Home Camping Adventures Full-time RV Living: How to Thrive on the Open Road
Full-time RV Living: How to Thrive on the Open Road

5 min

September 9, 2023

Imagine waking up to the sounds of nature, with a different view outside your window every morning. 

That’s the essence of full-time RV living, an increasingly popular lifestyle choice for people of all ages and walks of life. 

Between 2001 and 2021, RV ownership has risen by more than 62% and this number is expected to rise moving forward. This blog will guide you through every nook and cranny of this lifestyle, from financial planning to maintaining a balanced life on the road. 

So buckle up, and let’s hit the road together!

Benefits of Full-Time RV Living

Stepping into the world of full-time RV living brings a myriad of benefits:

  • Freedom and mobility: Ever fancied waking up to the sound of crashing waves or chirping birds in a forest? With your home on wheels, you’re in control of where you park your home. According to a survey, 65% of full-time RVers cite this flexibility as their top motivation for living in an RV.
  • Cost-effectiveness and financial flexibility: Full-time RV living can be much cheaper than traditional housing. Here is a video which highlights the full time RV costs of a couple living on the go. 
  • Connection with nature and outdoor experiences: This lifestyle can get you closer to nature than ever before. 
  • Simplified and minimalist lifestyle: By embracing a smaller living space, you’re forced to pare down your belongings, leading to a cleaner, simpler life.
  • Community and networking opportunities: Contrary to popular belief, full-time RV living doesn’t mean isolation. Campgrounds and RV parks often host social events, making it easy to forge new connections.

The 3/3/3 RV Rule to Save the Day

Let’s talk about a little rule of thumb that can make your RV journeys less of a chore and more of an adventure: The RV 3/3/3 Rule!

Picture this: you’re driving all day, stressing about reaching your campsite before dark, only to have to pack up and hit the road first thing the next morning. Not so fun, right? The 3/3/3 rule aims to help you avoid all that and truly enjoy your RV experience.

So what is this magical rule, you ask? Simple!

  • Drive no more than 300 miles in one day.
  • Pull into your campsite no later than 3 p.m.
  • Stay at least three days in your campsite before hitting the road again.

Think about it. If you’re cruising at a comfy speed on the highway (75 mph, maybe less with an RV), you can cover 300 miles in about 5-6 hours, including pit stops. No more long, tiring driving days!

Now, why should you arrive by 3pm, you wonder? Many campgrounds have their attendants available till 3 p.m. Arriving by this time means you’re not fumbling in the dark trying to set up camp or deal with potential booking mix-ups. Plus, you have plenty of time to settle in, hook up your RV, even make a nice dinner and plan your adventures for the next couple of days!

And speaking of the next few days, staying put for at least three nights allows you to soak in the local scenery and attractions, or just relax and enjoy your campsite. It’s a win-win, really.

So let’s put this into practice. When planning your RV road trip, start with your starting point and your final destination. Figure out the total mileage, then divide it up into manageable 300-mile chunks. Allow for three nights at each stop to rest, explore, and have some fun.

But hey, the 3/3/3 rule isn’t set in stone. Depending on your travel style, you could also try the 2/2/2 rule (drive 200 miles, arrive by 2pm, stay two nights) or the 4/4/4 rule (drive for 4 hours, arrive by 4 pm, stay four nights). Whatever helps you make the most of your journey!

Essential Considerations before Transitioning to Full-Time RV Living

Embracing the vibrant lifestyle of full-time RV living can be incredibly rewarding, offering a multitude of benefits:

  1. Freedom and Mobility: The heart of full-time RV living beats with unbound freedom and mobility. No longer tethered to one place, you are free to follow your heart’s desires. You can indulge in the refreshing delight of waking up to the harmonious symphony of birds in a dense forest one day, and the gentle caress of ocean breezes the next. Your life, your rules. This is the quintessence of living life on your own terms.
  1. Cost-effectiveness and Financial Flexibility: Often, full-time RV living can be an economical alternative to the traditional home living, notably when you factor in mortgage costs, taxes, and home maintenance expenses. RV living necessitates a minimalist lifestyle, which can not only save you money but also break the chains of materialism, leading to an enriching life experience.
  1. Connection with Nature and Outdoor Experiences: The allure of full-time RV living lies in its intimate bond with nature. With a home on wheels, you’ll find yourself more attuned to the natural rhythms of the world. This lifestyle enables you to savor the magnificence of unfiltered sunrises, awe-inspiring landscapes, and starlit nights, offering a deep appreciation for nature’s grandeur.
  1. Simplified and Minimalist Lifestyle: The essence of RV living is about embracing simplicity and leading a minimalist lifestyle. The confines of the RV space organically lead to fewer belongings and lesser clutter. It’s a refreshing change that not only simplifies your living environment but also instills a sense of mindfulness and contentment.
  1. Community and Networking Opportunities: The common misconception about full-time RV living is that it can be isolating. In reality, campgrounds and RV parks are vibrant communities of like-minded individuals. Whether it’s sharing stories around a bonfire, joining a group hike, or attending organized social events, there are ample opportunities for camaraderie and companionship on the road.

Picking the Right RV

When contemplating a shift to full-time RV living, choosing the right RV is the first crucial step. This decision involves not only understanding the type of RV that best suits your lifestyle but also an honest reflection of your personal goals, desires, and circumstances.

Before you delve into the RV selection process, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Lifestyle and Pace: Are you an adventure-seeking traveler, eager to explore rough terrains, or do you prefer setting up camp and unwinding at a leisurely pace in serene surroundings?
  • Space and Comfort Needs: Do you value spaciousness and comfort, or are you comfortable with minimalist living?
  • Work and Leisure Balance: Will you be working or running a business from your RV, or will your time be devoted to relaxation and exploration?
  • Travel Preferences: Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit, or are you open to spontaneous travel plans?
  • Financial Preparedness: Are you financially ready to embark on this lifestyle now, or do you need to plan and save?

Answering these questions will help guide you toward the right RV. 

Different RV types cater to different needs. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each:

Class A Motorhomes

Pros Cons
Spacious with the most home-like amenitiesCan be difficult to maneuver due to size
Extensive storage and tank capacityPoor gas mileage
Suitable for longer stays in one locationExpensive to buy and maintain

Class B Motorhomes (Campervans)

Pros Cons
Compact, offering excellent maneuverabilityLimited living space
Good fuel efficiencyOften lacks certain amenities like shower/toilet 
Ideal for a minimalist, adventurous lifestyleCan be expensive, depending on the model

Class C Motorhomes

Pros Cons
Mid-sized, providing a balance of space and maneuverabilityNot ideal for off-road traveling
Includes many home amenitiesPoor gas mileage
Can tow a smaller vehicle

Travel Trailers

Pros Cons
Spacious, with the advantage of being detachable from the towing vehicleCan be challenging to maneuver
Typically moderately pricedSometimes have less robust construction
High resale value due to slower depreciationRequires a separate vehicle to tow it

Truck Campers

Pros Cons
Compact and excellent for off-road adventuresLimited living space
Can be detached from the truckLimited tank size
Offers moderate fuel efficiencyCan be pricey, depending on the model

Here is an in-depth guide to help you out! 

Cost Considerations

Embarking on the full-time RV lifestyle requires a comprehensive understanding of the associated costs. These costs are not limited to the initial purchase of your RV, but also include maintenance, insurance, fuel, campground fees, utilities, and everyday living expenses.

Let’s dive into each of these cost components:

Initial Purchase

The cost of your RV is your primary initial investment, which could range from $10,000 to $300,000, depending on the type and model. A used RV can save you money upfront, but it might require more maintenance than a new one. Financing options are available, but remember to factor in the interest costs.


Maintenance costs for an RV can be substantial, especially for older or larger models. Budget around $1,000 to $3,000 per year, depending on your RV’s age, model, and usage.


RV insurance rates vary greatly, influenced by factors like the RV’s age, type, and value, and also your driving history. The average annual cost ranges from $1,000 to $2,000.


Your fuel expenses will be determined by the size of your RV, the distances you travel, and the current fuel prices. A good rule of thumb is to budget around $300 to $500 per month, although this can be higher if you’re traveling extensively or if fuel prices rise.

Campground Fees

Campground fees vary dramatically, depending on location, amenities, and length of stay. You could spend anywhere from $25 to $80 per night, which equates to $750 to $2,400 per month if you’re staying in campgrounds every night.


Many campgrounds include utility costs in their fees. However, if you’re staying long-term at a park, you may be billed separately for utilities like electricity. Budget around $50 to $100 per month.


Propane is used for heating, cooking, and sometimes powering appliances in your RV. Depending on usage and the season, expect to spend about $10 to $30 per month.


Staying connected while on the road might require a mobile internet plan and possibly a signal booster. Costs vary depending on your needs, but plan for $50 to $200 per month.

Food and Living Expenses

Living expenses can be similar to those of living in a traditional home, depending on your lifestyle. These include groceries, dining out, entertainment, healthcare, and personal items. A reasonable range is $500 to $1,000 per month.

Adding these costs together, your monthly expenses could range from $1,860 to $6,830, not including the initial purchase or finance payments on your RV. Keep in mind that these numbers can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle and choices. If you’re thrifty, willing to boondock or workamp, and travel less frequently, you can keep your costs lower. Conversely, if you stay at high-end RV resorts and travel extensively, your costs will be higher.

Remember, full-time RV living is a lifestyle choice, and as such, it’s all about balancing your desires and needs with your financial resources.

Planning for Life on the Road

Living in an RV full-time demands extensive preparation and planning. You must consider factors like season and RV size, which can influence your routes and destinations. The aid of RV GPS apps, campground directories, and travel journals can be immensely helpful in this phase.

Take time to evaluate your preferences for campgrounds. The spectrum ranges from free boondocking sites to lavish RV resorts, and your choice will significantly affect your budget. 

Approximately 52% of RVers prefer boondocking, and 37% choose RV parks for their amenities.

You should also be able to locate essential amenities and services on the road, such as laundromats, grocery stores, and RV repair shops.

In the digital era, staying connected is essential. For full-time RVers, reliable internet connection is crucial. You can ensure this through mobile hotspots, signal boosters, and campsite Wi-Fi.

Defining Objectives and Budget

Your goals for full-time RV living should be clear. Your purpose, whether it’s exploring scenic routes or saving for a grand adventure, will guide your decisions on the road.

Budgeting is a key aspect of full-time RV living. It would be best to formulate a budget and stick to it. Regardless of your financial status, keeping track of your expenditures will facilitate sustainable RV living.

Choosing the Right RV

The process of purchasing an RV is a significant decision, akin to buying a house. Hence, invest a significant amount of time in researching and comparing different options to find your perfect RV. Consider renting various RVs before buying to understand your preferences better.

If you’re considering a used RV or trailer, ensure you get it professionally inspected to gauge what it’ll take to make it safe and roadworthy. Also, keep in mind the various customizations and improvements you could make to the RV to suit your road requirements.

Understanding Your RV

Understanding your RV’s mechanics inside and out is crucial. Not only can it enhance your safety and enjoyment, but it can also save you money. Knowledge about propane appliances, gauges, and tank capacity can prove to be financially beneficial. In addition, learning how to repair certain elements of your RV can be handy.

Necessary Insurance

Insurance may not prevent disasters, but it can protect you from potential financial ruin. It’s advisable to have term life insurance to safeguard your loved ones in case of death. Health insurance is another critical factor, especially for younger people who may feel less vulnerable.

RV and vehicle insurance are mandatory to protect you and others in the event of an accident. Special RV roadside insurance is also highly recommended as regular roadside assistance from your vehicle insurer may not cater to your RV needs.

Domicile Considerations

Before becoming a full-time RVer, you’ll need to establish a domicile or home base. States like South Dakota and Florida are preferred by many full-timers. Consider factors like travel goals, lifestyle, and interests when making this decision.

Essential Items for RV Living

Safety should be your first priority when packing for full-time RV living. Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, jacks, and good quality tools are a must. Consider comfort-enhancing items like good coffee makers, storage containers, and USB devices. You can also include luxury items like TVs, projectors, and other electronics, but they aren’t necessary.

Joining RV Clubs and Associations

Most full-time RVers are part of significant RV groups. These memberships offer resources and community that can enhance your road life and keep your finances in check. They range from camping memberships like Harvest Hosts, Passport America, and Escapees, to other associations like Good Sam, which offers fuel discounts and roadside assistance services.

You should also install RV-specific apps to make things more convenient for you. 

Several RV-related apps can significantly enhance your full-time RV lifestyle, making your journey safer and more enjoyable. Navigation apps can help you avoid low bridges and plan efficient routes. Campsite and boondocking apps can help you find the perfect spot to park for the night, while maintenance apps can help you keep track of routine RV care and repair.

Tip: With an increasing number of people working remotely, full-time RV living is becoming more feasible. Remote jobs or freelance work provide the flexibility to work from anywhere. Alternatively, you can start a blog, YouTube channel, or other online business related to your travels or hobbies.

Balancing Travel and Down Time

While the allure of constantly moving and seeing new places can be tempting, it’s also crucial to balance travel with downtime. Constant travel can be exhausting, and downtime is necessary to rest and recharge.

Making the Transition

Transitioning from a traditional home to an RV is a significant change. It requires getting rid of unnecessary belongings and adapting to a smaller living space. However, the freedom and adventure that come with full-time RV living make the transition worthwhile.

Long-term Sustainability

RV living is not just about the journey; it’s also about sustainability. Consider eco-friendly practices such as reducing waste, using solar power, and recycling whenever possible. Furthermore, proper maintenance of your RV can prolong its life and reduce your environmental impact.

Handling Emergencies

Prepare for emergencies by carrying a well-stocked first aid kit and knowing basic first aid procedures. Additionally, consider investing in a reliable roadside assistance plan that covers RVs. Regularly checking weather forecasts and understanding the basics of RV mechanics can also help prevent emergencies.

Emotional and Mental Wellbeing

Living in a small space and dealing with the uncertainties of the road can be stressful. To maintain your emotional and mental wellbeing, make sure to take time for yourself, maintain social connections, and pursue hobbies or activities that bring you joy.

Creating a Comfortable Living Space

Next, let’s explore how to make your RV feel like a cozy, efficient home:

  • Efficient storage solutions and organization tips: Maximize every inch of space with solutions like foldable furniture, magnetic spice racks, and under-bed storage.
  • RV maintenance and troubleshooting: Regular maintenance can prevent breakdowns and costly repairs. 
  • Energy and water management: Investing in solar panels or a generator can provide power off-grid. Water conservation practices like quick showers and low-flow fixtures can make your tanks last longer.
  • Tips for optimizing limited space: Keep your RV tidy and clutter-free, consider multipurpose furniture, and embrace minimalism.
  • Personalizing your RV: Make your RV feel like home with personal touches like photos, artwork, or your favorite throw blanket.

Maintaining a Fulfilling and Balanced Lifestyle

Once you’ve settled into full-time RV living, it’s important to maintain balance:

  • Establishing routines: Even on the road, daily routines can bring a sense of normalcy.
  • Pursuing hobbies and interests: Hobbies keep you engaged and happy. Whether it’s photography, hiking, or blogging, there’s always something to do on the road.
  • Staying healthy and fit: From outdoor workouts to compact exercise equipment, there are numerous ways to stay fit while living in an RV.
  • Building social connections: Join local events, online forums, or RV clubs to connect with fellow RVers and make friends.
  • Balancing work and leisure: If you’re working on the road, make sure to balance work hours with relaxation and exploration time.

Challenges and Potential Drawbacks

As liberating as full-time RV living can be, it also comes with a unique set of challenges.

  • Space Limitations: The most immediate challenge of living full-time in an RV is the limitation of space. While a minimalistic lifestyle can be liberating, it can also be frustrating not to have room for some larger personal items or ample space for activities. The lack of privacy, especially for families or couples, can also be an issue.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: RVs, like any other vehicle or home, need maintenance and occasional repairs. Dealing with these issues on the road can be challenging, especially in remote areas or during bad weather. Unexpected breakdowns or repairs can also lead to unplanned expenses.
  • Lifestyle Adaptation: Adapting to a constantly changing lifestyle can be a daunting challenge. The unfamiliarity of new locations, adjusting to different climates, finding resources like grocery stores, laundromats, and healthcare facilities, can all pose difficulties.
  • Connectivity Issues: While traveling, it can be challenging to maintain a stable internet connection, which can be problematic for those who work remotely. Additionally, there can be locations where cell service is weak or non-existent, potentially causing isolation or issues in case of emergencies.
  • Regulations and Restrictions: Different places have different regulations concerning parking and camping, and navigating these rules can be challenging. Some popular locations may also be crowded during peak seasons, making it hard to find a suitable spot to park your RV.
  • Loneliness and Isolation: While the RV lifestyle can be freeing, it can also be isolating. Being on the move can make it harder to establish long-term relationships, and while digital communication helps, it doesn’t replace face-to-face social interactions.
  • Access to Healthcare: While on the move, accessing regular healthcare can be difficult. This includes regular check-ups, dental care, and prescriptions, especially for those with chronic conditions that require ongoing management.
  • Education for Children: For families with children, providing consistent education can be a challenge. While homeschooling is an option, it requires considerable effort and planning from the parents.

Additional Tips 

Challenges Solutions 
Maximizing Space Efficiency Invest in space-saving solutions and multi-purpose furniture. Regularly declutter and keep only essential items.
Preventive Maintenance and Basic Repairs Regular preventive maintenance helps avoid unexpected repairs. Learn basic repair skills; keep handy guides for reference.
Lifestyle Adaptation Thorough research and planning ease lifestyle adaptation. Stay flexible and open to adjustments.
Reliable Connectivity Use reliable mobile internet solutions like portable Wi-Fi devices or signal boosters. Consider a satellite phone for emergencies.
Local Laws and Regulations Understand local laws about RV parking and camping. Use resources like apps, websites, and online RV communities for insights.
Building Community and Socialization Engage with RV communities virtually and in person. Attend RV rallies and local activities.
Managing Healthcare on the RoadPlan stops around healthcare needs. Use telehealth services and mail-order pharmacies.
Roadschooling for Children Homeschool on the road, blending curriculum with practical learning experiences. Join roadschooling communities for support and resources


Full-time RV living is a lifestyle packed with adventure, freedom, and an ever-changing horizon. It offers a unique chance to live minimally, save money, and connect with nature. However, it requires careful planning, from choosing the right RV to managing life on the road. Embrace the challenges as part of the journey and soak up the rich experiences this lifestyle has to offer.

Remember, living in an RV full-time isn’t just about being on a constant vacation. It’s a unique way of life that combines the comforts of home with the thrill of travel. So why not give it a go? Who knows, the open road might just be the next place you call home!

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