Living Full-time in an RV in Canada?
Full-time RV living is uncommon in Canada: while some tough it out in their RVs overwinter, it helps to be a snowbird if you want to live in your RV year round. With so few Canadians doing it (even fewer in our age bracket) there is little awareness of FTRV living by our toque-wearing, maple taffy-loving fellow Canucks!
One thing I love about RV living is that everyone can create their own version of the lifestyle! What rig to drive, which types of places to camp and where to travel are unique to every RVer and also often change over time. The following Q&A is our version of how we are approaching the full-time RV lifestyle at least for now:
1. You Want to do what?
Sell our house and travel around Canada and the US in our RV indefinitely, meaning without a planned end date.
2. What about your jobs?
We are both retired from employment.
3. How can you afford to do that in your 40s?
We have rental properties and will be following a budget to live on the rental income.
4. Aren’t you too young to retire?
We are only retired from employment where we have already worked for almost 20 years.
5. Don’t you feel like you should be making more of a contribution to society?
We are making a significant contribution by offering and maintaining quality housing at reasonable prices to multiple families. We are also providing employment to a property superintendent, paying income, property and sales taxes and funneling our income back into the economy as consumers and travelers. We can also consider new business and volunteer opportunities in Canada with our spare time.
6. Are you sure you can live and travel in your RV full-time?
Yes! We are joining an established community of nomadic full-time RVers who have proven this lifestyle is feasible for the long-term.
7. What will you do with all your stuff?
We are digitizing photos, personal videos and audio recordings; selling and giving away things on Kijiji and to friends, giving heirlooms to family, and can store the rest in a garage and secure outbuilding we own at a rental property.
8. What about your mail?
We’ve gone paperless on everything possible including magazines. We are super-organized about our bills – we don’t need to get a statement in the mail to know our obligations.
9. What about your driver’s license? You can’t have no fixed address!
That’s true: we must have an Ontario address for the little mail we receive, particularly for insurance and tax purposes. Most Canadian full-time RVers have a family member or friend help with this; we have a good friend who has agreed to help!
10. I don`t understand. Most people want a home of their own – you want to be homeless?
We have already enjoyed the benefits and responsibilities of owning a home of our own for over 15 years! We are ready for a change and we want to travel. We cannot afford to follow this dream and keep a fixed-location home all for ourselves. We will not be homeless but we will be nomadic – like a tortoise, we will take our mobile home with us wherever we go.
11. How can you live in such a small RV?
RVing is all about trade-offs: our small travel trailer is more maneuverable and fit in more places. We will enjoy the benefits of our current set up for now.
12. Will you buy a bigger RV?
Eventually probably yes. However, it is better to start with what we have to figure out what works for us. When we are ready for different trade-offs, we can upgrade then.
13. What will you do with your motorcycles?
Store one motorcycle and the scooter in the garage at our rental property and take a new motorcycle with us for winter: hubby will ride it down! Having a motorcycle on the road adds another dimension of fun, helps find free dispersed campsites, and access busy areas for day visits.
14. What will you do with your pets?
The dog and bird will come with us – they are both seasoned travelers. Because of challenges bringing a parrot across the border, we will leave Emma in Ontario with a trusted friend over winter.
15. What happens when you don’t want to RV anymore?
Our business is housing. We have options there.
16. You would really live in one of your rental apartments?
Absolutely: we have some beautiful apartments in some great places to live.
17. What happens to your rentals while you are away?
We have a property superintendent to take care of problems of course. When we are around, we can handle turnovers and renovations ourselves.
18. So you are not really retired then.
As I said, we are only retired from employment. We remain self-employed as rental property owners and landlords.
19. Won’t people think you are crazy?
Perhaps some will and that’s okay: we can’t live worrying about what other people might think. Those who love us will believe in us and be happy for us.
20. Where will you go?
Southern US in winter, anywhere from Florida to California, maybe Mexico; mostly Ontario in summer.
21. Where will you stay?
The options are endless: national, state and provincial parks, RV campgrounds, conservation areas, fairgrounds, municipal parks plus free options like parking lots (box stores, rest areas, carpool lots, casinos, restaurants, movie theatres), farmer’s markets & wineries (Harvest Hosts); dispersed or wild camping on crown land (Canada) or National Forests or BLM land (USA); parking on friend’s driveways or on their land.
22. Why would you camp overnight in a parking lot? Aren’t you just being cheap?
We don’t camp in parking lots. We park in them overnight when they are the best option for our needs based on our location, timing and plans. We love campgrounds and always prefer to stay in natural areas when we are camping.
23. How can you stay somewhere overnight without electricity and water?
It’s called boondocking: our coach Nellie is fully self-contained, meaning she has her own electricity and water (including a toilet) so we can camp comfortably without any hookups for days at a time.
24. Won’t you miss your old house?
Cleaning and maintaining it, yard work plus paying utilities and property taxes: no. The bathtub: yes. Hot-tubs anyone?