My House Has Wheels was intended as guide to compare RV living to more traditional housing options and how to get ready for the transition. I’m not going to cover all the details here but your transition to RV living is going to involve steps that fall into major groups.
It’s surprising the number of decisions that go into RV living, each one building on the next and dictating the terms of your RV life. Today I’ve condensed it down to five basic categories.
First a Bit of Soul Searching
The most important element to going mobile is an honest assessment about whether you’re the right type of person for the the lifestyle. Not everyone is cut out for a small space living and those problems tend to compound as the available room shrinks. Put mice in a box and gradually make it smaller and the mice will start fighting when space gets tight. People have the same instincts but, fortunately, we have better problem solving skills than mice. For vandwelling, especially if there are two of you, you’ll have to burn incense and run fans to mask the smell of body odor and sweat in such a confined space. Doing that for a week is easy, doing it day after day for months and months is really hard. You have to be realistic about your personal minimums.
Buying a Van, Camper or Coach
This is an incredibly hard decision. Do you go with a self-contained coach or RV or buy a truck/camper combo? How big should your rig be? What about construction options? Floorplans? How much traveling do you plan on doing? It’s tough because you can jam yourself early and either be unnecessarily cramped or carrying around a lot of excess weight. Do a lot of research before putting your money down.
Getting Rid of Your Stuff
This will be harder than you imagine and take longer than you’re planning. We got rid of absolutely everything we thought we could part with and still had a pile left over that filled up a 10×15 warehouse. Leaving that behind was the major mistake of our RV journey. We paid rent on that junk for years. By the time we got back to clean out that warehouse a lot of it was wrecked by mold, any electronics were out of date and my wife’s clothing was mildewed. Don’t make that mistake.
Getting Your Mail
Mail and residency, also called domicile, are actually separate issues but domicile is too big to cover here. Your mailing address can be solved by a mail forwarding service and they are getting increasingly sophisticated these days. Some will scan your paper mail and send it to you electronically. Others will drop it all in an envelope once a week and either hold it or send it to where you’re staying for a while.
Making a Living
For most people RV living is a retirement occupation so working is optional. For those who do want or need to work will find their increased mobility is an advantage. As a mobile worker you can find seasonal jobs in the most attractive locations and you’ll usually get a break of around a month before the season ends in one part of the country and starts in another. There are many people who work service jobs down south during the winter and up north in the spring and summer. Because your living expenses are so modest, I’ve known couples who managed to sock away a lot of cash living on the road for a few years.
Don’t underestimate the difficulty of any of these decisions but don’t let minor doubts hold you back. Think hard about the big stuff, make a plan and then go do it. Your preferences will change over time regardless of how well you plan, so don’t beat yourself up if you see things differently a year down the road.