After looking at some of the ways to overcome downsizing, choosing an RV and truck as well as looking at costs and finding a flexible job, you are well on your way to being a full time RVer! Now I want to go over the easy stuff – choosing a state of residency for tax and voting purposes, mail forwarding, getting healthcare, choosing a destination and dealing with loneliness. If you have never thought about it, these too can be overwhelming, and they are definitely something we all have to plan out, so I want to quickly touch on all of them to get your brain rolling!
6) Dealing with state of residency and taxes- I think most of us do not enjoy shelling out tons of money to the government with no foreseeable personal benefit, so I am going to err on the side that you do not want to pay state tax, especially since you are probably going to be spending very little time there. This is one of the biggest perks for being a nomadic person. There are currently several states that have no personal income taxation! You will, of course, have to pay a federal taxation. Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming currently have no state tax. There is a catch though. You will need to review what it takes to establish residency (if you do not already live there) and read the fine print so that you can do everything legally. For instance, Texas currently requires that you live in the state for at least 6 months in order to establish residency. Tennessee, which is one of the most adversely opposed to any state taxation, requires that you have a mailing address and have a bill with that address on it to become a permanent resident. And worse yet, some counties in Tennessee has been known to drop fulltime RVers from the voting rolls and not allow you the right to vote! Crazy! A good idea to avoid this is actually to own land there. Buying a plot of land in a tax-free state legitimizes your residency and helps to establish a home base whenever you decide to take a break from traveling. Renting your land while you are away is also a great source of passive income you can tap into while on the road! Each state varies and the take-away here is that you realize that you have multiple options, but it will require some research and planning. As some states tax up to 6% of your income, you can save some serious cash if you do this thing right!
7) Setting Up a Mailing Address- If you are like I am, you may love to shop online and maybe think you have to forgo this amazing convenience in order to become a full time RVer. Well not anymore thanks to Escapee RV Mail Forwarding Service. This commercial company is specifically designed for fulltime RVers to get their mail at any address for as low as $95 a year, and they even have physical addresses in some states that can possibly be used as your legal domicile. If this does not suit you, there are some state-by-state mail forwarding services. You can do what I have done which is simply have my mail forwarded to my in-laws’ house and have them read me anything urgent and have packages sent to parks where I am located at any given time. Many state and national parks will let you ship to their addresses, and I have even had park rangers deliver it to my camper door and hold it for me at the office when they see I am out for the day!
8) Dealing with Healthcare expenses- As the national crisis and expense of healthcare is on the rise, generally, people are categorized based on their state of residency and are forced into utilizing network providers in their area or they suffer a high out-of-pocket cost. If you are constantly on the road, this issue can be even more complicated for we RVers as we cannot go to a primary care doctor in a network or go to pharmacies that are not national. Lucky for us, some private and religious organizations have come up with a solution to full time travelers at a truly affordable price! Check out Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM) (what my husband uses), Medishare, and Liberty Healthshare, which require premiums as low as $45 to $150 a month per person and cover up to $125,000 to unlimited amounts of medical costs. The deductibles are low too, and CHM even offers to cover the entire amount, including the deductible, of a single injury or illness if it is over $500. You can also apply at anytime and cancel at anytime! CHM even states they will not raise premium rates ever! One flat cost! Sign up is easy too for all three of these coverage’s. Thank goodness this is the last year any of us will have to worry about paying a tax penalty if we decide not to buy any insurance at all!
9) Choosing where to go- Admittedly this part is less of a challenge and more the fun part of RV travel. However, if you are planning on working or you still want to stay close to home to visit with friends and family, or like to wing it and simply plot a last minute course, choosing where to camp can quickly become daunting and exasperating. I have spent so much of my RV life stationary and at the whim of the military, but I have spent my fair share of time on the road moving with my husband’s job or vacationing in different states. There are admittedly a lot of parks to visit and though many RV entrepreneurs have tried centralizing the process with an app for one stop destination websites like Trivago, there really isn’t a good one, and the ones that exist need some serious improvement in my opinion. Here is my two cents on choosing where to camp. Many parks are not advertised well, and the most visible ones can be overpriced. State and national parks are usually the cheapest and Kamping of America (KOA) is too high for my taste though they are usually conveniently located off major interstates. Resorts along the Southeastern beaches can be pricey, and you need to book a year in advance for some of the best and cheapest spots sometimes. I believe that state parks are the best bet for most people. First, the negatives for them are that their park websites can be confusing, and the pictures can be very deceiving, If you have a big rig like we do, even the spots that they advertise on the websites to fit a 42 footer can put you within centimeters of trees! The park engineers usually put little thought into the uphill bending tree overhang and general awkwardness for too many spots. There is also usually a two-week limit on how long you can stay at a state or national park. On the upside, though, many state parks will work with you, and if they are not booked out, they may let you stay longer! And I have found month long stays are by far the cheapest way to stay at most RV resorts. There can even be a big tax break for you if you ask the owners in many states if you stay for a month or more.
10) Leaving home and loneliness- I personally love travel, the sense of adventure and purpose that it brings, but I must be frank with you, there have been periods of intense loneliness. A lot of the point behind full time travel is to seek solitude and to disconnect from society, but this can be a major adjustment for many, and there is a trade-off from a “normal” sense of community. If you feel lonely, do not give up on yourself or consider yourself a failure as a full time RVer; it’s totally normal to feel that way, especially in the beginning! This adjustment is going to give you personal growth and it is so worth it! And hey, if you choose not do it, nobody is going to blame you either, because it can get hard! I do have a quick solution for you that normalizes this unique experience. It’s rocket science, complicated, and hard to believe (wink, wink) and its social media!
Some argue that social media is the very thing that is driving us apart as a society (my husband is a stubborn supporter of this fact); the logic is that the interactions we have online are not “real” human interactions, and I tend to agree with that, but for me, I have connected with so many cool people and learned how to survive the RV life from Facebook groups, Instagram, and Pinterest that I must tell others about it! There truly is a great RV community out there to take you under their wing and nurture you via online formats! Everyone’s kindness is what I find so inspiring and inviting about this life. We all survive this together! Get connected! Of course, check out my page RVing with Lesley. And by all means, I know there is someone at the park where you find yourself that is dying to drink a beer with you and talk about life. I love this part – meeting all kinds of new people! RV life literally breaks down the walls between us; we are only separated by some thin pieces of fiberglass, and we can usually find an RVer outside. Happy camping!