How To Plan For Full-Time RV Living
Congratulations. I’m excited you are thinking about your big move into an RV and looking into full-timing. It’s not something everyone thinks about doing. We have been doing it for several years now and there is no planned end in sight.
When we initially started, we thought we would do it about five years and then re-evaluate. Of course, I can’t predict the future, but right now we don’t see our full-timing ending in a couple of years.
We have met lots of fellow RVers on our travels. The ones that are happiest with their rig and adventures are the ones that took time to plan. I’m not saying everything must be planned. You can also take too long and get too involved and then never realize your goal. But there are basic things you should consider when getting started, and it takes planning to get to the right decisions.
We did three months of research before we started. That may not sound like a lot, but we were watching at least four to six YouTube videos a night. On weekends, we spent all day watching videos, talking about RV life and what we wanted out of full-timing, and making lists of what we needed to learn or acquire to move into an RV. We immersed ourselves into living the full-time RV life, even though we were still in our brick-and-mortar home.
Create your launch schedule
Creating a realistic schedule for the actual day you plan to move into your RV full time is very important. This list may not be perfect, but it will be an outline you can follow. Put down everything you need to do until you move in. This will help your move-in day be less stressful. This list will be like a calendar with each month listing the major things you need to do. It will be different for everyone.
What to consider before you move into an RV
- Some need to sell a home; some want to keep stuff in storage (we did not).
- You may have personal or valuable items you want to pass along to family members.
- You may be purchasing or selling vehicles, or you may own a home you need to sell or rent out.
- You should also consider any medical things you need to take care of for you and/or your pets.
- You need to include utilities, insurance, banking, credit cards, internet—all the services you use in your current home will need to be canceled, and all the new ones need to be set up for your RV.
- You will need to create a domicile where you will receive mail and mail services.
- Thinking about your new life, what new things do you need to add that you have never had before? For example: RV campground memberships, RV travel apps, and more.
Purchasing your first full-time RV
I mentioned the happiest RVers were the ones who planned. We have met some RVers who purchased their RV on a whim. For a handful of them, it worked out, but for the rest, they had a whole list of issues and complaints because the RV they purchased didn’t work for their lifestyle. Before you purchase an RV, you need to set up a comparison chart, or at the very least, keep a mental notebook of pros and cons.
Some things you need to consider when looking for your full-time RV is where you plan to travel, what you want to experience, and how you plan to live while you are there.
Before you move into an RV, ask yourself these questions:
- Will you be working while you full-time? You will need workspace. Do you want to take down your work setup every time you move to a new location?
- Will you have a pet? Are they used to a leash? Where will they sleep, eat, and travel with you?
- Will you stick close to your RV most of the time, or will you need a separate, comfortable vehicle for traveling when you arrive in a new location?
- Do you plan to visit national parks, forests, or older parts of the country? Size, height, and weight can be a big setback if you also need a large vehicle based on restrictions.
- Do you plan to bring big toys with you (bikes, motorcycles, kayaks, etc.)? Where will you haul those safely?
Full-time RV checklist
When you are doing your pre-planning, video watching, and even joining RV social media groups to learn about full-timing, start creating a supply list. You don’t need to go out and buy everything on the list, but being aware of what you need and knowing where or if you can purchase things on the road is important. We have revised our list many times, and we never even purchased some of the supplies on our initial list.
I recommend starting off with the basics and leaving things on your list you can pick up anywhere along the way. You also need to consider where all the supplies will go in your RV, so this will limit you. We divided our list into three areas (I included a few items for example):
- Safety and communication – This included rear cameras, internet needs, tire monitoring systems, and reflective tape.
- RV improvements – Collapsible crates and bags, spring rods to hold items in cabinets, awning straps
- Mechanical upgrades – Lug nut torque wrench, A/C upgrades, water line repair fittings
Downsizing steps to move into an RV
This is usually what people focus on the most, but I find it to be the least critical. When you move into your RV, space will dictate what you have room for. What you should do is have a back-up plan on what you will do when something doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, or you don’t need it anymore.
We have a couple of things we do. When we visit family, we take advantage of that time to rid ourselves of anything not useful. And we either give it to family, friends, or donate to a local thrift store. You will find as you go along you will know what works best.
- On the first move-in though, you need to allot yourself ample time and space to get the job done.
- Don’t be somewhere you need to rush, or you will make hasty decisions or leave something behind you need.
- Even though you may be moving into a smaller space, deciding where things will go can become even more complicated, so take your time.
- You might find you need to stop in the middle of your move-in to go get something that will make the process easier.
Full-time RV departure checklist
When you are going to pull out on your new full-time adventure, have a checklist ahead of time so you know what things you need to move in. With our departure checklist, we know there are several items on hand we will need to accomplish our move. Some of those items include hoses, wheel chocks, ladders, walkie talkies, patio chairs, flagpole and tie-down straps, etc.
It can feel overwhelming when you first move into an RV full-time. Do a few months of research beforehand, carefully choose the best RV option for your lifestyle, and create a checklist for each major step of the planning process. This will give you a good foundation to start.
And remember: everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Just like the first time you moved into a brick-and-mortar home or apartment, you changed things. You purchased items that worked with your new home and changed along the way too. Items that seemed critical on day one might not even be on your radar two years from now.
Enjoy the preparation to move into an RV. Be excited you are getting to do something very few get to do across the world. Become a traveler and not a tourist. Happy full-timing!
Connect with other RVers
Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.