Free lifestyles

6 Benefits Of Full-time RVing – Why I Choose To Live In A Camper

The days that RV’s were solely for retirees are over. More and more young people deliberately choose to live in a motorhome, RV or campervan.

It’s not only those who are blessed with a location-independent job such as online entrepreneurs, digital copywriters, and artists who are making the step towards a less consumerist, more free and fullfilling life.

Also students, nomadic minimalists taking jobs on the road, as well as urban stealth campers with normal day to day jobs are opting for this somewhat rebellious form of living.

Stepping out of the treadmill and living the nomadic life is quite appealing for reasons ranging from idealism to affordability to practicality. I myself am planning to living the RV life soon. Here are my main motives.

 

6 Reasons For Full-time Motorhome Living

 

1. Because I can

 

leaving the stiffling ideology of the American Dream behind
leaving behind the stiffling ideology of the American Dream

 

I’m in the privileged position of having a location independent job. I don’t have a mortgage, children or a wife. I love to go hiking or do other outdoor activities and just really like to spend time outside as much as I can. The simple joys of having breakfast amidst the dewy grass or drinking a beer while watching the stars in the nightly sky nearly equal happiness to me.

I don’t need much space either. A VW vanagon is a tad bit too crampy for my taste but a somewhat more spacious RV will meet my needs just fine. What’s just as significant to me is that I feel an instinctive aversion towards the corporate consumerist life. A nice house in the suburbs, children, two cars, and a neatly mowed lawn, you know… the American Beauty scenario, are not things I particularly fancy to put it mildly.

 

2. Freedom

 

RV-living-sunset
what’s better than a home with seaview? a home with lots of different (sea) views

 

This one is obvious. I love to travel and explore. To meet new people from all kinds of trades. See new parts of the world. Who doesn’t? The force of wanderlust is strong in me. I always felt affinity with the lifestyle of vagabonds, troubadours, gypsies, nomads, hobos, you name it.

What’s more is that I suffer from winter depression. I feel tired and gloomy due to the lack of light during the short winter days. By migrating to a sunnier part of Europe I will be able to feel better and be more productive in my work too. In a sense it will liberate me from the restraining influence of the dark numbing winter.

 

3. Because it is more affordable

 

motorhome piggy bank
you can save money by moving into your RV

 

It is widely known that owning a motorhome is expensive. But if you live in your motorhome permanently those are your only costs. You can buy a decent used RV for under $10,000 and there are lots of locations that offer free or very affordable parking and camping.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say you can reduce your daily living expenses to near zero. You have to pay for occasional campsite fees, taxes, insurance, maintenance and so on. There’s also value depreciation of your RV. A house may increase in value but a camper will only reduce in value.  But it could cost you considerably less than living in a rented or bank-bought home.

I have never owed money to a bank and fairly, I’m done with paying rent too. I think rents are ridiculously high. When you’ve experienced financially tougher times you’ll know what it’s like when almost all your income goes to rent and utilities.

Now I don’t need to for financial reasons but I choose to live in a camper. And maybe, some day, if I’ll find a nice spot, I will build my own house from salvaged materials. Or trash even. I don’t care. I feel no rat race compulsion. There’s no imposed cultural prestige stress here. The so common “look-at-all-the-stuff-I-can buy peer pressure” is alien to me. Actually I think that’s real poverty. Blindly following the herd into oblivious materialism.

 

4. In order to pay off debt or avoid it all together

 

avoid the debt trap
avoid the debt trap

 

You wouldn’t be the first who managed to throw off the shackles of debt by switching to living full-time in an RV. By selling your home and living in a motorhome (for a while) you can cut back on costs and save a lot of money.  Adam Baker, you may know him from his Man vs Debt website or TED Talk ‘Sell Your Crap. Pay Your Debt. Do What You Love’, did.

Being debt free is a form of freedom. You may think of the phrase ‘debt is slavery’ as an overstatement but if you think about it you’ll know it’s not. Pubilius Syrus already said it; ‘Debt is the slavery of the free’. The fact that the world’s financial system collapsed and had to be bailed out by taxpayers at a cost of billions may have awakened you. Millions of people are still suffering from lower living standards or even lost their jobs and homes due to the recession brought on by the collapse.

At the same time almost no bankers have faced legal sanctions for their part in precipitating the crisis. Nor have there been major adjustments in regulatory legislation allowing this to happen. This system is rotten, it’s not there for your interests, and it may wise to consider to what degree you want to be part of it.

 

5. I love the sea and ocean

 

home-is-where-you-park-it
nomadic ‘beach bum-ism’ FTW

 

I spend a lot of time on the beach. I love stand up paddling, kitesurfing, swimming, strolling down the beach or just the view of the sea or ocean. No matter how often I go, the effect never wears down, it’s pure magic to me. So for me full-time RVing is the logical step towards downsizing.

 

6. Out of some sort of idealism

 

No, this is not the Breaking Bad RV
no, this is not the Breaking Bad RV yet this picture does stand for doing what you love no matter what’s imposed by the system

 

I think people shouldn’t be forced to buy a home or rent an expensive place. Currently, in a way, we are. Sure, you can live in an RV but there often are no affordable parking opportunities defeating one of the purposes of mobile living.

In many countries there are building codes that do not even allow you to build a tiny house. Nor do you have the liberty to live in a vehicle. Not long ago it was even forbidden to sleep in your camper when you were tired from a long day of driving. This absurdity was straightened out recently by European legislation.

I think it should be a basic human right to live in any kind of dwelling, no matter its size or original purpose. It’s ludicrous that you can build a mansion of epic proportions but if you want to go small you are not allowed to. It’s yet another example of how corporate interests have take over politics corroding basic human rights.

Which is why I applaude somewhat defiant trends such as urban stealth camping, boondocking and clever ways to bypass building codes as is often done with tiny homes.

 

Disclaimer:

It’s not my intention to over-romanticize full-time motorhome living. Full-time RV living may be less enjoyable for the claustrophobic, arachnofobic, dual left handed individual who owns lots of stuff and loves to take long showers. For me however, the cheaper, lighter, independent existence is what ticks the box.

 

What do you think? Would you live permanently in an RV?

Shout it out in the comments section below.

 

Image credits: VW campervan, Beverley Goodwin Flickr. Debt free sign, DIY Prepping. Van at ocean, Kickstarter. The ‘Breaking Bad RV’, AsWeTravel.

35 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Your approach to RVing makes sense – buy something affordable, easy to drive (or tow) that gets reasonable gas mileage, and pay cash – and have no debt!

    Unfortunately, the Industry sells the opposite idea – buy a $300,000 “motorcoach” on a 20-year loan, so you are “upside-down” most of the time. Then stay at “Motorcoach resorts” which cost $65 a day (daily rate) or hundreds per month (enough to pay rent on an apartment).

    And the Industry can sell this idea, because ONE COMPANY owns all the RV magazines, the largest chain of dealerships, the largest chain of RV parts and repair shops, the largest chain of resorts, the two campground guides, the largest RV club in the world, and so forth. And they sell financing, extended warranties, roadside assistance, etc. They can sell the entire package, all on time.

    We have a small “paid for” older trailer (Casita) and spend three months a year in it. It is a lot of fun, but I am not sure it is cheaper, even at that level, than paying $700 a month to rent an apartment (the going rates around here).

    The big problem is, for older folks, what happens when a spouse gets sick or dies? Planning the “end game” is important. RVing full-time may be fun, but eventually, it helps to have a place to land.

    I have seen, firsthand, oldsters living in rundown trailer parks in ancient RVs, as they have no place to go and no money left. Not a way to spend the golden years. And I have seen the EMTs smash open the doors to take out the occupants in body bags.

    Rving is fun and you should do it when young – and on a budget!

    But these monster motor homes turn into financial nightmares in short order, IMHO.

  • So there is this REALLY annoying side bar for all these dumb ass apps i dont use. I cant read you page because IT’S IN THE WAY BLOCKING MY VIEW. Let me know when its gone and i might come back to see you. Its this type off pushy crap that turns me away

  • If living on the road how do you renew your drivers license? Wouldn’t you have to have a permanent address, or a family members address?

  • Hi Thijs
    I’m already living in my Bedfordcamper for 2 years, so I read this post with pleasure.
    1 question: can you be a little more specific about the European Legislation concerning sleeping in your camper?

    Thanks
    Ton

    • Hey Ton, it really depends on where you are in Europe. Portugal was known as very tolerant towards freecamping. Especially in the Algarve they have become much less forgiving and it’s officially prohibited if I’m correct. In Sweden you can camp almost anywhere, you only have to make sure you’re not visible to the landowner’s house and you don’t boondock on land used for cattle. Even in Holland, which is pretty boondock unfriendly, are spots where you can camp for free (but they are hard to find). The Greeks are known to be very friendly towards RV’ers and tourists and there are many spots you can stay for the night. This year I will finally be hitting the tarmac, how are you liking the nomadic lifestyle?

  • Of course i will. In about three years the childrens are adults and then i can go. Have a job where i can be where ever i want. I cant wait to start this life 🙂

      • Hi Thijs, I’m Dutch too and currently doing my own personal research on living in an rv. The trouble is, I don’t want to wait till the kids are gone, I want to take them with us (me and my wife) and show them the world. They’re currently 1 and 3. Do you know any places where I can find people that are doing this already?

        • Hi Chris, I don’t. Only thing on the top of my head is the Zapp family who are traveling the world with 3 young kids in a classic car. There’s been a BNN documentary on them. I reckon it’s not exactly what you’re looking for but thought I’d mention it as it’s an inspiring story you’d probably want to check out if you hadn’t already. Got your email so if I happen to learn more I’ll notify you. Wish you and your family happy travels.

  • I have been a full-timer since 1999. I am also a workamper. I spend six months out of the year working as a camp host or reservationist in different campgrounds on the west coast [US]. Part of my work agreement is an included full hook-up site [FHU] That right there cuts down my living expenses greatly. Some places will offer you FHU at a reduced rate…I don’t work in those places. 😉
    I spend my winters in the Quartzsite AZ, a small town in the Sonoran Desert. Rents there are cheap or even free.
    It is an enjoyable, affordable lifestyle. Oh, and forget the motorhome, they are money pits! I pull a 33″ travel trailer with a van. Easier to handle & you can park the rig and take short trips in the van.
    Come! Join me on the road!

    • You’re living the dream! This is exactly what I have been planning to do and saving for, to put into effect as soon as my last child leaves the nest in 1yr! After losing my 32 yr old husband to cardiac arrest and being left a widow with 3 kids 10yrs ago; it really put so much in perspective. We live to work hard, go in debt buying things we cry don’t need to “keep up with the joneses,” have nothing but a week off work a year to vacay, and then eventually die. But i have a question though- how did u find or hear about the workcamp sites? That sounds like a great deal!

      • I just spoke to a man today to buy my first camper to live in. He owns a resort and told me not only will he sell it to me if I need a job he has a free place to park it for me! I have a job so it’s not needed ! What parts of the country are you in ?

  • If you plan to be a full time RVer and wish to maintain a bank account, be able to vote, maintain a driver’s license, and any of the other many aspects of modern life, you will have to maintain a residential “address” somewhere. A few states, like SD, have allowed for the declaration of residency there without having to have a motor and bricks residence within the state. However, there are signs that this may not be available to non-resident residents for much longer as there is a SD state legislator who is bound and determined to statutorily end this practice. (The bill he sponsored has been tabled, for now, but he vows that he will get it passed.)

  • This really spoke to me. I feel the same way you do about the ‘american dream’ and how most are brainwashed into the never ending race. Working for bills, little to no savings and not trying to get out of it realistically. I have a 5 year old, and due to life I moved into an expensive city/state (avg 2k mo/ rent) and I have debt to pay down. My options and viewpoints are bringing me to heavily consider both living, working and traveling (mainly only during Summer breaks) in a class C. Trying to get my freedom.

    • Great to hear my outlook enticed you. Hope your dreams will be reality soon. Best of luck and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • A) what country are you in? And b) re: “there are lots of locations that offer free or very affordable parking and camping”…where precisely are you finding this utopia? I dislike paying overpriced rent for shitty apartments and am pondering a light car-towable camper, but so far have seen RV camping site spots that cost more than Chicago-area rent.

    • In Europe. Especially the south but in France there are lots of affordable parking spots (some with utilities) called Aires. And in Scandinavia there’s large parts that allow boondocking. Sorry to hear it’s not like that in your area. I think it should be legal for people to park and stay the night or at least be affordable.

    • Nice. Hope you guys will have a great time. Will you be blogging or sharing YouTube videos on your endeavors? It’s something I’m still contemplating.

  • I’d like to buy a camper but am somewhat uncertain (whether proceeding) about monthly fees to stay in parking / camping areas throughout the year. Have you got any idea of what the average costs may be…?

    • It depends on where you are, how you’ll be boondocking, and if your RV is boondock-ready (solar etc). I’m in Europe and I’m still in the preparation phase but will be leaving soon. A YouTube channel I occasionally like to watch is that of Nomadic Fanatic. He wildcamps a lot, this may give you an impression on sites. Although I realize it’s not the best source to get an indication on costs.

  • Yup!! My husband & I had talked years ago about it. We’ve been together 31 years. When we were in about our 5th year and fully entrenched in the 2 kids, 2500 sf home, full-time employee lifestyle and barely making ends meet, i reluctantly added it to our bucket list. In the meantime, ridiculous curveballs were thrown at us over the next 27 years and we had forgotten all about the idea of selling our home, etc etc and driving off into the sunset.

    The driving factor for it jogging my clouded memory is because our son travels 90% of the year away from our home state. He met a girl in TN so he has 2 home bases now. We don’t own our home anymore and are barely making ends meet all to have a 2 BR apt for the occasional times he is swings by for anywhere from a few hours to a week. What are we doing?! We are just following along the path because it is what we have always done. We aren’t getting any younger and we just got back from a cross country trip and we had so muc fun seeing sights, joining up with our son and just being together and laughing like we do at home -just different scenery.

    So, we have not broken the news to my Mother yet. Not only that we are leaving and dont really know when we will return but, we will also need a home base and maybe would want to sleep inside her brand new home she just had built. The bright side is that my husband has regular doc appts so we will have to plan our trips to be in Oregon every 6 weeks. We are beginning our search for the perfect RV. Luckily, my husbands only requirement is to keep the price reasonable and a certain year that he doesn’t want to go any older than. I am excited. We will be meeting up with our son in various parts of the country and it will be like the entire county is our “place”.

    • Forget the year, look for a completely rebuilt motorcoach with a V8 Detroit Diesel engine and an Allison Automatic transmission. Then add such things as awnings, leveling jacks, washer/drier combo, minimum 35′ long with trailer towing capacity to tow your get around car while parked. Then look at converted transit buses because they have lots of storage in the basement (the underbelly). Also look for Electric, Gas, and Solar as your power sources as you will NEED all three while traveling and camping. Also look at the generator and the size of it – too many Motorhomes come with generators that are just big enough to operate the appliances that are built in but don’t allow enough for you to add a 50″ TV, or an outside entertainment system while enjoying your patio under the 20′ awning! look for something between a 1969 and a 2000 because they will more than likely have less computers for the drivetrain which equals less maintenance and downtime! Also look for steel or fiberglass roofing so that you can stay away from the annual resealing and the twenty year replacement of the rubber roof! Also look for upgraded rooftop heatpumps vs. the basement A/C units which are becoming obsolete and the parts are getting extremely hard to find and very expensive. Also look for a second and third heat source such as a wabasto diesel boiler and baseboard or heated floors, a small wood burning stove, Solar powered hotwater heat…etc.
      Actually, in a mobile unit the more redundant systems you have the better off you will be, especially if you are planning on boondocking which I would suggest, way better to pull off the road in a National Park with a magnificent view and stay for free, rather than spending up to $100.00 per night in a crowded campground! But then again every once in a while a campground may be a good relaxing experience with full hookups – especially to dump and cleanout the holding tanks.

      As for a home base; look for a mobile home park that accepts motorcoaches or become a member of an organization such as SamsClub (not the Sam Walton’s shopping club) but the largest RV Owners Association, or the FMCA (Family Motor Coach owners Association) – (way better than Sam’s) which can forward you to a service that will give you a home address and then forward your mail to wherever you may be! – I’m a member of both thereby qualifying my previous statement as to my preference!

      You will also find that a converted motor coach will hold its value and be sooo much more comfortable than a motorhome. I have done both and would never buy a manufactured motorhome again, period!!!

  • Your way of thinking is a image that i take i have 4 kids and a future ex wife i own a camper. Not to big. Ive been living with my grandmother and pay almost no rent my bano balance is growing and for a long time thought a camper home would be great just dont know about winter. Look at a shared house they wanted 500 per month for a room with a shity shower in it so decision now made urban stealth camping it is😃

  • Your article pretty much match my thoughts exactly. I have lived in a 24′ camper for 4 years now although I have my eye on a larger model that I’m debating on buying. I do not HAVE to live like this, I choose to. I was married for 8 years to a woman that was as crazy as a run over dog and she stacked up a lot of debt in my name without me knowing. Once I got all that paid off I looked at several houses. The more I looked at the house the more I realized I didn’t need or want all that. I have never been interested in having a big house and spending a lot of money to keep up with the Jones’s. I had become very comfortable living off less. I have a great job and make more than enough money to buy a nice house but the more I thought about it the more I enjoyed the freedom of living exactly like I already was. I live in Birmingham, AL and I do live in one of the resort style places because I have easy access to a nice swimming pool, small store, vending, and washer/dryer. I do pay per month but it’s a lot less than any apartment in this area and I have the freedom to hook up and move any time I want. I am 100% debt free at 38 years old!!! When I started this back in 2012 all my friends laughed at me and told me I wouldn’t be able to do it long, now they all say they see why I’m still here. There are costs associated with living in an RV/camper…propane unless you have an all-electric model, you can’t buy food or supplies in bulk so you pay more for smaller sizes, depreciation as you mentioned, and for me a small lot rent. BUT I have no power bill, no water bill, no sewer/trash bill, I have cable TV provided by the campground at no extra charge, and no contract or commitment to stay. The cost of utilities alone make up for the cost of lot rent. I’m not saying I will do this my entire life, but I do not see myself making any changes any time soon except for possibly the larger camper. Because of my lifestyle I’m now able to do more things I enjoy, throw back a lot more money for an early retirement (because who wants to work until they die?!?!?), and when the day comes that I can leave the city the relocation will be a snap. I love it.

  • I never would have guessed that living in a camper could be so beneficial. It was cool to learn that living in a camper is more affordable. I hope that I can find a good motorhome service company when it comes to ensuring that I can enjoy the benefits that come with living in one.

  • Absolutely would and will, it’s what I am calling my early retirement. I can work a “regular ” job anywhere. I don’t want to limit my options. I choose one destination to the next, debt free. Ready to live up to my standards, not societies.

  • Here in New Zealand, it’s becoming more of a normalised lifestyle – There are not so many jobs around, so you have to travel to where the work is. House/Flat prices are now for the rich only.

    You can camp for free in most places, although this is made easier by joining the NZMCA which gives you the magic sticker (Blue thing, don’t stick it on the outside, or someone will steal it with a razor blade) $200 fine/night if you get it wrong. Just don’t.

    Stay close to 24-hour toilets, even if you have an on-board portable, keep your vehicle locked at all times, and NEVER accept any offer from weed sellers (particularly in Taupo, specifically Reid’s Farm)

    Source: Bruce from a leaky Mitsubishi Delica – coming up on 3 years in this rustbucket. xxx

  • I love your point that it’s not just retired people that are living in their rvs these days. My friend with her husband and kids have been enjoying their used rv for an entire year, while their home was being built. I love traveling and feel that same pull of the lifestyle of a gypsie and like lifestyles. I also agree that “debt is slavery” and choose to not live that way.