One of the biggest questions we asked ourselves in the planning stages of full-time RVing was “how will we pay the bills?” We aren’t going to go into details of dollars and cents (there are tons of great posts out there about that, and despite blogging about our life, we’re actually fairly private people), but we’ll certainly give you a good overview of what we’re doing and how we got here.
We did not have a house to sell when we decided to do this. We didn’t even have an abundance of possessions to downsize, because we’d already done that when we made a big move from Michigan to California about 10 years ago, following a fairly traumatic layoff. We are lower-middle class Gen Xers who have experienced poverty and housing insecurity a few times during our lives. We have shared one car for the last 7 years, and haven’t owned a house in over a decade. We tell you this not for pity, but to help you understand that we aren’t part of the majority of full-time RVer bloggers/vloggers who are blogging and vlogging about living off pensions or selling houses and possessions to finance their new lifestyle. (No disrespect meant by this statement. If this is you, then lucky you! Cheers!)
We knew we’d have to hustle a bit and learn how to work outside the box. We’ve worked remotely in the past, but never found any specific remote work that really resonated with us, let alone work that comfortably paid the bills. We thought long and hard about what we wanted to do.
David worked in manufacturing, which is not a remote-friendly job, unless you stick to temporary or seasonal work, and he was tired of the manufacturing industry. After about a month of RV ownership, we kept finding things wrong with our RV and David saying “it’s easier to fix this myself than to deal with dealership hassles.” And he did! He did great, and he was excited to dust off his electrician skills, too. We even cancelled our third-party warranty because we found it so useless. (ProTip: We found out later that if you push, you can usually hire someone on your own and submit for reimbursement. But we still don’t regret cancelling our third-party warranty!)
We started researching how to become an RV technician, and discovered there’s no formal training requirements in the United States. Anyone could hang up a shingle (or stick a magnet to their truck) and call themselves an RV tech. In fact, when neighbors saw him working on our RV, they asked him to help with theirs, and David’s Mobile RV Service was born. Within a couple months of balancing part-time RV repair with full-time work at a sticks and bricks job, he decided to take the plunge and we headed to Florida so he could attend the Recreational Vehicle Service Academy (RVSA) for a more formal education in RV repair. It’s been a great decision, and we plan our travels around places most likely to have RVers in need of his services, which means we’re following good weather and beautiful scenery.
Because of my delayed celiac diagnosis and some other health issues, I was unable to work for many years. I was an analytical chemist before I got too sick to get out of bed most days, and I was out of the field too long to get back into it once my health improved. Briefly and most recently, we ran a private investigator business together, and while it was great fun, it wasn’t so great for my health. In order to change gears, I taught myself how to design websites (like this one), as well as some programming languages, and started looking for work in tech. Unfortunately, tech isn’t very welcoming to people trying to get into the field, let alone people who are multiply marginalized (like an older disabled woman, for starters). I still do a little web development on the side, but nowadays I am a tax preparer for a great company in Massachusetts that happens to love hiring RVers. What started out as a fantastic seasonal job turned into a long-term year-round career path. I completed the IRS Annual Filing Season Program for 2021 and now plan to become an Enrolled Agent, once the pandemic is under control enough to be safe taking standardized tests in rooms with strangers again.
What we’ve learned about full-time RVing is that there’s no one way to full-time RV. There are people who hustle with strictly seasonal work (pumpkin patches, christmas tree lots, fireworks sales), people who have sticks-and-bricks work that can easily transition to remote work, people like us who change gears completely, and people who find a completely different path that suits them. This is just what works for us.