How To RV Full Time

How To Buy An RV for Living

How to Boondock & Where

Work from the Road

How to Make Money as a Full Time RVer, VanDweller or Traveler.
Buying an RV

How to Buy an RV to Live In

When I decided to live in an RV, I did a lot of research. I looked at YouTube videos and read a multitude of blogs and RV Living websites (Click here to view my favorites). Then I visited a couple of RV dealers to see what was available and pick the sales persons’ brains, knowing they’d be eager to make a sale and would spend a ton of time educating me. It was free training!

I also started scanning Craigslist to see what was available and how much they were. I began my search in February, which, it turned out, is a good time. No one is looking to buy an RV in the winter and spring, so the prices are a little better and sellers are more willing to negotiate.

For me, room to work and live with an 11-year-old, 55-pound dog (Capone), who sleeps with me, was a big consideration (sleeping in a cab-over wasn’t an option). While the idea of RV living was to be outside more, I knew I’d be inside working a lot and wanted a separate work/sleep space. I’m also vegan and love to cook, so a full kitchen was a must. Storage was also a big consideration. I sold everything I owned and didn’t want to pay for storage, so all my worldly possessions needed to fit inside my RV. (Honestly, it was just a few storage bins of stuff.) Lastly, because I wanted to start my new life debt free, I had a $10,000 cash budget.

For these reasons, RVs smaller than 25′ didn’t really appeal to me at the time. With my space requirements and budget in mind, I searched for  Class A and Class C  RVs no larger than 30′.  Many RV Parks and Campgrounds only accommodate RVs less than 30′.  In fact, a smaller RV would also manage well on the forest roads and remote places I wanted to go.

Finally, I settled on a Class C RV.  The Class As  felt too big and bulky and I liked the truck chassis of the Class C. My thinking was that it would be more versatile for the types of roads I’d be driving.

My First RV Home - 29' 1993 Class C Jamboree

After several weeks of looking and test driving, I found my 1993 29′ Jamboree Rallye with a Ford E350 motor. It had 54,000 miles on it, no water damage that I could see, seemed to drive well, had new laminate floors, was clean, and was in overall pretty good condition for a 23-year-old rig. I inspected it with my untrained eye: the engine compartment looked clean, the hoses were newer and there were no leaks that I could detect. When I test-drove it, it seemed to have more power and a smoother ride than others I’d tested. I also tested the house water pump, refrigerator, stove, and generator and they all worked well.


I really liked the couple I bought it from; they were only the second owners and had owned it for 5 years. They took it out a couple of times a year. Before turning it over to me, they smogged it (California) and installed new front brakes. I knew I’d have to replace the tires soon. The tread was good, but they were old and cracked. Further, they told me the truck A/C needed to be recharged. They were asking $9,000, I paid $8,000.

What to Expect When Buying an Older RV

Be prepared for repairs to happen sooner rather than later. I believe the owners told me everything they knew about the RV and weren’t trying to pull the wool over my eyes in any way. They only drove it a few hundred miles a couple of times a year and probably figured they didn’t need to do a bunch of maintenance on it.

Within the first few months, I needed to replace all the tires, catalytic converter, kitchen faucet, house battery, fuses for radio and odometer, AC compressor, rear ASB service, and all the fluids and oil needed to be replaced. All in all, I spent over $4000 on repairs in less than six months of owning this used RV.

Tips for Buying a Used RV to Live In

 I would have bought a smaller RV-  My goal was to live in remote places and be outside more. My 29′ Class C RV is a little too big to take on some roads and I have more than enough living space and storage. After living in it for 3 months, I really wished I had something smaller and more versatile. I could have gone with a 25′ RV.

I would have taken it to a mechanic before buying it – Being a 23-year-old RV, I knew I’d have to put some money into it, and I budgeted for that. But knowing WHAT I’d have to repair would have given me much-needed peace of mind. Every time I took it out the first few months, I lived in fear of breaking down on some country road in the middle of nowhere. Knowing what was likely to break (and when) would have been comforting and allowed me to budget better.

I would have test-driven some newer ones – I only test-drove three or four 20+-year-old RVs. Since I’d never driven an RV before, I had no idea how it should feel or sound. Had I known, I might have been able to detect some of the problems it had (a bad catalytic converter, for example). Test driving something newer might have given me a baseline for how it should feel to drive one.

I would have checked ALL the fluids before purchasing (not just the oil)– This would have clued me into how well the previous owner maintained the RV. He gave me a huge folder of records that I mistakenly assumed were maintenance records. They weren’t. And the RV was dry of almost all fluids. Not good for the RV and is a sign that it was not properly maintained.

I would have test drove it more rigorously – I’d have taken it on the freeway, and I would have found a big hill to drive it up. It was very loud when I gave it a lot of gas and would lose a lot of power – clear signs that something was wrong (the Catalytic Converter was bad).

I would have checked ALL the fluids before purchasing (not just the oil)– This would have clued me into how well the previous owner maintained the RV. He gave me a huge folder of records that I mistakenly assumed were maintenance records. They weren’t. And the RV was dry of almost all fluids. Not good for the RV and is a sign that it was not properly maintained.

RV Kitchen Accessories

In November 2017, I’d had enough. I bought a new RV. If you want to see all the trials and tribulations I had with my first RV Matilda, watch them here.

To see my new RV, Phoenix, click here. I’ve been in my newer 2005 Winnebago Itasca Spirit over a year and I’m loving her. She’s been a great RV so far!

Boondocking

Where to Boondock

I like to get away from it all and go deep into the forest. Don’t let size stop you from exploring remote forest roads and out-of-the-way campsites! Here’s a list of some of my favorite places I’ve boondocked in my 29′ RV. These three locations were very pretty and remote – and no more than about 6 miles to Sisters and 18 miles to Bend! 

A Few of My Favorites

01

Deschutes National Forest

NF Road 1513-200, GPS Location: 44.243444, -121.615833. Take 242 West from Sisters and then a left on NF Road 15 past the high school (about 2-3 miles maybe). Go about 3 miles (the paved road turns to gravel about 1 mile in) to the Y and stay to the left onto NF 1513. Travel about 2.8 miles to NF 1513-200, it’s a red gravel road on the right, turn there. Take the first right about .6 miles down the red rock road. Travel up the dirt road about 1/4 mile to the clearing. There’s sun, shade, plenty of room for my 29′ rig, a cargo van and a car. Had good 4G! And other than 2 cars that went by on Labor Day we only saw one group on horseback in the 2 weeks we were there.

02

Deschutes National Forest

NF Road 1514-800, GPS Location 44.236015, -121.601721 Directions: Take 242 West from Sisters and then a left on NF Road 15 past the high school (about 2-3 miles maybe). Go about 3 miles (the paved road turns to gravel about 1 mile in) to the Y and stay to the left onto NF 1513. Travel about 3.3 miles to NF 1514-800 on your left. Take the dirt road about a mile, cross the creek and continue up NF 800 (it veers right). I camped about 1/3 mile up in a clearing on the left. It was nice to be close to the creek, had ok 4g/3G (not as strong as location #1), and we had more traffic.

03

Sisters Oregon

NF Road 4606 off of Three Creek Road- GPS Location: 44.258279, -121.529989. Left off of Three Creek Road in Sisters, Oregon. Had good 4G. Close enough to hwy 20 that I could hear the traffic and there were houses about 1/4 mile away, but still very private with very little traffic, unless you got close to the bike trails.
Boondocking Resources

Website and Apps

Below are a few of my favorite RV Living websites and apps.

BoondockersWelcome.com
Boondockers Welcome App
US Public Lands App
FreeRoam App
Google Maps App
Google Earth App
Work

Working on the Road

Some of us aren’t yet retirement age but dream of living a free life. If you’re like me and far from independently wealthy,  earning a living while traveling and living in your RV full time will be a consideration.

I started my Marketing Consulting practice 7 years ago and have transitioned all of my clients to remote work. I am now able to earn a living anywhere, as long as I have a cell phone signal to get an internet connection. Not everyone can do this, but don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to earn a living on the road.

01

Join Freelance Websites

If you're creative or have a specific skill you can do online, join websites like Upwork and Fiverr.

02

Craigslist

You can find temp or odd jobs to do in the area by looking on Craigslist.

03

Work-Camping

Find campgrounds with job opportunities by visiting Work-Camping.com, Camp-Host.com, WorkampingJobs.com, and CoolWorks.com.

Wondering how to build a website, become a full-time YouTuber or Influencer? I offer personal 1:1 consulting to help get you started!

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