Want To Live In Your RV Full Time? Here’s how we started.
Lets just sell everything and hit the road, RV Full Time and never come back. It always brings a warm feeling to every muscle in my body when I say it. Yet no matter how many times I say it, here I am, right where I’ve always been. It’s been a long time coming, and every day we are closer to making it a reality.
One thing we’ve learned is that it has never been as easy as just sell everything and hit the road, so here are some of the things we had to line up, how we did it, and what is left to do, so that you can follow along with us and maybe even pick up a tip or two to start your own Interstate Adventure.
Now your situation may be different than ours, and maybe there are some things that you have to deal with that we don’t and vice versa, so take what you can from our experience and feel free to share any tips you have that we didn’t think of.
Make the decision. No, I mean REALLY make the decision. We have all said it, but then it stops there. That was probably our biggest stumbling block on this journey, which looking back is weird because we have never let anything stop us once we made up our mind to do something. So how did that happen now?
Well, because “we’re adults with responsibilities now”.
What that excuse translates to in real life is, “We are out of that early twenties way of thinking and locked in to the routine of work hard, pay your bills, and save for the future that traps most of us in our home town forever”.
I remember the day we called ourselves out on our own bullshit and actually made the decision like it was yesterday. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and we were watching a show about Extreme RV’s and day dreaming like we always did.
Man wouldn’t it be nice, but I have to coach, and run my business, my Wife has her career, and being the team mom, plus there’s no way we can actually afford to just live on the road without jobs and stuff, right?
Then she said it, with a different sound in her voice than she had every other time she has said it, “let’s do it”. “We’ll figure it out like we do with everything else. Let’s make a plan and make it happen.”
That last sentence was the game changer. That was the key to the whole thing. Make a plan.
It doesn’t need to be throw the for sale sign on the front lawn and go. If that’s what it is for you that’s awesome! For us there were a few more things to figure out. So we decided to make a backward timeline and fill in the goals from our “Hit The Road Date” back to now (now was some time in the summer of 2016).
So let’s start with your end point on your plan. Ours thing was that we wanted our son to finish school here. For some of you doing a home school program may work so you won’t need to factor that in. We knew back then he wasn’t a college bound kid and was more like me, he learns with his hands. So for him, staying here in NJ, and enrolling in the Vocational program as a welder was his calling, so we set a soft date of June 2020.
Why a soft date? We’re making a plan aren’t we? Of course we are! But it can’t be rock solid because he is still going to have to be able to be set up to follow his dream, and it can’t be a fluid date because then you fall back in to staying put again. So our end date is more like Jell-o. Pretty solid, but still moldable.
So now we have our timeline. Turns out its a 4 year plan, but so what. Now we have a plan, outta here in 4 years. Now we can start filling in goals to accomplish the plan.
So now that we have step one figured out, what’s next?
Step 2 – Financial Freedom
One thing we learned from family members who have moved out of NJ, is that you can’t leave New Jersey with New Jersey debt and expect to be able to afford to live. Sure we have some of the highest pay scales in the country, and I own my own business, but we also have some of the highest costs of living and costs of doing business in the country. So we need to drop the debt as close to zero as possible.
Clearly everyone’s Step 2 process will be different and I’m far from a financial advisor, but you get the point here. Pay off and stop using the credit cards, pay off the student loans, make double payments on the truck etc. The whole goal is to have no bills that you have to continue paying after you hit the road. Right now, we each have one credit card that we are still chipping away at, the Truck and the new RV. When we sell the house there will be enough equity to pay off the truck and RV and still leave some in the bank if we decide to do it that way.
As it would turn out, its a good thing we are on a 4 year plan because Step 2 has taken a little longer than we initially thought it would. Ok, a lot longer. Here’s a tip for accomplishing step 2, stop buying useless shit you don’t actually need. It is amazing how much money we all waste, $1 for coffee, ads up to $5 by the end of the week, and $250 by the end of the year. Do you REALLY need that dancing santa clause? Every time you put something in your cart, before you buy it just ask yourself, where am I going to put this in the RV.
Step 2a – Side Hustle
Now another thing you can do on the financial freedom step is to work on setting up alternative revenue streams. You can do something like this blog where we earn advertising money for the various ads you see around the site and in the articles, or some other form of online business that you can run from the road.
Another thing we did to supplement our income was rent out our RV through RV Share. This is something I would only recommend if you are handy and can fix the RV yourself if it comes back broken, because if you’ve ever had to deal with getting your RV in for service you know how long it can take just to get an appointment.
How much can you make? We rented out our Class A for about $400/night and brought in roughly $30,000 this year without much effort at all. It was seriously within 2 hours of listing it as available for rent that the booking requests started rolling in, and it got to a point where I almost couldn’t keep up with them during the peak season.
Remember all that useless crap we were talking about earlier? Well it isn’t all going to fit in your RV when you hit the road, so have a yard sale or three, moving sale, get good at using one of those used stuff apps or marketplace and start emptying out the garage and stocking up on cash to put gas in the tank or pay off some of those credit cards.
(Speaking of useless crap, my Wife and I were just in the garage and looking at my collection of “Stuff I’ll need one day” on and around my work bench, and realized cleaning out the garage is going to be a project in itself.)
Step 3 – Buy Your RV
Give yourself some time for this one. Remember we are going for financial freedom, so that means the lowest payments possible if you need to finance your RV. Remember that RVShare rental we were doing back in step 2? That was all part of our step 3 from day 1.
We decided we were going to purchase an RV and rent it out, in order to make the extra money to go towards the new RV. We set up a checking account JUST for the RV, and all rental moneys and maintenance was done through that account.
Now that there is a really nice nest egg in that account, we are ready to trade in the money maker RV for our Forever RV. Now when we find the right one, we have the trade in value of the money maker PLUS a substantial additional down payment to keep the loan as small as possible.
Step 3a – Shop Around
Sounds like a no brainer right? But I don’t mean just check the 2 dealerships within an hours drive and call it done. Put some time in on this step. 6 months ago we decided what our Forever RV would be, the Montana 381TH. Then spent the next 6 months looking for one. We found plenty, in the $60-$70,000 range. None of them had a generator on board which is one of my wish list items.
I would look on my favorite national RV Selling websites daily. Literally daily. For a week or two there were exactly ZERO of that 2018 381TH available in the country. It has to be that one, because that’s the one that has the kitchen setup the way my wife wants it. (They changed it a little the following model years)
We are going to be living in it for the foreseeable future, I want my generator, she wants her kitchen setup, we’re both sticking to our guns. One magical day during my website checking I came across The One. Its got everything. My generator, Her kitchen. This is it! And the best part? It was only $50,000.
Taking the time to REALLY shop around saved us 10 to 20 thousand on the price, as well as making it a perfect fit, rather than just something that would work.
Step 4 – Set Up The RV
(This is the step we are up to as of January 2021. We brought home our new RV this weekend and are both dying to get it set up and start moving in so we are ready to go in June.)
So now that you are getting close to being ready to leave, its time to make sure your rig is ready to roll. I would HIGHLY suggest you start living in it before you go. Yup, right there in your driveway. Who cares what your neighbors think.
The reason I suggest this is that you may think its ready to go, and that everything is going to work the way it is supposed to, but it isn’t. It will be MUCH easier to correct some of these issues while you are still living at home whether you have to bring your rig back to the dealership for some service or just decide that you want to make some improvements that will make everyday life easier.
For example, we had seen our Montana 381 in person several times and decided it was perfect, and only now that it is in our driveway and starting to get things put away in it did we notice that the bathroom light switch is behind the door. This is gonna drive me nuts every single day of my life so thats definitely getting remedied before we leave.
(UPDATE: Jan 16, 2021 – On our first “driveway campout” we found a problem with the RV furnace not lighting in the rain – Here’s how I Fixed it.)
Right now you have your “home network” of your dealership, your handyman friend who can fix anything, your buddies shop, whatever it may be. When you are 1,500 miles from “home” who do you call? Do as many shake downs as you can, even if it is in your own driveway, in ALL weather conditions.
Check the good old internet for camping blog sites, or “owners clubs” blogs for your brand of camper. You will find a lot of information and people who have the same brand and have made upgrades that you may not have thought about, but that may be something you would want to do to your own rig.
Step 5 – Set up Domicile
So as it would turn out, the US Government doesn’t want you to be “homeless” because that screws up their math. You need a “home address” even if you are living the nomad life. There are a few camper clubs that a quick internet search will help you find that will set you up with a “home address” for official paperwork, like taxes, and even hold your mail for you until you decide to park for a while and ship it all to you.
There are several other benefits to these clubs and all of them are a little different, we went with Escapees, because the benefits of the club lined up with our needs on the road but there are more out there so look around and see which one works best for you.
Step 6 – Play Football
Just like with any plan, you are going to have days where things don’t go your way, or you deviate from the plan. My best advice is to treat your plan like a football game.
Divide your timeline into quarters, set your goals on your timeline so you have a visual reference for your plan as you go. Put it somewhere you will see it, like next to your computer monitor, or on the fridge.
As you work towards your plan remember that during a football game, the offense makes a push, and sometimes its a touch down, sometimes the defense steals the ball and runs one in on you.
Come up with another play, and get back out there and make it happen.
At half time, sit down in the locker room, or at the kitchen table, and have a team meeting about how the first half has gone, and what some things that need more attention in the second half may be.
Reassess your plan, your goals, and your timeline. Do a new timeline with any revisions, and once that’s done, Go out there and make your fans scream in the stands while your haters hang their heads and grumble in the background.
We hope to see you out on the road one day, and hope this article helps you achieve your dreams of hitting the road and starting your own Interstate Adventure.
Do you have any tips we missed? Or questions about anything we mentioned? Let us know, we love to hear from everyone!