By properly preparing for the change, living in a motorhome can be a real dream. On the other hand, if you are not ready for it, the experience can quickly turn into a nightmare. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before making the decision, and prepare for this lifestyle before you hit the road.
Part 1 of 3: make the decision
Step 1. Evaluate the reasons for this choice
Living in a motorhome is very different from living in conventional accommodation. In order for the experiment to be successful, you will need to make sure you have a good reason to take the plunge. There are, however, no established “good” and “bad” reasons. If a reason seems consistent to you, it will usually be sufficient.
Many retirees and people who often move because of their work choose to live full time in a motorhome or caravan. Having said that, if you want to live a simpler life or go traveling the roads of the country, this could also be a good option for you
Step 2. Seek consensus
If living in a motorhome sounds like a great promise of freedom, the truth is that you will live in a small space with your whole family and spend many, many hours locked up together. If a member of your family objects to the way of life, the disagreement will lead to unwanted and inevitable tensions in your day-to-day life.
If you have kids under the age of 18, make sure they're okay with the idea and that your spouse is up for it as well. The whole family will also need to prepare for the challenges of distance education
Step 3. Give it a try before committing
If you've never spent a long time in a motorhome or caravan, give it a try before buying a vehicle of this type. Rent or borrow a motorhome and spend your vacation in it, for a week or a month. This will give you a better idea of what life will be like in the long term in a motorhome.
Even if you've ever driven a motorhome or pulled a large trailer, you will need to experience life in the vehicle. Get into the habit of driving the vehicle, organizing and preparing trips, establishing a sustainable budget and living day to day with just the basics
Step 4. Find out about the rules
In many cases, you won't need a special driver's license to drive a motorhome or tow a caravan. However, there are exceptions. Find out about the laws in the country where you will be traveling and make sure you can comply with them before you plan further for the trip.
To find out about the rules to be observed in France, go to the prefecture. To drive an extremely large motorhome, you might need a special license. However, you will not need a professional license, since the motorhome will be your private vehicle
Step 5. Prepare a plan B
Life is unpredictable and there are many things that might not go as planned and prevent you from continuing with your RV life. Plan a fallback solution in case of an emergency.
- If your motorhome breaks down or you develop medical conditions that prevent you from traveling, you will need to know where to stay and how to pay the costs associated with this life change.
- Make sure you take out insurance for your motorhome, as well as appropriate health insurance.
- Try to have enough money set aside to be able to live a year without your motorhome.
- If possible, arrange with loved ones to accommodate you for a month or two in case of an emergency.
Part 2 of 3: Prepare for a full-time living on the roads
Step 1. Choose a vehicle that suits your needs
There are three main types of vehicles used for full-time living: travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, and motor homes. The best choice will depend on what you are looking for and what you can afford.
- Travel trailers are attached to the bumper and are towed by the car. This will be the cheapest option, but also the smallest living space.
- Fifth wheels trailers are larger caravans, which attach to the rear of a pickup. They are larger than travel trailers and less expensive than motorhomes. You will still need a pickup to tow them.
- Motorhomes are the more expensive option, but the most convenient. They offer more storage space and can be driven directly, without having to be connected to another vehicle.
Step 2. Read the vehicle warranty contract carefully
Some caravans and motorhomes are not intended for full-time use. If they fail, the cost of the repair may not be covered by the vehicle warranty. Read the warranty contract carefully before finalizing the purchase, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Step 3. Sort through your things
You won't be able to own as much by living in a motorhome or caravan as by living in a regular accommodation. Plan to get rid of anything you won't need or put it in storage.
- Sort your things and keep only what you 'need', instead of getting attached to what you 'want'. If you can't shake off things that won't do you any good, this lifestyle probably isn't for you.
- Getting rid of unnecessary things is usually the best option. Sell whatever you can to make a little extra cash, then give or throw away the rest.
- For items of sentimental value (family heirlooms, souvenirs, photos), consider giving them to family members or keeping them in a storage room. If you use this option, you will need to include the cost of the service in your monthly budget.
- If you plan to keep your house or apartment, you can keep your things there. This option will be the most expensive, but it will also be the wisest, if you are afraid of changing your mind and wanting to quit life on the roads.
Step 4. Establish a permanent address
Nothing will force you to keep a house or an apartment, but you will still need to have a permanent address, for taxes and other administrative procedures.
- You will need an address to open a bank account, get a driver's license, etc. For some procedures, a post office box may not be sufficient and you will need a permanent physical address.
- If you can't afford to keep housing, consider using the address of your adult children or other family members (with their permission, of course).
Step 5. Request re-forwarding of your mail
Consult La Poste to find out more about this service.
- Ask about the costs. Depending on the duration for which you subscribe to the service, it will cost you from 30 euros.
- Mail will be redirected to the address chosen at the end of each month.
- To subscribe to this service, you will still need to have a physical address.
Step 6. Proceed to billing and online banking services
For important mail, consider opting for a digital format, thanks to billing and Internet banking services. This will prevent your bills from being lost and reduce the risk of having to pay late fees.
Step 7. Stay logged in
These days there are RV parking areas that offer WiFi, but don't rely solely on this option to stay connected with the outside world. Invest in a good phone plan and a portable WiFi system (commonly known as MiFi), to maintain a more regular connection.
- The WiFi connection in parking areas and other free access points is not always very reliable. You will therefore be better off investing in a MiFi system if you want to have permanent Internet access.
- Find out about the different telephone subscriptions. While there are many factors to consider, one of the most important points will be network coverage. You will need to subscribe to an operator whose coverage extends throughout the country.
Part 3 of 3: Living in the motorhome or caravan
Step 1. Manage your income
Living on the roads isn't free, so you'll need to know where you'll get your income from when living in your vehicle. In many cases, you will need to supplement your savings with flexible employment.
- Jobs that allow you to work online or freelance are usually the most suitable for this lifestyle. You could also resort to alternative ways of making money, such as craft fairs or odd jobs.
- Find out from people who live in RVs and find out what your options are. There are also services dedicated to connecting employers with traveling workers.
Step 2. Set a budget
Instead of going on an adventure and budgeting once on the road, it will be better to estimate your expenses before departure. To determine your average monthly expenses, calculate what you are currently spending each month, subtract the costs related to your fixed accommodation and add those related to living in a motorhome.
- While costs vary, expect to spend between $ 1,500 and $ 3,000 when living in a motorhome or caravan.
- However, you won't have to worry about paying rent, a mortgage, property tax, and certain charges.
- The specific expenses of life on the roads include the price of the vehicle itself, its insurance, gasoline, maintenance and the cost of camping areas.
- Your other expenses will stay more or less the same, whether it's what you spend on food, fun, or your health insurance.
Step 3. Locate authorized parking areas
You will not be allowed to park where you want. However, there are areas where you can sit for free.
- You will generally be able to camp in the public domain, as long as there is no sign specifically prohibiting it. In some areas, you will need to settle in specific areas. For more information, check with the town halls of the municipalities you pass through.
- Some paid parking lots and road parking lots will allow you to settle in for the night, but you generally cannot stay there for more than a day or two.
- You can also search for campsites, but your stay will not be free.
- If you have pets (especially dogs), you will also need to make sure that the places you settle in allow you to bring them.
Step 4. Choose your stops wisely
When you stop somewhere, make sure you are close enough to a town or village, so that you can easily access the shops and services you need for your daily needs.
Install yourself near a town with at least a supermarket and a few restaurants. If you don't have a washing machine in your vehicle, also look for a laundromat nearby
Step 5. Retain a second vehicle
Even if you don't need a vehicle to tow your motorhome, you will still need to keep a car, in case it breaks down.
- You can tow your car or keep it in a central, easily accessible place.
- Cars consume less than motor homes. By having your car with you, you will be able to shop more easily and use small roads to visit the region.
- Having a car will also allow you to have a second means of transport, if you need to have your motorhome repaired.