Is the FULL TIME Life for Me?

Lots of us have dreamed of Full Timing as those who live in their RV have come to call it. Latest estimates are that over a million North Americans are full-timers, living permanently in their RVs with no permanent address. Many are retired, but many others work part of the year, just long enough for a 'stash' to keep them going for a few months or a year or so. Some keep a residence in their home town, either renting it or having children live there & take care of it so they always have a home base to return to for doctors, etc.

A surprising number of engineers, project managers and construction people are full-timers, living in their motor homes and traveling from job to job, even with their families. It's economically a very efficient means of handling the housing problem, especially if you would otherwise be moving a lot to relatively brief work sites.

For retirees, it has the blessing of not having a house to maintain. Housecleaning is easy and quick, there's no lawn to mow, there's no snow removal problem in the winter. And the scenery is wonderful. Every day you can enjoy scenery that city folks would pay hundreds of thousands for if they could buy it at all, and for you it's free. And when you're tired of it, you change it!

If full-timing is a lifestyle you're considering, but don't know if it's right for you, here are some of the important
questions the Full Time experts say you need to ask:

• If living with a partner, do BOTH of you really want to do this? If there's any hesitation on the part of either one of you, don't even consider it. Living in an RV means living in close, tight quarters, and if both of you aren't wanting to make it work, and committed to the project, it won't. Both partners will have to be prepared to compromise a lot. Are you prepared to be that flexible? If not, be prepared to butt heads.

• There are lots of conveniences that you don't even think about that you'll have to do without or do differently. Telephones are such a part of our lives, that some people just can't live without them. In an RV, you can have a cellular phone, if you want it and can afford it, but it isn't always the same since many rural areas are poorly served if served at all by cell service providers. If you can't do without a phone, it will limit the places you stay. Long, hot baths and showers are another luxury you have to limit especially if you want to camp in out of the way areas where water isn't right at a site. Be prepared to hook back up and move to fill your water tank if you want long showers and aren't at a site with a hookup. It also means you'll be going to find a dump station awfully frequently. An expert said "Most full-timers learn quickly how to take a shower with a gallon of water or less, and doing so isn't very satisfying to those who like to luxuriate in the shower." I think that's an exaggeration but a little frugality is required. Of course, some parks have very nice showers but others have none at all. So it is a consideration Television anywhere is now possible with the mini-satellite dishes, but there often isn't any local television where you'll be. So if you're addicted to TV, be prepared to take a mini-dish system with you. Large storage spaces don't exist in RVs, and so you'll need to keep your needs very simple and your trash generation to an absolute minimum. Entertainment is different, too:

Books on kindle (a wireless reading device-books can be heavy,)CDs for the boom box or RV stereo, a lap-top computer, a small TV or two. It takes a little adjustment. Some places you RV will have traditional entertainment like movie theaters and tourist attractions but often the best out of the way places don't include them. More and more a full timer can stay internet connected in one way or another but it's also something to keep in mind and arrange for. Some methods can be expensive if you want to be able to park anywhere.

• Roughing it means that it can be a bit chilly at times or hot, muggy and buggy at other times. It can be chilly when you're low on propane and don't otherwise need a trip to town. And it can be hot when the weather suddenly turns unexpectedly warm, especially in the late spring or early fall. Also, many RV's have heaters that are only moderately effective in heating the vehicle evenly. Most RV furnaces also generate a great deal of radio and TV interference, so you might have to choose between the TV and the heater if your RV has forced air heat. If you're boondocking, air conditioning is not an option unless you have a generator.

• Money. Do you have an adequate source of funds to make this work? It's been estimated that one needs a minimum of about $8,000 a year to live comfortably, less if you're into very Spartan living, and more if you want to be able to spend freely.(Personally I think that estimate is too low.) Your spending of money will be disciplined not by cost as much as where to put things, but you'll need to have a steady supply of small amounts of cash and enough cash reserve for emergency vehicle repairs. Your vehicle is your home, so you'll need to have some sort of plan to replace it if it is lost in an accident, flood or fire. Have a plan in mind in case something happens that displaces you from your vehicle. Full replacement cost insurance is a really good idea. If any fixed income is not sufficient, employment should be planned ahead to subsidize it.

• Being self-reliant. You'll need to be able to change a tire, check your vehicle's vital fluids, fix a leaking roof, repair broken plumbing, etc. Can you do that? A dripping faucet in a house is a problem, but in an RV it's a crisis. If you have to call someone to fix everything that ever gets broken in your life, think twice about full-timing. You're often dozens, even hundreds of miles from anyone who could fix it for you. Even if you knew where to find someone, and all your propane is leaking from a loose fitting, or your roof is leaking in a pouring rain, you'll need to fix it now! You normally won't have the option of waiting till you can find someone to do it for you. Of course, if you plan to always stay in city areas where repairs are more convenient this is not as important.

• Children. If you have children living with you, it is possible to take them on the road, but it's not easy. It has been done - At Hidden Valley we have a young couple with two little ones, living in their RV while mom attends university here in San Antonio and while dad works and they both share the challenge and privilege of raising a family. I've met several who live with children in their RV and they supported themselves by a home, rather RV based business, either computer or craft based. They home-taught their children. Their children loved it, because they were born into the lifestyle and didn't know anything different. If they'd tried to take urban children on the road, it'd be more difficult - they'd constantly be complaining about nothing to do, no malls, no friends, no places to go, etc. But children born on the road are different. They're not overstimulated as urban children too often are. And there is no bad crowd for them to run around with, and no drugs for them to get into. So it's a great way to raise children, if you can start them out that way and have the space for them in your RV. It's guaranteed that children raised that way will reflect your values, because they won't be exposed to anything you don't control.

Obviously there's more than one way to RV full time, with the luxuries and without are just two and how we would balance that out is something to consider as well.

So, you've decided to FULL TIME? Watch for the next post to outline some needs you may not have thought of.
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