Living Full-Time In an RV: How To Afford It

Living full-time in an RV might be more affordable than you think! When it comes to full-time RV living, you can go about it one of two ways — either the expensive way or the affordable way. This article will help to give you tips on the latter.

It took about six months of living on the road full-time, before someone asked me how I afford full-time travel. They asked me if I was independently wealthy or a trust fund baby. Just for the record, the answer to both of those things is no.

For me, being able to learn how to afford full-time travel is a matter of rearranging priorities, planning properly, and having multiple streams of income so that I can stay on the road. While some people may look at this lifestyle as a scary risk that deviates from the norm, choosing full-time RV living has been the best way to provide financial stability for myself.

It also allows me to pursue a creative life and live a life that I know I can afford. To me, that is not risky at all — that is true stability and financial security. It makes me wonder how or why I ever lived any other way.

Living Full-Time in an RV : The Expensive Way

There are of course also people on the road that choose to go heavily into debt in order to be able to travel. They have $100k van conversions with payments or get by on credit cards while they try to become the next big YouTube star. Please don’t do that to yourself. There is a better way.

With some planning and preparation, and the tips I share below, you can set up a financially stable life for yourself on the road without worrying about how you will pay off huge amounts of debt getting yourself there. It just takes some planning, prioritizing and knowledge of a few resources that are available to you, to help you live a financially stable life while learning how to afford full-time travel.

Living Full-Time in an RV : The Affordable Way

At the time of this writing, I have been on the road for eight months. It has been the best experience of my life as well as one of the best financial decisions I have ever made. This is what I have learned on how to afford living full-time in an RV and this is the path that I took to get here:

  • Prepare and save
  • Lower expenses as much as possible
  • Earn income along the way
  • Find cheap or free places to stay
  • Diversify income options

Prepare and save

One of the best things you can do for yourself in preparation for living full-time in an RV is to save. If you are not a saver, I’m sure this is not advice you want to hear, but it is important. It is especially important if you want to learn how to afford full-time travel to begin living the life of your dreams.

There are variables on the road outside of your control and so providing a financial safety net for yourself can help to get you through in case of a breakdown, emergency or change in travel plans. Plus, it is just good advice for life in general.

It should go without saying, but if you are planning on living full-time in an RV turning as much stuff in your house into cash as you can will help kill two birds with one stone. You can clean out your house and save money for your new adventure at the same time.

Start by having a yard sale to see what you can get rid of. Then, take anything leftover to a local consignment store to sell. Just by doing these two things before hitting the open road, I was able to save up an extra $1,000.

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For a longer term financial plan, check out Financial Peace University. This is the best resource that I have found for making wise financial decisions and living a financially stable life. Although it is not tailored to full-time RVers, the advice provided in this program helps for all ages and stages of life.

Lower expenses as much as possible

Frugality is second nature to me, so it was not difficult to lower my expenses as much as possible before I hit the road. While this is not the case for everyone, if you are someone who can manage to live without excess in your life, it will help set you up for success when you hit the road.

If you do decide to live full-time on the road, you are going to naturally be cutting many bills out of your life such as:

  • Mortgage or rent
  • Utility bills (gas, electric, water)
  • Homeowner’s insurance

Eliminating these bills from my life instantly saved me $1,400 each month when I decided to hit the road. When you look at it that way, it makes me wonder how people can afford to live any other way.

Lowering your expenses as much as possible also means reprioritizing some things in your life. Look at how much you spend each month on things such as cable, shopping, or eating out and see what you can eliminate there.

If your plan is to spend more time in the great outdoors, do you really need cable when you can watch a glorious sunset or sit around a campfire with friends? Do you really need to keep up an expensive shopping habit when you live in a tiny home and your space is limited?

Earn income along the way

This is the part that I am most excited about sharing with you. Most people are at a complete loss of what to do to earn money for living full-time in an RV. This doesn’t have to hold you back. There are more options than you think and once you hit the road, you will discover all of these and more.

If you already have a career that you can take on the road, as is the case with digital nomads, then you have a head start. If not, then here are some opportunities to look at to help you earn income along the way:

  • Freelancing: Many freelance opportunities offer flexible schedules in a “work from anywhere” capacity. Several popular websites are a great resource for finding a steady stream of freelancing gigs today. Check out: FlexJobs, Fiverr and UpWork to match your skill set to flexible opportunities and have a steady stream of income coming in while you travel full-time.
  • Workamping: Workamping can be a great option for newbies on the road. It not only helps you earn an income to get you out living an adventurous lifestyle, but also gives you a place to stay. While some workamping jobs offer a free place to park your rig in exchange for volunteering a set number of hours each week, other workamping jobs offer a wage in exchange for a discount on campground fees. For a list of current workamping opportunities, check out https://www.workamper.com/.
  • Seasonal Jobs: Depending on where you are in the country, some campgrounds are open during a specific time of year only. In their busy season, they are looking for seasonal employees to come, stay and help. Similar to workamping, some of these opportunities offer a combination of wage or volunteering hours in exchange for a discount or free camping.

While digital nomads or retirees are certainly at an advantage, once you hit the road you will see the wide range of people out here and learn many more options for making a living as you make a life on the road.

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Find cheap or free places to stay

When I first hit the road, my budget included a set amount of money on camping fees each night. To me, this was one way to help keep myself safe in my new world of full-time RV living.

As I traveled and talked to more people, I found more and more places to stay for nothing — or next to nothing. I quickly learned about how to navigate public lands and the Bureau of Land Management system. This helped me learn about free camping and how to find it.

At first, I was hesitant. Because I didn’t grow up camping, in my mind I believed that these places were the unsafe places to stay and that paying for camping each night would help to keep me in safe places.

While in some cities and places this may be true, it is not always the case. If I would have stuck to developed campgrounds all along the way, I would have missed waking up to some of the most beautiful views in the most amazing and peaceful places.

While you never want to prioritize money over your own safety, if you are willing to be a little adventurous you may find that public lands offer the best and most beautiful places to stay at the best price — free or by permit.

The best resources for finding cheap or free places to stay is freecampsites.net or campendium.com

Diversify income options

Again, a good practice not just for full-time RVers but also for anyone, is to diversify your income options. I have learned a lot of things the hard way in life — one of them being that you can’t place all of your security in one thing.

Prepare for the worst and plan for the best by creating multiple sources of income to help you keep enjoying your life of full-time RV travel, no matter what the future may hold.

While everyone’s situation is different, living full-time in an RV can be an affordable way to live. It’s attainable for people at all ages and stages of life, not just digital nomads or retirees. There is a wide variety of people living on the road, creating financial freedom and stability for themselves by choosing to live this way. Will you be among them? 

Let’s connect! If you put yourself on my email list here, I’ll be sure to share more helpful and resourceful articles as they are written to help you get ready for living full-time in an RV.

If you want to learn more about living full-time in an RV and what it’s really like, check out my book on Amazon The Proving Ground: A 12-Month Solo Road Trip Across America

2021-02-20T21:49:58+00:00 By |Full-Time Travel Tips, General|18 Comments

About the Author:

Jamie is an author and perpetual wanderluster whose passion for slow travel has taken her to live in some of the most breathtaking and scenic places all across America for days, weeks, or months at a time.


  1. Keena February 27, 2021 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    RV life has always peaked my interest. I love the detailed information. Maybe I’ll take an RV trip soon . I don’t think I’ll live in one but I will definitely take a trip.

    • Jamie March 2, 2021 at 5:05 am - Reply

      It will be a fun experience, would love to hear how you like it once you do

  2. Josy A February 27, 2021 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Really interesting post for RV life. 🙂

    It does sound like it would be cheaper to live in an RV compared to the expense of renting a flat in a city! I would be super tempted if we had jobs that were doable as a digital nomad. Mostly I just love the idea of trying this kind of life on a holiday (especially near amazing places to go for a hike!!)

    • Jamie March 2, 2021 at 5:05 am - Reply

      Thanks Josy! Perfect idea — I started out with smaller trips too and got hooked quickly, I love it

  3. Hannah February 27, 2021 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    These are some great tips! Living in an RV looks so much fun! It’s great to hear that there are plenty of ways to make RV living affordable. What an amazing adventure! Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • Jamie March 2, 2021 at 5:04 am - Reply

      It is a lot of fun! Thanks Hannah! Have fun on your next adventure too 🙂

  4. Nora February 28, 2021 at 8:50 am - Reply

    Never considered doing this as I have too much stuff I am not willing to get rid of, and Europe’s narrow streets can be a challenge for an RV. Having said that, I loved the 2 weeks I spent on a camper van in Norway.

    • Jamie March 2, 2021 at 5:03 am - Reply

      Norway would be a beautiful place to road trip in a van, sounds wonderful!

  5. Krista February 28, 2021 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    This is something I would love to do so I will definitely be looking into those websites you’ve listed for some freelance work!

    • Jamie March 2, 2021 at 5:03 am - Reply

      FlexJobs is my favorite — it’s a great place to start! Good luck with your search!

  6. Poli February 28, 2021 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Just started full time van life in June and loving it!!!

    • Jamie March 2, 2021 at 5:02 am - Reply

      Oh my goodness, I am so excited for you! Hope you are loving it so far!

  7. Emma February 28, 2021 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    This is definitely my partner and I have talked about, although now we’ve bought a house I don’t see it happening soon. But it’s great to dream and something to think about for the future. I think we’ll start with smaller RV trips first but these are all great tips

    • Jamie March 2, 2021 at 5:02 am - Reply

      Absolutely! Weekend trips are great to start and get a little practice

  8. Jamie March 1, 2021 at 2:03 am - Reply

    This has been such a trend during the pandemic, I bet a lot of people can learn from your experiences.

    • Jamie March 2, 2021 at 5:02 am - Reply

      That is my hope — thank you Jamie!

  9. Jamie March 1, 2021 at 2:03 am - Reply

    I know a lot of people who jumped on this trend during the pandemic, will pass this on to them.

    • Jamie March 2, 2021 at 5:01 am - Reply

      It’s a great way to social distance… LOL

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