(This post is part of a series. If you’re new to my blog or this is the first you’ve seen of this series, you might look at the introduction first.)
I recently pointed out that full-time RV living is something that can be done at any income and budget level. This time we’ll talk about ways to make a living or ways to supplement an existing income stream that can be done while living in your RV.
Workin’ Nine To Five
I suppose I should start out with the obvious and possibly overlooked option: a conventional job. Just because your house has wheels doesn’t mean you have to be on the move constantly. It is quite possible to work a regular job while living at a trailer park, campground, or RV park. Even working in a city, you might be surprised at how many urban RV and trailer parks there are, and often close to shopping and bus lines.
Some people do this as a transitional step. As they prepare to retire or quit their regular job, they buy an RV and begin living in it while they count down to retirement or gear up for a location-independent income opportunity. If you are new to RVing, this is a great way to get used to your new home and lifestyle without suddenly abandoning the support system of friends, family, and job.
It’s also a perfectly good option for someone who isn’t interested in becoming a vagabond, but is interested in an RV as a simple and environmentally friendly minimalist dwelling and an alternative to conventional housing options.
Transient, Temporary, and Contract Work
There are many fields and jobs that involve frequent moving around. Workers often spend as little as a few days or weeks, or as much as several months or more at a given location before moving on. I’ve met travelling nurses, teachers, power plant workers, salespeople, consultants, and technicians of all sorts who have transient work environments. Typically people with such jobs stay in rental homes, apartments, or extended-stay hotels. Employees are often given a generous per diem to cover housing, while independent contractors pay for their own housing, but their compensation usually is more than adequate to cover living expenses.
A smart transient worker can travel by RV, which will almost certainly cost less than endless hotel stays, even when living at a campground or RV park with full amenities, and pocket the difference. There’s also the advantage of having your own home wherever you are, not having to pack and unpack for each move, and sleeping in your own bed every night.
Location Independent Occupations
This is what some of you may be looking for. You want to come and go as you please – wherever and whenever you want. Is it possible to make a living without being stuck in one place or chasing contract work? Of course it is.
If you have a blog or other website that generates income, as long as you can get online as often as necessary, you’re all set. Maintaining reliable connectivity is indeed possible; look here to learn more. Affiliate programs, online sales (eBay and Etsy are good examples), web design, and more are all internet income possibilities.
As long as you have a computer (or, for that matter, pen and paper) you can write no matter where you are. Of course you could write on any topic you like–fiction or non, and any format–book, magazine, newspaper, blog–but many RVing authors find the lifestyle an inspiration for their writing. Blogging about your travels or reviewing campgrounds or tourist destinations or offering technical support and how-to articles are just a few examples of RV-inspired writing.
In the era of digital photography, access to a darkroom is no longer needed to be a professional photographer. With a DSLR camera and a laptop computer you have all you need for most photographic endeavors. You could take travel and nature photographs for magazines, or photos of campgrounds or other businesses for advertising. You could travel around as a freelance photojournalist, documenting news stories, sporting events, and entertainment news. The list of potential photographic subjects is practically limitless.
Flea Markets, Fairs, Trade Shows and More
If you like people and sales work, or have a trade or craft that lends itself to such venues, then you could become a manufacturer’s rep or salesperson, or an independent vendor, or make and sell your own craft or other product at related travelling or seasonal events,
Get Paid For Being Helpful
Are you handy? You could make your skills known when you stop at an RV park or campground, and get paid to help your fellow campers with RV repairs or computer or electronics help.
“Workamping” is an umbrella term that covers varying types of work, with the common denominator being that the work requires one to live on-site and the payment is in the form of a place to camp. Sometimes there might even be some cash to be had, too, but most workamping gigs are just trade-for-campsite deals, so they work well if you already have an income stream of some sort (retirement, internet, writing) that you’d like to be able to stretch by reducing your living expenses.
Campgrounds and RV Parks
The most obvious type of workamping gig is at a campground or RV park. You might do maintenance, security, landscaping, or office work. Many places prefer couples because they get two workers in exchange for one campsite, but solo campers can find work, too. Compensation ranges anywhere from a dry campsite all the way to full hookups (including free electricity) plus free propane, with most being somewhere in the middle – full hookups but you pay for your electric, or have an electric allowance, and maybe a discount on propane. Most places want 20 hours per week in exchange for a campsite.
Parks and Recreation
The US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other federal, state, and local agencies that operate public camping and recreation areas recruit volunteers as camp hosts, maintenance workers, interpretive guides, and more. In exchange you get a free campsite (amenities vary from primitive to full hookups) and plenty of free time to explore and enjoy our public lands.
Caretaking, House-sitting, and Animal-sitting
There is some overlap in this area, especially between caretaking and house-sitting, and while the opportunity might be offered under any one of those names, duties might also extend to the other two. Skills needed can vary from an ability to follow simple directions (watering of plants, feeding animals) to basic or advanced maintenance skills. Some opportunities will offer you a campsite, while others, especially house- or pet-sitting, may offer living quarters or even require that you live in the home. If that is the case, make sure you will be able to park your RV on the property, or suitable arrangements can be made for convenient nearby storage.
You may not have a chauffeur-driven million-dollar tour bus, but even on a working musician’s income, you can enjoy similar amenities as the top-dollar acts by driving your own RV from gig to gig. You can forget about hotels and motels, too — you’ll have your own bed waiting for you to crash in after the show.
But Wait, There’s MORE!
There are so many possibilities. I’m sure I’ve overlooked many of them. Can you think of more? Comments are open — do share!
Mike, the blog is looking so good! I’ve been blogging off and on for almost 10 years, the first was alzheimerdad.blogspot.com about Phil getting crazier and crazier as his brain was shutting down..since then I’ve dibbled and dabbled, but I guess joyryder.net is sort of easy to post.. I love the photos..yer desert illustrations…it’s great stuff Mike, keep it up!! PS..you have a big dent on your head..I do too…Are you hip to the trepanning philosophy? More later..
I just found your blog and I’m loving it! I moved into my camper van two months ago and I’m trying to get rid of my 9-5 job so I can be a proper nomad. Coincidentally, my next blog post is about exploring my options in earning income independently in this lifestyle. I’ll be mentioning you in my next post!
Great blog! Very interesting and the way you’ve made everything work for you is spectacular. I think your experiences could serve as guidance for many others who seek to simply RV and enjoy the road!
Just ran into your blog it’s definitely inspirational to anyone who wants to break out from the average everyday lifestyle. Check out this blog for some new travel destinations.
Hello, Mike thanks for the info it was very helpful. I like that your tell people that living in an RV can work for just about anyone. Some others make it seem like its to expensive. I really enjoy reading your blog and others as well. I was wondering what do you do when after you buy a RV? You pay insurance, what else? I want a Class B or Van Convertible. I found out that you pay less insurance on used RV’s. Thank you!!!