It’s now been almost a year and a half since Adam and I switched our lifestyles and started full-time RVing. Although we would hardly consider ourselves experts in the world of full-time RVing, through our website and Facebook, we receive plenty of messages from people who are looking to make the switch, too.
Those messages we read are filled with optimism and excitement. At the same time, you can also feel the nervousness about making the switch from a traditional type of lifestyle to one where your primary residence is 300 square feet or less.
The questions also remind us of ourselves before we started full-time RVing. We were full of questions, nerves, and really didn’t have a clue of where to or how to start planning.
If you have children, that opens another spectrum of issues you would have to address. In this blog, I will share with you the answers to the most frequent questions we get asked about those who are dreaming of full-time RVing.
What works for us may not work for you, but it may give you some ideas. I have also included ways that our friends who full-time RV make it work for them.
What Do You Do For A Permanent Address?
To full-time RV in Canada, you will need a permanent address. Apparently, the government doesn’t like the idea of you roaming around without a “permanent” home. You need a permanent address for your license, passport, health care, insurance & taxes.
Because of our style of full-time RVing where we stay longer in certain locations rather than constant travel, we set up our permanent residence at our current location in Tofino, British Columbia.
Our permanent residence is the campground that we stay at where we’ve built a strong relationship with the manager who happily let us do it. We also plan on keeping Tofino our home base for a little while so it made sense to have this as our permanent residence.
If you move around more frequently than we do, you likely will need to figure out another solution for your permanent residence. The first step in doing so is to decide what your home province is going to be. Your home province is the province where you will live for at least 6 months of the year for the purpose of maintaining your healthcare and license.
Once you have your province of choice picked there are a few different options available to you. The simplest solution is to use the address of a close friend of a family members residence. Other solutions could include finding an RV park where you can buy a lot which would serve as your primary residence.
How Do You Get Your Mail?
The natural follow up question we get once we answer questions about permanent residency is usually about mail. In a time where mail is less prevalent, the solution is usually pretty easy.
To eliminate mail as much as possible, we have all our bills sent via email, and we also have a Canada Post “EPOST” account where mail can be sent safely that may contain private information such as tax information. We have paperless banking, and we try and make sure everything goes through email.
Even with all the measures we take, we still get mail. But how do we get it?
Because our permanent residence is our campground we just use their address. Most campgrounds are happy to do this for guests that are staying long periods of time. We had the same arrangement with our campground in Prince Edward Island.
You can also set up a P.O. Box and then have your mail forwarded as you move. This can get costly, however, especially considering the limited amount of mail you’re likely receiving.
Using a friend or family members house as your primary residence would be a great solution as all your mail would go to them and you could easily trust it with them as well.
What Do You Do For Insurance?
Whether it’s vehicle, RV or health insurance, they’re all important to have when full-time RVing.
Our 2008 Heartland Sundance is covered by Aviva Elite Insurance. This is the same company we used in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Call an insurance broker and ask about Aviva Elite.
What we like is that for a full-time RV, they include coverage for accommodation if something bad happens to the RV. That is important if you need repairs or are waiting for a replacement RV which can leave you stranded without your home for days/weeks.
Also, have a talk with your agent about replacement value. For the first 6 months of full-time RVing, we actually did NOT have enough insurance for the replacement value of our RV.
The value was based on what we paid for the RV. If you think about that for a second, you could be putting yourself into a pickle if your RV burns down and you have to find a replacement for what you paid for the RV. In our case, our replacement value was around 25 thousand dollars. After talking to our new agent in BC, I upped that value to almost 60 thousand. It costs more, but it will be worth it if something happens. We will be able to go and get a newer RV and have a much bigger selection of RV’s to choose from simply because of the price point.
If you live anywhere outside of British Columbia you have a choice for insurance companies. In BC, we were kind of surprised to learn the government has a monopoly on the insurance industry. It’s called the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Surprisingly, it isn’t outlandishly priced and we have not had any issues. It certainly cuts down on the time spent calling and asking for quotes.
Canadian health coverage varies from province to province. You will need to pick your home base province and then read everything you can about the rules regarding that insurance.
If you plan to spend time south of the border or a lot of time in other Canadian provinces, you need to find out how much time you are allowed to stay outside of your home base province. For example, if you are covered by the province of New Brunswick, you need to tell them anytime you are going outside of the province. That includes a month-long visit to a campground in Quebec. They want to know where you are.
In British Columbia, we actually have to pay the province for our health coverage which is called Medical Services Plan (MSP). MSP is based on your income. If you make over $42,000 you pay $75 a month for a single person. If you make $24,000 or less, you pay nothing. Married couples pay more, and again it is based on income. You can apply for assistance to pay for it, and the provincial government is in the process of lowering the prices. Children do not have to pay for MSP.
We were shocked to learn that we had to pay for health care in British Columbia because you don’t in other provinces. In my opinion, it stinks because you must pay for it, but at the same time while living in Tofino I have truly had the best medical experiences. I wait no more than a day or two for an appointment. The hospital, while small, has just about everything you need including doctors who vacation and work in this town. Specialists come into town to surf and work. It’s really kind of a sweet deal for the doctors and the patients.
Should I Get Extended Warranty Coverage for My RV?
When you’re buying your RV, you’ll come to the part of negotiations where your RV salesman will ask you about whether or not you want the extended warranty. In our opinion, the answer should always be yes. It can be a bit expensive at nearly $1000 or more a year but it’s more than worth it.
While RV’s are pretty fancy these days, they’re still made pretty cheap and have some questionable craftsmanship. This is for a couple of reasons. Because RV’s need to be light for transportation, a lot of the parts are very light and less durable as a result. RV’s are also mostly made on assembly lines and it’s easy to have things that are overlooked during the assembly process.
Having an RV warranty is also great should you want to sell your RV as warranties are usually transferable and come with tremendous value to the new owner.
When we purchased our RV, we went for the maximum warranty available at 4 years. A lot of newer RV’s have extended warranties that extend past 10 years.
In the year and a half that we’ve had our RV, we’ve used our warranty coverage multiple times and it’s saved us A LOT of money. We’ve replaced our trailer-to-truck electrical cord, air conditioner, and the converter. Total that all up and it would have cost us almost $3000. As you can see, the warranty pays for itself.
Should I Get Roadside Assistance?
A roadside assistance plan is one of those things you hate to spend money on, because you may not need it. That said, we use Coach-Net and also have a backup with Aviva Elite Insurance. Our thought is it’s better to be safe than sorry. Having roadside assistance for your home is a must for peace of mind and to save you money.
What Can I Do For Internet?
“How do you have a reliable internet source while full-time RVing?” This is something you will see on every full-time RV Facebook page. The internet is something almost all of us need now for work or even just to play Candy Crush or to stream live bear cams in Alaska.
If you’re staying at a park a little longer term as we do, you may have some good options available to you. In PEI, the park manager ran a few hundred feet of cable directly to our RV so we would have a direct, high-speed connection. That was pretty sweet.
As we made our journey from PEI to Tofino, though, we discovered RV park WiFi is pretty weak and inconsistent. Most parks haven’t yet invested the money into having a quality system installed. Some, even with great systems installed still run slow based on high occupancy levels of the park.
To try and overcome poor WiFi we installed a WiFiRanger unit. WiFiRanger is a WiFi booster that will help to amplify nearby WiFi signals so that you can still connect and do whatever work may need to get done.
Thankfully, the park we’re now at just finished installing a high-quality system with many access points throughout the park. This has allowed us to have the best WiFi experience that we’ve experienced at any park throughout Canada.
Others have installed some pretty high-tech, pricey systems to allow them to have high-speed connections wherever they travel. This is something we’ll be looking more into in the future.
Can You Full-Time RV in the Winter?
There are full-time RVers in almost every province of Canada. This includes brave souls that spend freezing cold winters with insulated basements, skirting, and thick wool blankets. There are plenty of Canadians that have many tips for full-time RVing in the cold Canadian winters. We have even heard of people who have wood stoves in their RV. I’m not sure how you would get insurance for that, but hey, whatever works for you.
But yes, you can full-time RV in the winter. It just means a lot of modifications to your RV. Some of which can be costly.
We despise the snow and cold. We love snow in the mountain tops, or a freshly fallen snow in the woods, but only for one day.
We chose to stay in Tofino, British Columbia during the winter for a mostly snow free winter. We put up with a lot of rain, but at least you don’t have to shovel it. Plus, we get to live in a temperate rainforest. Life is good.
Here’s an example of why we chose to stay away from snow…
Can You Full-Time RV with Kids?
A lot of people who are looking to make the lifestyle change have children. This is definitely a whole different challenge that we don’t have to worry about. That being said, we’ve seen and read about a lot of families who full-time RV.
What this mainly means is that one or both of the parents will home school the children. We think it’s great when families choose this lifestyle. It’s a fantastic way for kids to travel and learn more about their country. The road is an incredible classroom.
The most difficult aspect for children is the lack of a consistent social circle as it’s hard to develop long lasting friendships when you’re constantly moving around.
How Do You Do Your Banking?
We all need some place to keep our money. Thankfully, these days stepping foot into an actual bank is mostly unnecessary. You can literally have a bank account in any province in Canada and do your banking online.
Most banks now allowing cheques to be deposited via photo/email which also saves you from having to go to an actual bank.
If you need a void cheque or direct deposit forms for a job, you can also download them directly from your online account.
The switch to full-time RVing can be a difficult one. The unknowns can play havoc on your mind at times. Hopefully answering some of these common questions will give you a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into before starting this amazing lifestyle. If you still have any questions or concerns about full-time RVing, drop us a comment below or send us an email.
Also, make sure to join full-time RVing Facebook groups as they are an incredible source of information from people who live this lifestyle.