I had a dream of living in an RV and traveling the US with my family. I thought it would be years in the future but the opportunity came sooner than expected. A few months ago we decided the timing was perfect to sell our house in Missouri and move to North Carolina. Then when we thought about it a little more we realized it was also the perfect opportunity to travel and try fulltime RVing for a few months in between houses.
The process has been exciting and emotional. Selling a house, downsizing and sorting through everything we own and moving into an RV only begins to skim the surface of my life the last few months. Thankfully we have a job we can do from anywhere, so that was one thing we didn’t have to worry about.
Here are the steps we went through the last few months preparing for fulltime RVing. While we are only fulltime RVing for a few months (as opposed to several years like some) the steps to preparing are almost identical.
How to Prepare for Living in an RV Fulltime
1. Minimize Your Stuff
An RV is tiny compared to a house – there’s enough room for the things you use and your most loved items but zero room for the extra clutter. Unused and unneeded items need to go.
The best thing we did for ourselves was start getting rid of extra clutter months in advance. That way when it came time to do the final downsize it was an easier process, still hard and time consuming but easier than it would have been.
It also helped to get into a minimalist mindset before we started sorting stuff. I tried to read a chapter of the book The More of Less every day to remind me that I wasn’t just getting rid of stuff, I was also creating room for opportunities.
I then start sorting thing into 4 categories.
- Sell — Since we are only planing to fulltime RV for a few months we kept some furniture that we didn’t want to buy again but we still sold a ton on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace. We didn’t have time or energy for a garage sale but that is another option for selling lots of stuff quickly.
- Donate — There were items left that didn’t sell or weren’t worth selling that we went ahead and donated. Best tip: Do yourself a favor and get these out of your house quickly. Whenever you fill a bag take it with you next time you run into town and drop it by a donation center. You’ll feel lighter every time you clear your house.
- Trash — I was suprised how much trash we had around the house, things that were too worn to donate, broken items, and lots of paperwork I didn’t need that had been taking up unnecessary room.
- Keep — Our keep items went into 2 categories:
- Will use in the RV — This included clothes, towels, blankets, toys for the kids, some of my office stuff, the most used kitchen items, etc.
- Storage — What you keep will look different for everyone. We decided it actually made more sense finically to get rid of the majority of our stuff so we didn’t have to rent a huge storage unit and then pay to move it all to North Carolina. Plus, I was excited to upgrade our furniture after the move anyway. We did rent a small storage unit and kept our favorite things, like our dining room table, our all-time favorite mattress, a few sentimental pieces, etc. When you’re putting stuff in storage be mindful of how much it will cost you to store everything and whether or not you will really want it later or not.
I designated areas of my house for each section. The corner of my dining room was for items I planned on selling, the box by the door was for donations, trash went in the bin immediately, the corner of my closet was for storage items, and everyday items that I planned to use in my RV just stayed in their normal location.
2. Mentally Prepare Yourself
You’re about to head on a journey that not everyone understands. Some people may come off as unsupportive because they simply do not understand. Others will be extremely excited for you and supportive but might not know how to help since they’ve never been through anything similar.
Not to mention going through piles and piles of stuff is also emotionally exhausting. I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed about half way through, thoughts like, “How on earth did we allow ourselves to collect so much stuff” and “How much money did we spent on all this unneeded clutter?” My stomach even started to hurt when I thought we were almost done only to discover there were still more boxes under the upstairs bed. Thank goodness for level headed, minimalist minded friends who came over and helped me go through tote after tote.
Have patience with yourself as you experience an emotional roller coaster, it’s a big step you’re taking. Connecting with other families that are living the same lifestyle can really help – for both inspiration and encouragement! One of my favorite Facebook groups is Fulltime Families.
3. Work You Can Do From Anywhere
A big part of us being able to fulltime RV is that we have a job that is not location dependent, meaning we can do it from anywhere. 3 years ago we started this blog so we could have passive income that allowed room for travel and/or moving – something that didn’t tie us down.
Here are a couple ideas to consider:
4. Make Time for Good-Byes
I made sure I saw everyone near and dear to me one last time before I left. But what I forgot to do was slot out time in my schedule for this so every time I came home I immediately felt behind on everything else. Saying good-bye to friends takes both energy and time so make sure you realize that when you’re creating your to-do lists and your schedules for the weeks and months ahead.
Seeing friends in groups can help if you’re especially short on time.
5. Slowly Start Collecting the Essentials
We created a master list and slowly started accumulating what we would need. This gave us time to watch for deals and spread our purchases out so we weren’t overwhelmed with a financial burden the final month.
Here’s a list of some of our must-have items to get you started!
- Instant Pot — Fulltime RVers swear by this and everyone I know who has one loves it! It’s my newest kitchen appliance that took the place of several! It’s a rice maker, slow cooker and pressure cooker all in one. You can find tons of recipes on Pinterest or in Facebook groups that can be prepped in under 10 minutes and ready to sever in under 45.
- Ninja Blender — my favorite kitchen appliance! The single serve cups are a-mazing for quick smoothies in the morning.
- Toaster Oven — I’m not a fan of microwaves so we replaced ours with a toaster oven.
- Collapsable Highchair — huge space saver!
- Berkey Water Filter — this one is expensive but worth every penny. We actually already had one and use it everyday in our sticks and bricks home too. There are smaller sizes but I like the larger size so you can use it for cooking water too and don’t have to refill as often.
- RV Leveling Blocks — I call them our RV legos, haha!
- Wheel Chocks
- Garden Hose — we went with a 50 foot to give us more options
- Sewer Hose Kit
- Clear Sewer Elbow
- Sewer Hose Support
- If you have a fifth wheel — this is our favorite Fifth Wheel Hitch & King Pin Lock
- Bedrail — my little guy sleeps with us and our RV bed is quite a bit off the ground
- Hanging Closet Shelves
6. Bonus Tips
Here are a few tips that we picked up from others that really saved us a headache.
- We recommend buying new tires if you purchase a used RV. Paying for new tires was a no brainer for us to save the headache of a blowout in the middle of who-knows-where.
- Check your batteries. We’ve heard that batteries on a fifth wheel have roughly a 3 year life. You can always check yours free at an auto part store to see if they are good or bad.
- Look into Passports of America. Passports of America is a membership that costs $44 for the entire year and saves you 50% off participating campgrounds for 1-2 nights. Before I joined I looked at their campground map to make sure there were campgrounds were we were headed. Here is our referral code if you decide to check them out: C-692260
- Check out the AllStays app. It costs $10 but it was a no brainer for us since it helped us plan our stops in half the time.
Hope that helps add clarity and inspiration to the adventure before you!
Coming Soon: Tour our RV
Coming Soon: Living in a Small Space with Kids