Camping is great! The worst part of most trips is packing up and heading home. The good part is that you then get to start looking forward to the next one. For some of us, we like the idea of camping, traveling, and exploring so much that we decide to make our campers our home and set off into the sunset.
What is Fulltiming?
“Fulltiming” comes in different flavors for different people.
For some folks, it’s a matter of living a minimalist lifestyle, picking an RV, and settling down into an annual spot.
For other folks, they move just a couple of times a year every few months or even up to 6 months at a time.
And for others (like my family!), we move every 1 to 3 weeks. We’ve been coast to coast and our actual route map looks like drunken sailors dancing around the country.
I thought I’d touch on the picture that most people have when they think of fulltime RVers: the retired couple out in their Winnebago. And that’s true, but there is everything from young couples finding work on the road to families like mine.
The Fulltime Families organization is a wonderful community for families on the road. We have met wonderful people and made lifelong friendships through it. It’s amazing how finding your tribe can have such an impact on life on the road.
My wife, two kids, and I have fulltimed since 2015. It’s a wonderful way to live but like anything else, it isn’t filled with sunshine and rainbows all of the time. We’ve had amazing highs and have seen absolutely stunningly beautiful sites.
We’ve also had some terrible lows dealing with rig issues with a couple of health challenges thrown in. But, the good news is that we’ve been able to overcome all of the challenges and the good definitely outweighs the bad.
Most Important Part of Fulltiming
The biggest thing to carry with you is your patience and sense of humor. Seriously. Stuff happens. Some little, some big, some that just makes you scratch your head.
Picking a Rig
There are great arguments waged online over the best rig for fulltiming. For some, it’s a 45′ fifth wheel pulled by a heavy duty truck that looks like a tractor trailer rig. For others, it’s a 45′ bus with a gross vehicle weight that will make your head spin (think upwards of 50,000 lbs. and beyond). Yet for others, they think the size of those rigs is insane and a small 20′ trailer is just perfect. Even others think that is too big and fulltime in a small class B van that fits in your normal, run of the mill, parking spot.
No matter what you do, the most important part is to be mindful of your weight ratings.
I’ve written about how to weigh fifth wheels and travel trailers. Use these and the Towing Planner website and stay mindful of your rig’s ratings. For folks in motorhomes, you’re weighings are more simple and can still be done on the CAT scales.
A Better Weighing
If you end up near one of the Escapees SmartWeigh locations or happen to cross paths with someone who does individual wheel weight weighings, do whatever it takes to get weighed. It really is a tremendously better weighing. I found out that when we first launched fulltime that one of my 4 trailer wheels was significantly overloaded.
Mail and Insurance
(This is a simplified view of the world: there are special circumstances that completely can throw this all on its head. But here’s my simplistic view of residency (aka domicile.))
You’re going to need to decide on a state of domicile. Florida is already advantageous because its lack of state income tax. Florida, South Dakota, and Texas are the big 3 for fulltimers, no state income tax and lax residency laws for fulltimers.
For mail, you’ll either need to use a family member’s address who will receive everything OR use a professional mail service. We tried using friends initially and that was a hot mess. Love them dearly but they weren’t organized at all. We trusted them and would have them open the mail and text/email pictures of important stuff.
Since then, we signed up with a mail service – St. Brendan’s Isle. There are lots of these services out there. Use the zip code for each and shop around for insurance, you’ll find rates change depending on your address.
As I mentioned, insurance-wise, you’ll find different rates for different addresses. This is for health and auto/fulltimer insurance. Did you see what I said about fulltimer insurance there? A regular camper policy isn’t good enough. You need to contact an insurance broker who is familiar with fulltime RVers. You need to make sure you have proper coverage for your contents AND have enough hotel coverage to hold you over in the event of a major catastrophic issue. I spoke with both Miller RV Insurance and Gila Insurance Group and both were extremely helpful.
The last thing I’ll touch on in this novel of a post is your budget. Fulltime RVing can be cheaper than stick & brick living or it can be much more expensive. It comes down to what you make out of it. The longer you stay at any one place, the less expensive the nightly rate is – daily is most expensive, weekly is slightly cheaper, monthly and longer is cheaper still. Travel is obviously expensive.
Sight-seeing and touristy crap has been surprisingly more expensive. Our Edu-tainment budget makes up for any cost difference between campsite rent and what our mortgage was – but a large part of this life is roadschooling the kids. This is their education, so might as well make it worth while.
Have fun out there. It’s an amazing life full of ups and downs.