When your motor home is your only home
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A guide to life as a “full-timer”
Is full-timing for you?
Is full-timing for you?
Many motor home owners, retirees and younger people alike, opt for life on the road. Being full-timers sets them free to roam as they please and opens them up to new discoveries. If you’re considering this option, there are several things you need to think about and prepare for.
First and foremost, are you really suited to full-timing? Remember that you will be living in close quarters, and possibly spending much more time with your partner than you’re used to. Is that something you’re prepared for? At the same time, you will have fewer things to take care of and more opportunities to explore the world and meet new people. Weigh the pros and cons before you make your decision.
The transition to full-timing: Most full-timers report that downsizing is their biggest challenge. What do they do with all the “stuff” they have accumulated over a lifetime? Some store it away; others unload it all – on family members, at garage sales and by giving it away to charity. They keep only meaningful items, like family photos, that don’t take up much space.
What to include in your budget: When considering what it will cost you to live full-time in your motor home, remember to include the following in your budget:
- vehicle gas
- mortgage and vehicle insurance
- campground rental fees
- routine maintenance costs
- cell phone fees
- propane gas
- Internet access
- groceries and eating out
- a contingency fund to cover the cost of an emergency
Life on the road means you have no permanent address and will be living in a variety of different parks and campgrounds. It’s important to plan where you will stay and how you will handle routine tasks like bill-paying and laundry. Here are a few things to think about.
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- Pets: Many full-timers travel with pets. And many campgrounds and parks allow pets. If you’re travelling with a four-legged companion, be sure to ask ahead of time about the pet policy in the campground you plan on visiting.
- Internet access: Most full-timers rely on electronic communication to stay in touch. Cell phones and computers keep them “plugged in.” Internet access provides an opportunity to communicate electronically with the people back home, and also to keep up to date with weather forecasts, news bulletins and travel information. The choice of service ranges from dial-up (some campgrounds provide phone access), wireless service known as wifi (found in an increasing number of campgrounds), satellite (requiring an investment in equipment – from a fully automatic roof-mounted system to those requiring manual set up) or cell-based access, the only option that works while you’re moving.
- Banking and bills: You’ll want to simplify your banking and bill-paying as much as possible. Direct deposit, ABM cards and paying bills online can take care of most financial transactions. But you’ll still need to rely on the postal service for some correspondence.
- Getting your mail: Some full-timers have a contact “back home” who forwards mail to them when they reach a destination where they plan to stay for awhile. Others choose to have a mail box in the post office or private mail service provider at their home base, where mail is held for them until a forwarding address is provided. If you choose this option, make sure your mail service understands that the forwarding address will not always be the same. Full-timers recommend having the mail forwarded to the nearest post office rather than the park or campground where they are staying, since many parks do not accept mail for guests.
- Prescriptions: If you take medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about arrangements they can make for you to have your prescriptions filled on a regular basis while you are travelling.
- Laundry: Some motor homes can accommodate washing machines and dryers so that you are equipped to do your own laundry. Despite the convenience, the machines can be heavy and weigh down your vehicle. Using laundromats in parks or local communities is an alternative worth considering.
- Clubs: Many North American full-timers are members of clubs that cater especially to them. Becoming a member is a good way to make friends who are living the same lifestyle. It also gives you the opportunity to share information about travel, campgrounds, and mechanical issues you may have with your vehicle. You can find out about these clubs on the Internet, through motor home dealers or by consulting RV magazines.