Questions and answers about what it's like to live in an RV while traveling full-time and working remotely.
This post has been coming for a while. 😊 Since selling our house and moving into a 5th-wheel RV in May of 2020, we've fielded a lot of questions about RVing and life on the road.
Here you'll find many of the questions we get asked the most about full-time RV life, working remotely, and full-time travel. We've done our best to answer each question comprehensively, but I know we haven't covered everything.
If you have a question for us, we'd love to answer it as best we can! Please drop it in the comments at the bottom of this post and we'll answer it and add it to the list!
- Find more camping, RV and travel content here: Full Time RV Living.
- Curious about where we're headed next? Click here for our yearly travel schedule
- Looking for delicious recipes that are perfect for camping trips or RV cooking? Browse through this collection of camping recipes.
- Why did you choose to live in an RV?
- What do you both do for work?
- How did you choose your RV?
- What does the inside of your RV look like?
- What is BLM Land?
- What's the difference between dry camping and boondocking?
- How do you find campgrounds?
- How do you decide where you're going next?
- What are your favorite destinations so far?
- How do you get mail on the road?
- Do you have a physical address?
- Are you cooking and developing recipes in an RV kitchen?
- What are your favorite camping recipes?
- How do you get internet on the road?
- What is that big silver thing on your kitchen countertop?
- Is it hard to live and work in a small space?
- What's the best thing and worst thing about living in an RV?
- Can you share how your RV expense budget breaks down?
- Do you have more questions for us?
- 💬 Comments
Why did you choose to live in an RV?
As is true of most RVers, we really love to travel. We traveled with the kids as much as possible when they were younger. And we took a long motorcycle trip every summer from 2015 - 2019 and managed to ride through every state in the US with the exception of Hawaii. (We have ridden a motorcycle in Hawaii, but we rented it.)
Along the way, we realized that we really wanted to "live" in different places for stretches of time so we could immerse ourselves more fully in the experience of life in that part of the world.
We weren't sure how we were going to do this until we met up with some old high school friends who lived in their RV. The moment we saw their RV, we knew that RV life was the answer. Six months later we had sold our house and moved into a 5th wheel.
It's also important to say that we knew we wanted to travel as a lifestyle for many years before we actually managed to make it happen. When our children were still quite young, we set the goal for both of us to be able to work remotely by the time we were empty nesters.
It took years to get to that point, but by the time our youngest was a senior in high school, we had managed to make it happen. The ability to work remotely was a prerequisite to life on the road and I'm very grateful to our younger selves for setting that plan in motion before we even knew how we would manage it.
It's also worth mentioning that the first night either of us had ever spent in any kind of camper we had already sold our house and purchased our 5th wheel. So, it's a good thing we like it so much! 😂
What do you both do for work?
Rebecca is a full-time recipe developer and food and travel writer who manages two websites, this one, and the baking recipe website, ofbatteranddough.com.
Steve works for Maxar Technologies, a space technology and satellite intelligence company. Maxar headquarters are located in Colorado, but they manage a network of employees who work remotely from all over the country and, in some cases, from outside the country.
How did you choose your RV?
Immediately after deciding that we wanted to move into an RV, we started researching our options. We spent hours online, watching RV videos, reading about RV life, learning about RV manufacturers, and looking through photos and floor plans of every model we came across.
We also started visiting RV dealerships and walked through every RV that was open to us. In the process, we discovered the floor plans and features that were important to us. But, it wasn't until we went to an RV show in Denver that we found our particular model.
Our 5th wheel is a 2020 Heartland Cyclone 4007. It was the first floor plan we looked at that met all of our requirements including:
- An open kitchen large enough for my camera tripod and flash.
- A large oven and cooktop
- Washer and dryer hookups in the bedroom
- It's a toy hauler - meaning, we are able to store our motorcycle inside the RV when traveling. This space is called the "garage" and also serves as a Steve's office during the week and a guest room when people come to visit us.
What does the inside of your RV look like?
We purchased a brand new 5th wheel and then spent the first year (or so) transforming it into our home. Here are a few photos:
What is BLM Land?
BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land is public land that can be used for a variety of uses, including camping and recreation.
In general, camping on BLM land involves pitching your tent or parking your RV in a "developed" site. In other words, a space where it's obvious that someone else has camped before.
Sometimes this means well-defined campsites with metal fire rings and picnic tables. Other times it means rustic spaces defined by little more than tire tracks and rock ring fire pits.
Camping on BLM land is always first-come, first-serve. In many areas, you can camp on BLM land for free, for a maximum of 14 days. In other areas there is a small fee.
What's the difference between dry camping and boondocking?
They are basically the same thing with a slight distinction. Both terms refer to camping without any hookups - no water, sewer, or electricity.
The difference is that boondocking refers to camping on land without a developed campground, generally on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land.
Dry camping can occur on developed and maintained campgrounds and state parks.
How do you find campgrounds?
Our biggest concerns when deciding on a location are:
1. Will there be enough space for our 43-food toy hauler and pick-up truck?
2. Will we have internet and cell service so we can work while we're there?
To answer both questions, I rely heavily on Campendium. Campendium is a user-reviewed website with information about campgrounds and RV parks everywhere. Fellow campers offer information about road conditions, quality of the sites and the area as a whole, amenities, cost, internet and cell signal strength, and anything else that might be useful to other campers.
Other helpful tools include The Dyrt, Campsite Photos, and RV Dumps. I also love my subscription to Rootless Living and their sister magazine, RV Today which often has great articles about campgrounds, national parks, and other areas we might want to visit.
How do you decide where you're going next?
I plan our entire year in advance to ensure that we get to visit the places we want to see at the time of year we want to go there. A lot goes into each year's travel plans! So much so that I've written a whole article about it.
Check out RV Trip Planning One Year at a Time for WHY we plan our year in advance, RV travel planning tips, and some of the RV trip planning tools we find helpful.
What are your favorite destinations so far?
This is a question we get asked a lot. To answer it, we created an RV Road Trip Bucket List - a list of our favorite places so far.
This is an ongoing list. As we continue our travels, we add new favorites to the list.
How do you get mail on the road?
We rely on a service provided by Dakota Post.
Amongst other things, Dakota post provides us with a physical address (the street address of their building plus our Post Mail Box number) and collects our mail for us. We are able to view our mail online and can choose to have the folks at Dakota Post forward it to us wherever we are or shred it.
Do you have a physical address?
Both of us were born in Colorado and lived there until we sold our house and moved into a 5th wheel RV in May of 2020. We would have loved to remain Colorado residents, but Colorado has a requirement that residents have to have a physical street address.
So, we switched our residency to South Dakota. South Dakota, Texas, and Florida all make things a bit easier on residents who travel full-time.
They allow residents to use a PMB box for their address (see question directly above) and make it easier for traveling residents to renew license plate tags online and deal with jury duty when not in the vicinity.
Are you cooking and developing recipes in an RV kitchen?
Yes! My work as a recipe developer and food photographer has not been diminished at all as a result of full time RV life.
My RV kitchen is much smaller, but I've found that having a large kitchen is not necessary for cooking, baking, and recipe development. In fact, we've entertained groups of up to 40 people with food cooked in my tiny little kitchen.
Along the way, I've picked up a few tips and tricks for organizing and working in a small kitchen and piled them all into this post which includes the pots and pans I find essential and some of my favorite organization products. If you have a small kitchen, I hope you'll find something useful here.
If you're interested in baking, check out my other recipe website: ofbatteranddough.com.
What are your favorite camping recipes?
This is one of those questions for which my answer is constantly changing. You'll find all of the published camping recipes on this site here. Over the years, I plan to add many, many more.
At this very moment, I'm focused on using our Blackstone griddle more often. We remodeled our outdoor kitchen in 2021, replacing a 2-burner gas cooktop with a Blackstone and I LOVE it. Here's my current collection of favorite Blackstone recipes. It's sure to expand over the years.
I am also focused right now on cast iron recipes that can be cooked on a stove top, in the oven, on a Blackstone, or over an open flame. My current favorites are this recipe for dutch oven pot pie and cast iron stuffed mushroom dip.
How do you get internet on the road?
We both work full time and require an internet connection to do our jobs. We have a pretty good system in place that includes a signal booster and high data plans for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, so as long as there's a signal with reasonable upload and download speeds for one of those networks, we're good.
We also have Starlink satellite internet and are starting to rely on this network more and more to stay connected. As this service improves, we hope to be able to cut down on the cell service and data plans we are currently using.
What is that big silver thing on your kitchen countertop?
Every time we post photos of our kitchen we get this question. The big silver thing on our countertop that looks like a giant coffee pot is a Berkey Water Filter.
We LOVE our Berkey. The filter removes bacteria and viruses that conventional filters cannot. This is important because we cannot always be certain that the water we're filling our tanks with is safe.
Is it hard to live and work in a small space?
Living in a small space is actually something we love. It's not for everyone. But, the simplicity of owning fewer things really works for us. We also love the challenge of maximizing the space we have to make it work for us.
Since moving into our 5th wheel, we've changed, altered, ore remodeled nearly every square inch. The result is a compact 400 square feet that includes everything we need for our daily lives. We are able to comfortably live and work from our RV in any location and haven't had to "give up" anything that's truly important to us in the process.
What's the best thing and worst thing about living in an RV?
The best thing is easy - we get to travel all year round AND always be home. It really is the best of both worlds for us. We love to experience new places, but we also love to be home. Living in an RV full-time makes it possible to do both.
The worst thing is being away from our daughters for months at a time. We make sure to see them every few months, either by going to them or by flying them out to wherever we are. We also spend hours every week on the phone with them. Even still, we miss them terribly when we're away.
Can you share how your RV expense budget breaks down?
This question comes from a reader who left a comment below asking, "Right now I'm researching monthly or annual costs for RV'ing full-time trying to figure out a budget and I'm curious what kind of expenses you have?"
I'm more than happy to answer this question but must preface it by saying that there is a tremendous range in how much full-time RV living costs from person to person. A while back, Rootless Living Magazine published an article outlining different budgets for 5 different full-time RV families. If I remember correctly the top budget was around $10,000 a month and the lowest budget was $1,200 a month.
For us, our budget as RV nomads doesn't look much different from what our budget looked like when we lived in a house. We've just traded our mortgage payment and homeowner expenses for RV expenses.
Selling our house allowed us to pay cash for our 5th wheel so we do not have a payment on it. Our main RV-related expenses are:
#1. Repairs, renovations, and RV maintenance. RVs require maintenance and repairs on a regular basis. This is likely not a surprise to anyone, but it's a point that's worth emphasizing. Quality control on most RVs is lacking and building materials are selected because they are inexpensive and/ or lightweight not because of their quality or longevity. Couple that with the fact that every time you travel it's like taking your home through an earthquake and you can begin to understand why things break as often as they do.
So far we have been able to fix everything that's broken on our rig ourselves, making minor and major repairs and upgrades, without ever having had to take it to a dealership or repair shop. This is possible because Steve is extremely mechanically inclined with a wide range of electrical, plumbing, building, and mechanical knowledge.
We have also added solar power, upgraded the electrical, plumbing, and 4-seasons systems, and remodeled the interior to better suit our needs.
Over the past 30 months, we've put at least $40,000 into maintenance, upgrades, repairs, and remodeling. Keep in mind that this cost would be much higher if we had not done all the work ourselves. Now that we've completed so many major projects, we expect to average $3,000 - $5,000 a year for regular repairs and maintenance which includes things like tires.
#2. RV parks and campground fees. This is one of the primary ways RVers control their budget. For us, the amount we spend on RV park and campground fees changes year by year. For example, in 2022 we spent about $25,000 on RV resorts and campgrounds. This year (2023) we'll spend roughly $10,000.
As I explain in more detail in this post about RV Trip Planning, how much we spend on RV parks and campgrounds is a reflection of our priorities for the year. Our travel schedule for 2022 included time in places that simply cost more to be there. Our travel schedule for 2023 includes more boondocking and state campgrounds.
When it comes to RV Resort and campground fees, it's possible to spend $1000 a week (or more) or $1000 a year. It really just depends on how equipped you are to boondock and stay in campgrounds without hookups or few amenities.
#3. Cell service and Internet access. My husband and I both work full-time jobs from inside our RV. Both of our jobs require reliable high-speed internet access. In the March 2020 issue of Let's Get Lost, Steve wrote about how he keeps us connected, so I won't go into detail here. What's changed since then is the addition of Starlink satellite internet.
Currently, in 2023, our monthly cell service and internet costs include data plans with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Starlink and total about $500 a month.
#4. Fuel. This is another cost that varies quite a bit from month to month. Our tow vehicle is a 2020 GMC Sierra Denali dually. When we're not towing our 5th wheel, we get about 27 miles to the gallon. When we are towing we get about 7 miles to the gallon.
Traveling long distances while towing costs hundreds of dollars. If we stay in one place for a while or travel short distances, our fuel costs are obviously much lower.
Our other feul cost is propane. We have a propane furnace, oven, and stovetop. We also use propane to power our blackstone griddle and our water heater when we are not connected to shore power. We use very little propane when we are connected to shore power. When we are boondocking or dry camping we use much more.
So far, our total propane cost is averaging out to be around $500 a year.
Of course, we also have all the normal living expenses of life in general. Plus the costs associated with experiencing the places we travel to. In 2022 we spent 7 weeks in San Diego and spent a lot of money there. We've also spent time in areas where our main activities were hiking and kayaking and cost us nothing.
The main thing I want to stress in this very long answer to this question is this: RV life is possible on nearly any budget. Decide what your budget is and then shape the way you RV to the budget, not the other way around.
Do you have more questions for us?
Please let us know! Drop your question in the comments below and we'll add it to the list and answer it!