Deciding to go full-time with an RV can be a scary decision, but it doesn’t have to be. Today’s post will show you how flexible the RV-lifestyle can be.
What is a Full-Time RV Lifestyle?
The beautiful concept of an RV lifestyle is that it is incredibly flexible. While some may argue that “full-timing” is where people decide to sell everything and move into an RV to travel year-round, it actually includes a much broader spectrum of possibilities. While that may be a purist view, there are many levels of the lifestyle that RVers enjoy.
Many people opt to go camping part-time. They may take road trips lasting several months, but they may also have a stick and brick home-base. Part-timing can also include people who use their RV’s for occasional camping trips. Part-time is an excellent way to test the waters for a future full-time adventure or to test different RVs. Renting different styles for short trips is an excellent strategy before plopping down your hard-earned money on an expensive RV.
I call it this way for the following scenarios:
Most people that are full-time RVers call their RV their only home. They travel year-round in their rigs. Some will camp from a few nights to months depending on their agendas. This is the lifestyle that most think about when contemplating a lifestyle choice.
The flexibility of an RV-lifestyle:
Flexibility is the best part of any RV lifestyle. People get to choose anywhere along the full-time spectrum. Nothing needs to be permanent. Many people start off with one idea and then move along to another. Some switch back and forth as their needs change.
We have been doing a lot of soul-searching. Since we came from the boating lifestyle, it seemed like an easy transition to going full-time. Being mobile and flexible is the best part. We have had to change our plans a few times since life sometimes gets in the way of our best-laid plans.
We decided to test the waters by going Full-time, but part-time. We love to travel. We do not want to give up our Alaska lifestyle, but the winters are brutal in a camper. We decided to spend most of the year in Alaska, and the rest split with traveling throughout North America and spending time with family in the lower 48.
We decided to stay very flexible for the next year to test the waters and see what we think this time next year. So, if you check in on us throughout the year, we will keep everyone posted on how things work out for us.
Whether or not you decide to make RV camping a full-time lifestyle choice, downsizing our belongings is a healthy way to get back in touch with what is truly important. We just completed a serious downsizing since we are moving. We will be spending at least half of the year in our camper.
Two years ago, we emptied two storage units that we had for years while we went sailing. We downsized our belongings to what would fit in our small apartment at Unalakleet. At first, it was challenging for three reasons:
Divide and Conquer: His, Mine & Ours
We started the process by going through our own personal belongings... my stuff and Honey’s stuff. If you have a significant other or children, you know how that is! We left “community” items for later.
In my "corner", I went through my clothing. I lost a lot of weight in the last year. I also knew that I would not need my office attire or my arctic clothing. So, this is what I did:
I saved my personal “treasures” for last. Here is how I decided to downsize:
We went through the community property together. These are items that we both use and have feeling for. We both have similar ideas about stuff, so it was a fairly painless process. I would hold up an item, and he would say keep or toss. He would do the same for me. Once in awhile eyebrows were raised, but usually, the justification or the emotional attachment was all that was needed to keep an item.
Storage Unit Decisions
Downsizing the second time was more difficult because we still have a lot of loose ends. We decided to keep some items while we sort out the lifestyle options. For example, we kept our nautical charts and a few boating items since we are seriously considering another boat.
Not everything will fit into our camper, We decided to store some items for one year while we are in transition. Notice the timeline… only one year!
I hope this gives you some ideas should you be thinking about going full time. Will this system work for you? Maybe, but everyone has different priorities and different situations. We opted for a small camper. As a result, we had to be ruthless. We are not sure if this is a permanent transition, so we made concessions for some items. We certainly did not want to store stuff, but with our uncertainty, it made sense. We agreed to store items for only one year.
Our choices in an RV directly reflect our history of ocean cruising on our 33' sailboat. We discovered that size is not necessarily on the top of our priority list. Every RV has a purpose, and that no one RV would match our visions as the perfect camper for us. Prioritizing and making compromises helped us to focus on what would best work for us. We focused on:
These are our top priorities:
Amenities that are important to us include:
Places we want to visit:
While we want tons of space. We had to sacrifice it for our dream camping experiences, especially boondocking in Alaska. Getting off the beaten path is difficult with large, low-hanging rigs. Maneuverability versus size was a huge trade-off. We opted for less size.
We were torn between a small class A or C, but we did not find any that were up to some of the roads that we plan to frequent. They also tend to be difficult for a short person to drive. When I sat in them, I could not adequately reach all of the controls and pedals. We looked into modification, but when I sat in a Ford truck, I loved how I could reach everything, and it made driving fun for the first time. There were a few models that fit the bill, but the bill was way too rich for our budget.
We did consider a Class B, but the size and available layouts were not to our liking. The beds were either twins or fold-out, and no dry showers or kitchen space... deal killers for us. We loved the mileage and the overhead clearance, but not enough to get serious about a purchase.
Safety and comfort on the road are very important to us, so we opted for a truck as our base unit. We liked that we could still change our minds about the need for a larger camper. We could swap for a travel trailer or 5th wheeler later. We settled on a slide-in camper with one slide-out. While we are not fans of slid-outs, it was the best option for the space that we wanted. We even found a camper that had a dry shower, an oven and more holding tank space than some of the larger RVs.
New or Used
When we were sailing, our biggest headache was the constant repairs on an older boat and maintaining it in off-shore ready condition. We knew that a new camper would not be a wise financial investment, but we decided that our headaches with repairs and immediate modifications were worth a lot more than the end value of the RV. We also planned on sticking with the truck for its useful lifespan. While we may have lost money driving a new rig off the showroom, we enjoyed not having to immediately spend a ton of money and time making it workable.
We purchased a new Arctic Fox 992 and a Ford F-350 with duallys to handle the heavy camper. We have had our rig for the last four years. It has been a perfect summer home for us. Starting this year, we will be taking longer road trips. We will see how our choice holds up with our new plans to spend time traveling throughout the year. We will also contemplate on making this our choice for full-timing. The beautiful thing is that we can always change our minds and get a rig (or a boat!) that best suits our needs. Most people we know wind up swapping RVs a couple of times before settling on the one that is perfect for them. We hope our decision making process helps you choose the RV that will be perfect for your situation.
Choosing the right RV takes some serious soul searching. We read everything we could get our hands on! This is what we discovered
A Camper for Every Occasion
There are more campers, layouts and styles that we imagined. The key decision before looking for the right camper/RV is this: What is our purpose? So we sat down and listed ideas about what we wanted to do, and how we wanted to travel. Here are some ideas for you to think about as well:
Regardless of how we used the RV, the style of RV could be priced anywhere from economical to astronomical. Narrowing down the type of rig was more important that worrying about the budget at this point in the RV decision making. Here are some basic RV styles to research:
This is a 2-Part blog entry. Think about these ideas, and then read how we narrowed down and purchased our rig.
writes for Iris Blume Publishing. She is an Alaskan who has a love for traveling and writing. Join her as she rediscovers and shares her home state.
Where are we now?