Recently, I’ve been receiving messages from friends, family, and strangers asking for more detailed information on this lifestyle. Honestly, reading blogs and websites can get you some idea, but talking directly with someone really helps too.
So, I’m going to create a series dedicated to the things to consider, and answer some common questions I have seen. I’m not touching on the “Are you homeless?” (obviously not), or “Do you live down by the river?” (sometimes, if I’m lucky!) questions, those are ones that I have addressed in the past. Okay, I might touch on them quickly…
“Where do I start?”
This is important. It’s not just about buying an RV and diving in.
- What is your reason?
- What is your goal?
- Are you single, or are you a family?
- Do you want to travel?
- Are you staying put?
It’s really important to think about these things, as you need to carefully consider the “why” behind it.
For me, when I started vandwelling as a single guy back in 2010, it was to cut costs, be alone (aka without roommates), and have the freedom to simply “vanish” if I chose. I wasn’t forced into the lifestyle, I chose it. Back then, I wasn’t thinking about travel and experiences gained. I wanted to be away from everything as I was in quite a depression then.
Things changed over time, and I found that I was becoming far more social than I had ever been! I started to come out of my depression, and found a new lease on life, through my friends, family, and that awesome 1978 Chevy Vandura.
Let’s address the questions above. You will have differing reasons than I did, and you need to think about them. Fulltiming is a very rewarding experience, even if you only plan on doing it for a short while. If you go into this lifestyle because you feel there is no other option, and you are “forced” into it. You’re going to hate it, and you will have a very negative experience.
- What is your reason?
This is, while a basic question, a loaded question as well.
Why do you want to start living in an RV? (For simplicity’s sake, an “RV” is anything from a tent trailer to a full blown Class A rig.)
Is it because you have had something happen in your life you are looking to escape? Is it because of the economy? Is it because you have been dreaming of it for years, and are finally truly considering moving forward? Or is it something else entirely?
For me, it was one part escape, one part dream. I’ve lived in RV’s in the past, and I quite enjoyed having my own little slice of life that was my own. With an RV, you do not have to deal with housing associations, or crummy neighbours. You don’t have to try and “Keep up with the Jones'” by getting more and more crap to fill a place, and then buy a bigger place to keep filling it with even more crap.
Life is short, and money is replaceable.
Again, for me, I went from doing this to run away and be alone, to finally finding myself. I built friendships out of acquaintances, and strangers become friends as well.
Years later, we are fulltiming because it’s what we dream of. A life full of collecting memories, and not “things”. The economy has played a small part as well. I recently heard on the radio that housing ownership is dropping because people simply cannot afford a home anymore. Yes, there are affordable homes, but they are in places that have absolutely no work to pay for those homes.
2. What is your goal?
Are you looking to save money? Are you looking to travel?
The answer to this question depends entirely on you, and there is no wrong answer. As I mentioned previously, millennials are nearly unable to purchase a home now due to the rising cost of living. There are people who rent homes with ten other people and still pay $500 a month in rent, and only get one room to themselves.
For $500 a month, a person can have a spot at an all year RV park in their very own home during the slow season. For example, there is an RV park nearby that has lots available for $350/mth, plus your electricity from September until May, and then it changes by little bits depending on the month. Summer months being the most expensive at $725/month.
Travel is a whole different beast. You’re paying in fuel, and stays. Get yourself a campground membership or two. I’m talking about memberships to Good Sam, Holiday Trails, etc. They are expensive to start, but if you are fulltiming, they pay for themselves very fast.
3. Are you single? Are you a family?
This one is super important, because there are so many factors that are completely different between the two.
When I was single in 2010, I lived off roughly $400/mth. That included my insurance, fuel, food, and extras. As a family, that number jumps considerably. You will be buying food more often as you have limited refrigerator space, which also means you are eating much healthier (btw). That’s your largest expense (In my opinion). Food isn’t cheap, and when you are buying several times a week for meals that are fresh, it adds up fast.
Even when you are single, you may notice you are eating better. You’re buying fresher food that you can cook that night, and probably over the grill. Why? Because you can finally afford to. Why live off of prepackaged crap, when you can go into a butcher shop, order yourself a 2″ thick T-Bone, and all the fixin’s?
After going to our first butcher shop here in Nanaimo, we’ll never buy steak or burgers from a grocery store again. It’s a completely different experience, and the taste… Well, I can’t describe that to you in any words.
So, I’ve covered everything above, just not in point form. This is the first in a series of posts for starting out in this lifestyle. Stay tuned, and subscribe to see more as they are produced over the next several days and weeks.
I want you to be able to make an educated choice, based on living as cheaply as possible, so that you are able to work, yet truly live.