The truth is that a lot of people choose to live the RV life after retirement. This makes sense, as it’s a time when you don’t have to be tied to a job anymore and you’re making passive retirement income. But at the same time, it doesn’t make sense to wait until you’re old to do the things you want to do. So, if you’re not of retirement age, why not start now? Or, even if you are retired, you can still find ways to do work to bring in extra money to fuel your adventures—because why not?
Basically, you can either work on your computer, or you can do semi-mobile jobs at the different locations that you travel to. To be honest, the first option is probably more convenient and possible, but the second option could work in some situations.
Hands-On Jobs From Your RV
There are a few options for finding jobs that are RV-friendly, or even designed specifically for people who are mobile. Here are some ideas:
Park Supervisor or Maintenance
You could work at a state or federal level for the parks in your region. Some of these jobs may require on-site attention, in which case they would be looking specifically for somebody who can live out of an RV or camper, who may also be flexible enough to travel to other parks and remain on post for as long as needed.
Not every transportation job involves 18-wheel rigs. Some companies need goods transported long distances to different facilities. Many hospitals need couriers, but also plenty of corporate jobs are available, for delivering specialty parts, equipment, machinery, etc. If you can fit these into your RV, then you can make some money as you go from region to region, checking out the cities and parks as you wait in-between gigs.
A good job option for a city boondocker is to find a company that needs someone planted there 24 / 7 at no cost to their own facilities. That’s where you come in. In your RV, you’re perfectly self-sustainable and able to stay in one place for as long as they need. In addition, you can jump up and go to a different site at a moment’s notice. It’s a very good deal for your employer.
If you like the woods and nature, then why not find some rich folk’s summer home to caretake for? You may be in charge of various household duties, watering plants, performing repairs, and overall giving the owners peace of mind. Living out of your RV, you won’t be consuming their resources, and you can ask for a monthly benefit. Propose your caretaking idea at local job boards in small towns, fliers, or ask around.
In addition, it’s also possible to find caretaking jobs for companies. Just like on-site security, a company may want a permanent setup at an unused facility, or a place that’s under construction. You may also find these types of jobs at hotels, as some hotels simply don’t do business during off-season. And, this usually works out great (didn’t you see the movie “The Shining”?).
You may be able to find jobs with your state or country’s forestry service, where they want somebody who can travel freely between different wilderness sites to perform services from tagging trees to updating trails to creating updated visitor brochures. Probably an ideal job for an outdoorsperson.
Some people I’ve known make a living just by selling their wares at different fairs and marketplaces, many of which will allow people to bring their RVs or campers if they pay for the correct permits to do so. It’s easiest to sell homemade, non-perishable items at street fairs. Selling perishables (homemade or cooked foods) can be more profitable, however in this case you will need to obtain necessary food safety and hygiene permits and possibly undergo inspections. Farmers markets, however, are more lax about selling food products than state fairs, and you could make a living creating some unique jam or pickled edible and traveling from city to city selling your yummy good.
Remote Jobs From Your RV
The other option is to create work from your computer. If you’re not sure where to begin, understand that almost anything and everything (that isn’t completely mechanical in nature) can be transferred into some type of monetized platform on the Internet. The only problem (for everybody) is finding and keeping clients.
At the same time, there are also many jobs that can be performed through formal employment exclusively on the internet. From consulting, to programming, to transcription and data entry. Many companies now hire remotely because of the cost savings of not dealing with office space.
What you should know
Working remotely from your RV means that it’s going to be harder to be completely mobile and to go spend a week in the outdoors when you have a work schedule to keep track of. At minimal you will need a portable satellite dish that you can buy for a few hundred dollars.
This way you can even be in the woods and still be able to load up your computer and make a living. Although satellite connections suffer from slight signal latency, they’re definitely substantial enough to take care of all your Internet needs.
To keep your lifestyle enjoyable you will need some type of consistent hours. I’ve found it’s very easy to blow 12 hours sitting on the computer working on things, while the entire day flies by outside. If you’re camped near Yosemite and want to go hike and explore every-day, then you will need to fit that into your daily schedule, perhaps booking hours from 4 PM to 10 or 11 PM to do work, and getting sunshine and hiking / camping / hunting whatever you prefer in the mornings.
It’s easier of course if you are a city boondocker. In this case you don’t have to have a satellite dish. You can either use a mobile MiFi type system, or just memorize all of the best WiFi spots in your area, going between Starbucks locations as you work. This is perfectly acceptable so long as you buy a latte every now and then as courtesy to the company for using their resources.
Let’s first look at the options for remote employment by a company:
The world needs a lot of transcribers. This type of job means you will be sent data, typically audio files, from your employer on a daily basis, and it’s your job to put this all into neat document filings. Most transcribers will buy a “foot pedal” that allows you to stop and rewind / fast-forward audio tracks using your feet. This keeps your hands free and increases productivity.
Remote transcription jobs are most abundantly available through medical offices. Starting salary might be 20k a year, but some can make 50k plus.
Don’t bother with “sweatshop transcription” jobs. You’ll find these at websites that may pay you prices similar to Vietnamese sweatshop workers. This is for people who don’t know any better and who don’t value their time or lifestyle. There’s a lot of these types of things, so be warned. Stick only to real companies.
Another office job that can be handled without going to work in a cubicle. Many data entry jobs pay middle five-figures at 40 hours a week.
If this is your trade, you can definitely find remote employment this way, too. There is a never-ending need for accountants in this world, and in most cases all you need is a computer, accounting software, and the internet.
Programming / Website Development
These are just ones I’m familiar with personally. You can find others, especially if you think outside of the box a little bit. As mentioned before, there are many different options in the 21st century for remote work.
Creating Your Own Remote Work
Freelancing on your computer is also very popular these days. It’s as hard as running any business. You have to get up, work without pay, and break your back to find clients. But often when you first get your reliable few clientele, the money can start to come in, and you won’t have to answer to anyone (besides the Tax Man).
Etsy.com, Ebay.com, Amazon.com…. From homemade goods, to grab-bag auctions and massive retail sales, these are all resources that people use to sell things they make. “Things” can be a very broad category. It could range from custom belt-buckles to T-shirts. These companies can work if you find the right niche, and you can manage inventory from your small RV space. This is really best done as a city boondocker, after you’ve setup an account at a mailing center.
Freelance Techy Jobs
You’re more likely to find clients who want websites and help with their technical solutions than you will find immediate full-time employers in this area, so if you’re skilled at some of the techy skills I listed earlier (website development, coding, etc) then start out freelance. Advertise yourself on sites like Craigslist, or leave business cards and fliers around places like coffee shops. Get your own @domain e-mail address, make yourself as professional as possible, and start amassing clients.
Freelance Writing Jobs
Some companies or entrepreneurs need freelance writers to handle blog posting and a variety of other tasks. This can range from very menial jobs to more “prestigious” work for magazines and websites. It may not pay that great starting out, but the pay scale increases if you can earn a reputation for yourself and you get contracted by a bigger company. The life of a professional writer can be a hard one, but also enjoyable if it’s what you love to do.
Financial advisors, day-traders, brokers—these are all possibly remote jobs that you can create for yourself if you have the proper credentials and experience in those fields. Some people make a killing off their laptops in the financial world. However, it’s not my area of knowledge so I can’t offer too much advice about it.
If you are fluent in another, popular language like Spanish or French, or specially Chinese (Mandarin), you WILL find fruitful work as a translator, as countless companies and private parties need smooth English translation services. Check online job boards but also advertise yourself at a reasonable per-word rate on freelancing websites. A good translator can work fast and even if you don’t get paid much per assignment, the money comes in from bulk quantity.
A powerful laptop and a comprehensive Adobe suite is all you need to be a mobile graphic designer. Like with translation, everyone needs someone who’s good at graphics to make logos, banners, art for apps, you name it. If these are skills you have, you’ll always have a steady supply of clients once you put your work out there and offer reasonable rates.
Now we’re getting into the big leagues of mobile entrepreneurship. Some people have made sums of money beyond your imagination creating video game apps like Angry Birds. A highly talented private app developer, or the manager of an app development firm, could make 7 figures IF they know how to market and design highly addicting or highly useful apps. This is another techy type job, but if you have the talent, it can be done anywhere that you have a laptop.
Social Media Manager
Another work idea is to market yourself as a manager of people’s social media lives. Companies need contractors to take care of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds all day, designing new ambitious social media campaigns, and building brand excitement and awareness. Some people love this type of thing (not me personally, haha!) and you can definitely take this type of work with you on the road.
There are many more possibilities for remote work. So, take a chance and see how you can convert your skill-set to the computer. It’s obviously harder with hands-on work. A mechanic won’t be able to work on a laptop unless you have a mechanic contracting company and you send technicians to people’s houses, managing the day-to-day operations on the computer. So long as your job involves working behind the scenes, it can be done through a good Internet connection and some creativity.
Final thoughts about RV life
It takes a lot of guts to go on an RV expedition, and even more guts to make it into your full-time lifestyle. But there are many great benefits involved for people who most of all desire freedom. My opinion, especially after looking at the RV work options, is to design your life the way you want to make it. The whole point to living on the road is to feel free, so don’t tie yourself down doing some crappy job on your computer to make ends-meat if it’s not really what you want to be doing.
Instead, try different things. I know of one woman who makes all her money re-selling used clothes in different locations. Sounds crazy, but it works for her. She buys cheap old jeans shirts, she sews some rhinestones onto them, and then heads for the nearest swap meet or local market and unloads them at double the price.
And, she likes it. She works on her own terms, doesn’t answer to anybody, and travels wherever she wants to.
The greatest benefit from this lifestyle is probably eliminating material attachment. There’s a reason this is a reoccurring theme among Buddhists and many other world religions and philosophies. It’s when you give up the desire to horde your life away, you become much happier.
The same goes for endless career ambition. I escaped the rat race hell in my mid-twenties when I realized it was totally pointless. I would stress and claw my way to better positions in companies, so I could afford better cars and be able to brag to friends and bask in a fleeting sense of superiority.
But it’s all crap. If you’re not happy, you’re not living your life right. If you’re not happy right now, then try doing something entirely different—like RV living—and see if it’s for you. If it’s not, that’s’ fine too. But, at least try to do something with your limited time on Earth that fulfills you. In the words of the band “Muse”, don’t waste your time or time will waste you.