I have seen people write about having problems with getting a bank when full timing. We have always banked with a local credit union. The one we had for years is not mobile friendly so we needed to find one that was. By mobile friendly I mean they charge for ATM usage. They stated they did not but when we tested them on a motorcycle trip we got charged. When we called and asked them why we got charged they stated: “we didn’t charge you, the terminal owner did”. That was unacceptable to us.
Free ATM Usage!!!!
To make a long story short, the bank we wound up going with was the Alliant Credit Union. We found them through Escapees. There was no problem with our address and they are truly free for ATM’s. Apparently, the ATM owners get paid their fees regardless of who you bank with. Alliant has an extensive network of ATM that are totally free. If you come across one that is not on their network and charges you like we did in Texas, they will reimburse you the ATM fee the next business day up to $20 a month. They are awesome!!!
Also, like most banks do they have mobile deposits. That works out great for workampers who get paid. When you get your check you just take a picture of the front and back through their app and you are done. No trips to any bank necessary.
Local Business- Yes you will not have the convenience and comfort of using the same local business’ you have for years. We have not found this to be an issue at all. With the internet today it’s very easy to go online and get reviews of just about anything you want. There is also the age-long method of word of mouth…lol. Someone in that campground is bound to know a good hairdresser, mechanic, restaurant, etc. Hey, your camping neighbor might be a barber doing haircuts for his workamping gig!!!
Don’t stress over this. You will be surprised at how much of a non-issue this is. Today there are a ton of chain stores that carry almost identical products no matter what state you’re in. Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart to name a few.
I Don’t Feel So Well
Medical- This is not just a full-timers issue it’s a national issue. Medical can be a problem no matter where you live. We are lucky enough to have national coverage available to us at a fairly reasonable price. If you don’t, then again I will point you in the direction of the Escapees RV club. There is a guy who handles medical insurance for the full-time RV’er. He understands the lifestyle and from what I have read in reviews about him, he’s pretty good. It’s called RVer Insurance Exchange.
As far as medical facilities, that should not be too much of a concern either. There are hospitals in every state. There is also numerous walk-in medical or emergency care facility’s located throughout the country.
A Dr. In The Gateway To Florida
We have decided that since we always seem to come to Florida for the winter, we will get a Dr in northern Florida as our “primary” dr. Each winter when we are heading back to Florida we will schedule an appointment and stay at a campground in northern Florida for a week or two. Once our physicals and blood tests are done we will move on to wherever we are working for the winter. That is why north central Florida was a logical choice for us. We will pass it twice a year. On the way in and on the way out.
Well, that’s it. I hope I have calmed some of the fears I invoked in you last week. With some planning and a little out of the box thinking, this can be a great low-stress lifestyle. Jumping into it with no thought or planning can turn into a disaster.
Come and Join Me Out On The Road
Everything has a solution. So if you have the travel bug and love to explore and see new things, what’s stopping you? Get out here and join the many of us who live this lifestyle. If you still have any questions after reading this feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.