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Can I Afford Full-Time RVing on Social Security? (2022)

It is possible to afford full-time RVing on Social Security, but it can be challenging. Here is what you need to know. 

Many retirees dream of buying an RV and traveling the country full time. As Jennifer and I can attest, it’s a fantastic way to spend your golden years. But it can be more expensive than you might think.

What if you live on Social Security? Can it be done? 

The simple answer is YES! We know a lot of couples who do this. Full-time RVing on social security may even support a better lifestyle than living in a house.

Still, there are a number of factors to consider when weighing this decision. 

How to Afford Full Time RVing on Social Security

full-time RVing on social security
Figure it out first.

Here are steps you can take to determine if full-time RVing on Social Security is right for you, and how to get ready for it.

Find Out How Much You’ll Get From Social Security

As a starting point, it is helpful to know an estimated amount you will receive from Social Security per month. This way you can manage your expectations for a budget down the line.

You can get an idea using this social security calculator.

Is there a minimum budget for full-time living in an RV Life? Not really, but from experience, I would suggest $2,000 per month on average as the absolute bare minimum. 

Despite not paying rent, full-time RVing carries with it some basic, consistent costs. Just understand that living on $2,000 per month from Social Security alone will be challenging.

Get A Good Idea for Life on the Road Before Making That Leap

full-time RVing on social security
Do you have a house full of things?

Retiring to live in an RV takes a lot of big decisions. If you have a house, you may have to sell that to buy an RV and fund this new path. Your lifestyle undertakes some drastic changes.

To understand full-time life in an RV, it helps to get perspective on what to expect. Be sure to experience at least a taste of RV life first. If you can square it, travel in an RV for a month or more. 

As amazing as social media sites portray RV life, some aspects of it aren’t for everybody. On your travels, you will find what you think you can live with, and what you can’t.

For example, determine if you always need to be parked at a campsite with electric hookups. Try boondocking and see if you can get by without certain amenities all the time.

Boondocking is camping totally self-contained with no commercial power, water, sewer, or any other on-the-grid service. Our Beginner’s Guide to Boondocking eBook gives you a detailed look into our preferred way of RVing and traveling.

Research Costs for Different Ways of Life

Now that you “know thyself,” you are better armed with how to research properly. This is when you will be able to look into how you will realistically live on the road, and what it costs.

Since you haven’t lived full-time yet, you will need to consult some experts to get the truth. There are many hidden costs in RV travel you can only know with experience.

So instead of just reading articles, join Facebook groups where you can join the conversation with other RVers. People who are already full-time RVing on Social Security are always the best resources. Many of them know the tricks and secrets to save considerable amounts of money.

Rest assured, this is a community that gets joy out of helping each other. They are some of the nicest people you can meet, so don’t be afraid to ask them for advice.

Budget for Life on the Road

full-time RVing on social security
Figure out your budget.

Now that you have done the research, you can start putting together a budget. 

Is this realistic given the amount you will receive for Social Security? If not, what sacrifices can be made to afford this lifestyle in the long term?

Log and plan for cheap or even free places to park, like in our article Free and Cheap RV Sites for Your 2021 Travels. Choosing to stay in places like these adds up to considerable savings.

Regardless, there are certain costs where you can’t budge much if living full time in your RV. Your fixed income would need to cover basic expenses such as:

  • RV payment
  • Fuel
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • RV insurance
  • Utilities
  • Campsites
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Entertainment
  • Medical expenses

These items would all need to be included in your most conservative of budgets to be feasible.

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If you want to go full-time RVing on Social Security – Start Saving Now

Now that a realistic, researched budget is in place that takes your own preferences into account, you can start saving.

This is especially important if your Social Security earnings won’t completely cover your monthly expenses. Savings can enable you to sacrifice less if Social Security wouldn’t cover your whole budget.

Ideally, you’re still a year or more away from retirement, and still have time to save. The larger the nest egg you can collect, the better. It will come in handy for unexpected repairs or other rainy day costs.

Make Your RV More Efficient for Long-Term

full-time RVing on social security
Learn to do simple repairs.

Let’s say you haven’t bought the RV you would use during retirement yet. In this case, you have the freedom to choose an RV based on its long-term reliability and up-to-date efficiency.

Fuel consumption is a constant cost that will yield great returns if you invest in an RV with higher fuel efficiency. Models vary significantly in terms of fuel use since some are not ideal for full-time living.

See our RV Buying Secrets to find the best RV for a full-time RV lifestyle.

If you already own your RV and are happy with it, there are some things you can do to make your RV more efficient:

  • Keep up on regular maintenance
  • Check tire pressure regularly
  • Travel lightly, declutter as needed
  • Keep the weight balanced
  • Use the A/C as needed
  • Drive smooth and steady
  • Know where you’re going

Ease Into the Lifestyle if you want to go full-time RVing on Social Security

Even if you’re pretty certain you want to live full time in an RV, it helps to ease into this lifestyle.

At first, perhaps keep your home and take weekend trips to start. It’s important to understand that some people don’t transition well when moving from a fixed location to smaller, moving quarters. Every aspect of your life changes. 

Psychologists warn that taking on too many changes can become very stressful. So, do your best to figure out if you can handle it or not. Most of all, take care of yourself first and foremost.

You’ll also want to consider how your relationships with your travel partners can be affected. We recommend checking out our Top 10 Rules for Getting Along in a Motorhome.

Find Some Work To Fund Your Lifestyle

full-time RVing on social security
Do you need to add in some work?

If Social Security doesn’t cover your costs but you still want to hit the road, you can always still work.

In today’s world, there are plenty of options for exchanging work for RV parking. For example, many people (like my wife and me) blog about our travels. If done right, this can help generate a nice amount of side income. Plus, some places we highlight in our blog allow us to stay for free.

Another option is to check out sites such as Workamper; this is a great place to find seasonal jobs all over the country. For example, in some campgrounds, you can work hospitality jobs in exchange for a modest wage and a hook-up site for your RV.

Even Amazon provides opportunities for RVers through its Camperforce platform. “Workampers” have the chance to take on temporary jobs in Amazon fulfillment centers all over the country. In return, you earn hourly wages, overtime pay, and a free place to hook up your RV.

If you’re capable of working, explore all options. You might be pleasantly surprised by how many opportunities you come across.

In the end, I’m a big proponent of full-time RV life. As long as you budget and plan, you can enjoy RV life on Social Security.

Are you Full-Time RVing on Social Security?

Do you “do” full-time RV Life on Social Security? Is it what you expected? Or do you dream of full-timing and have insights you’d like to share? Comment below to help others plan!

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One Response to “Can I Afford Full-Time RVing on Social Security? (2022)”

October 28, 2021at10:08 pm, Kevin said:

I’m sorta retired and not on SS yet. I talked to my boss. He agreed to let me work less than 9 hrs a week online. Waiting until I hit 70 to start SS. Then I’ll probably stop work completely since we’ll get more from SS than working.

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