The sad encounters in our RV travels were inevitably those who had been forced into the RV lifestyle by difficult economic circumstances. The good news is that, even during the really down years of 2009 and 2010, people living in campers because they had been evicted from homes they couldn’t afford were the minority.
The majority of people we met adopted the RV lifestyle for much the same reason our ancestors adopted it; getting from old life at point A to new life at point B. Most didn’t know exactly where that new life was, only that it was out there somewhere. For most people, living full time in their RV is going to be a transient experience. One they adopt for a while, then trade for another housing option they discover in their travels. It’s one of the great ironies of the RV lifestyle is that you will eventually stumble across another lifestyle that you like even better.
If you’re dreaming about just selling all your stuff and heading out on the road, forget that. That way leads to an experience, to quote Hobbs, that will be nasty, brutish and short. Before we headed out we planned for years. I worked two and sometimes three jobs to bank cash and pay off bills. We traded our cars, nice cars, for a used monster diesel pickup truck. We sold all our stuff and gave away a bunch more. The last thing we sold was the last house we had a mortgage on. A steel house with a
2,500 square foot garage on 10 acres with a private lake. It was awesome. I had goats. They took care of the weeds and most of the lawn work. I had to mow twice a year. The guys that trimmed the trees for the power company used to drop limbs over the fence, let the goats strip off all the leaves and then run what was left through the wood chipper. I liked the goats better than some of our neighbors. The saddest day I remember was watching the last of them disappear down the road in the back of a pickup truck.
Oh, I’m sorry. Did you think life on the road was going to easy and carefree? Sorry to burst that bubble.
When we headed out on the road we were 100 percent debt free, had a healthy cash reserve and a plan for how to make money on the road. Even with all that it was hard some days. There were unexpected expenses, repairs, breakdowns, and flat tires. That included one tire that exploded and did $3,000 dollars damage to the truck. The biggest unexpected expense was one of our dogs needing a $3,900
emergency surgery. If you launch out on the road with a shoestring budget and no cash reserves, you’re screwed. What’s worse is you’re going to be stuck at some random point of your journey, not the place you’d choose to stay.
Some people have this romantic notion of life on the road and, don’t get me wrong, it is fun most days. But it’s not as completely carefree as some make it out to be. You need to plan carefully, make sure you have a cash reserve and know how you’re going to make money. All that takes planning and preparation, sometimes years worth.
The good news is right now the economy is on your side. For the 54 percent of Americans invested in the stock market the last five years have been awesome. A lot of workamping jobs are hard and a booming economy means fewer people competing for them. Jobs in the oil fields of North Dakota are poaching many migrant workers who would otherwise be taking those jobs. When it comes to temporary, low-paying and summer jobs, the opportunities are endless. Pretty much anywhere you want to go should be good.