The closer I get to have full-time, location independent work, the more I daydream about the cool opportunities that I’ll have when I’m free to work on a schedule that makes sense for my energy and creativity levels.
In a recent piece I did for Careful Cents, I explained how ridiculous it is that most businesses require their employees to follow a set schedule that doesn’t make much sense (and how employees are trading their time for a paycheck, instead of valuable work for pay). I can’t wait to be done with that outdated work model. For someone who has always wanted to work for herself, in her own environment, and on her own schedule, having location-independent work where I’m in charge of my time is like the ultimate goal.
I can go for a run and workout first thing in the morning, and not feel rushed because there’s no office to be at by 7am! I can help my family members whenever they need me! I can head to a yoga class for a midday break! I can book a last-minute flight for a quick two-day visit to friends in various parts of the country!
Of course, because I’ve got a bad case of wanderlust, that last one is particularly appealing. The opportunity to travel more is my dream, and having my own digital business will make that dream easier to turn into a reality. And while I’d love to travel extensively overseas, I do have some furry, four-legged kids to take into consideration. I’m not giving up or rehoming my cats, so it will be a while before we can spend years abroad. Which has got me thinking..
At the risk of stating the obvious, the United States is huge. So why not bring my work on the road with me and take advantage of all the different things my home country has to offer before I jet off for overseas adventures? Lately, my daydreams of what location-independent work could look like have included selling off all our stuff, buying an RV, throwing the cats in and taking off across the country.
Is traveling and living in an RV a super cool idea – or am I completely nuts for thinking making our lives a perpetual camping trip might be fun?
I know doing something like this is not appealing to everyone. For people who don’t like camping for a weekend, traveling and living in an RV for an extended period of time probably sounds like a nightmare. But to me, who likes being outside, who likes living as a minimalist and is perfectly happy in smaller spaces, and who would love nothing more than to see new things.. well, it doesn’t sound that bad.
But I know there are major positives and serious drawbacks to just about any situation, so let’s consider the pros and cons of living in an RV full-time.
Pros of Traveling and Living in an RV
- Getting to be nomadic. This is, obviously, the biggest positive. Life becomes one big traveling adventure!
- More freedom. Freedom to go where you want, when you want, for how long you want. It would be awesome to just wake up one morning and be like, “I’m feeling like heading to Wyoming. Let’s do it!”
- Cheaper living expenses. Ideally, I’d want to be able to purchase an RV outright so there would be no loan payments to make every month. And utilities costs would be way down, as it’s a much smaller space than a 2,000-plus square foot house.
- Paring down to what you really need. Living in an RV would mean becoming a true minimalist with only the things you truly needed (or seriously loved and valued). For me, this is a positive, as it’s way too easy to accumulate stuff in a large home – and having all that stuff drives me crazy sometimes. Yes, I’m a fan of the recent “small house” trend, too, and that may be another option to consider.
- Better access to the outdoors. No, it’s not like where I currently live doesn’t allow me to get outside. All I have to do is walk out my front door. But, if I want to bike, swim, hike, or simply be in a place where there are no other humans around and it’s just nature.. that’s a different story. Living in an RV would mean being very much immediately in nature.
- Fresh experiences. Simply put, this would be an opportunity to try something new and learn about a different way of doing life.
Cons of Traveling and Living in an RV
- Different responsibilities, different expenses. RVs don’t require as much maintenance as traditional homes, but they do still mean work. And while some expenses would be slashed, other ones would pop up to take their place. I’d have to provide my own WiFi wherever we went, and our insurance needs would be different (as you can’t insure an RV with regular auto insurance when it becomes your main residence). We’d have to pay to stay in any parks and campsites, and just about anywhere we hooked up to the utilities will charge us for using those utilities.
- Lack of a true home base. Where would we have mail sent? Would we have a PO box that we’d need to swing by once a month or something? And when we weren’t traveling, where would we stay? We’d constantly need some place with water hookups, at a minimum (I can see investing in a generator for power – but then that means the added expense of gas when we run it, and have you tried to hang out near a generator? They are LOUD).
- No little luxuries that are taken for granted – until you don’t have them. Yeah, I know they make these things called “laundromats,” but I would miss simply being able to throw a load of my clothes in my own washing machine and leave ’em for a little bit without having to dig around for change and then sit and stare at the spinning clothes until they’re done. Other little luxuries that we currently enjoy that would be gone: someone that comes and picks up the trash, having an actual kitchen (yes, RVs have the amenities, but it’s more like cooking and cleaning up in an extended-stay hotel room), and, not to be gross, but.. having a flush toilet that takes waste straight on outta your house for you. An RV means having to dispose of sewage
yourselfby making your husband do something about it.
- Being in a confined space over time. Yes, I am usually happy in smaller spaces – but that may be because I always have the option of moving around to a different room or even different level of the same house if I want to. Downsizing wouldn’t be bad, but this would be an extreme form of it. Currently, I have a home office that I can work out of and I can monopolize all the space there that I want. I can also leave the room when I want. Having my work with my on the road means stuff like computers, tablets, and printers have to go somewhere – and there’s no shutting the door on it when you’re tired.
- Living with your pets in a confined space over time. Our cats are indoors-only as it is, and I have actually traveled with a cat in a camper before so I understand stuff like litterbox logistics. But I have no idea if our kitties would go crazy after a few weeks and miss the space they used to have to roam.
Would the Positives Outweigh the Negatives?
It’s a tough call. After looking at the pros and cons side by side, I can see where a lot of my motivation to do something like that comes from: I don’t like having stuff, and having an excuse to ditch most of it and be freed from the weight of material things we don’t truly need sounds awesome right now. Plus, after living in a house that has an overabundance of space, I know that I want to have something that’s a bit cozier in the future. Doesn’t get much cozier than a hundred square feet or so! Then, of course, there’s the travel aspect, and being able to just wake up and take off to a totally new, fascinating place anytime you were ready to move on.
I certainly think there’s a bit of romanticizing that goes on when you talk about living in an RV and traveling from place to place in your little home on wheels. The traveling would certainly be amazing – but would days on end on the road, and having to do a lot of setting up of your living quarters to make it feel like home every single time you got to a destination, be worth it indefinitely?
I’m not so sure it would be. I think it would get old eventually. Maybe the feeling of “over it” would set in later, rather than sooner, but I think it would settle in all the same.
But still.. I can’t shake the feeling that, for a little while at least, it would be an incredibly cool, fun, and liberating experience.
What do you think? Would it be super cool, or completely crazy, to try a life of traveling and living in an RV for an extended period of time?