Young Military Couple Holding Keys In Front of New RV. Full-Time RV Living concept

Full-Time RV Living

RVs aren’t just for summer vacations and family road trips. More and more people are switching to full-time RVing as a lifestyle. Van dwelling is getting almost as popular for the DIY crowd that wants to customize the shell of a cargo van to their exact specifications. No matter what vehicle you choose when you think about taking your home on the road, there’s a lot to consider before making the jump. Consider the following before choosing full-time RV living.

What’s one of the biggest inconveniences about full-time RV Living?

So much of what it takes to stay connected both socially and financially requires a physical address. Everything from paying your bills to renewing your license is built around the idea that you have a residential address of some sort and a P.O. Box often isn’t accepted as an alternative.

So before you sell your home or end your apartment lease, it’s important to do a bit of organizing. Here are six steps to help get you where you’re going:

1. Move your bills and finances online.

If you’re receiving physical mail for all of the bills you’ll still have when you’re full-time RVing, it’s time to shift them online. Most vendors have this option, and they might even include a bonus or incentive for making the switch. Go into your email and make sure you flag these vendor email addresses as a priority instead of spam. Because you won’t be receiving the paper reminders anymore, you need to have a clear way of separating bills and reminder emails from the other noise hitting your inbox.

Moving your financial mail online also gives you more insight into your funds and spending habits. Find software that helps you organize all of your bills through a single portal so you can automate payments or set up easier reminders. The better you can organize your bills before you even get on the road, the better you can organize everything in the cramped quarters of an RV or a single laptop screen.

2. Reach out to contacts scattered across the country.

A physical mailing address isn’t just useful for administrative matters or keeping your driver’s license and taxes in order. As more and more shopping shifts to the online world, it’s important to have options so you can order packages online. After all, the majority of niche tools or hiking equipment you need when full-time RV living won’t often be in stores. So build up a network of contacts across the country or the region you’re traveling through.

This can include long-time friends, family members, or even dedicated mail drops built for RVers to use. As long as you trust the destination, you can set the delivery address and pick up your packages when you catch up with those contacts.

3. Research P.O. Box alternatives.

Lots of states have RV and van dweller organizations with residential-style addresses that can you use for more official projects. Look for RV address organizations, especially organizations based in the same state you live in now, and find one that suits your needs. Most of these organizations require membership, but they often have a host of resources that full-time RVers benefit from. This includes discounted state park passes, an online community of full-time RVers, and a mailbox for physical mail. The address you can ‘rent’ from them satisfies most residential address requirements.

4. Make a budget so you can organize projected costs.

When you don’t have a traditional home address, expenses can get more expensive quickly. A breakdown that needs overnight repairs doesn’t just cost you the parts and labor. It means staying the night in a hotel and getting transportation back and forth to the mechanic. RV refrigerators are pretty roomy, but if you’re used to buying milk and dairy in large amounts, you won’t be able to tap into those bulk-based discounts anymore.

So make a budget of your current costs now and make sure that you have more than enough. Look through it for the costs that are likely to go up once you’re on the road, and don’t overestimate the savings. It’s also important to have an emergency fund that’s accessible instead of being locked in investment retirement accounts. 

If you have gone on long RV trips before, pull up those receipts or spending records. Your true expenses for full-time RV living are likely to be somewhere between your vacation budget and your current budget, at least for the first few months.

While you still have your residential address, consider applying for credit cards with incentives that better fit your future spending habits. Every card caters to a different shopper type, and making the switch — even if you don’t change your spending habits — can get you net savings.

5. Find a couple forums to read about problems you haven’t anticipated.

It’s hard to know how much you rely on a physical address until it’s been gone for a year. A full cycle of taxes, monthly bills, and even the expectation of jury duty is hard to imagine before you’ve done it. So look for forums that regularly talk about the problems full-time RVers encounter. 

These treasure troves of personal anecdotes and tips have so much information you can type in specific problems or specific states to learn the ropes. You can read about how people dealt with everything from renewing their license to getting pulled over. Knowing what to expect can go a long way in making sure you’re ready for even the most tedious and complicated problems. If you’re on the fence about full-time RVing, reading these stories can also make you feel prepared enough to make the jump.

6. Consider going for a test drive.

You don’t have to go straight from owning a house and occasionally driving in an RV to full-time RV living with no house. Instead, experiment with a few slower transitions. Take a month-long trip or a trip that lasts six months. Check to see if you like the mobile lifestyle or if you miss home too much. If you want to try a longer adventure, rent out your home while you’re away so it’s not sitting empty for a year. Keeping your house as a backup plan (and as a passive money-maker) can be just what you need to go from long-term RVer to a full-timer.

Find more tips and tricks for RVing living visit us here at Avalon RV Center.