Living In A Motorhome – Top 10 Questions
I get lots of people contacting me who are considering living in a motorhome permanently. Most are thinking about doing something similar but they have lots of questions. One of the most common questions is ‘what’s the best motorhome to live in?’ People are also curious to know if it’s legal and have questions about having an address, a doctor or dentist. Some are considering how to live cheap in retirement, others are just attracted to a more nomadic, simple way of life.
The aim of this post is to list the 10 most common questions I get and address them. I started living in a motorhome early in 2010. With lots of experience in the UK and a 5 month tour of Europe I feel I’m in a good position to give some general advice. So whether it’s class A motorhome living, living in a 5th wheel or any other fulltiming in a vehicle, I hope you find this article and the comments below it useful.
Living in a motorhome – 10 Commonly Asked Questions
1. What about an address for things like post?
It helps if you have a friend or family member who will let you use their address. In my case some relatives live alone and pay the reduced single occupancy council tax. I can get post delivered to such an address but I cannot register at this address for electoral roll purposes. If more than one person lived at that address then chances are they would allow you to register it as your address for voting purposes too.
Your motorhome insurer will need an address to send you the documents. Some insurers understand that some motorhome owners live in their vehicle. We are known as fulltimers and there are policies aimed at this lifestyle. Comfort Insurance in one company who specialise in such policies. The address you quote for them to send the documents seems to have no bearing on the quote price. So no need to worry if your relative or friend lives in a ‘dodgy’ postcode!
Some worry about having an address for things like a GP and the dentist. In my experience if you already have a doctor and dentist you can carry on using them. I’ve also not found it a problem opening a bank account and getting a job, as long as you have an address where you can be contacted. Like most things, all obstacles can be overcome if you want to follow this lifestyle.
2. Don’t you freeze in winter?
There are a few things to consider here. Your choice of vehicle is important if living in a motorhome year round. Most motorhomes are well insulated and double glazed. The cab area can be the exception. In cold conditions you might want to screen off the cab area and you should also close the air conditioning vents on the dashboard. For those wild camping your gas usage will increase greatly in winter. Indeed campsites where electricity is included in the pitch fee can look like good value in the winter! If your boiler is an older type that runs on gas only then consider heating your vehicle using either an electric fan heater or electric oil filled radiator.
OK so that’s your comfort taken care of but what about your vehicle? You need to think about where the freshwater and grey water tanks are located. Most freshwater tanks are inside the vehicle, often under a seating area. Grey tanks though are commonly situated outside the living area, under the vehicle. In many modern motorhomes there is a double skinned floor that is heated to prevent freezing. If your motorhome does not have a double skinned floor then you might want to leave the grey water tank tap open to prevent water freezing. A bucket under the tap is all you need. If you are considering a panel van conversion note that they are generally harder to insulate. The large sliding doors are an area hard to heat.
3. What about TV?
I’m not the best person to ask about this since I don’t have a TV. I do however know about some of the the options available.
First the subject of a TV licence. You may own property that you are renting out while you’re living in a motorhome. If you have a TV licence at your main residence then you don’t need another one for your touring motorhome / caravan. The issue becomes muddled if you have no main residence. The official position is that you must provide a ‘care of’ address to obtain a licence and you should do this if you want to stay within the law. If you fail to buy a licence it’s hard to say whether you would be caught and fined. Detector vans are a thing of the past. Most checks are likely done by looking at what addresses don’t hold a licence. I suppose it’s also possible that enforcement officers could visit campsites where they suspect long term residents stay. I’ve yet to hear of anyone living in a motorhome being asked to produce a licence but I would still advise abiding by the law if watching TV is important to you.
Moving on to the question of the hardware you need to watch TV in a motorhome. The UK has now moved over to digital from the old analogue signal. Just like in a normal house you need to decide between a free service like Freeview or a subscription with someone like Sky. To get freeview you just need a TV with a digital tuner built in (most new TV’s do) and an aerial good enough to pick up the signal. A typical roof mounted aerial at home is directional, pointed at your best local transmitter. When living in a motorhome you are essentially moving position all the time. With a directional aerial you would need to know where the local transmitter was and position the aerial accordingly. An omni directional aerial is another option but you need to ensure it’s good enough for freeview.
For those who want more channels than Freeview alone, Sky with a satellite dish would seem the best option. Dishes range from the relatively cheap to unbelievably expensive. At home the installer positions the dish on your house to receive the best signal from the satellite sending the TV signal. The issue with a moving vehicle like a motorhome is that you need a dish that can change position to obtain the best signal. Once parked if you don’t mind doing this manually then you can buy a cheap dish. If you are happy leaving the dish on the floor outside the vehicle then the ones that come in a briefcase from places like Maplins and Aldi might be all you need (Aldi seem to only stock these at certain times). If you want something attached to your roof then the best manually positioned option might be something like the Maxview Crank-up system. Things start to get very expensive when you want a system that automatically seeks out the best position for your satellite. The considerations at this high price point usually revolve around a couple of factors, how far south into Europe do you want to be able to pick up the UK satellite and do you want to be able to watch TV while the vehicle is moving (maybe to keep kids entertained on the move). Your two basic choices will be a traditionally shaped large dish or to watch on the move a dome system like those sold by RoadPro (same manufacturer as the Camos branded ones that are now discontinued). Generally speaking a large traditional shaped dish is better if you want to watch UK TV in Southern Europe but Domes are better if you want to watch TV when the vehicle is in motion and they are also safer in high winds.
A cheaper option for those who already have a laptop might be a USB Freeview Tuner & Recorder or simply watching the programme online (some channels now stream programmes over the internet).
4. What about the internet?
Getting internet access while living in a motorhome is actually really easy. I have a mobile broadband contract with 3 that gives me 15GB a month for £15.00 a month. I am able to get a signal in most of the UK and the speed is perfectly adequate. I think this represents excellent value, especially when you consider I don’t have to pay line rental like I did when I lived in a flat (costs over £10.00 a month). My current dongle is the Huawei E586 Mifi which is wireless, has HSPA+ technology and a 5 hour battery life!
If you already own a smartphone your network provider probably already offers you a data allowance for internet. The problem is that the allowance is rarely enough for high volume users and most networks do you not allow you to ‘tether’. Essentially this means you will not be able to share the phone signal to your laptop.
If you need internet while overseas you have a few options. If your dongle is unlocked you can insert a SIM card from another country. I did this in Italy and it worked brilliantly. The only downside is I don’t speak Italian so topping up was sometimes more involved. If you don’t spend more than a month in one country and move across borders all the time you will want another option. For light users who just need to keep in touch you might find using free wifi at the local McDonalds, restaurant, coffee shop or tourist information centre is enough. If you want to try and rely on unsecured wifi connections for your internet access overseas you may want to boost your signal.
The wifi antenna in laptops has to lie flat due to the shape of the case. This position is not the best. Ever noticed that you when you search for a signal you can usually only see your own home router and maybe a couple of others belonging to your neighbours? How would you like to be able to see signals from a much greater distance away? When I was travelling in Europe the most powerful device which was popular with both motorhomers and boaters was the Alfa Awus036NH Long Range Wifi Adaptor. Using it was incredible! Instead of seeing 2 internet connections the laptop suddenly saw hundreds and signals that were previously weak (1 bar) suddenly became strong (5 bars). Whilst most connections were secured, in most countries I was able to find an unsecured connection easily with this device, the exception being Germany. I believe this is due to a law in Germany about unsecured wifi signals.
Finally another great option to consider for both UK and overseas is the Fon network. Basically with Fon if you share your home broadband signal you are in turn allowed to use Fon’s millions of hotspots worldwide. If you are a BT landline user you will be opted in to Fon by default.
5. What about laundry?
It seems those that are living in a motorhome approach this in a couple of different ways. If you use campsites most of the time then you will find that they usually have washers and dryers. They are not cheap, typically a wash being £3.50 and drying being £1.00. Having said that they are expensive, the machines take a large load and do a good job. The other option is to own your own washing machine. Because of weight issues people usually use a Mini Portable Washing Machine or a Mini Portable Twin Tub Washing Machine.
6. Do you wild camp or stay at campsites?
I do both. In spring and summer I find I only need to visit a campsite twice a week to charge the leisure batteries, empty the chemical toilet and take on fresh water. In winter I use campsites more often to take advantage of the free electricity to heat my vehicle. If this lifestyle appeals then investigate where your closest campsites are. Know what they cost. what’s included and how far in advance you need to book. If wild camping is something you want to do then look at forums and find some recommended locations in your area. Visit them late at night by car to see if you would feel safe there. How noisy are these wild camp locations?
7. What about a toilet and shower?
Living in a motorhome does not mean you have to compromise on personal hygiene! Whilst its hard to fit a shower into a panel van conversion, most motorhomes do have a bathroom with toilet and shower. Sometimes the shower is a separate cubicle, sometimes it’s just a wet room. My Hymer has a separate shower cubicle and I prefer it this way. If you have a modern power shower at home don’t expect the same pressure from your motorhome shower. They are however generally very good.
If you find the the shower is like a trickle you might want to look at the submersible water pump which might need replacing. This was one of the first jobs I had to do on my Hymer and it was really easy. If your pump is the submersible type that simply sits in the bottom of the fresh water tank then I can recommend the Reich Motorhome 19LTR Submersible Twin Water Pump.
When you want to have a shower you need to heat the water in your boiler which could take 15-20 minutes. The amount of water in the boiler is enough for 1 shower, possibly 2. In a motorhome you do not take long showers. The process is to get wet, turn off the water, clean yourself with shower gel or soap and then turn on the water again to rinse.
The toilet in most motorhomes is the Thetford cassette type. You sit on a regular looking plastic toilet which is connected to the freshwater tank. With a press of a button a pump fills the toilet bowl with water. The cassette sits below the toilet and operating a trap door opens the cassette and the contents of the bowl fall into the cassette after which you close the trap door again. The cassette can then be emptied at chemical disposal points at campsites. In my experience the cassette only needs to be emptied about once a week if you are living in a motorhome alone.
8. Is it possible to really live in such a confined space?
The answer to this really depends on the type of person you are. It’s hard to have your own space in a motorhome so if you are a couple thinking of living in a motorhome it might test your relationship. If however you have decided you want to give living in a motorhome a go then it’s certainly possible to cope with the limited space.
Motorhome manufacturers generally make very clever use of that limited space. I’m 6’2″ tall and I can stand up in my motorhome and sleep very comfortably in a pull down Hymer bed. All my photos, films and music are stored on external hard drives. Belongings that I use regularly are stored in easy to access cupboards whilst things that I rarely use are stored in boxes under the dinette seat. It takes a few weeks but you will soon find the best place for your belongings that works for your way of living. Whatever your personal needs with proper research you should be able to find your best RV for full time living.
9. Is living in a motorhome safe?
I only really get asked this question by women. If you plan to stay at campsites all the time then I would say it’s perfectly safe, no less so than living in a house for example. If you want to wild camp sometimes then I guess your choice of location will have some bearing on this. I have only felt unsafe once and that was on Ealing Common when the London riots visited the area in August 2011. I hear stories of people having their motorhomes broken into in Spain and a lesser extent France but it’s not something I hear about in the UK and certainly I think regular homeowners have as much to fear from burglars. There are ways to make the doors more secure on your vehicle but I’ve never had any problems. Having said that I don’t display a very expensive satellite dish or other signs of wealth on the outside of my motorhome. Many women who have contacted me about this are dog owners and a dog barking is usually enough to put off any potential burglar.
10. What about cooking and storing food?
Some who only use their motorhomes for holidays don’t want to get involved in cooking and prefer to eat out. When you are living in a motorhome though, eating out every night would get expensive. Nearly all motorhomes will come with a gas hob and probably a gas grill. Most British people like a proper gas oven too and these are quite common in motorhomes aimed at the British market. An oven is less common on continental motorhomes where European housewives don’t want to be cooking when on holiday. Outdoor cooking is also more popular on the continent where the weather is generally more reliable.
Newer motorhomes sometimes come fitted with a microwave but these are only really suitable when you are connected to a campsites electrical hookup point. What do I use? Well my Hymer has a 3 ring gas hob, a gas grill and gas oven. Ewelina also recently gave me her George Foreman grill for those times when we want to cook outside. The fridges in motorhomes vary in size but are very effective. They are known as three way fridges because they can be powered in 3 different ways. When the vehicle is moving you can power them via the 12V vehicle battery. When you are at a campsite and connected to a hookup post you can switch the fridge to run on electric. When wild camping the fridge can run on LPG (gas).
Living In A Motorhome – Further Reading
Hopefully this has helped you understand what living in a motorhome is like. It’s a lifestyle not suited to everyone but it seems more and more people are considering it as an option. Feel free to contact me or leave a comment on this article. People do read this blog so asking questions on here will often get you a reply. If you have not already done so you might like to read a couple of my other posts on the subject:
The 10 Best Things About Living In A Motorhome – Click here
The 5 Worst Things About Living In A Motorhome – Click here
**Update I’m no longer living in a motorhome. I now live in Northampton with Ewelina and our dog Archie. I run my own dog walking business. We hope to have our own micro camper soon so the blogging will hopefully continue.
Gary, always enjoy reading your posts and thoughtful insights, I started reading your blog at the beginning of the year when I bought my first van a Chausson Allegro, have now bought something a little bigger as I like the space and work on board when travelling. Mt next big trip will be skiing for 2/3 weeks in january.
I am guessing, but I am thinking you are a Cannon man, just because your images are always crystal clear always, beautifully balanced and exposed, I would a 5D mk 1 or 2.
Always used Nikkon myself the new 800 has been well received. Best wishes Adrian
Good to hear from you. So what’s the latest ‘bigger’ motorhome you bought? I’ve never used mine for skiing but I know many people do as they can make for an extremely cheap skiing holiday when compared to the cost of doing it the more traditional way.
You guessed right that I use a Canon DSLR but an old on, the 400D. I want to upgrade to something like the 60D but can’t afford to just yet. I used to use Nikon before I got into digital, it was a body called an 801s, aimed at semi pro level and very good camera. Canon were the first to really bring out a DSLR for the masses and the fact they used a CMOS sensor was probably the reason I went Canon and not Nikon. Once you have a system of lenses you are less likely to switch. I really only use one lens 90% of the time. I have a number of friends who have Nikons and if I was buying today I’m not sure which brand I would go with.
Do you happen to blog about your motorhome travels or photography? Are you fulltiming in your motorhome or do you just use it for holidays?
Well I bought a 08 Burstner 821 twin axle back in October having done a p/x on the Chausson with a dealer just outside Nottingham called Fuller Leisure. I originally saw the van at the Lincoln show, got back in touch with them and hey presto, the proud new owner. Lots of space, big table for my screens( see below) I must just say that my dealings with Fullers is a 10/10. Honourable, fair and nice folks to deal with and I would recommend them, they are a good team.
I knew it was a Cannon from my days as a red carpet and celebrity photographer, don’t ask Gary I was in the wilderness then and trying various businesses.Loved the photography and the variety, but the money was terrible and I had an established lifestyle to maintain, and I guess just not as good as Testino. I have a Nikon D2X from those days which I still use but cannot capture that Cannon look. I know, its all about composition, lighting, exposure not the kit! Anyway, i am in a very fortunate position of having worked for myself for my entire working life, nowadays I trade the financial markets for a living, mainly the US markets which means my main working day is 2-9pm, so as long as I can get a reliable connection with my E386 or a wifi connection using the Motorhome wifi booster aerial, I use the MH to get away as much as possible, but not full timing as such, maybe a 3/4 days twice a month. I’ve had a great year on the road starting in Feb skiing in Grand Bornand and Meribel , touring Scotland for the whole of August, and many other highlights throughout including Damage Barton near Morthoe and Woolacombe, where I ran along the coastal path for miles and miles just soaking up the majesty of the scenery. Living the dream for sure and looking to go skiing again in Jan/Feb2013 No blog as yet Gary, maybe next year, and again just to thank you for your time and energy in blogging which has helped me and I’m sure countless others. Cheers Bud.
I am thinking about selling my house and living in a motor home, i dont have a huge amount of money but my house seems to be costing me more and more in its upkeep.
I have been thinking about it for a while but just need the bottle to do it, i would sell my house and use the money to purchase the motor home.
I am single and have three dogs and i run my own business which could be used as an address and for washing etc. My hope is that financially i will be better off but i need to look in to things more.
I googled to see if i could find some informaiton and your page came up which i have found very useful.
I hope that one day i will take the plunge and do it before i am too old (I am 53 nearly)
Great article. I wish I had a bathroom in my van!
Thanks for the comment! Had a quick look at your blog but could not find an easy way to find out what type of van you live in. What type of vehicle is it? I assume you wild camp all the time? I used to wild camp mostly but these days I use campsites more.
Good luck with your adventure!
The Motorhome Vagabond
It’s a tough one! When you live in a regular house it seems they have you by the ‘short and curlies’. The council can raise the council tax rate when they feel like it whilst lowering services. Privatised (often foreign owned) utility companies see UK consumers as a licence to print money and inflation means the cost of food and transport just keep going up. Wages of course stay flat.
It’s hard to know what the solution is. For some living in a motorhome makes sense. If it fits with your lifestyle it could certainly be a cheap and for the most part enjoyable existence. For others the answer will be to move from an affluent area to a cheaper one to reduce costs. If your work does not tie you to a geographic location then it would seem to make sense to relocate to somewhere cheaper and if this means moving from a city to the country your dogs will love it too. For some this relocation sees them leave the UK altogether and move to places like the far east where their money goes much further.
I read an article the other day that discussed the relative benefits to increasing your salary and reducing your costs. It showed that in many cases reducing costs had a great impact. For every £1.00 extra you earn you just get taxed on it. For every £1.00 you save it represents a real saving. Most found that living without things like flat screen TV’s, satellite packages and expensive mobile phone contracts actually left them feeling liberated. Some went as far as growing their own vegetables which they were surprised to find worked out cheaper. We probably do consume too much here in the west and maybe a complete rethink of how we live is long overdue.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
All the best
The Motorhome Vagabond
Thoroughly enjoyed looking through your site. We are a family of 5 (myself, wife, 8,6 and 3yrs old kids) and just fed up of this corrupt way of life with the parasitic politicians. Do you think its practical for a family of 5, of which there are 3 young kids (who are homeschooled by the way), living fulltime in a converted coach?
I think it’s possible but something you perhaps want to try out first or speaking to others who do it. There was a guy who commented on my post about the 10 best things about living in a motorhome who lived in one slightly smaller than mine with wife, 2 kids and a dog and wild camped most of the time which really surprised me. His kids were in a local school using his sisters address who also lived locally. Leisure batteries and a generator seemed to provide all their power needs including the kids gameboys.
I also met a family whilst travelling in Europe who had 3 kids. Their vehicle was a similar size to mine and they said that the trip brought them closer together as a family.
If anyone else reading this has experience of living fulltime with a young family perhaps they could reply and tell Matt about their experiences.
All the best
The Motorhome Vagabond
Thanks for this helpful website. It is also good to see your measured and reflective comments to people asking about this lifestyle. As for me, I can see the mortgaage payments going on and on until I’m 67 at which point I will be asset rich but cash poor. You replied to one comment and mentioned lowering living costs and alluded to consumerism. This latter point is a real consideration, and if one wants to lower one’s carbon footprint, this might be a way to go. I may have about £30,000 to spend on a van if I sell the flat and I guess this may be enough to start with, but of course as soon as the flat is sold I save the mortgage fee every month and if I wait another 6 months then this really adds up! So, in short I am giving this serious consideration…do I really need to own a flat when I’m in my 60’s?
I want to buy a 2 berth motor home to live in permenantly and to use as my main vechile too but I’m having problems finding an Insurence company to insure me for that.I would be parking on the road or at my work site
p.s. can you help me / suggest a company who do insure fulltimers
There are a number of insurance companies who offer a policy for fulltimers. They usually charge more than their ‘normal’ motorhome premium. Companies you might want to try include:
Comfort Insurance – https://www.comfort-insurance.co.uk/
Safeguard Motorhome Insurance – https://www.safeguarduk.co.uk/insurance-quote/motorhome-insurance.aspx
Hope this helps.
All the best
The Motorhome Vagabond
I replied on your other comment with links to both Comfort and Safeguard Insurance who both offer fulltime policies. When you ask for a fulltime policy the address you quote to receive your policy docs has no bearing on the quote (I initially quoted 2 very different postcodes and the quote was exactly the same). In my experience they don’t really care where the motorhome is parked, the fact you are a fulltimer means you won’t have a driveway to park it on! The policies also give you very generous European coverage and they don’t / can’t expect you to always use campsites. Those who use Aires and Stellplatz overseas are basically parking on the street so you parking on the street or work car park should not really be relevant.
All the best
The Motorhome Vagabond
If you purchased a motorhome it would not appreciate in value whereas your flat might / should. If you buy a used motorhome and look after it depreciation can actually be relatively manageable. You need to sit down with the numbers and think hard. As you say making the move now will mean the savings every month from now until 67 could really add up but you need to have some idea how to make that money work for you. If you understand the stock market then great but otherwise you need to find a way to make your money work for you.
Do you need to sell the flat to afford a motorhome? Could you perhaps keep the flat and rent it out now and use the rental income to pay the loan payments for the motorhome? I guess what you need to look at is what the flat is worth in terms of sales value and rental income. Property in London area seems to guarantee decent rental income but some other parts of the UK might not yield a great income for a flat.
For me the decision was made for me. I had no hope of getting on the property ladder in London and the motorhome route did allow me to live cheaply.
Good luck with your decision. Maybe you should hire a motorhome for your next UK holiday to see if you could live in one.
All the best
The Motorhome Vagabond
Thanks for your help Gary , I will try these
Just stumbled across your site – I love your ten observations about Europe!
We spent nearly eight months in our VW last year and I’ve been working/living in it for the past nine weeks (working) We are currently on the first night of a couple of months back in Europe on the way to Croatia and back thru Germany so we/I can empathise 🙂
I’ll be following your blog in future.
Had a quick look at your own website, how do you find working from the motorhome? I visited both Croatia and Germany on my motorhome tour but did not spend that long in Germany so would like to go back and explore more areas. Enjoy your travels, the weather in the UK is pretty unreliable at the moment!
All the best
The Motorhome Vagabond
Just stumbled across your site and think it’s very infomative. I and my wife + 2 dogs hope to go for a 2-3 months trip this summer but we have not desided where yet. Last winter we went to Spain and Portugal for 4 months but have to go home to Norway after just 1,5 because my wife got il. It turned out to be cancer and are now in a cemo period that ends in mid june.
This winter we hope to go to Croatsia and maybee Greece. Then ferry over to Italy and home. (after 1,5 winters in Spain and Portugal)
We like wild camping best and have 240 w solarpanels so we dont have to hook up on electric.
I want to live in the MH permanently and just travel around but my wife can’t because of all her doctors and hospital visits.
Looking forward to follow you on your traveling.
(sorry about my english spelling)
Cracking blog Dude, congrats!
Just to let other know, Safeguard no longer insure “Fulltimers” I just called them but I am awaiting a quote from Comfort whom do just so your fellow readers will know.
They reckon I’m going to looking at around £1500 per year.
I’m awaiting a proper quote as my job isn’t the norm!!
I, like yourself, is looking at escaping the rat race for a period of time…
BRING IT ON!
Thanks for the comment. Not sure your personal details but your quote sounds pretty high. When I talk to others I thought the £700+ I was paying for fulltiming was expensive but maybe not! As it happens it looks like I will be renting a flat with my girlfriend and giving up fulltiming. I’ll sell the Hymer. I will keep the blog going and expect to hire out motorhomes from time to time for holidays.
One day I would like to tour North America and NZ in a motorhome. I think Ewelina and I would make a good long term travel story and if the right offer came along we would love to do some touring.
Enjoy your adventure!
Anyone done a spreadsheet comparing costs between house with the usual utility cost and van living?
An excellent blog with lots of great information.
I’m looking to get my first motorhome and set off traveling 365 having spent some time living on a narrowboat.
One of the things I’m concerned about is the cost of overnight stops. Obviously on the road things are a lot different from the canals. I’m hoping I will be able to do “wild camping” for some of the time but otherwise it looks like camp-site stops. A quick trawl round the internet suggests that this is going to cost a minimum of £10-£20 per night.
As I don’t have an income, but live off my savings, I’m beginning to feel that these overnight fees are going to make this whole exercise prohibitively expensive and a bit of a non-starter. I’ve not found much about this side of things in the forums I’ve looked at. I notice you said you only use camp sites once or twice a week. That doesn’t seem so bad but I’m guessing water consumption and battery recharging then become major issues. Is there anywhere I can get a bit more advice on this?
I’ve never lived on narrowboat so can’t compare costs but I can give decent advice about motorhomes. With a motorhome that has own heating, shower and toilet paying for campsites seems daft. Twice a week I’d visit one to charge leisure batteries and empty toilet. Had I had a solar panel or quiet generator then I could have done without campsites probably. Wild camping is not easy, especially in busy cities. Even in the country you will probably find that you need a few regular places and move between them every few days.
Campsites can be good as I found moving around all the time eats into your day, maybe less of a problem if you are retired. The cost you mention for campsites is not unusual but you could get much cheaper rates at more basic sites like farms where you book for long periods.
I’d advise looking around areas you plan to be for cheap sites that will do deal for you if you book couple of months at a time.
It’s a big decision and before spending big money on a motorhome try and do your research and maybe seek out fulltimers in your area you can visit.
The Motorhome Vagabond
Very intersting reading.
i am about to start a Coach Conversion from scratch and at the moment stuck on trying to find the best heating, be it water&air or either or.
I was tryiing to find any reasons why i cannot install a normal house hold boiler to provide instant hot water (hot showers are the only thing me and my girl really require, everything else we can cope and adapt). I have seen some “RV Instant Tankless boilers” but these are shipped from the US and im unsure about trusting something bought from overseas to be honest.
I have also looked on the the new Truma Combi 6E, but this can take 15-20 minutes to heat water, in cold conditions up to 80 mins.
just wondered what your thoughts were on this as you seem to be a man in the know.
thank you in advance.
I noticed Gillian Crawford’s comment about being 53 and wanting to go full time.
I’m now 60 and I know if I don’t do this now, I may never get the chance again. My house has swallowed all my savings, but I decided to put it on the market, pay off my debts, buy whatever I can afford, and hit the road. UK first, then maybe, maybe head off to see my daughter in Montpellier. Gillian, GO FOR IT!
Thanks for the comment, especially as coming from a woman giving encouragement to all those single females curious about fulltiming but hesitant to take the plunge.
So what vehicle do you plan to use and will you use campsites or wild camp to save money?
Good question Gary. I was considering a reasonable sized motorhome, since I’d be living in it full time. But the question of parking wild and in car parks seemed like a potential cause of stress.
I thought a van conversion would be great. Then I saw the cost of a decent design. Think again. I looked at smaller camper vans but I can’t cope with rock n roll beds!
So I’m thinking king either very compact motorhome or large camper van.
In other words, I just don’t know!
Not easy is it? Like you I’ve never understood why panel van conversions seem to cost more than some larger ‘regular’ motorhomes. Sure they are easier to park but I liked the extra headroom and decent shower cubicle in the larger type of motorhome. I was also concerned that the sliding doors of a panel van would be a cold zone and not ideal in winter.
For wild camping I think much of it depends on where you intend to base yourself. The chosen area will either be motorhome friendly or it won’t. To blend in if that’s a concern the self build panel van is probably the best solution and for those willing to tackle some of the work themselves by far the cheapest but it’s not something I ever did and I’d be worried about resale value.
Good luck in finding the right one.
Really interesting reading all the various comments, so helpful. We have just bought a Rapido 873 motorhome and intend to travel the UK and Europe. We spent five months in a class 3 MH in New Zealand while visiting my family a few years back, we missed motor homing so much, hence buying our latest one.
We want to go somewhere or a month in February a bit warmer than over in the UK, any suggestions?
Have you planned a trip for February yet? Most Europeans seem to head for southern Spain or Morocco in our winter. You should work out the costs of fuel, ferries etc as it might be fairly expensive for a month. Most who escape our winter do so for much longer but then most are retired!
I’ve only just come across your website after typing in the relevant words!
I’m a 54 yo recently divorced male coming up for early retirement. I’ve been seriously thinking about giving up my rented flat and buying a motorhome & living/travelling in it fulltime. There isn’t anything keeping me in Manchester.
I’ve never really lived on my own & always had a family around me until 18 months ago.
I’m really worried about being on my own in a motorhome. How to cope with periods of loneliness etc..I probably sound a bit needy but it is a concern. What advice can you give me please? It is what I’d like to do, I just need some guidance. Any will be greatly appreciated.
Enjoyed reading through your site. After splitting up last year after 20 years of marraige I ‘ve decided to give it all up and live in a motorhome, so I’ve purchased a Burstner 535 Active to go travelling Europe this year, aiming to be in Malaga by the winter. Just waiting on the house sale now. In the past I’ve owned a small Mitsubishi L300 30 year old camper which I used to go to Geneva and back and I also travelled to the Languedoc region of France in a Mercedes Sprinter conversion last year. One of the most important things I think if you are planning on driving into towns and cities is parkability. Keep it short (about 6m max) and you can park in most normal bays cutting out the stress of looking for places to park. The Burstner is about 6m, has 6 berths ! and a separate shower so you can get a lot into a small package. I had planned to spend up to 24K on a camper but got this one for half that with 40K miles on the clock. All I will say to anyone looking is keep scouring daily and you’ll spot a bargain in the end, just be prepared to move quickly to buy. I hope to finance my travels by playing guitar in bars and cafes and campsites. Maybe I’ll form a travelling troupe on the way. Can’t wait to get moving now. Roll on summer. Cheers for now. Ian
Hi Gary – I am going to be a first timer in a motorhome and would appreciate any info you have on which is considered to be the most reliable, in terms of breakdowns, etc. Also, are there any motorhomes with space for the bed to be permanently up but still with room to live. Your advice appreciated. Thks.
Just read your 10 things you need to know about living in a Motorhome . Didn’t see any answer to the bit about TV ‘s but maybe I missed it. From what I can gather the whole issue of TV’s is not an easy one, forgetting the licence issue for a moment. Think about what and how you are going to use or get to watch TV you need to think about what you want to watch on it as in Spain you can forget about watching BBC channels and even ITV as well so it’s not just a question of plugging in and bingo everything works the best of TV set ups can set you back one or two thousand pounds and then with subscription to a network like sky is another 10/15pounds a month not forgetting Internet service providers as well . The whole thing can work out extremely expensive. So think hard about what it is you going to miss. And maybe think about just using Internet on a site or over night stay some where, and watch catch up TV on your laptop and DVDs perhaps which don’t need anything and of course finally getting back to the point of a TV licence you don’t need to worry about that either if your watching catch up TV on your laptop.
Hi there 🙂 I wonder if you’d give me your thoughts on leaving a camper van on a friend’s land. He would put an electric hook-up there for us but is it perfectly legal as it’s a mobile home so to speak? Also have you any other suggestions for staying somewhere long term for very low rent? We’re in the Bournemouth, Dorset area. Thank you 🙂
I’m afraid I don’t know the law in relation to this since I never intended to stay in one place for any length of time. I seem to remember seeing it being discussed on forums and I think there was some time limit involved but maybe someone reading this can reply using the comments to help you out. I know people have lived in a caravan on their own land for extended periods whilst they are building a new home but I don’t think it would be that easy to allow friends to do this as well. Councils really hate anyone who questions authority or calls into question what we get for our council tax and they are bound to have some rule to prevent people from just staying on land belonging to a friend. If anyone can shed any light on this please do.
All the best
Yes I don’t enjoy TV enough to pay the money to get reliable TV in a motorhome. A friend does have an expensive seeking sat dish that allows him to get UK TV almost anywhere, certainly northern parts of Spain. I personally watch more DVD’s than TV when I was in the motorhome. As for the TV licence, it does seem such an old fashioned nonsense. What do we really get for it? Certainly no more Top Gear so apart from some lovely wildlife documentaries what broadcastings do we get that the independent channels can’t or won’t give us? I used to be a fan of the idea of the TV licence but the BBC has become much more commercial and when you find out more about the antics of Jimmy Savile and others and how people ignored what was going on I don’t have much sympathy for the organisation.
OK a motorhome is made up of 2 parts, the base vehicle and the actual part you live in. Most motorhomes are based on Fiat Ducato which is pretty good in most respects. There is an issue with 5th gear on some models and reverse gear judder on others so you need to either check the repair has been done or buy one of the years where this issue was no longer relevant. Other motorhomes are based on Mercedes, Peugeot, Renault, Ford etc and most are OK. As they are commercial vehicles built for hard use and large mileage you really only need to do the usual checks in regards to servicing and how well maintained it was been.
The habitation side of things is another issue. Many feel that the British built ones make decent motorhomes for a few holidays but not for living in. There may be exceptions to this but certainly when I was viewing the UK makes were not built as well as the older German ones. As for the permanent bed you will find that some have one at the back situated over a garage which has lots of space. In my case I had a permanent double that was situated above the driving cab and came down on gas struts. More modern ones have doubles that come down with an electric switch. In my opinion these are a good compromise and the bed is permanently made up but it’s not taking up space until you need it. As a result you can find motorhomes between 6 metres and 6.5 metres which still feel relatively spacious (with motorhomes the work spacious is all relative).
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the comment and sorry it took so long to reply. Yes I agree the 6 metre length is good compromise. With a pull down bed that’s permanently made up but out of the way during the day you still have a vehicle with a decent amount of space but easy to drive (and park). As for earning whilst travelling there are a few types of work where this is possible and music certainly could be one of them. Good luck with the adventure, would be curious to know how you get on.
All the best
Found your comments very helpful, I will be 65 in 12 months time and plan to live the van life full time. I am at present converting a Ford Transit LWB into a motorhome and with the cost of the van plan to spend about £3000 on it, between now and next July my final working month I am planing to save as much of my wages as possible to put away for emergencies, should be around
£7000 then my only income will be my pensions of around £800 a month which as a single guy should be more than enough for me to live on, looking forward to a great adventure
My girlfriend and I are relocating from South Africa to the UK. We initially intend buying a motorhome to live in and work from. We intend starting our own business but want to travel around first to get a feel for the country and then decide where we wish to live. We have had so many negative comments about our ideas and people wishing to warn us about the pitfalls, but I am so heartened to find your blog with your practical advice. We are fully prepared to live in a small space with the minimum of baggage. We are selling everything up and coming over with the bare minimum.
We are 54 and 60 years old, so we are not springchickens, but we want this adventure so badly.
We don’t have pots of money so staying in expensive campsites all the time is not an option. We do have family who would be quite happy for us to park overnight on their properties every now and then. We have been told that we will have problems with a big van and driving it through the towns, parking, emissions etc etc etc. We will be based down the south of England between Kent, Hampshire and Devon as we have family there. Would we have loads of problems just parking ‘wild’?
As for purchasing a van, we can afford up to 20000 pounds, preferably less, what advice can you give us in this respect? Petrol or Diesel? Anything you can advise or warn us about would be great.
Looking forward to your response.
Brilliant and useful blog so thank you. I currently live between my VW crafter motorhomes and a narrowboat after selling my house last year. I’m a single girl, 49 yrs. I love being in my campervan and the freedom it gives me. The boat is good for some reasons such as washing machine and I’m currently in a marina so have hook up electric but that said I find the boat more of a tie and the cost of moorings and boat maintenance soon add up. I have mifi in the camper which won’t work inside the steel she’ll of the boat but is perfect in the camper. The boat has become more of a storage space for my worldly goods such as books etc. and I am now considering selling it and living in the camper full time but maybe getting a bigger one. The only thing I can’t work out yet is that I sew all manner of things to make some money and not sure how I’d do that in the camper without electric hook up. I have 2 leisure batteries which run most things but not the sewing machine. I do have a portable generator on the boat but it’s a bit noisy to use in the camper. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Also do you book in a campsite to fill up with water and empty toilet or can you just use their facilities?
Good luck. Yes £800.00 a month can be enough I guess at current cost of living. Emergency fund a good idea. You always need to consider the cost of maintaining the vehicle you live in. Having a regular house that you can rent out is often how most people fund the adventure in retirement.
All the best
The Motorhome Vagabond
Sorry for not replying sooner but I don’t own the motorhome anymore and other things leave me little time for this blog. Firstly I would say that the sort of vehicle you end up getting needs some thought. In my opinion there is a certain minimum size to make it comfortable if you plan to live in it. For just shorter tours I think a panel van type is ideal but to live in (especially for 2 of you) you might want to consider something like what I had as a minimum size. Diesel is more furl efficient than petrol and that’s what I would get. As for age of the vehicle generally I would say the overall condition is more important than age since many vehicles do quite low annual mileage. The exception to this though is if you want to be in the London area since the emission zone dictates that you need a newer diesel vehicle or a petrol one instead. A big van is not really a problem to drive in the South East, yes parking is slightly harder but you just get used to passing tight spaces and looking for larger ones.
Parking wild can be a problem. Strictly speaking wild camping is illegal in England but it depends on the definition of camping. If you stay within the confines of the vehicle which is legally taxed it seems to be tolerated but I have had people question whether I’m sleeping in the vehicle overnight. Generally I would advise researching lots of possible locations before you need to use them and then having a number you can move between from time to time without spending more than a couple of nights at one before moving to the next. I found many of the wild locations I used using forums and google searches. You quickly get a sense as to whether a place feels safe or not.
Your budget is pretty good and would get you a decent vehicle in either petrol or diesel. Once you have your list of what you ‘need’ and what you would ‘like’ it should narrow the field slightly. Depending on how long you plan to keep the vehicle it’s possible to lose very little in terms of depreciation. I have a friend who buys and sells his privately and he usually keeps them 2 years and makes his money back.
Hope this helps and good luck with the adventure.
We are a family living in a motorhome, It should be mentioned that home schooling is illegal in certain countries such as Germany for one example, and the police constantly stop us when they see the children to ask why they are not in school, it’s ok once they realize where we are insured and registered as residents but once in a while we are subjected to searches and waiting for hours.
I should also mention that some countries do not allow living in a motorhome, even when they accept gypsies, Romanians and genes de voyage ( means people who travel) French, I’ve seen grandparents in france take their kids to court just to ground their grandchildren from traveling, the hypocrisy is insane, a judge standing outside trying to justify why she and a prosecutor supported hunting down grandchildren living in motor home outside france and while she is saying all this you can see gypsies in broken caravans in the background and no one cares about their children yet they applied for housing.
So I have one question, what do you do if your motorhome breaks down and you have kids but no more residential address?
We use adac and they has previously transported the motorhome to a garage while giving us a car to return, they do this if the repair either takes longer then three days which involves taxi , car hire and hotel, or they simply transport you all and the vehicle back to your german address, problem is not having a fixed residency since your living in your motorhome, and to get better insurance coverage you need a UK residency, some companies cover both breakdown and recovery as well as repairs.
Do share any info, the ultimate solution is to have a eu residency, insured for breakdown, recovery and repairs, eu internet via satellite or 4g and able to home school if you have kids.
Hello?… I’m in a bit of a pickle my aunt as a big beautiful Winnebago parked on her “paid” house’s parking space.she’s going to eventually sell her home and more than likely sell my potential home (the bago) ? I’m so sad about this as she is as the loss on her purchases are going to be real if we cant see a way around this ?… I’ve never leaves in a motor home let alone drive one?… to be frank I’ve not even got a vehicle license,but I’m in desperate need of a home and would love to give my aunts “bay go”a fresh start of a home I have one daughter who’s 11years old we lived in a 1bed flat for all her live just for the council to sneakily take our home (the only home)we had,as deep as to say my girl was born in that flat and now we are both without a home or each other as she has to stay with her dad ots been two years now and I want her home the council will not help and getting a bond for a 2 bed house is mere impossible as my ex is now in receipt of my girls benefits and because of this there’s just no help for me .Im now considering this motorhome but want to stay in my own environment and area how or what can I do to ease the whole situation
Hi there,i am very pleased that i found this site as i have been trying to find some deesent info about living in a camper for a long time,i do not live in the UK but england is my second home as my wive is british and i have lots of relativis in uk,i alwayes have somewhere to stay when i come to england but you know it is not that freedom that alwayes wanted,the thing is that where i come from is unberably hot in summer so i was thinking that if i come to uk for three months a camper is the best idea as i will have a home and a car in the same time,and from what i just read i think it will be fun,my only consern is where i am going to leave or store the camper when i go back home and how much it will cost me to store it? I hope some one will asware me about this concern i have and thanks verymuch for all the info.
There are some dedicated storage areas within some campsites and some people do use these for winter storage for example. If however you are looking for storage 9 months a year I think it would be costly. Finding someone with a very large driveway who is willing to look after it for you would be better and you can then pay them an amount for doing you a favour.
Hi Gary i’d like to ask for some advice – we run a small cleaning business and at the moment have two vans for our business needs and we thought why not getting another one to live in ?! : ) We pay over £1000 in rent at the moment (hampshire / surrey border) and could save a lot if living in a motorhome. My only concern is that we have a 6yrs old daughter and not sure how safe is to live in a motohome in brit with children .
Im thinking getting a Transit jumbo van and fitting skylights on roof only – so it won’t be a lot different from my other vans – that way I can keep a low profile ?!.. and changing the place every night in a radius of 10 miles from my child school that can help too ?!
I am not worried about anything else (power / water etc that can be sorted) – only thinking whether is safe or not
many thx : )
Interesting question. During my time living in a motorhome I learnt a great deal and I’ve been able to pass some of this on to others when asked. I’ve also been contacted by many others living in a motorhome who had a different circumstance to myself.
One person was a guy who was living in a van with wife, kids and pets! His motorhome was slightly smaller than mine. The fact you are already thinking about this and talking about moving location within a certain radius regularly at least shows you considering what implications you might face. You would need an address for the purposes of registering a child at school I believe but this could be a relative perhaps, just think it through.
Safety wise I’d say it’s OK but start looking at what locations you would use and visit them at night to see what you think. It’s better to rehearse as much as possible before taking the leap. Those who plan for it are more likely to enjoy the experience and last.
Most fulltimers don’t have kids but being a parent does not mean you can’t make it work. Whilst it’s much cheaper than renting do consider things like the amount of space you will need and what it will be like in winter. Also if the main reason for doing it is to save money consider other alternatives that might be cheaper than renting but more expensive than free wild camping. If you have two vans already a caravan might be better with more space if you can find campsites at decent rates in your area. Cheaper campsites might cost £300.00 instead of the £1000.00 rent. You would need few thousand for decent caravan but you would spend that and more on van to convert to live in.
I don’t know how your cleaning business is doing. If business is bad be careful about downsizing to keep solvent, you don’t want to be working for nothing.
In summary make sure you consider all the implications, the alternatives and plan ahead. Do that and whatever decision you make is likely to have a higher chance of success.
Hi Gary, well what a blog. I’ve been thinking about a change but not sure what to do. Turned 50 this year and worked all my life. Now divorced with a mortgaged that eats into my wages, not leaving a lot of spare cash. Was considering buying a boat and living on the canal. Not the cheapest idea. So i thought about a camper van and having the freedom to travel and still work.
Found your blog very informative and have made my decision. Camper van it is or should i say motorhome. that’s the hardest decision to make. Both have their positives and negatives. It will be for me, my staffy-x and my birds. will look at both in very fine detail and let you know what i decide.
Is it better to buy our motor home abroad rather than in England? If we buy abrod how do we register with no fixed address? How much and how do we insure our motor home if it is our home and we have no fixed home as we are travelling in Europe for the whole year? Do we need road tax if we buy abroad and only drive abroad?
Sorry for late reply. Buying abroad used to be popular when you could get €1.60 to every £1.00. It’s probably not as common now but some still buy overseas (usually from places like Germany and Holland). You need to consider whether you want a left hand drive motorhome. In my experience driving a left or right hand vehicle does not matter much but if you plan to sell the motorhome in the UK Brits seem to pay less for left hand drive vehicles (so if you were to register it in UK and likely to sell in UK make sure any saving when buying left hand drive was really worth it).
You can register a vehicle with DVLA using a relatives address or some other address. As long as they have somewhere to send the document. Somewhere you can collect post. Insurance can be obtained without fixed address. The best way to do it would be obtain a fulltimers policy if you live in the motorhome. The premium is more expensive but the premium is not based on any postcode so the address you give the insurer can be any where you can collect the documents. Not many companies offer fulltimers policies but there should still be a couple who do (Comfort was one). I’m sure some fulltimers just get a regular policy and then use the address of friend or relative. In these cases the postcode would have an impact on quote and I’d be curious how people answer the question ‘where is the vehicle kept overnight’.
There are those that travel in Europe most of the year. Unless it’s a brand new vehicle though not yet subject to an MOT you would need to return at least one to get the new MOT. I’d assume you would then need to tax the vehicle for at least a month to allow you to drive to the MOT station. Since I never spent a whole year in Europe I’m not best placed to answer your questions on road tax.
The Motorhome Vagabond
I thought I would share my write-up on getting a satellite Internet system for our van up and running for under £200, given there isn’t much info out there on how to DIY.
Here is the blob post:
Link deleted as not linking to https (secure) site.
Hope it helps someone..
Hi gary we are thinking of buying a motorhome to live in full time, our problem is we are both still at work full time we are renting at the moment £1250 a month we can only get a mortgage for a hundred and 30 thousand and in surrey that doesn’t get you anything. I am 57 and my partner is 54. What we need to know is where can we put the motor home full time and can you do this and where can you do this. When we retire travelling is what we want to do in a motorhome so thats why we are thinking of getting it now. Thank you Gary Penny
Hi Gary & Penny,
I would say it’s certainly possible for 2 people to live much more cheaply than £1250.00 per month fulltiming. I don’t know how long you have until retirement or where you both work. It sounds like you are outside the low emission zone of London and in any case you might be looking at a newer motorhome that would be compliant, just something to check. Wild camping (free) is harder in built up areas and with you both working I would advise looking at campsites. The 2 main clubs have a rule on maximum days, one being 21 the other 28 from memory so you would need to find at least 2 campsites you like and move between them. A small number of sites do seasonal pitches that you can rent for 3 months at a time or more but you would need to see if these exist in your area. By moving out of rented accommodation and living at campsites you would make various savings. You would not have council tax to pay. You would also not have utilities like electricity and water as these are usually included with pitch fees.
Since you don’t own your own property you would need to think about an address you could use for insurance documents and other important things like registering with GP and dentist. There are always ways to do this.
If you are asking where you store the motorhome because you want to buy it now but continue to live in rented accommodation until retirement then I’m sorry if I misunderstood the question. Some sites have storage options but they naturally charge. If I was in your shoes I would probably investigate the campsites close to your workplaces and then having looked at costs make the move now. Renting at £1250.00 does seem a waste of money. I don’t know what your income or savings are like but you could look outside the south east to buy property. Having an affordable property elsewhere that you rented out could be a small retirement income and as owner you could quote the address for documents etc. Once fully retired if some years down the line you don’t like the motorhome life you could always sell the motorhome and live in your property. London and South East is where most of the work is but it’s so overcrowded I would not want to live there.
Hope this helps.
Thank you for all your posts and all the information you have shared. We are just at the start of the process, looking at vans and hopefully will be in Europe in 18 months time.
I was wondering if you knew of any forums or web sites that were currently active of people were were on the road currently and over seas? i keep finding old sites.
Rachael and James
Sorry since selling my motorhome I don’t really keep us with the ‘scene’ as much. Many of the people I knew who were fulltiming are now living in regular houses. Those that I know who still live in a motorhome are largely based in one location and rarely blog these days. I have noticed lots of YouTube channels however dedicated to this lifestyle. Many of these YouTube channels seem to be targeted to drama and making money. Not too many have useful information for those considering the same lifestyle but they do exist!
Did you get a motorhome? Many motorhome owners have a dog. I’ve known a few with birds too. Motorhomes are definitely cheaper option than boats but both have their merits. I now live in bungalow in Northampton but still miss the motorhome from time to time. I do have lots of time to travel though so cannot complain. Hoping to do Japan by campervan in November. Who knows maybe one day I’ll own another motorhome.
Apologies for late reply but I have been away from this blog for some time. Did you get a resolution to your problem?
All the best
In my original post I had not considered the impact of having school age children since most fulltimers seem to be single people or retired people. You seem to have lots of experience of how home schooling is treated in various countries. Would be interesting to see if any other readers have comments on how they have dealt with these issues. I did have one reader some years ago who lived with his kids in a motorhome but they were not that mobile and the kids were in a normal school. As far as the authorities were concerned they were living at an address that I believe belonged to a relative.
What did you end up doing? Did you sell the boat and change the motorhome? Was the VW Crafter a self build? Interesting way to make money with sewing. If you want to be able to wild camp and do not want to use campsites then generator would seem the best solution. One of the quiet Honda or Kipor ones are supposed to be really good. Do you need to sew every day? A good compromise might be to enjoy seeing places and relaxing some days and then maybe using a campsite for 2 nights a week and working like crazy with sewing to complete any jobs you need to do. I used to do something similar in that I would visit places and take photos when the weather was good but visit a campsite to catch up with admin and work when it was wet or dull outside.
Most club sites have a facility where you can pay a smaller fee just to empty chemical toilet, drain grey water and take on fresh water. It was still something like £5-6 though so I preferred to pay for a night at campsite and use the electric hookup for 24 hours too.
I no longer have the motorhome but would like to get a small one for weekend trips. Might be visiting Japan in November as a camper tour.
All the best
What did you do in the end? I guess it depends on how much contact with people you like to have. I did not need lots myself but certainly liked chatting to campsite wardens and other campers when I had the chance. I found a 10-15 minute conversation each day was enough for me but everyone is different. I think it helps if you have hobbies or interests to stop you feeling bored. Having said that though the same applies in a house, you can still feel bored and lonely if you don’t have hobbies and interests regardless of your living circumstances.
Some excellent insights, but regarding a ‘permament address for mail, have you considered http://www.boatmail.com? They offer a mail forwarding service, originally for narrow-boat owners, but they also cater for caravans and motorhomes. Cheers, Alan.
I have heard about this service and a few like it before. For me getting post was not an issue but it’s certainly one of the things that gets asked the most by others. Like with most things where a need exists a service will arise.
Thanks for the comment, hopefully the link will help others who have concerns about this.
The Motorhome Vagabond
Hello Gary! I been reading your blog since yesterday and I have to thank you for doing this! As I always say..If you do not do what you love how do you expect things to happen?
We are a young couple with a dog looking forward to buy our first camper.
We are Italian and moving to Scotland next year (will work at a hotel in Skye, but as we already did it, we expect this to work for the following years)
We are not sure if we can buy a camper in Scotland without the residence or if we can just buy a roulotte and park it on the hotel premises.. Other options are buying it in Italy as we have the residence there, but insurance and prices are higher..
We really want to live on the road, on 4 wheels and we are hoping this to happened!
Can you give us some advice ?
Is Gumtree a good place to look for 2nd hand mobiles?
What kind of things do full-timers do to earn a living, or provide an extra income assuming they’re renting out a property?
I’ll try and answer your questions. I don’t know of any reason why you could not buy a camper in the UK and drive it. Usually you will be able to drive it on your Italian licence but you need to check if there are any limits as there might be a rule that says after a few years they expect you to take the UK driving test and apply for UK driving licence instead. You could of course buy camper in Italy and drive it across. If Italy is like the UK in that there is an annual roadworthy test for vehicles then you would need to return to Italy once a year for this test. As for insurance you would again need to check what it covers you for. I no longer live in a motorhome but when I did the policy allowed me to travel outside the UK for the whole 12 months but there was a limit per overseas country of something like 60-90 days. I guess you need to look at the pros and cons of both options. Buying and insuring in the UK would seem to make the most sense but just check how long you can do this on an overseas licence.
I’m sure you can buy a camper without being a resident unless of course you are expecting to buy it on finance. Using finance they are likely to want a fixed address etc to do the credit checks. If paying cash though I don’t see any reason why you can’t buy here.
You do find some campers on Gumtree but Ebay would be a better option (the UK version). I know a friend who buys his motorhomes on Ebay and he gets good deals. He tends to keep them for about 12-18 months and then sells them for what he paid and buys another. Buying from a dealer gives you some added warranty usually but their prices are always overpriced. Paying a few pounds to check the history of the vehicle is worth it and it might even be worth paying a specialist to check the vehicle too, both mechanically and the habitation area.
Scotland has the advantage of being less densely populated and wild camping is allowed so you don’t have to use campsites every night.
Good luck with your research.
All the best
Good question. For me personally for part of the time I had a regular office job. This meant keeping the motorhome in a location close to the office. For most of my fulltiming though I had my own travel related business. Other fulltimers I have met have had pretty varied backgrounds.
Some had regular office jobs. Others worked for themselves in internet related work like web design etc. Other people I’ve met had jobs like writer and others made things that they sold on websites like Etsy. There are lots of options for resourceful people. Many would earn less than average but then their outgoings were also much less. There are a number of fulltimers who work for Camping and Caravanning Club. They tend to work on a site that operates between about April and October. They get a free pitch and a basic wage. They then escape the UK in winter and stay in southern Europe until the season starts next spring.
In an ideal world you would have at least one property that was being rented. If the mortgage is fully paid the income from renting alone could be enough to get by.
Hope this helps.
Very interesting ,you certainly cover near enough all of the questions that anyone would need to know.
We have just retired recently and are thinking of motor home living.
In your opinion what would be a good motor home to purchase.
Would you recommend a new motor home if funds were available, or are secondhand motorhomes if they have been well looked after,just as good.
I suppose a nightmare is, how do you get credit with no address, so if your motorhome passes its sell by date and you have sold your house your a bit stuck
I’m thinking about starting up in a motorhome and heading out for the first time at 50 this October…poss plan to be in the van and fully settled by Easter next year at the latest.
Do you recommend a perfect size for a single guy and is there a limit on size or restrictions that may cause problems when visiting sites, traveling abroad, certain roads etc. driving licence restrictions ? To name a few issues !
tbh I plan to park up on the same site for the most part and travel either the length and breadth of the country or head to the south of France in the summer. Have a fully time job but it’s based in a college so term time rules apply. Have a long summer to kill each year ??
One step at a time all the same. B?
Any suggestions on a good size motorhome?
Hi, my husband and myself are both retired. We own our own home. We are thinking about selling up and living on the road for a few years , until we need to settle for health reasons. I would appreciate any advice you could offer about how to set about researching the feasibility of our plan. What would be the pitfalls, the advantages, costs not obvious to those not living on the road?
We are thinking bijou motorhome, and except for odd times, UK rather than Europe.
Where to start! There is no such thing as the perfect size of vehicle. For fulltiming you really want one with shower and toilet which rules out many smaller vans like most VW’s. If you plan to use campsites all the time then this is less of an issue. Personally for living in a vehicle I would want a high top so I can stand up in the vehicle when cooking for example. If you don’t plan to carry lots of possessions then you don’t need a large vehicle but some are better at downsizing from a house than others.
As for licence restrictions if you took your test as a youngster like me you can drive anything up to 7.5 tonnes on your normal licence which covers virtually every motorhome. Younger people are only allowed up to 3.5 Tonnes which is why so many motorhomes are below this weight. The vehicle weight can impact the cost of tolls overseas so if you plan to use European Roads regularly you might want to investigate this.
I no longer fulltime and I now live in a bungalow. I still miss the motorhome and would like one if funds allowed for weekend trips away etc. I’d probably get a panel van conversion which is easier to drive and park but I don’t think I could live permanently in a vehicle that small.
You should try and visit a motorhome show or a large dealer and walk around a few to get an idea of size. Think about your possessions and where you would put things. You could even hire a vehicle you think would be suitable to get a sense if it’s the right size before committing lots of cash. Most motorhome owners will tell you that there are always compromises. We would all like the size in a huge American RV with slideouts but few of us want to drive something that large or fuel it. I was happy with my 6 metre long Hymer for living in. Clever use of space, well built and comfy drop down bed over the cab which was permanently made up (converting a lounge space to a bed every night can become a chore for some people).
Hope this helps.
Agreed when you start this lifestyle you need to consider depreciation on the motorhome. If you have property I would rent it out rather than sell it. The lifestyle should be cheaper so you need to save the difference. If you don’t then sure you will find yourself stuck when you need to replace the motorhome.
I can’t make that decision for you but I would buy 2nd hand in your shoes. Since most people do very low mileage you should expect to find motorhomes in great condition, even up to 10 years old or more. They are based on commercial vehicles that would normally be expected to do high mileage. They hold their value well so buying used may still cost more than you expect but it will mean you will recoup most of this when you come to sell.
As for what model to buy much of that depends on your needs. Bigger means more storage but perhaps harder to drive in places with narrow streets. What I would advise is looking at lots of models. Open all the cupboards, any interior doors and try and get a sense of the build quality. I’ve just come back from a motorhome show and it was remarkable how many brand new models felt poorly made or where things like cupboard catches had already failed. German makes like Hymer, Burstner are usually well built. Some French models are OK too. Some British makes have interiors that the UK market likes but the build is variable. Some UK made vehicles are well regarded though. I’m probably in the market for a used campervan and UK makes are on my shortlist. Autosleepers seem well made, though their interiors used to look dated.
Joining a motorhome forum will soon reveal which makes get the most complaints from owners.
Hello, since my landlord sold the house i was sharing with 4 other tennants in April 2017, i have been convertineg mt Hyundia H100 Van. I have build a frame at the rear for the cooking and storage for the pots and pans. A storage under the bed i managed to make from pallets that i was given. I have two 12v Batteries and a 1500w inverter so i can watch my tv and play games on my xbox, am investing in two 100w solor panels to regenerate paower back into the batteries.
I must admit it was a bit strange at first, but now 5 weeks in, i am getting used to it, and have found three places that i feel safe during the night when i park up. This is the beauty of having the van, i can choose the areas i want to sleep. I work as a lorry driver so during the week i park 10 mins from work and then at weekends i choose a dark(ish) wooded area.
I used to have a Hyundai i800 so know the vehicle you mean well. With wild camping you do get used to which areas you feel are safe. I van is perfect for stealth too. Good luck with the adventure. Do you have any form of heating for when winter comes?
Hi Gary, I am new to living in a motor home or i will be once i have got mine ready. I have just recently bought a 59-seater Volvo B-10-M coach with a Van-hool body that i am going to convert into a large motor- home & my intention is to drive on the continent as far as Greece if i can. What i would like to know if you can help me is what sort of paperwork would i need to carry other than the obvious that i always carry ,being my driving licence, passport, insurance certificate & a covering letter from my doctors to explain if i get asked why i am carrying so many medical pills that some countries might take for illegal drugs. but i cant think of anything else i would need.Also can you advise on the route to take with a large coach from the UK down to Greece & are there any country check point i would need anything special to produce.If you can help i would be very much ablidged. Thanks BRIAN.
I’m 60, fed up with rat race and wanting to buy a motor home to live in and travel – UK initially, then maybe Europe. I have a 25k budget and believe this is ok for a good 2nd hand MH.
I’ve read with interest all the posts on your site – I guess my main question would be – How easy or practical would it be to live like this? Would I need to plan my route throughout the UK and pre-book sites? How long can you stay at any one site and is the price discounted if multiple nights. If wild camping – again how long can you stay? Also is there a list of wild campsite locations, or is it simply stopping where you fancy near a lake or mountain?
I live on my own so it would only be me.
If there are any other tips I’d be pleased to hear. I’m planning on departure from my rented cottage sometime in April 2019. So I can plan and prepare.
Your budget is certainly enough to get you something decent. If it’s for living in you need to consider how much space you need and perhaps focus on certain brands which offer better build quality in terms of the living area.
I never planned more than a few days ahead. You will find that campsites are busy at weekends so they need booking well in advance but during the week you can often book same day (school holidays the exception). If the idea is to live more cheaply than bricks and mortar then I feel you will need to combine campsites with some wild camping. Some campsites offer discounts for extended stays and you won’t have the same utility costs and council tax. I feel what you can save living this lifestyle needs to be set aside in a fund to go to repairs or upgrading the motorhome when the time comes. Unlike houses, motorhomes don’t increase in value. Look at used prices for the sort of models you are looking at. You should quickly tell that there is a certain age of vehicle where the previous owners have taken the depreciation hit and you could then own for a number of years with limited depreciation if cared for well.
As for wild camp locations I’m a member of the following website:
There is a fee for their points of interests (locations) but it’s updated and worth the cost for someone planning to travel as much as you do. After your first year you might feel you don’t need it. When I was fulltiming I got a good sense of where to stop quite quickly.
The only other advice I would probably give is to try and rent a motorhome for a one week road trip. It will give you a rough idea of what to expect and tell you if it might be the sort of life you could follow before you leave your existing accommodation.
Good luck with it all.
The Motorhome Vagabond
Good luck with the dog walking business Gary! Hopefully you and your dog can still get away for some adventures in a campervan from time to time.
Thanks Lorraine! Good luck with the pet portraits. Amazing work.
The Motorhome Vagabond