Living Fulltime In a Motorhome

The Truth About Living in a Motorhome Fulltime

I decided to embark on living fulltime in a motorhome during the Covid-19 pandemic that was gripping the world.  I was in Sicily travelling alone and working at a large insurance company at the time. The pandemic made me think of my life differently. I met a guy called Damo, and we decided to buy a motorhome together after 3 weeks of meeting each other and explore the world together.  It may seem a little impetuous to some – but it has worked out so far.

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The Motorhome We Live In Fulltime

These photos of Freddy show the space we live in and have done since we met.  We picked him up from his previous owners on 23rd December and spent our first night in him that night. It wasn’t planned, but the weather just tipped it down in a dramatic way until all the roads were flooding and we just got stuck! 

Luckily we had stopped and bought some cheese and wine for after dinner that night, and a furry fleecy blanket for Freddy, which we had on us. Whilst wondering what on earth we were going to do, with all the flood waters, we just though ‘Hello, we are in a motorhome – we just pull up and stay here!’.  That was actually our first experience of wild camping!! 

He didn’t look like this when we got him, but we did decorate him immediately, because that was just my dream. Something funky and homely and not the usual teak colour that older motorhomes come in. 

Why Choose to Live Fulltime in a Motorhome?

I had already worked out that travelling made me happy. That travelling was what I wanted.  Damo had already decided that he needed to travel to expand his horizons and start to explore other cultures. So why choose a motorhome to live in and not just move?

The part that appealed to both of us is the nomadic lifestyle. If you just move, you risk getting into the same situation but with different surroundings. Being nomadic however, means you are constantly travelling around and exploring and meeting new people. And THAT is why we both decided that living fulltime in a motorhome would really work for us. 

Living in a motorhome fulltime really opens your eyes as to what you really need, that you are able to leave (mostly) the whole rat race behind. Society does try to dictate how you need to live your life. But there is an alternative way and it is possible to do – but before you take those steps – lets answer the question of what it is really like to live fulltime in your motorhome! 

Working in a Motorhome Together

Working in a motorhome requires consideration and compromise from each other as you respect what each person needs to do to do their job. If I am working on a contract, I have to talk on conference calls a lot, so I don’t want Damo doing the dishes whilst I am working or deciding to grind up his coffee beans or do a 3 course meal. 

Damo needs to have time to not be interrupted, so needs me to not keep asking him questions because he has headphones on all the time whilst he writes music or edits videos.  Sometimes when you are both working together, the table becomes a very cramped space. That can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. 

Much of our working time is compatible now as we spend  time on creating our website  and sharing our experiences with you. This means that we are often working together and talking about the same things, and that is a little easier than when I am contracting and Damo is writing music. 

In a house, you are able to carry on with activities in alternative rooms which is something you are not able to do in a van. So you will need to figure out how this will work for you. There are lots of ways to earn money whilst you are on the road, but if you are not one of them – well, this question becomes irrelevant. 

Motorhome Office Working
Working in the motorhome looks like this...

What About Privacy and Space?

This brings me on to privacy and time out. You need to get on well with your partner because living fulltime in a motorhome for 6 weeks of cold, dark, miserable wet weather can be challenging. Even in another country. 

We did that in northern Italy when we were doing our Emilia Romagna road trip, they had the worst weather for about 50 years. No wonder it took us so long to do it, as we had to wait for breaks in the weather to get out and explore more. A town only has so many museums you can go to.

It is likely that even if you do not usually argue you are bound to have a humdinger argument or two. People still need their space so you need to work out how you are going to be able to give that to each other.

I also do a lot of solo travel. I have been to Lebanon, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria and caught the train to Iraq in the last 18 months. This gives both Damo and I a little space from each other. I usually go two or three times a year, which also  gives me  my junky travel fix for more unusual destinations. I have written about my Syrian travel adventure as part of  our backpacking travels.

 

Travelling the Iron Ore Train in Mauritania

How Much Stuff Do You Need?

When you live in a motorhome or van fulltime – you will be surprised at how little stuff you need.  In fact initially, you will take way too much stuff and gradually filter through it as you get used to how little you need. Society dictates that you need to have the latest clothes item, the latest accessories for the house, the latest TV, the latest whatever it is. But surprise, you don’t NEED this stuff. You really don’t.

What you will need to do is to downsize everything if you are planning to live fulltime in a motorhome. Everything. I did look into  storing some of my furniture and various things, but it was so expensive.  

Ask yourself the question “Why do I need to store it? What use will it be for me to do that?”. Unless things go drastically wrong then it is a bill you will be paying every month. A bill to store ‘stuff’, ‘just in case’ something happens. I think that, for me, it was the biggest risk.  

Of course, this is down to a money factor.  I had worked out that it would not be possible for me to afford to store furniture and afford to live. If money is less of an issue for you, then storage is absolutely something that you can look at.  Shipping container storage is ideal for this kind of thing if that is what you choose to do. 

What Will Family And Friends Say?

This is quite a big one really. What will everyone say? Chances are you are going to get a mixed bag of reactions here.  My elder family were actually more against it than my children were. ‘Don’t give up your job’, ‘Don’t sell the house’, ‘You are making a massive mistake’, ‘Where will we have Christmas?’, ‘Where will the kids stay when they come back to Norfolk?’. The amount of WhatsApp conversations that went on behind my back was unbelievable!

The bottom line is that if it is right for you, then you need to stick to your beliefs and not be swayed by others.   I told myself over and over that I had devoted 30 years of my life to others (bringing up my gorgeous children) and put people first my entire life, and now it was my time to live the life doing the things that I wanted – which was travel. I also felt massively guilty for wanting to do this thing.

You will have to work out your own way of handling things. Only you will know your family and friends and know how they will respond or react to what you are about to do. 

Did I pay a price – yes. I think I did pay a price, with some of my relationships changed. Some better, some worse and some not at all. 

How Much Does It Cost Living Fulltime In A Motorhome?

People love to ask this! I think it is fair to say that the answer to this is ‘However much you want to spend’. In the same way you live in a house – the expenses are what you spend outside of the house. Going to the movies, eating out, having a glass of wine or two in the evenings. Its just the same.

Not having those big bill like mortgage payments and sky TV and electricity and gas has been great. I would say I have more money to actually enjoy life itself now. The freedom feels wonderful. And we have more money to treat our five children and grandson.

But what about the bills for living fulltime in the motorhome? Other than the cost of the motorhome itself, the next big cost is getting set up for off-grid living. We decided that we didn’t want to spend all our time on campsites, we wanted to be a little freer than that.  So we invested in this area to the tune of about £2,500. 

Sometime we have site fees, which is when we decide to visit some of the bigger cities and we deem it safer rather than risk any break ins. An example might be parking on site for 5 nights whilst we researched for our weekend in Venice itinerary. It gave us peace of mind knowing the motorhome was safe. We also go to sites to empty toilets and fill up with water and pay a nominal sum for the use of the facilities. It just makes life easier.

Other expenses that you will have for living fulltime in a motorhome is the motorhome insurance. Getting a policy to cover you fulltime is much more expensive that getting a policy that covers you for holiday breaks and weekends away. 

You may also wish to invest in a health insurance policy, because one you sell your house, you all of a sudden run into a whole host of problems that you may not have been expecting.  Like having a doctors and a dentist.  With ‘no fixed abode’ this is more difficult to manage. 

Your Travel Style Will Probably Change

This was especially true for me. If you ask my my previous travel style – it would be ‘Don’t plan for a rest, so as much as you possibly can and take a few days to chill when you get home’.  I have travelled fairly extensively, from Bolivia to China to Cambodia, Iraq and Lebanon before embarking on the whole motorhome living way of life. 

Pre fulltime motorhome living me would have a spreadsheet in hand and things booked – from cooking classes, scooter food trips and hikes to train rides, paragliding and kayak adventures. 

Post fulltime motorhome living me just has a list. When we are visiting a particular place, then Damo and I talk and make note of the things we want to see in that area. If it takes 2 weeks, then that’s fine. But if we decide to stop to do something different or change direction – that’s fine too. There are no restrictions now, other than the 90/180 Schengen travel rules that we have to abide by.

A motorhome lifestyle is a relaxed way of travelling. However, if you are travelling somewhere in peak season or if there is a festival or celebration on, you might want to pre-book a campsite. In some countries there are also big fines for wild camping. Austria is a county that springs to mind here – 14,000 euros in some districts. So if you are travelling in peak season, again, you may wish to pre-book campsites.  

All of our Travel Hub guides tell you about whether or not you can wild camp, or we have a wild camping guide for UK wild camping rules

fulltime vanlife

Where Do You Stay?

We mostly live off-grid. The park ups depend on where we are. It is often not as glamourous as Instagram will have you believe. That magical ‘back door’ shot really is not the usual scenery that you find when you are living fulltime in a motorhome. 

We find most of our park ups by using Google Maps.  By checking out what area we are in and what the surround areas are like, we zoom in and see if we think that we can park the motorhome there for the night.  We also use the Park4Night app.  This app is super useful when you have less time or are travelling where there is not such good geo-imaging for that area (the detail that is available on Google maps). 

Finally, we stay on campsites sometimes, when we want to do a wash, or just ‘camp’ for  a few days to chill out in the sun and read a book in the chairs and generally not do very much.  Living in a motorhome fulltime is a very freeing way of life, but when you park up, that is exactly what you are doing – you are parking, not camping. You don’t get out the awning and the table and chairs and ‘settle in’. 

What if You Change Your Mind About Fulltime Motorhome Living?

OK, so you have changed your mind? Well, the easiest way to think about it is to ask the question ‘What would be the worst thing that could happen?’ This is the question that I asked myself when I threw everything into the ring and invested fully into living fulltime in our motorhome.  

Be as sure as you can that the reasons for you wishing to change your lifestyle quite significantly are the right ones. Are you sure that you are not running away from anything or anyone or any certain situation? 

You may be doing a midlife gap year, or have set the goal for travelling for the next 5 years. It maybe that you want to live parttime in a motorhome and get out of the UK in the winter and come back in the summer. Or you may see this as a complete lifestyle change, which is what Damo and I were thinking.  Make sure you are clear on what this is. 

Each individual will have their own levels of what they will be happy face if things were to go wrong.  I would recommend that you sit down and work out exactly what this would be.  Effectively, this is your Plan B. You should try to have a plan B in place if you are able to.

I am quite risk adverse so I made sure that I had a trade that I could fall back on whilst on the road. I studied to ensure that I would be able to teach remotely on the road, and I had some backup funds to pull on just in case I needed to. And of course I have my wonderful family – who, although initially adverse to what I was doing, are now very supportive of me. 

Everyone’s story is different so you need to make your own story, with your own risks and plans and do what makes you feel comfortable and happy. 

would you change anything?

Neither of us would trade living in our motorhome fulltime for anything at the moment. People do live fulltime in their motorhomes or campervans in different ways, so this I am sure will have a big impact on whether it is for you. 

Lots of people are happy to go from campsite to campsite and roam in that way. But to be honest, I don’t think we would be able to afford that all the time. If you were paying just £25 a night for a campsite, that would equate to an average of £750 a month. And it isn’t how we want to live anyway. We want to explore places fully, meet the local people and really get under the skin of the place we are visiting. That would be much more difficult if we were living on a campsite.

The only thing I would change is that I would probably go for a 4 wheel drive motorhome if possible and I would would get an incinerator toilet fitted.  That one is still on the list – but when we have a spare £4,000! 

If you want to chat about living in a motorhome fulltime then drop us an email and we will respond as soon as we are able. 

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you found it useful, please do share with others using the share buttons below. If you think we have missed something – please do let us know. We read all our emails! 

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