Don’t worry, I’m not giving up RVing yet. This is just an intellectual exercise to lay to rest one of the fears I hear from prospective full-timers on occasion: how easy would it be to go back to sticks ‘n bricks living after being a full-timer?
People who are contemplating getting off the road probably already have a place in mind that they want to live, either a location they fell in love with while traveling, or back where friends and family are. But before making a final decision, there are a few things you want to consider. Even if you were familiar with this area before becoming a nomad, things could have changed in the time you were gone.
1. Look up cost of living statistics for that area to make sure you can afford living there.
2. If you’re still working age and are not remote or self employed, do some research into the job market to ensure there are options available to you.
3. Check the rental and/or housing market for availability in the price range you’re willing to pay. If you didn’t keep furniture in storage or in safe keeping with friends or relatives, remember you’ll have to figure the cost of replacing it into your initial investment.
4. You also might want to look into crime statistics, shopping options, climate information, school districts, tax load, insurance costs, and healthcare costs depending on what’s important to you.
Aside from the obvious to-dos like finding a place to live and a place to work, when you settle down you’ll need to get a new driver’s license, register your vehicle(s), locate a new doctor (if you’re working, might want to wait until your insurance coverage kicks in first), fill out a change of address form with the postal service, and notify all your correspondents of your change of address. Wait a few weeks after your move until you cancel your mail forwarding if you’ve been using one of those services, to catch any straggling mail that got sent out before you officially changed addresses.
When looking at these considerations, going back to a more traditional living arrangement is very similar in scope to when people living in a fixed location decide to move to another state. If you want more detail than what I’ve listed here, you need only ask advice from those who’ve moved states before (if you’ve never done it yourself).
The biggest difference will be instead of the hassle of hiring a moving truck and packing and unpacking all of those belongings, you’ll have the hassle of acquiring the essentials needed to make your new home livable.
If you’re pressed for time or money, there’s no rule saying you have to get your new digs completely furnished and decorated right away. Look for bargains in thrift stores and places like Walmart for now, and upgrade to your own tastes over time. If you can’t get all the furniture needed right away or if your new home needs some work before you move in, stay in your RV in a nearby park while you get things settled.
Handing your RV once you’ve moved into your new home is also easily done, you’ll just need to locate a place to store it at if you can’t store it where you’re living. Once everything is out of it, you can sell it or keep it for part-time use as you wish. Just remember to switch your RV insurance to part-time use if you keep it.
So as you can see, it’s certainly not impossible to go back to sticks ‘n bricks living after being a full-timer and you can take comfort in the fact that people who move across state lines do something very similar.
But what if your move is due to a hardship situation? Remember that motto: where there’s a will, there’s a way.
As an example, a full-timing friend of mine had her tow vehicle break down beyond hope of repair in a location she was unfamiliar with.
Luckily, she broke down not far from a mutual friend of ours, who was more than happy to put her, her pet, and her belongings up while she figured things out. I say it frequently and I’ll say it again: people in general are friendly and willing to help as long as you’re courteous and don’t take advantage.
Her defunct tow vehicle was hauled away and junked, she hired a tow truck to take her trailer which was still in good condition to a storage lot. Then she put an ad up in Craigslist to sell the trailer, and used some of those proceeds to rent a car to take her back to where her family lived several states over.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having an emergency fund in case of situations like this, my friend was able to pay the towing bills for her van and trailer because she had one and also paid her share of the groceries while she was getting the trailer sold. The more you can set aside the better, but even $500 can fix some kinds of mechanical problems, rent you a car, buy you a plane ticket, hire a tow truck, get you an RV spot, or pay your bills and groceries for a few weeks.
My emergency fund is $5,000, enough to fix many problems that could occur with my truck or trailer, but in the event of a catastrophe where my rig was completely lost, it would be plenty enough to get me and my stuff back to friends and relatives up in Wisconsin, and give me enough to live on for a month or two until I could procure a job.
Have any questions about this topic, advice you’d like to give, or experiences you’d like to share? Comments are always welcome!