I swear, Courtney and I change our minds way too damn much. Actually, scratch that – I like to think of this as more of a “continuous refinement” process as we learn about truly what is possible in this world. There really is so much more to this world than what meets the eye.
Recently, we discovered another option to our retirement plans – full-time camping. Okay, maybe not “camping” in the traditional sense, but living in an RV full time and spending several years traveling around the country, seeing new places, meeting new people, seriously getting in touch with nature – and photographing the hell out of it.
Truthfully, we already knew this was possible to do, but never truly considered the possibility of pursuing this ourselves until very recently
People do this all the time, and it can be done for absurdly cheap – like, less than $15k a year cheap. Boon docking, or living off of your RV’s reserve energy and water, essentially makes your campsite 100% free (like on BLM land), or darn close to it depending on the spot. Many camp grounds will let you work a couple days a week (as a camp host, working the registration desk or welcome center, etc) for a free spot in the campsite.
Hell, the Amazon fulfillment center hires temporary RV-based work staff every fall in their seasonal push due to a vast increase in sales and shipping demands, which offers a chance for some extra cash. They call it Camper Force. Kinda cool.
In the process of figuring out if living in an RV for a few years (or even longer) post-retirement would be doable for us, I came to a very encouraging conclusion. Not only could we do it (and probably like it!), but we could retire TODAY if we decided to live cheap enough.
That’s a wonderful feeling to have. It puts our increasing drive towards full-on minimalism in perspective and reinvigorates once again our determination to see this whole early retirement thing through to its natural end.
My parents did it, so why can’t I?
My dad was an early retiree. He quit a very high paying (and high stress) job and retired at 49. My folks sold their house and bought a 5th wheel RV and a Ford diesel truck and traveled the country, full time. Eventually they upgraded to a motorhome and continued traveling – campground to campground.
They did that for 13 years.
13-freaking years! For more than a decade, they lived in a relatively small space. Sure, the motorhome was super nice and 46′ long – they were hardly roughing it. But, they did it. It was a lifestyle that worked for them, and they have seen virtually every angle of our country.
I asked them if they ever regret that lifestyle. “Not for a second”.
If we do this, Courtney and I sure as hell won’t have a 46′ Monaco Dynasty motorhome like my folks had. More like a 25′ foot Airstream and a diesel truck.
How can we possibly know whether or not this is something that we’d like to do full time? It’s a big move, and if we can’t stand living in a space that small, we’re out some cash, not to mention the heartache of having to undo that new lifestyle.
Truthfully, we don’t know for sure…yet. That is where Airbnb comes in. To my surprise, there is a wide variety of Airstream Airbnb rentals, and we’ll probably try one for a couple nights. This won’t give us the complete experience, of course, because we aren’t actually towing that sucker anywhere. But, it will give us a feel for what it’s like living in such a tiny space.
Are we gonna bump butts as we move around inside? If Courtney wants to read, will I be able to watch television or surf YouTube and not completely annoy the hell out of her? What about the sleeping situation? We are used to a king sized bed. How do we manage all this difference in space?
These are all questions that we hope to answer – not just during this one Airbnb stay, but potentially over the course of several stays.
Will it work for us? I’m looking forward to finding the answer to that question out.
Could you live in an RV full time?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.