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Tips on How to Prepare for Living in an RV Full-Time: Everything You Need to Know

Living in an RV full-time is a lifestyle that involves living in a recreational vehicle (RV) as your primary home on wheels. This lifestyle has become increasingly popular recently, with many people choosing to downsize and simplify their lives.

However, full-time RV living for beginners can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. It requires careful preparation and a comprehensive plan to ensure a smooth transition into this nomadic lifestyle.

In this detailed guide, I will share my firsthand experience on how to prepare for full-time RV living, from tips for living in an RV full-time, downsizing, and choosing the right RV to financial considerations and staying connected on the road.

I’ll cover everything you need to know to make your dream of full-time RV living a reality, including the pros and cons.

Table of Contents

Tips for Living in an RV Full-Time

If you’re considering full-time RV living, here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience.

Camper van for living a full time RV parked beside a mountain outdoor
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1. Schedule a Departure Date

Setting a departure date for your full-time RV living adventure is crucial. This deadline serves as a focal point that drives your planning and preparation efforts.

Having a specific date in mind will motivate you to take the necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition into your new lifestyle.

Additionally, it gives you a timeline to work with as you organize your finances, downsize your possessions, and make necessary arrangements. These arrangements may include notifying your current landlord or selling your home.

2. Have a Priority List

List down everything that you will need for your full-time RV living. A simple priority list should include the following items:

  • Cancel utilities
  • Where you plan to camp.
  • Decluttering
  • Researching camper
  • Organize a home garage sale

A to-do list will vary because campers have unique situations. Therefore, to get started, you need to create a detailed list of what you need as you prepare for full-time RV living.

As you understand what it will take to transition to full-time RV living, you can trim your to-do list to make it more detailed.

In addition to that, creating a priority list of destinations and experiences you want to embrace during your full-time RV living journey will help you stay on track and make the most of your travels. 

This list can include:

  • Famous landmarks
  • Natural wonders
  • Cultural events, and more.

Having a clear list will make you less likely to overlook must-see attractions and allow you to plan your routes more effectively. Flexibility is key, but having a general direction to move in ensures you don’t miss out on experiences that matter to you.

3. Try to Simplify

Woman living full time in an RV motorhome standing at door admiring nature
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Downsizing your possessions and simplifying your life before embarking on full-time RV living is essential. You need to declutter your home if you want to make your life stress-free. That means you will have to do away with a few things.

RVs offer limited space, so keeping only what you truly need will make your living environment more comfortable and organized. Go through your belongings thoughtfully, decluttering items that don’t serve a purpose in your new lifestyle.

This process may be challenging, but it ultimately frees you from unnecessary clutter and gives you a fresh start.

Although, this decluttering process may be emotionally intense when you carry only a few items to your RV. It’s very liberating to have a few things for peace of mind.

4. Be Flexible in Your Planning

As mentioned earlier, planning your route and making campground reservations in advance strengthens your journey. However, remember that spontaneity can lead to some of the most memorable experiences.

Be open to altering your plans if you hear about an intriguing local event, meet fellow travelers with exciting suggestions, or simply feel inspired to explore an unplanned detour.

5. Outline the Necessities

Creating a detailed list of necessities required for full-time RV living is vital for staying organized. What are some of the essentials you need for full-time RV living?

If you want to save on space, just have the basic things you can’t do without. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes when planning for full-time RV living.

Categorize your needs, such as

  • Food and water
  • Hygiene supplies
  • Clothing essentials
  • Cooking equipment and tools

This checklist will prevent you from forgetting essential items and make restocking easier. Keep in mind that being prepared with backups and essential supplies will contribute to a smoother and more enjoyable journey.

6. Find a Job That aligns with your Lifestyle

If you plan to work while living in your RV, consider jobs that align with your mobile lifestyle. Remote work, freelancing, or seasonal jobs in different locations are excellent options.

Embracing this flexibility allows you to maintain financial stability while exploring new places. Research job opportunities that match your skills and interests, and be prepared to adapt to varying work environments.

7. Diversify Your Experiences

Immerse yourself in the full-time RV living experience by diversifying your activities and exploring various locations. Engage in outdoor adventures, cultural events, and local cuisine, and connect with fellow travelers.

By trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone, you’ll create memorable experiences and gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse landscapes and communities you encounter.

8. Find the Balance Between Planning Ahead and Going With the Flow

Striking a balance between planning and spontaneity is crucial for a successful full-time RV lifestyle. While having a rough itinerary and campground reservations is wise, leave room for unexpected detours and discoveries.

This balance allows you to remain organized while embracing the serendipity that often comes with RV travel. Be open to changing your plans if an intriguing opportunity arises.

9. Update your RV’s Insurance Information

Transitioning to full-time RV living means your RV becomes your new home. Just as you would with a traditional house, updating your insurance information to reflect your changed circumstances is essential.

Ensuring you have appropriate insurance coverage for your RV is not only a smart financial decision but also a legal requirement in most areas. Adequate insurance safeguards your home-on-wheels against accidents, theft, and other unforeseen events.

We covered everything you need to know about the cost of RV insurance and how to choose the right coverage.

10. Create a Network

Creating a network of fellow full-time RVers is invaluable. Join online forums and social media groups. Attend RV gatherings to connect with like-minded individuals.

This community offers support, advice, and companionship, especially during times when you’re far from familiar faces. Sharing experiences, tips, and stories can enhance your journey and foster meaningful connections.

11. Embrace Change and Adaptability

Once you’ve considered living in your RV full-time, you need to accept this travel lifestyle wholeheartedly, as this is the essence of full-time RV living.

Prioritize exploration and make an effort to immerse yourself in each destination.

Engage with locals, learn about their culture, and participate in activities that are unique to each place. This mindset shift enhances the richness of your journey and makes every stop a meaningful part of your story.

12. Soul-searching Is Key

Transitioning to a full-time RV lifestyle is more than just a change of address; it’s a profound transformation that touches on various aspects of your identity and relationships.

As you prepare for this journey, set aside time for introspection and soul searching. Reflect on your motivations for choosing this lifestyle—whether it’s a desire for adventure, freedom, or a change in perspective.

Acknowledge the emotions that come with leaving behind your familiar surroundings and consider the personal growth and enrichment that await you.

Embrace the fact that this transition might bring challenges, but the rewards can be truly transformative.

13. Be Ready to Boondock

Families Boondocking next to campfire during Camping while living full time in their RV
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Being ready for boondocking—camping in remote areas without hookups—expands your horizons and allows you to discover secluded and less-traveled destinations.

Equip your RV with solar panels and a generator, and conserve resources like water and electricity. This self-sufficiency saves money and grants you the freedom to explore off-the-beaten-path locations that traditional campgrounds might not offer.

14. Always Carry Cash and Change

While credit cards are widely accepted, cash and change are still important. Some toll booths, especially on smaller roads or in rural areas, may not accept credit cards, and some parking meters might require cash payments.

Additionally, certain areas’ local businesses, markets, and attractions might only accept cash. By carrying a mix of small denominations, you ensure you can handle these situations seamlessly.

Cash on hand provides you with financial security, allowing you to enjoy your travels without unexpected hitches.

15. Find a Better Way to Manage Your Mail

Living in an RV doesn’t exempt you from the need to manage your mail and bills efficiently. While you might be on the move, bills and important documents will still find their way to your mailbox.

Consider utilizing RV mail services that cater specifically to travelers. These services provide you with a physical mailing address, which is especially useful for receiving important documents, legal notices, and official communication.

Some reputable RV mail services include 

These services can receive your mail, scan it for you, forward physical mail to designated locations, and even help with mail sorting and organization.

16. Utilize Public Transit in Urban Areas

Exploring urban areas can be challenging in an RV due to factors like traffic congestion and limited parking options. Using public transit is a smart strategy for navigating cities without the stress of maneuvering a large vehicle through bustling streets.

Public transportation, such as buses or trains, allows you to easily access city centers and explore attractions without worrying about parking or traffic. This approach lets you fully enjoy city experiences while minimizing the logistical challenges that come with RV travel in urban environments.

17. Install Road Trip Apps

Leverage the power of technology by downloading road trip apps that assist you in planning routes, locating campgrounds and gas stations, finding points of interest, and even suggesting restaurants or scenic spots.

These apps streamline your travel planning process and enhance your navigation, making your journey more efficient and enjoyable. Most of these apps include

18. Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are a fantastic source of entertainment and education while on the road. Whether you’re interested in history, storytelling, travel tips, or comedy, podcasts can keep you engaged during long drives and downtime at your campsite.

Download episodes ahead of time, ensuring you have a variety of content to enjoy throughout your journey.

19. Get Ready to Downsize

Downsizing is a significant aspect of transitioning to full-time RV living. Assess your belongings with a critical eye, focusing on functionality and necessity. Embrace minimalism, consider items with multiple uses, and contribute to a clutter-free environment.

Downsizing maximizes the available space in your RV, making it more livable and organized. This effort is not just about physical possessions but also about embracing a simpler, more intentional way of life that aligns with the essence of RV living.

20. Buy a Space Heater

Weather conditions vary as you travel from place to place, and a portable space heater can be a lifesaver during the colder months. While RVs typically come equipped with heating systems, these systems might not always be efficient at maintaining consistent warmth.

A compact space heater provides targeted and customizable warmth, ensuring you can stay comfortable in specific RV areas even when temperatures drop. It’s a practical investment that enhances your comfort and prepares you for various weather scenarios.

21. Stock Up on Antifreeze

If your full-time RV living journey takes you into colder climates, freezing temperatures can pose a serious risk to your RV’s plumbing system. Burst pipes due to freezing water can result in costly repairs and maintenance.

Stocking up on antifreeze designed specifically for RV use is a preventive measure that safeguards your plumbing system. By properly winterizing your RV, you can confidently navigate colder regions without fear of damage caused by freezing temperatures.

This simple precaution can save you from costly repairs and maintenance down the line.

22. Stock up Your Cupboard with Healthy Snacks

Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is essential, especially when you’re constantly on the move. Having a well-stocked cupboard of healthy snacks ensures that you’re fueled with energy and nutrients during long drives or active days of exploration. 

Instead of relying solely on fast food or processed snacks, having options like nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, and other wholesome treats allows you to maintain stable energy levels and better focus on your journey.

It’s a proactive step toward prioritizing your health and well-being while living on the road.

23. Lookout for Clean Showers

Access to clean shower facilities is a luxury that greatly enhances your comfort during your full-time RV living. While many RVs have their own shower facilities, you might find that campground showers offer a refreshing alternative.

Clean and well-maintained showers provide a rejuvenating experience after a day of travel or outdoor activities. When selecting campgrounds, prioritize those offering clean shower facilities, as a warm and invigorating shower can rejuvenate your body and spirit, ensuring you’re ready for your next adventure.

Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Rig for Living in Your RV Full-Time

Fifth wheel RV parked in a campground
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Fifth Wheel Trailer

Choosing the right rig for full-time RV living is a pivotal decision that significantly impacts your comfort and overall experience. Beyond the allure of the open road, consider these important features:

Tank Size

Ensure your RV has ample tank size for fresh, grey, and black water. This is non-negotiable. Full-timers often find themselves far from water sources or dump stations for extended periods.

Having larger tanks reduces the frequency of refilling and emptying, granting you greater independence and the ability to camp in more remote locations. Efficient water management is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable journey.

What are other Features to Consider?

Other features to consider include ample storage space, comfortable sleeping arrangements, and a reliable engine.

  • Ample Storage Space: Space optimization is essential for full-timers. Look for RVs with cleverly designed storage solutions, including cabinets, closets, and under-bed compartments. Sufficient storage ensures you can bring along necessary supplies, outdoor gear, and personal items without feeling cramped.
  • Comfortable Sleeping Arrangements: A good night’s sleep is vital, especially when living on the road. Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or with family, ensure the RV provides comfortable sleeping arrangements. Beds that cater to your preferences—larger mattresses, convertible sofas, or bunk beds—contribute to your well-being.
  • Reliable Engine: The engine is the heart of your RV. Choose a model with a reliable engine that matches the terrain you plan to traverse. A well-maintained engine ensures smooth travel and minimizes the chances of breakdowns or costly repairs.

Booking Campgrounds While Traveling Full-Time

Fifth wheel trailer parked door to door in a campground for full time RV living during the summer
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Navigating the campground reservation process requires foresight and adaptability, ensuring you secure a spot to rest at the end of your day.

Types of Campgrounds

Explore different campground options to suit your preferences and needs. State park campgrounds offer scenic natural settings.

National park campgrounds provide a glimpse of iconic landscapes, and private campgrounds often offer amenities like hookups, Wi-Fi, and recreational facilities.

Your choice depends on your desired level of comfort and immersion in nature.

Stay Duration

Plan the duration of your stay ahead of time. Longer stays might allow you to explore an area more thoroughly, while shorter stays can give you a taste of multiple places. 

Staying flexible in your plans is essential, as unexpected discoveries or weather changes might influence your decision to extend or cut your stay short.

Living and Traveling in Your RV Full-Time

The lifestyle of constant travel in your RV is both exhilarating and challenging. Address these aspects to enhance your experience:

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1. Visiting New Places

Immerse yourself in the uniqueness of each destination. Engage with locals, try regional cuisine, and participate in cultural activities. Fully exploring new places fosters a deeper connection to the world around you and enriches your travel narrative.

2. Travel Days

Planning travel days thoughtfully is crucial for safe and enjoyable journeys. Consider factors like distance, terrain, and traffic conditions.

Avoid long stretches of driving that could lead to fatigue, and include breaks to rest and stretch. Prioritize safety, and remember that the journey itself is part of the adventure

3. Maintaining Relationships with Your Loved Ones

While the road might separate you from family and friends, maintaining relationships is essential. Regular communication through calls, texts, or video chats keeps loved ones connected to your journey.

Plan visits to spend quality time with them by inviting them to join you on the road or returning to your home base.

4. Manage Resources

Resource management is key to sustaining your full-time RV lifestyle. Carefully monitor your water usage, ensuring you don’t run out during dry periods.

Plan your meals and stock up on non-perishable items to minimize food waste. Keep an eye on fuel levels and be mindful of where you can refill.

Efficient resource management ensures you can enjoy your travels without unnecessary disruptions.

5. Make your RV a Home on the Road

While your RV becomes your new home, it’s essential to cultivate a sense of belonging and comfort within its walls. Personalize your space with items that bring you joy and create a cozy atmosphere.

Adapting to a smaller living space requires creativity and organization. Invest in storage solutions that maximize your available space and keep your RV clutter-free.

Decorate with items that hold sentimental value, invest in comfortable bedding and furnishings, and organize your belongings for practicality and aesthetics. The sense of “home” you create within your RV can provide comfort and stability during your travels.

6. Invest in RV WiFi Boosters and Extenders

Staying connected on the road while living in an RV full-time is essential for maintaining remote work, staying in touch with loved ones, and accessing travel information. To ensure a reliable internet connection, consider investing in the best RV WiFi booster and extender.

These devices amplify and extend existing WiFi signals, allowing you to access networks from greater distances, even in remote areas.

Pros and Cons of Living in an RV Full-Time

Full-time RV living offers the freedom to travel and explore new places while still having all the comforts of home. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. Here are some pros and cons to consider before embarking on this lifestyle:

Pros

  • Freedom to travel and explore new places
  • Ability to spend more time with family and friends
  • More affordable than traditional living
  • Access to beautiful national parks and public lands
  • Opportunity to simplify and downsize possessions
  • Ample storage space in RVs
  • Flexibility to change locations and plans at any time

Cons

  • Limited living space and resources
  • Legal restrictions on where you can park and live
  • Accounting for fixed costs such as insurance and maintenance
  • Difficulty finding suitable jobs that allow for full-time travel
  • Limited access to cell phone and internet service in remote areas
  • Need to be prepared for unexpected repairs and breakdowns

Frequently Asked Questions About Living in an RV Full-Time

Here are some frequently asked questions that aspiring full-time RVers often ask:

Living in an RV full-time, often referred to as “full-time RVing” or “full-time RV living,” is generally legal in the United States.

However, there are important considerations and regulations to be aware of, as laws can vary depending on local ordinances, state regulations, and the specific areas you plan to stay in.

In many cases, you can legally live in an RV as your primary residence, but there might be restrictions on where you can park and reside in your RV.

Some local zoning laws and homeowner associations may have rules that limit the duration of time you can stay in an RV on a particular property or within certain neighborhoods.

How Much Does Full-Time RV Living Cost?

The cost of full-time RV living can vary widely based on factors like the type of RV, travel frequency, campground fees, maintenance, and personal spending habits. On average, monthly expenses range from $1,500 to $3,000, covering fuel, campground fees, insurance, and basic maintenance.

Initial costs include the RV purchase and outfitting it with essentials. Campground fees can range from $20 to $100 per night. Budgeting for maintenance and unexpected repairs is crucial.

Cooking meals in the RV can save on food expenses. Overall, meticulous planning and research will help you estimate and manage costs effectively during your full-time RV journey.

What Is the Best RV for Full-Time Living?

Choosing the best RV for full-time living is a pivotal decision that hinges on various factors. A fifth-wheel motorhome is often favored for its spaciousness and home-like amenities, making it conducive to extended stays.

Consider features such as tank size for water storage, ample storage space, comfortable sleeping arrangements, and a reliable engine. Fifth-wheel RVs often excel in these aspects.

Moreover, prioritize build quality, insulation, and durability to withstand the rigors of full-time living. Visit RV dealerships to explore different RV models and floor plans and find the one that aligns best with your vision of full-time RV living.

Remember, the best RV for full-time living is one that seamlessly blends comfort, functionality, and your unique lifestyle preferences.

Can You Live in an RV Park Full-Time?

Absolutely. You can indeed live in an RV park full-time in the United States. Many RV parks and campgrounds accommodate long-term stays, catering to individuals who choose the full-time RV lifestyle.

These parks often offer amenities like electrical, water, sewer hookups, laundry facilities, and communal spaces. However, regulations can vary between parks and regions, so it’s vital to research the specific RV park’s policies and the local laws governing extended stays.

Some parks may restrict the length of your stay or require you to move your RV periodically. When considering living in an RV park full-time, make sure to review their rules and ensure they align with your preferences and needs for a comfortable and enjoyable long-term stay.

What Is the Best Fifth Wheel for Full-Time Living?

When it comes to selecting the ideal fifth wheel for full-time living, several factors come into play. Consider models with spacious floor plans, ample storage, and quality construction.

Brands like Grand Design, DRV Suites, and Keystone RV often offer features tailored for extended stays, including residential-style amenities and a durable build. Prioritize features like comfortable sleeping areas, well-equipped kitchens, and versatile living spaces.

Hydraulic leveling systems and efficient insulation also contribute to a comfortable long-term experience. Remember, your choice should align with your personal preferences and needs, striking a balance between comfort, durability, and livability for your fulfilling full-time RV journey.

Can You Live in an RV Full-Time on Your Own Land?

Living in an RV full-time on your own land raises another layer of legal complexity. While it’s possible in some areas, many jurisdictions have restrictions on long-term RV habitation.

Some areas allow temporary or permanent RV living on private property, while others have strict regulations prohibiting it. Conduct in-depth research into your local zoning ordinances and consult with legal experts to ensure compliance with applicable laws. 

Additionally, take into account considerations like access to utilities, waste disposal, and environmental impact.

Final Thought

The decision to embrace full-time RV living brings with it a host of questions that necessitate thorough research and careful planning. By delving into the legal aspects, cost considerations, RV selection, and accommodation options, you can better prepare yourself for this unique and adventurous lifestyle.

Remember that every individual’s journey will be distinct, so tailor your decisions to your own preferences, needs, and circumstances. With the right information and a well-thought-out approach, you can embark on your full-time RV adventure with confidence and excitement.

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