Here is the heartbreaking reality that motivated me to create this guide on how to live in a camper year round.
“No matter how new your Camper is or how well you’ve planned the trips ahead of time, things are going to go wrong, almost always at the worst possible moment. “Joys” you can expect to encounter over time include your fridge cutting out in remote locations and having your tire blow out on freeways.”
We once discovered that our Camper had a massive roof leak amidst a monsoon.
So, if every time your coffee maker breaks on an average day you head off to work convinced that the whole day is ruined, this lifestyle may not be for you. On the contrary, if your first response in such scenarios is to boil some water and rig up makeshift filter mechanisms using a coffee filter and sieve, you may be better suited to give full-time RVing a try.
And no, my goal isn’t to be the voice of doom and dissuade you from pursuing your dream.
I’ve been doing this for years now, and I love it. The lifestyle is perfect for me, and I’d just like you to ensure that it’ll suit you as well before you commit.
Ideally, to test whether you can live in a camper year round, I’d suggest renting a camper while still living in your home for an extended vacation or two. Take it out on as many trips as possible, and get a feel for what it’s like to live in a small space and drive, park, or camp in a camper.
Better yet, try imagining camping in said spaces for months on end. Think about what it’ll feel like in the middle of winter. When the darkness starts creeping in at 4 PM, and it rains all night. Imagine celebrating Christmas in your RV and Thanksgiving.
A Guide On How To Live In A Camper Year-Round
If none of the things I’ve listed above scare you and you’re still sold on the idea of living in a camper year round, go on with the steps I’ve highlighted below.
1. Start Down-Sizing Sooner Than Later
Even if you’re the most minimalist in your circle, you’ll find that you currently own more than a camper can hold. Even a regular one-bedroom apartment may consist of a dining room set, coffee table, a couch, and a whole lot of other furniture that simply won’t fit into a camper.
As such, I suggest you start downsizing now, so you’ll have fewer things to worry about when it’s finally time to go full-time. Furthermore, downsizing in advance awards you the time needed to sell most of your prized possession, which could help with the initial costs of RVing.
If you’re not ready to start downsizing, that’s okay. In that case, start thinking about storage options. Do you have a family member or friend with some extra garage or attic space? If yes, consider asking them to hold your items for a year or two
If that isn’t an option, you can always pay for storage at a storage facility.
While working on downsizing, also make a plan for leaving your home. If you’re yet to decide what to do with it, you have three options. The first is to keep your home for a while as you get a taste of the full-time RVing experience. Going this route means you’ll need a house sitter to take care of your mail, yard, and in-house requirements, like plumbing.
Another option is to rent out your home. If you’re confident you can find a good tenant, this is the option I suggest exploring. It’ll allow you to keep building equity while simultaneously giving you an additional source of income.
The 3rd option is to sell. Most people pick this option because they need the money to finance their camper purchase. The lump sum you’ll receive from selling your home can also allow you to travel the world for a while without having to work.
2. Picking A Camper to Live in Year Round
Now that your property is sorted, the house is on the market, and you’ve said your goodbyes, it’s time to find the right Camper for your full-time adventures. But hold on! Again, I want you to slow down because the process of finding the right Camper takes a lot of thoughtful consideration.
Your first step should be taking some time to learn about camper financing. The Wandering RV has an excellent, in-depth guide on camper loans and financing. Check it out here.
Next, think about the type of Camper you think suits your lifestyle and personal preferences. Choices you can pick from include travel trailers, fifth wheels, and Class A, B, B+, and Class C motorhomes. All these come in various sizes and shapes.
What’s more? You may prefer to tow your Camper or tow your car using your Camper. Again, these are lifestyle choices. Here are the three questions you should ask yourself to ensure you make an educated decision.
- Can you back a huge camper into a camping space on dark, rainy nights?
- Are you sufficiently experienced to drive big rigs?
- How much space do you think you (and your loved ones) will need to live comfortably?
Then, there is the question of new vs. used rigs when figuring out how to live in a camper year round.
This question will affect more than simply the price tag of the Camper. There are wear and tear issues, maintenance concerns, and warranty (or lack thereof) complications. Even worse, damage in a camper may not be evident till after you’ve taken ownership of the Camper (whether new or used.)
Over the years, I’ve encountered adventurers that carefully acquired used campers and couldn’t have been happier with their purchase decision. I’ve also come across individuals who bought new ones that broke down within the first week of owning them.
Here are some tips you can employ when buying both used and new campers:
- Check the condition of the tires, as well as their manufacturing dates
- Conditions of the roof and rooftop sealants
- Thorough demonstration of all appliances and plumbing. If a seller hesitates to let you run water in the toilet, showers, or sinks and won’t light the stove or fans, etc., move on to a different seller.
- Check the age of house batteries and test them using a multimeter
- The comfort level of driving the RV
- Get a professional pre-purchase inspection. These professionals are experienced enough to catch any issue you may have missed and can also help with price negotiations.
3. Plan Out The First Few Months Of Travel
This will look different for everyone, but having a game plan for destinations you’d like to visit will make things less stressful as you set off on your expeditions. We, for instance, started by living in a local RV park for a month and a half. This allowed us to settle into and get used to this new way of life.
Next, we decided to set outwards toward Michigan and Ohio for several weeks, followed by a few more weeks of visiting some national parks west. We planned to ease into the lifestyle a little bit at a time and acclimate to the changes brought on by the new lifestyle.
4. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
While most campers haven’t driven their vehicles under low-clearance bridges that sliced off the top of their campers, just about all full-time camper drivers have done something stupid. It’s not a question of if but a matter of when.
I once remember letting the faucet drip on a cold night, so the pipes didn’t freeze, only to wake up to a flood because my gray tank was closed.
So, regardless of all your self-idiot-proofing techniques and checklists, you won’t get it right 100 percent of the time. And that’s okay. Over time, you will learn to get things right.
How To Live In A Camper Year Round – Conclusion
The experience of living in a camper year round is different for everyone. It’s perfect for some and a nightmare for others. My goal throughout this article is to equip you with the knowledge you need to rest assured you’ll have a great time.
If you have further tips on ‘how to live in a camper year round’ you think I should’ve included in the guide, kindly mention them below.