It’s your first day at a new assignment. After the initial introduction, one of the most common questions is: Where are you staying? Well, we stay in our very own home on wheels. My husband and I, both travel nurses, live in our 37 ft Class A motorhome and have been full time RV-ers for 2.5 years.
When we initially started planning to travel nurse, moving our belongings from place to place seemed overwhelming. We decided to purchase an RV, renovate the inside, and use it to travel around to different assignments. It’s nice if you’re someone who enjoys having your own space. So here’s some valuable lessons we have learned over the years and things to consider if you’re thinking about getting an RV!
Weather: We will typically follow the weather seasonally. RV’s are not designed for extreme weather and will need major adjustments if you want to live in Phoenix in the summer or Minnesota in the winter. This isn’t a bad thing- it naturally ensures you follow good weather! However, it may be limiting to certain locations if you don’t want to go through the effort of dealing with extreme conditions. For cold weather, you will need to consider heated water hoses, skirting the underside of the RV, and an additional external propane tank. For warm weather, you will need to consider insulation for all windows and make sure your AC units are up for the job.
RV park availability/amenities: Finding an RV park has been trickier in the last year. More people are interested in RV-ing due to the ease of social distancing with this mode of travel. If you’re calling RV parks, you must ask if they do month-to-month rates. Paying a nightly rate for 13 weeks will be very expensive. Their rates will be dependent on when their “busy season” is. We have been to parks where we pay a nightly or weekly rate for a short time and then switch over to monthly during our stay. We always look for an RV park that has extra amenities like a laundromat, maybe a pool/hot tub, and an office that can receive mail. And of course full hookups, which includes water, electricity, and sewage.
Get creative with where you look to park: We typically start looking for a park by starting on google maps. We pull up the hospital and search “RV park” in that area. We then start calling RV parks and get a feel for what their rates and availability will be. My biggest tip is to keep a list! Once you start calling a couple you will get them all confused. If there are no RV parks that are available or close enough to the hospital, you can get creative. You can search craigslist or facebook marketplace for private land. Sometimes mobile home parks even have full RV hookups! Do be aware that these options may not have full hookups and remember to ask what the hook up situation is. We almost stayed at some private land in California and went to look at it before moving the RV and good thing we did. The lady planned on hooking our very large RV up to a regular three-pronged 15-amp outlet! That would maybe run our microwave.
Moving an RV: I know it’s obvious but an RV is a larger, slower, more cumbersome way to travel. You will pay more for gas or diesel when traveling and it takes physical work to pack up and unpack your home every couple months. We generally take extra travel time to allow for any potential issues while on the road. Things may break or have issues. It just comes with the territory of owning a home that can drive down the highway. And you can live smaller than you think! We wish we had bought a smaller rig.
Pets: We don’t own any pets but an RV is a great option if you have a pet traveling with you. A lot of rentals don’t allow pets but most RV parks do allow pets, most even have a dog park or grassy areas for pets. It also gives your furry friend stability and consistency while moving around.
Does it save you money? Several things to consider! You will have the initial cost of RV + tow vehicle, fifth wheel + truck, travel trailer + truck, class C RV, van build- whatever set up fits you best. You will be paying the initial cost, the payment of your rig monthly (if you have a loan), and then the monthly fees to park. In our experience discussing housing with other travelers, our monthly park fees are less than half the cost of an air bnb/vrbo rental for that area. With an RV you have an investment versus a rental. There will also be some maintenance items while owning an RV, and RV shop fees are never small! If you are handy and able to fix things yourself, you can save money on maintenance. However, after two years of living in the RV and discussing rental housing with other travelers, I think it boils down to what kind of experience you want. It may not end up saving you buckets of money but consider what type of travel best suits your desires.
Travel nursing with an RV isn’t always easy but we love the lifestyle and being able to have our own space. It’s nice to at each new place to have a space to call home. We love answering any questions and being a resource to anyone with more questions about RV life or travel nursing. Don’t hesitate to reach out on IG @roamingwiththereynolds ! Safe travels!
Written By: Matthew & Hayley ER Traveling Nurses