Living in a motorhome full time has become an increasingly popular lifestyle choice, offering freedom, adventure, and simplicity.
For us, to be able to travel full time was always a dream, and a few years ago we managed to bring that dream to life when we bought our first motorhome and set off to travel across the UK and Europe, visiting the most incredible places along the way.
It was the best feeling ever, and we want to help you also achieve that goal if motorhome living is the dream for you too.
This article will provide you with insights into the full-time van life, exploring its benefits, challenges, and offering practical advice for those considering embracing this way of life.
In this article, we dive deep into what everyday life looks like behind the wheel of a motorhome and see if this kind of lifestyle is compatible with people who dream of travel, and how to accomplish it.
Can I live permanently in a motorhome?
For many people, the idea of living in a motorhome full time is a dream come true.
The ability to travel, experience new places, and live a minimalist lifestyle is incredibly appealing.
However, it’s essential to understand what this lifestyle entails, as well as the challenges and rewards that come with it.
There are a few ways to test living out of a motorhome to decide if it’s right for you.
- Rent First: Before buying and investing a lot into your dream, consider renting a campervan or motorhome to get a first-hand feel of what this type of living is like.
- Move from Your Home to the Driveway: Take your motorhome, whether it’s rented or owned, and park it in the driveway of your house. From inside, you can spend time and see what living in a motorhome full-time is like without any pressure of travel or being away from your foundational home.
- Try Out a Short Test Trip: After trying out the driveway, go for a short trip to get out of your comfort zone in a travel destination away from home. During this trip, you can fine-tune your motorhome to suit you better. You’ll also get a good idea if motor homing full-time is for you or not.
- What is the worst-case scenario? If you end up buying a motorhome and don’t like living full-time in it, you can always sell it and move back to a stationary home.
Why Choose the Full-Time Motorhome Life?
There are many reasons people choose to live in a motorhome full time. Some of these reasons include:
- Freedom and flexibility: You have the freedom to travel and explore new destinations on your own terms.
- Cost savings: Living in a motorhome can be more affordable than maintaining a traditional home, especially when it comes to rent or mortgage payments.
- Minimalist lifestyle: It encourages you to live with less, prioritising experiences over material possessions.
- Sustainable living: A smaller living space often means a smaller carbon footprint.
How Do I Prepare for Full Time Motorhome Living?
We honestly did not realise quite how much preparation and organisation the switch from how we were living our “ordinary” lives previously, to full time motorhome life in our tiny home on wheels would take.
We want to be real and explain that it is a long process with many months of planning, which can be super stressful at times, and to tell you all the things you may need to consider if you’re planning to try out van life.
For us, we owned a house which we needed to sell, a car we needed to sell and full-time jobs we needed to quit.
Obviously, everybody’s lives are different, and you may not need to do all of those things, but we’ll tell you about our own experience and preparations that we needed to make.
Selling Our House
For anyone who has ever sold a house/moved house, you’ll know how stressful this is in itself.
For us, selling our house was only one stage of the whole process. From getting the valuation, to doing all of the viewings, and the endless amounts of paperwork, selling a house is simply not easy or stress free.
And then there’s the packing and moving everything which was a nightmare as we were not just moving our belongings from one house to another, we had to think about where we were going to store everything.
And then it’s the joy of changing your address on everything …
We felt a massive relief once we had sold our house, and everything was complete as this was a huge thing for us to do to get started on our motorhome life journey.
Buying our motorhome
You’d think this would be simple right? It wasn’t.
We originally ordered a brand-new motorhome from the dealership that we chose, and we did this around 8 months before we were hoping to start travelling, thinking that this would be plenty of time.
The motorhome we chose was sold to us on the premise that it would be ready in November, and we were not planning to start travelling until the following March.
Unfortunately, due to Covid and delays in manufacturing, our motorhome was being continuously delayed, to the point where it wouldn’t be ready in time for when we wanted to start travelling.
For that reason, and the time scale that we were on with selling our house, leaving our jobs etc, we actually had to change our motorhome and go for one that was in stock at the dealership.
It was only a year old, was in perfect condition when we went to view it and had hardly any mileage, we could tell it had hardly been used.
As soon as we viewed it, we fell in love, and realised we actually preferred it to the original one we had ordered! We chose this motorhome and then picked it up a few weeks later, so it was a much easier process.
This is something to be aware of when you are buying a brand-new motorhome, in the current climate, there is such a long waiting time for them that you have to factor in.
If, like us, you are wanting to travel full time in your motorhome, you need to consider if this will fit in with your time scales.
If you would like to see the motorhome that we chose, you can view our van tour YouTube video below –
Quitting our jobs
We both left our full-time jobs to pursue full time travel. When you’ve been in a job for many years, this too can take a lot of preparation to leave.
If you’re anything like us though, it will only take you 5 minutes to forget you ever worked there once you get out into the world and start your van life travels!
Planning to take a dog abroad
It’s not as simple as just putting Lottie in the motorhome and taking her with us unfortunately!
There are different rules and regulations for taking a dog abroad, from the health certificate to the rabies vaccination, there is a lot to consider.
We also had to think about things like medication, food and grooming so it takes a fair bit of planning.
We have written a separate blog post with everything that you need to know about taking your dog abroad here – Europe Travel with a dog – What do I need to know?
What Are Some Tips for Motorhome Living for Beginners?
Here are the top tips that every beginner Motorhomer should know:
- Choose the right motorhome: Consider your needs and preferences when selecting the perfect motorhome for your lifestyle.
- Practice Driving a motorhome: For beginners who feel a bit intimidated with driving a motorhome, try finding a big empty car park and practice driving for a couple of hours. This will help you get used to how your motorhome moves, and what dimensions it requires.
- Plan your travels: Research destinations, routes, and camping options ahead of time. It can make the difference between an emergency situation or not.
- Stay organised: Keep your motorhome tidy and organised. Living in a confined space can be difficult, but keeping this space clean and tidy makes a huge difference.
- Budget wisely: Track your expenses and have a plan for unexpected costs.
- Embrace the community: Connect with other full-time motorhome community for support, advice, and friendship. Join van life social media groups, this is a great way to stay connected and make new friends.
- Consider How You Will Access the Internet: For full-time motorhome living, it is good to have at least two ways to get online, and often these ways are mixed between cellular access, Wi-Fi access, and satellite access. Sometimes this also involves Wi-Fi or cellular boosters to help catch a signal even when camping in the middle of nowhere. If you would like to know more about getting Wi-Fi in your motorhome, then we have a blog post where you can learn more here – Getting Wi-Fi in Your Motorhome
- Learn About Your Motorhome Toilet: These types of toilets are different from normal toilets as the sewage system is most often drained into a small holding tank at the base of the toilet. Learning how to maintain your toilet helps keep your home clean and manageable while living on the road.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings While Travelling: Whether you’re in a quiet car park or the middle of a forest, check your surroundings and ensure the place is safe before you bunk down for the night.
- Keep an Eye on the Weather: Always check the weather for your area or destination, as heavy rain can change so you’re setting up on dry dirt or a mud pit.
- Keep in Touch: Let someone close know where you are, just in case.
- Travelling full time in a motorhome is way easier in European countries! It’s a great idea to stay in the UK whilst you get used to your campervan or motorhome, but don’t hesitate to get over to Europe and explore there too. We have always found most countries in Europe to be so much more easy than the UK.
How much does it cost to run a motorhome full time?
Budget – Before you even think about anything else, you really need to think about your budget.
How are you going to afford to do full time van life? are you going to work on the road?
Wouldn’t it be great if money wasn’t an issue, and you didn’t even have to think about it?
But unfortunately, that’s not how it works and is something you really need to consider whether you can actually afford to do and be able to still live and do fun things whilst on the road.
We have several blog posts where we explain how much living in a motorhome and travelling full time cost us for various different time periods like one month and 90 days. We’ll include the links below –
Where can I park my motorhome to live?
Here are some of the most popular options for finding a place to park your motorhome to live:
- Privately-Owned Parks: Your traditional camping experience.
- Permanent motorhome sites: Camping spots designated for Motorhomes only.
- Renting or Purchasing Land for Extended-Stay Parking: An option for long-term use.
- Long Term Camping with Memberships or Clubs: Many motor homers praise using membership cards to get discounts that add up over time, making their experience more enjoyable.
Can I legally live in a motorhome UK?
The legalities of full time living in a van or motorhome are quite loose as there is no specific law that says you are not able to do full time motorhome living in the UK or Europe.
However, you must ensure you are following the designated vehicle and residency laws in the place you are staying or travelling to and follow the rules of the local authorities.
If your destination is in the UK, this could mean that you need to be a resident with a passport, visa or other legal document allowing you to live there.
And you must also take care to ensure your motorhome is taxed, insured, and has a valid MOT certificate.
There must also be regard for the rules in your given destination and following rules such as where you can park and where you’re allowed to stay, whether that is at permanent sites, wild camping spots or parking at a designated free spot.
What About Motorhome and Travel Insurance?
You will also need motorhome insurance for your transport and for your travelling.
The type of insurance required will depend on where you want to travel. You will want to look for an insurance company that covers all the regions you want to visit, or you may have to take up two or more insurances.
Places such as Morocco and Turkey require separate coverage as not many insurance plans cover these places.
If that is the case in your travels, you always have the option to buy insurance when you reach the border.
It is also necessary to have travel insurance to supplement your EHIC/GHIC health insurance card for living in Europe or beyond.
Back-packing insurance tends to be a safe route as it is a long plan, covering you for up to two years, however, if you are over 55 that may decrease to one year.
What Kinds of Supplies Does a Motorhome Need?
Due to the small living space, motorhome storage is challenging, with emphasis put on removing what you don’t need or use, especially regarding heavy items due to limited space and vehicle weight constraints.
Below we’ve included points to consider when stocking your motorhome with supplies:
- If you want to pack a lot of recreational gear and amenities, such as paddleboards, surfing equipment and bicycles, you will have to carefully consider everything else that you bring, as these will take up a lot of the allotted weight that you have for your gross vehicle weight and space.
- Always go for clever motorhome storage as this will give you more power in organising and utilising every inch of limited space you have, keeping in mind that your needs will change the longer you are on the road, learning more about what you and your motorhome needs to function smoothly and properly.
- Also consider how you will be getting about for small tasks, such as stopping into town for a city tour or shopping. If your motorhome is parked at a permanent or long-term spot, it will be a hassle to move it every time you need to go into town for a bottle of milk. Consider bringing a secondary tow-car, scooter, motorbike, e-bike or pedal bike.
If you’d like a full list of the best motorhome gadgets and accessories, we have a blog post where we detail everything that we use in our motorhome that you can check out here –
What Are the Top Supplies That Will Help You Organise Your Motorhome and Get Around?
Here are some of the top overlooked, but necessary supplies you will need to organise your motorhome and help you get around:
- Freshwater hose: Specifically, for taking in fresh water at a refill station.
- Motorhome Water Filter: For purifying the water received at the refill station.
- Electric cord and adaptors: It is useful, as you will be on the road away from amenities a lot of the time, to have a variety of electrical cords and adapters that can be plugged into 20,30-, and 50-amp outlets if the need arises.
- A surge protector or EMS: This will protect your motorhomes electrical system in the case of a surge.
- Levelling blocks: To level your motorhome.
- Multi-Bit Screwdriver and Hammer: For minimal handyman maintenance around the motorhome.
- Duct Tape: Ideal for any leaky hose or torn material when you’re on the road.
- Flashlight/Torch: For late-night camping and safety.
- Pocket Knife: To easily open or cut things.
- Tire Pressure Gauge: Easily check your tires while on the road.
- Adjustable Wrench, Socket and Ratchets, and Allen Wrenches: Ideal for minimal maintenance.
- Zip Ties: Make managing wires and electrical cords much easier.
- Utility Knife: Perfect for opening boxes or making surgical cuts in material.
- Tape Measure: Useful for measuring the distance between a motorhome and its hook-ups, or anything involving finite, space or materials.
- Power Tools: Also useful for situations that need a little extra power and a quick fix.
What Are Some Challenging Aspects of Living in a Motorhome Full-time?
There is an adjustment period while getting used to motorhome living, and below we’ve detailed some of the top challenging aspects:
- The Living Area is Small: The sun and beaches are very tantalising to the explorer and beach-lover, so sometimes it’s easy to forget that the home you’re bringing with you is much, much smaller than a stationary home or anything that you’re previously used to. Even though motorhomes do their best to make the space feel large, it does still take adjusting to living in such a small space.
- Personal Space: Due to the smaller spaces and accommodation, managing your own personal space is difficult due to the fact that, if you’ve had an argument, you can’t just go to another room to cool off. Being gentle with your travelling partner’s boundaries, needs and personal space is important and makes the journey easier.
- Weather and Seasonal Changes: Being aware of the weather is crucial for successfully motorhoming, as you will be more sensitive to the elements. Winter can be a difficult time to motorhome, and you will find that with the cooler temperatures and fewer daylight hours, you will be forced inside more often.
- Planning Exhaustion: When travelling time turns from weeks to months, the planning that goes into it also increases, leading to exhaustion. It will be tiring always looking for your next overnight parking spot and where you want to be in a week or month from now, but as you practice, this will become easier.
- Difficulty Finding Campgrounds and Repairs: Due to a surge in motorhome travel popularity, campsites can sometimes be booked out six months in advance, and motorhome repairs can be time-consuming.
- Laundry Change: If your motorhome is not equipped with its own laundry machine, something as simple as laundry can be a day’s task at a launderette.
- Grocery Change: You won’t have the same size of fridge you were used to, so carefully selecting food becomes important. Shopping at different supermarkets in different countries also brings its own challenges, such as not finding the brand you usually go with.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do full-time motorhome dwellers receive mail?
Full-time motorhome dwellers can use mail forwarding services, a friend or family member’s address, or rent a PO Box to receive their mail.
Can you live in a motorhome full time in the UK and Europe?
Yes, you can live in a motorhome full time in the UK and Europe. However, you need to research the rules and regulations for your motorhome insurance, parking, and taxes in the countries you plan to visit.
How do full-time motorhome dwellers handle healthcare?
Full-time motorhome dwellers can maintain their healthcare coverage through private insurance, national healthcare systems, or travel insurance policies that include medical coverage. It’s essential to research healthcare options and choose the best plan for your needs.
How do people living in a motorhome full time stay connected to the internet?
There are several options for staying connected to the internet while living in a motorhome full time, including using public Wi-Fi, mobile hotspots, satellite internet, or a combination of these options.
How do full-time motorhome dwellers handle laundry?
Full-time motorhome dwellers can use launderettes, public laundry facilities at campsites, or portable washing machines designed for small spaces to handle their laundry needs.
Living in a motorhome full time can be an incredible adventure filled with freedom and unique experiences.
However, it’s essential to be prepared for the challenges that come with this lifestyle.
By understanding the benefits and drawbacks, planning your travels, and staying organised, you can make the most of your full-time van life and create lasting memories on your road trip.
Keep up with our full-time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel 🙂 – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube
You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice
If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join our Facebook group, we’d love to connect with you all! –https://www.facebook.com/groups/309295536220437
Also, if you have Pinterest, please give us a follow for your van life travel inspiration! – https://pin.it/770Cq1Q
I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!