Over the last couple of months, we’ve been profiling the RV lifestyle. We’ve talked to hundreds of different people about how they live and what life looks like out on the road; we’ve become so enamored by the lifestyle that we have decided to make it a permanent feature on OFFGRID Survival.
A look at Life out on the Road: Living and Working from an RV
One of the questions that often comes up after we run one of these articles is what do these people do for work? So today, we are going to look at a couple who decided to travel the country while still working and making a living out on the road.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your lifestyle?
My husband and I are in our mid 30’s. We lived in Portland, OR until July of 2017. Our landlady passed away, and we had to move relatively quickly and moving into an RV seemed like a good temporary choice. We purchased a 26′ Class A motorhome. We started in an RV park in Portland but became a bit listless knowing that our new house had wheels. It wasn’t long before we’d hatched a plan to take ourselves and our four cats on a trip across America. We work several available tech apps to fund our adventure. My husband works mainly as a handy man through TaskRabbit, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed walking dogs with Rover.com. Upon arriving to a new city, we begin working as soon as we’re able. We try to book park/pad rentals a month or two at a time to save on costs, then work and explore until it’s time to move to the next city.
Can you tell us about your RV and if you’ve had to customize it to fit your lifestyle?
We don’t have a generator and don’t do a whole lot of boondocking, so we’ve worked a bit to keep most of the RV electric. Most recently we added a Hott Rod electric conversion onto our propane-only water heater.
It’s pretty warm in Austin, TX right now, so we try to do most of our cooking outside on the grill to minimize use of the propane stove. Another big challenge was preparing the space for cats. We’ve got three litter boxes hidden in cubbies throughout the RV that gets emptied daily. We’ve also covered parts of the dinette and a few corners in rope to satiate their need to scratch. There simply isn’t room for scratching posts, and we didn’t want them tearing everything up.
Can you tell me about your setup? How do you power your RV, what do you do for water, heat, and communications?
It’s a 26′ Class A with no slide-outs. Most of our time is spent in RV parks and resorts with full hookups. Our internet and phone are all through the same company. We use a wireless hotspot for internet, and each has a cell phone. We don’t use cable or satellite. Our heat and cook stove are powered by propane, but nearly everything else is currently electric.
When you’re not driving, where do you park and how long do you typically stay?
We get monthly RV pad rentals in parks whenever possible. For most cities, we try to stay one or two months. My husband always says he wants to live in each city long enough to get bored. While we’re absolutely tourists, we want to know what it’s like to actually live in these places. Right now we’re in Austin and have been for almost six months. We’ve had to replace and repair a few things, including our $700 air conditioner, and are hoping to recoup the costs a bit before moving on.
Does anyone ever bother you out on the road or when you’ve set up a base camp?
Being a smaller RV, we don’t really have room for a washer or dryer. We’re left to use either a laundromat or park services when available. While we were in Portland, it seemed like my underwear was starting to disappear.
One day, I made especially certain to count each clothing item before putting it in the wash. I loaded up the machine and left. When I came back to put it all in the dryer, the numbers still matched, so I left while it dried. Only 2 out of the 4 I put in made it back to the RV that day. I reported it to the park and made a sign that simply said: “stop stealing my underwear.” Every time I did laundry after that, I’d place the sign on the washer/dryer I used, and I never lost a pair again!
Do you have emergency backup plans in place for bad weather or anything else that may go wrong?
It depends on the city, but yes. In some towns we’ve had friends or family that could take us in should we not be able to drive away from a weather event. We always try to identify hospitals, veterinarians, and hotels nearby when we arrive in a new place.
Can you provide some tips for people who are thinking about doing the same thing?
Just do it. Life is short. Make the plan. Do the thing. There are a ton of great resources from a diverse set of folks available online. I belong to several Facebook groups, and a quick google search is never too far away.
What effect has the mobile lifestyle had on you? Is it easy to make friends or still have a social life out on the road?
It can be a bit tough. We’ve made a few great friends along the way, but it seems like most places we end up with more acquaintances. Two months goes by pretty quickly when you stay busy.
What are some of the challenges associated with living in such a small place?
Getting rid of our stuff. My husband is an Eagle Scout, and we both pride ourselves in preparedness. With limited space, we had to let a lot of things go, keeping only current necessities. We both enjoy creating art, and he’s a musician. It was a bit tough to put some of our livelihood in a storage unit before leaving.
What kind of challenges have you faced, and if you had to start over is there anything you would do differently this time?
We would have saved more money for emergencies. We’ve popped a few tires and had to replace more appliances than we’d like. We make enough now, but in the beginning, there were a few kinks we needed to work out, and we had to use more of our savings than we wanted.
How do you work from the road? Do you have any tips for people who are looking to take the plunge but are worried about how they can finance the lifestyle?
We both have motorcycles and do app work. I concentrate on walking dogs through Rover.com, and my husband does handy work through TaskRabbit. It’s been a great way to get out and explore each city that we visit. I never really know where my next client is going to come from and I’ve really enjoyed that.
Do you have any final words of advice for those looking to either go off the grid or do something similar to what you are doing? What should they expect, what can they do to prepare for the change in lifestyle?
Do your research. Read articles from others who have gone ‘off-the-grid.’ There are plenty of resources available. Also, I suggest picking up the “Back to Basics” book from Reader’s Digest released and also read every article that you think you might be the tiniest bit interested in.