One of the reasons we had such a successful experience living in our 5th wheel camper was that I did a lot of research before we set out. I also had our lives positioned for maximum mobility before we even started researching campers. Picking out your truck/camper combination is actually one of the last steps in getting ready to head out on the road.
Most of these steps are good things, even if you don’t end up living in an RV or camper. That doesn’t make them easy. A lot of preparation to go full time was painful to the point it impacted my health, although I didn’t know it at the time. When we left, we were ready….well, mostly ready. There were mistakes but there always are in hindsight, right? Even if you’re not going full time anytime soon or, even if you end up deciding on a different housing option, there are things you could be doing right now to make your transition smoother.
Pay Down Debt
We had zero debt and froze our credit reports before we set out on the road. The tiny mortgage on the house we were in at the time was the last of any debt we owed. People venturing out on the road trailing credit card debt or trying to pay on a vehicle loan while they travel is just crazy. Borrowing money for your tow vehicle or RV adds another layer of expense to your time on the road. You will realize more from your mobile life if you don’t try to drag debt along with you.
Get Your Finances In Line
I worked two, sometimes three jobs at a time to make more money to pay off our bills and bank cash ahead. We saved and invested to have the money to pay cash for our tow vehicle and camper. Some of you are counting on the equity in your house to fund your road adventure. That’s fine but just keep in mind what happened during the last big recession. If you’re counting on the housing market, then timing is everything. Make sure you have a backup plan in case the housing market craters.
Making Sure Your Family Is Cared For
The number one reason for people interrupting their road journey is taking care of family. We saw that again and again. One family, who had been on the road nearly a decade, rented a house near their kids so they could help out with babysitting duties when one of their children got divorced. For a few, including us, it was taking a break to care for elderly parents. For others it was a major illness of a family member. Sometimes the break was only temporary, sometimes it was a long-term relocation.
Make Sure You’re Healthy Enough To Travel
If you need major surgery or something like chemotherapy, get it before you leave. We actually met people going through chemo on the road and it was brutal. Okay, chemo is hard anywhere, anytime, I get that. But it seemed particularly hard on the mobile. You need to be in the same place for months for extended medical care. Surgery and illness can leave you unable to hook up your own camper or take care of minor tasks around the campsite. One thing I did notice about RV living, it was not particularly handicap accessible. All the same we met those who made it through chemo, hospitalization, accidents, surgeries and illness all while living in their camper. But a major illness will will present challenges to mobile living, particularly if you live alone.
Know Where You’re Going To Domicile
Some states, like Florida and Texas, are fairly accommodating of people who live in campers, RVs and boats. Tennessee, where we were living before we set out on the road, was a harder state to maintain residency. So, we knew leaving that we’d have to bite the bullet and figure out how to move our residency to another state. Knowing where you want to domicile is is a fairly important decision and can impact your taxes, license fees, insurance rates and whether you can use your camper as an address.
Develop Career Mobility
Having a job you can work anywhere means you can leave sooner. Mobile jobs included computer programmers, welders, IT specialists, graphic artists, medical coders, nurses, wedding photographers and writers. You can’t always take just any job and make it mobile. Choosing mobility and looking for a career match is more likely to yield a more portable career. You’re also going to have better luck if can build your own business. The self-employed enjoyed a far more untangled existence than anyone working for the man.
RV living isn’t something you can just jump into, it takes a bit of planning. Be patient and make sure you’re actually ready to go.