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Permaculture • Homesteading • Organic Gardening • Self Sufficiency • Sustainability

A Complete Guide To RV Homesteading

Have you ever taken stock of our lives as a modern generation? Small houses, tiny gardens, subject to the whims of the homeowner’s association, traffic jams, and making just enough money to get by. Despite all the platitudes and inspirational quotes which bombard us,  it seems like life is about only working to live.

RV Homestead

Homesteading with your RV opens up a world of possibilities. You could live a gypsy lifestyle and travel around the country, or you could park your RV, plant crops, and live off the land. An RV homesteading existence is a return to the simple life with so many benefits for you.

One of the leading principles we live by is that our efforts should generate a return. Investing (both financially and in terms of your “sweat equity”) should grow your asset base, improve your quality of life, and ultimately help set you up for the future. Homesteading does offer these benefits.

Fundamental Options

If you have decided to start a homesteading life, you are first faced with three fundamental options.

  1. Use all your financial nest eggs, and probably also get a bank loan, to buy a house and property to start your homesteading activities.
  2. Spend considerably less money and buy a plot of land and an RV, which you will permanently base on the purchased land.
  3. Only buy an RV and make travel one of the benefits of your new lifestyle.

Take Out A Loan, And Buy A House And Land

This blog is about homesteading with an RV. We want to remain objective and have included this section on the main advantages of investing in land with a home already on it.

The Advantages of Going This Route Are

  1. Under normal circumstances, a home will always be an appreciating asset.
  2. The home becomes the center of the family and is a safe place in which the family can shelter.
  3. Having a ready-made home means you can start your homesteading activities sooner.
  4. Starting homesteading sooner means you can generate an income more quickly or become more self-reliant sooner.
  5. As time goes on and the property’s value appreciates, it can be used as security if emergency funds are needed; this is not ideal as the homesteading principle is that you live off-grid with as few loans or other financial commitments as possible. It is, however, a safety net, which will be a welcome blessing if needed.

The Downsides Of Investing In Land And A Home.

  1. That big debt. There are many perspectives on this. Although it may feel like a millstone hanging around your neck, and you are subject to the vagaries of the financial markets, interest, and exchange rates, the positive is that you are paying off an appreciating asset.
  2. Being a loan means there are interest costs. Do your sums very carefully as the amount you pay in interest will substantially reduce the profit you finally earn.
  3. Homes require maintenance and if you don’t rent, fixing the problem is your responsibility. But, hey, that’s what homesteading is all about!

Buy A Plot Of Land And An RV And Park On It?

If you do it right, homesteading in an RV is possible; this is a very realistic proposition if you have a sufficiently sized nest egg.

RVs are not designed to be full-time homes, so you must realize that you will have to adjust your lifestyle, establish crucial routines while also allowing the family members to have their privacy. Much like a Tiny Home there is very little personal space, so you must set up ways you can all get some alone time.

If you don’t, the initial excitement of living in an RV soon becomes very old as you fall over each other’s feet, struggle with access to the tiny bathroom and bump into each other as you move around the compact living quarters.

People have divided opinions on the cost benefits of living in an RV. Indeed, the upfront purchase costs are less,  but you still have to find ways of generating electricity, obtaining water, and managing your sewage.

The Advantages Of A Homesteader Permanently Parking The RV

  1. An RV is cheaper to buy than a house.
  2. Buying a strip of land to park the RV on gives you time to build your home while remaining debt-free; this is very valid and, if you can, you will be able to construct the house as and when you can afford the materials.
  3. If you park on your land, there are no rent or utility bills to pay.
  4. You can start your homesteading activities and build a recurring income without worrying about when the next loan repayment is due.
  5. If you buy the land outright and put an RV on it, the banks can’t repossess it, nor do you end up paying a portion of the property value in interest.
  6. It can provide the small family with most of the creature comforts.
  7. Showering and bathing can be a problem until you are self-sufficient. Many RV homesteaders have an arrangement with a local gym (24 Hour Fitness) to get a month-long membership for as little as $10. You could also shower at a friend’s house.

The Disadvantages Of A Homesteader Permanently Parking The RV

  1. RVs are a depreciating asset.
  2. Compared to a house, RVs are small and cramped.
  3. The bathroom is tiny.
  4. There is very little storage space.
  5. If you are parking an RV permanently on your land, you must prepare a full-time water and sewerage system.
  6. Unless the electricity utility connections are available, you need to generate your power. There are several ways to do this, with the most common and affordable being a solar power system. Solar involves considerable upfront expense; however, the benefit comes in the medium to long term with no monthly utility bills to pay.
  7. Once again, you will have to find a source of clean potable water. If there is no municipal connection or you can’t access water from a stream or river, you may need to assess whether drilling a borehole is viable.
  8. RVs are built to be light. Although the manufacturers have found clever solutions, the insulation will always be less effective than a decent house. As a result, RVs cost more to heat and cool. In winter, heavy clothes will be worn inside and outside.
  9. If your state has an icy climate, you must carefully check that the pipes and toilet valves don’t freeze or break.

A Homesteader Using An RV To Make Travel One Of The Benefits

If you choose to live a homesteading, nomadic lifestyle, purchasing an RV is a no-brainer. You can also use the RV as your home while figuring out where you want to settle down. In the beginning, the weirdness of the whole experience assails your senses, and it is easy to long for the stability a fixed address offers.

Eventually, this feeling wears off; you develop a set way of doing things, like living in a house.

You are always looking for parking facilities, large trees, or other shaded areas. Before you hit the road, you automatically check whether there are any tunnels you must pass through and whether they have sufficient headroom for your RV. You study RV park websites to see whether they have a suitable infrastructure for you.

Is it cheaper to live full-time in a mobile RV than the previous options? Buying a single RV with no land or house is more affordable, but as you will see in the disadvantages section below, this is probably the most expensive option in terms of the monthly cost.

The Advantages Of Homesteading And Travelling In An RV

 Living in an RV is a great way to see the country and enjoy the freedom of the road.

  1. You get to enjoy the magnificent country and explore iconic attractions from the Grand Canyon, Disney World, the hustle and bustle of New York through to the Southern States with their historic charm.
  2. You suddenly have time on your hands and may experience a sense of guilt. Don’t worry; you will get over that.
  3. You now have time to do all the things you wanted – to learn a new language, start new hobbies, read the books you have been hoarding.
  4. Automatically you will watch less TV.
  5. You have no rent to pay. Let me say that again; YOU HAVE NO RENT TO PAY. The relief that this brings is palpable.
  6. Traveling from place to place means you will probably park in RV parks. These will have connected access to electricity, water, and sewerage. That’s a few problems knocked off your list.
  7. When you live in an RV, you ALWAYS keep it packed in a neat and orderly fashion. Everything has its place. For an Obsessive-Compulsive person, this is heaven.

Disadvantages Of Homesteading And Travelling In An RV

  1. If you are going to travel a lot, it will not be possible to be fully self-reliant. You will still need to rent the campsite to buy groceries and gas.
  2. Because you have no fixed base, you can’t plant vegetables or have your cows produce milk; this means you will find it difficult to live sustainably.
  3. Unless you can find a free place to park the RV, you will have to pay for site rentals in a park.
  4. RVs are not fuel-sipping compact cars; gas money is expensive, and the further you travel, the higher the cost.
  5. The risks are higher because your RV moves, affecting your insurance premium.
  6. An RV is a combination house and motor vehicle. That means problems will occur on both fronts, and the combined maintenance costs could become an issue. You will need to maintain the “house” while also repairing any problems with the vehicle (engine, chassis, running gear).
  7. Most modern RVs and camp trailers are roofed with EPDM ( Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) or TPO rubber roofs ( polypropylene bonded to ethylene-propylene.) They are cheap and easy for the manufacturers to construct, but Ultraviolet rays will rot them. Once soft spots appear in the roof, it is time to repair, which could involve replacing the whole roof depending on the extent of the damage.
  8. RVs have higher maintenance costs than the other options from a mobile perspective. The loads and stresses placed on a moving RV take their toll and require ongoing maintenance and repairs.
  9. If you are not good at tidying and cleaning up, learn this skill very fast, as, due to the small interior space, it soon becomes a war zone.
  10. RVs are a depreciating asset.

General Principles All RV Homesteaders Should Adopt

There are many reasons which persuaded you to become an RV homesteader. Now that you are an RV Homesteader, here are eight simple “R” rules that you can follow, which will enhance your life and how you use the earth’s resources.

Reconcile Your Budget And Consider Your Priorities

Take time to decide what is important to you – no, I’m not talking about the mother-in-law; it was for better or worse, remember!

What do you need to make your life in an RV comfortable? When you plan to buy something (excluding essentials), think carefully about its intrinsic value and whether you will still use it in a few weeks. You will be surprised at how little you need to live an enriched life.

Stop buying any item (other than toilet paper- obviously!) that has a one-time use. Use your reusable carrier bags in the grocery store, try to find different brands of milk which use glass bottles, and stop drinking fizzy drinks out of disposable cans; the list is endless.

RV Park Accommodation Fees Can Be Negotiated

If you visit a park in out-of-season times and are prepared to stay for a more extended period, you can often negotiate a discounted rate. Even better, go boondocking to parks with un-serviced sites. These will be much cheaper (sometimes even free)

Our Permanent Campsite At A Local RV Park

Repair Your RV Yourself

You can save a lot of money by simply doing your repairs. Start with the simple fixes and build up to the more complex. Google and you will make a great team, and there are so many helpful videos on YouTube that you will be the one doling out the advice before long.

Refreshments Should Be Eaten At Home

Don’t eat out! Not only are processed foods unhealthy, but Happy Meals start to cost an awful lot of money over time. Upgrade your cooking skills and prepare healthy meals in your RV. It will take a little time to get over the allure of a fast-food diet, but ultimately your tastes will change, and home-cooked meals will become very appealing.

Repurpose Items You Have Used

If you have to buy something that only has a single or limited number of uses, actively look for another purpose once you are done with it.

Reuse Items

If you need something, look at thrift shops or second-hand dealers. Used things that have been thrown away simply because they aren’t the newest shiny models can be great bargains.

Recycle As Much As Possible

When the item you are using has reached its last legs and you have no more uses for it, make sure you recycle it correctly.

Conclusion

Homesteading with an RV is possible, and if it is done correctly, it can be an enriching experience.

If you are single with no encumbrances, it is much easier. The more people who live in the RV, the greater the logistical difficulties.

It is fun living outside of main society, and although there are some challenges, there is no question that overall, it presents a better quality of life.

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