Welcome to post 8 of 26 in the A-Z guide to full-time RV Living!
H is for Having a Home Base
You may find that living and traveling full-time in an RV is a constant juggling of your desire for adventure and exploration vs. the conflicting desire for stability and community. In other words, you can’t have roots and wings, so they say. I’ve wrestled with that thought ever since hearing it many years ago in the rom-com Sweet Home Alabama. While my deep desire to be free to roam is stronger than the pull to be attached to a permanent location, the draw to belong somewhere is still ever-present. It’s for this reason that I’ve found an immense amount of value in establishing a home base while living on the road full time. What I mean when I say “home base” is having a familiar place that you can return to on a regular basis.
I used to think a home base meant having a house. But I’ve learned there are actually a lot of options for what a home base can look like. You just have to think outside the box.
Different ways you can have a home base as a full-time traveler…
-Spend a month or two at an RV park in the same town every year.
Many RV parks offer monthly rates, though you’ll need to plan ahead to secure a spot, and it can be great knowing that for a whole month (or two or three) that you’ve got a place to stay + hook-ups to take care of your utility needs.
-Buy a piece of property where you can legally park your RV.
Mark & I bought a parcel of land in Colorado in 2020 and we now spend a month there every spring and fall. (It can be challenging to find property where it’s legal to park your RV without having a house so be sure to do plenty of research before making a purchase)
-Stay in a friend or family member’s driveway for a few weeks every year (with their blessing of course).
Nomads lovingly refer to this as “moochdocking”. Staying in a friend or family member’s driveway can be a really fun way to become neighbors for a short time with your loved ones. You have your own home so you don’t have to inhabit theirs and be with them 24/7 but you can socialize at your leisure which can be a nice change of pace from being around strangers all the time.
-Invest in a rental property that you can park at or stay in when you’re in town.
This could be a place you rent out short-term or seasonally, leaving openings for yourself when you want it. It could also be owning a rental property with a guest house or casita that you could keep for yourself.
-Try one of BLM’s “Long-term Visitor Areas” (LTVA).
The Bureau of Land Management offers LTVAs in designated areas around California and Arizona. They’re large areas of desert that, with an affordable permit, allow for camping up to 180 days. The limit for camping on public lands is typically 14 days, so this is a great opportunity to get settled in for a longer duration of time, if you enjoy dry camping. The most popular LTVAs I know of are in Quartzsite, Arizona and provide trash service, water fill stations, and dump stations.
7 Benefits of having a home base
1) Catch up on doctor’s appointments
Maintaining doctors and other professional contacts is way easier than establishing new ones everywhere you go. Getting these not-super-fun life tasks out of the way in one fail swoop while at your home base feels really productive and clears the slate, leaving more room for enjoyment in your travels that lie ahead.
2) Enjoy your community and a sense of belonging
Everyone is going to be different in this regard, but constantly moving from place to place can cause you to feel unmoored and potentially uncomfortable because of it. Returning to your home base and all the familiarity that accompanies it can satisfy the craving to feel rooted somewhere.
3) Time to tend to life stuff
Being on the move all the time can be exhilarating and liberating but also a time-suck. The more you move, the harder it is to maintain a routine or put time towards work, healthy habits, life admin, etc. Slowing down for a month or two is a great opportunity to get caught up on various things that might get neglected while traveling.
4) Time to slow down and reset
When your travels start to feel more daunting than exciting is when it’s time to slow down. Returning to a home base for a few weeks or months can feel really rejuvenating and renew your excitement for life on the road.
5) A place to receive mail and packages
This is one of the biggest logistical challenges of being a nomad. Having a home base allows for access to an address where you can receive mail and packages. I’ll write about receiving mail in greater detail in a future post.
6) Time to enjoy some familiarity
As much as I enjoy going to new places all the time, I love the ease of returning to places I know. It removes the need to constantly be doing research to figure out where you’re going and having to use maps to figure out how you’re getting there. Simple things, like grocery shopping, are so much faster because you know where you’re going and you know where everything is in that particular store. It can also be comforting and enjoyable to visit the same restaurants, coffee shops, etc. where you can count on food and drink you know and love.
7) Access to your stored items
If you store items at or near your home base, this can be a great opportunity to access and/or swap items. We have a storage unit on our property and find that we swap things in and out depending on what we need/want for the upcoming season.
Owning a home, or being tied to a lease, might be an anchor you’re eager to be free of as you embark on a nomadic lifestyle. However, establishing a non-traditional home base has so many benefits and can play a huge role in making full-time RVing sustainable for the long haul. Like I mentioned above, Mark & I own a piece of property in Colorado where we spend one month every spring and every fall. It never fails that when we arrive we’re ready to slow down and enjoy all the benefits listed above, and by the time we’re packing up to leave we’re renewed and excited to get back on the road. I think it has played a huge role in our overall happiness in this lifestyle over the last 3.5 years and why I don’t see us returning to conventional living any time soon.