Freedom is a temptress, and once you’ve tasted it, your appetite for freedom can become unquenchable. That is the position we found ourselves in. We have had a mobile business for years. All it requires is a laptop, a wireless card and a cell phone. We worked primarily from our boat, which we lived on, at the dock or moored at Catalina Island. We were more aware of our mobility when we traveled for business then we were within the confines we had created of our self-imposed home office.
Still we yearned for broader horizons in less urban places. We wanted to be able to jump up from our computers and within a few minutes be off on a trail hike, a bike ride or a beach walk. All of which we could already do from the boat, but we had grown bored with these all too familiar excursions.
“What’s stopping us from living in a RV and traveling while we work?” The question prompted a series of conversations and revealed some new possibilities. We were guilty of a perception that camping/RVing was for short trips with the family or full-timing as a retired person. We really hadn’t met anyone that was earning their living fulltime while they camped fulltime. We were not deterred.
Soon we had sold our boat and bought a used RV.
This lifestyle has afforded us a lot of benefits. We actually see family and friends more now because we can position ourselves near them and take our time with the visits, while working our day jobs. We have cut our overhead tremendously by renting out our house, changing our state of residency, owning one car, biking and walking more and having less maintenance costs.
We have seen a lot more of this amazing continent in the last two years then in the last twenty. We have no rut, because we have no routine. John is fond of saying “All our plans are in Jell-O”. We are happier, healthier and more inspired all the time. We have met some amazing people. Work has not suffered at all, if anything, it has grown and our clients remain unaffected and unaware that the support they receive is from various locations.
There are a lot of considerations when deciding if this is something you want to consider. We’ve been doing it fulltime for two years now and know it was the right decision for us.
Here are some things to consider:
Are both you and your partner on board with the idea? This is a lifestyle shift so unless both people are in 100% you may be setting yourself up for some domestic discord. Living in tight quarters can be a challenge and you both need to be in sync on the compromises you’ll be making. Try to focus on the positives of what this new lifestyle brings.
Do you have kids or pets? We see families that are fulltime and home schooling or just doing a semester away from home with their families. While on the East Coast, we kept crossing paths with eight young families that had met up on an online forum and started traveling together. We crossed paths with them about five times one summer and they always seemed to be enjoying life. Traveling with your kids can be some of the richest education they’ll experience and some of the best memories your family ever builds.
We are in the minority of not having a pet. Most RVers seem to travel with one or more dog, and occasionally we meet someone out walking their cat on a leash. The animals and their owners seem to thrive on the lifestyle. Campground and RV parks are pet sensitive with a lot of provisions made for the pets comfort.
Do you already have a way to earn a living as you go? If not, you can earn as you go. The great thing about RVing is if you are in an area without job opportunities, you just move on. You can pick up fulltime work where you want to be, and then move on when the desire strikes you. There are seasonal jobs in the summer nationwide and seasonal jobs in the South in the winter. There are camp host jobs where you act as a part time manager in exchange for free rent, there are contract jobs like we’ve done over 10 years for FEMA where we get called out on a moment’s notice to respond to disaster situations. There are caretaker jobs where you watch someone’s property, business or pets for short or long term intervals, sometimes for free rent, sometimes for a paycheck.
Although we have done seasonal work and FEMA, our preference for the moment is a mobile based business that provides stability. We have been deliberate in developing mobile business opportunities as we know we love to travel and don’t want to be dependent on finding the next gig.
Do you want to RV Fulltime, Seasonally or Part Time? All of these options have real merit and may have different appeal at different times in your life. While working in Mexico we had friends that kept a camper van stored in the US at relatives, so when they would visit the U.S. for the summers they had their own accommodation’s and wheels to get around.
Many retired folks act as Snowbirds where they spend the winters in the South, and the other 6-9 months a year are back at their home in a Northern climate. Although we are full time now, it is our expectation that in the future we will be spending a lot of the year out of the US. The RV is easy to store for a low fee almost anywhere, so we can lock it up and walk away with a lowly monthly cost of leaving it knowing it is secure and waiting for us.
Residency considerations. One of the bonuses of living even part of the year in a traveling home is being able to establish your home residency in a different place. This can be attractive from a tax savings perspective but there are other benefits like climate, school districts and insurance savings.
What do you do with your stuff? You can leave your stuff in place, and test drive the new lifestyle for a while, you can rent out your home either fulltime or seasonally or sell everything and just go for it. There are storage facilities everywhere so you can also just pack everything up and fill a storage locker.
We tend to be of the mindset that less is more. If you choose to eliminate most of the possessions that you’d have to pay to store you are going to be richer, feel freer and be gone longer. Making this shift in phases can be a more comfortable transition. It’s can be a good idea to test drive the lifestyle by renting an RV first or buy a less expensive trailer or camper and go wander around. See if you even like it before you pull up all your stakes.
What does it cost? You’ll have fuel and camping fees and RV insurance which we find surprisingly inexpensive. You may save on State Income Tax, Property Tax and Business taxes if you shift your residency to one of the states that do not charge these. If you rent or sell your home these costs should be equalized or eliminated. Utilities are mostly eliminated but you will have your TV, Phone and Internet costs. Clothing costs, commuting costs, childcare costs, dry cleaning, landscaping costs are greatly reduced or completely gone.
Camping fees can be anywhere from about $350 a month to $1200 a month depending on where and when you are in a place. There are membership programs like Passport America, Thousand Trails, Good Sam and other strategies for minimizing the cost of camping, but you will be paying something.
Connectivity is a digital leash that we still wear. We have to be deliberate in where we go so we have access to both our Air Card signal for Data and our Cell phone coverage so we can continue to work. Most of the time this has not been a problem, but it can limit how long we stay in some more remote campgrounds.
In the future we wish to work more seasonal jobs that are really appealing like boat captaining jobs, National Park Ranger positions, Naturalist, Tour Guides, Property Caretakers and Wilderness Photography. The list keeps expanding, but we know that we can choose these experiences in phases in our future and fit them in when the time is right.
With all the mobility we have at our disposal these days there has never been a better time to start your life as a road warrior. We are glad we did.
Here are few resources to get your research started: