Due to the recently praised film entitled Nomadland (starring Frances McDormand), more and more people may wonder if full-time living in a motorhome is really a thing, also in the UK and Europe. On the one hand, having no fixed address may sound problematic in legal terms, but on the other, life on the road can be perceived as the greatest form of freedom.
If you are one of the people wondering what the pros and cons of giving up your cosy home on behalf of motorhome living and neverending travelling are, you have come to the right place. We have gathered all of the most significant advantages and disadvantages to make this idea easier to understand, even if you have never heard about nomads who live in a motorhome in the UK. Keep on reading!
The Origins of Motorhome Living
People have been living on the road for many centuries before a modern motorhome or campervan was created. As historians say, the original idea comes from European gypsies, nomads, and caravaners who used to live in covered wagons and continuously travel from one place to another.
Also, in the late 19th century, people were sometimes travelling and camping in private railroad cars that were pulled along and dropped at chosen destinations. Such a solution fulfilled the desire for adventure to a certain degree, but still, travelling in this way had to be limited to places nearby the railway line.
The first-ever motorhome design was created in Madison Square Garden in 1910, and it was just a conversion on the automobile back then. It was generally a car with folding seats that allowed the passengers to sleep inside. In other words, it was a very primitive form of a motorhome, with no shower, electricity, or storage.
A more advanced vehicle appeared in 1937 when Ford House Car was released. It still did not have any toilet, but it was enriched with an actual bed and a desk area, making it a bit more similar to an actual home.
In 1947, the most legendary motor icon of the 50s and 60s emerged – it was the VW Camper. It still did not have many features we are used to today, but it even had a cooking system apart from a full-size bed. Moreover, it was possible to remove or change the interior, so everyone was able to personalise it as they like.
The first model with a toilet appeared in 1966, and it was called Winnebago. It had a different shape, more similar to a motorhome as we know it this day and added some new features. This design turned out to be a massive success! Other motorhome manufacturers followed that trend, and now we have many different models to buy and we can choose the van that suits our preferences the most.
The Pros of Living in a Motorhome Full Time
Now you know the origins of a motorhome and campervan, let us focus on the advantages of living there that most full-timers point to.
One of the most obvious pros of moving to a motorhome instead of living in a house is that you can be completely mobile. You can enjoy full freedom and travel anywhere in the UK, and all across Europe you can think of, and you will always have a bed to sleep in no matter where you are. If you find a place you like, you can go there whenever you want and stay there as long as you want.
It creates the opportunity to live in incredible places and to change the view outside your window whenever you are bored with it. If you have a suitable space to park in, accepted by the local authorities, you can stay in a particular place as long as you want to enjoy it. When you feel like exploring a new place, you can just jump behind the wheel and leave in a minute.
Lower Cost of Living
Sticks and bricks, as a physical house is called in the motorhome community, make your life cost quite a lot. Namely, you need to cover such expenses as, for example, rent or mortgage, utilities, and more, depending on your location.
When you decide to move into a campervan or motorhome, such costs get much lower. You can even just purchase a van outright with a personal loan and be done with it!
Obviously, there are other factors to take into consideration, such as campground rent, insurance, gas, and other bills to pay. Nevertheless, it still ends up being much cheaper, unless you choose a super luxurious place to stay.
Less Space to Clean
Cleaning your home is likely to take you a lot of time. When it comes to motorhomes, they have quite a limited space, so you will not have to devote so much effort to keep it tidy. Usually, cleaning the whole exterior of such a van takes up to an hour only, and as a result, you can have more time to spend it with your friends and family or enjoy your hobbies.
To make the cleaning even easier, you can buy a rechargeable handheld vacuum cleaner instead of a regular one. It will make it more comfortable to move with it inside your motorhome, and you will be able to reach every single area and get rid of all the dirt and dust.
Closer to Nature
If you would like to spend your life closer to nature, motorhome full-timing is definitely a fantastic idea. Keep in mind that you should not park your van just anywhere – you need to either get permission from the landowner or do it in a dedicated space, but still, there are many opportunities to stay in relatively wild areas. As a result of being close to nature, you are bound to be more relaxed and in a better mood!
You do not have to be afraid that you will lack a bathroom and electricity while living in such areas because motorhomes have holding tanks for fresh water and sewage, as well as a strong battery (you can read more on powering a motorhome with lithium in our article). What is more, you can even buy and install a solar panel if you like, and there will be no problem with using a lamp or charging your smartphone, even if you are in the middle of nowhere.
Constant Travel and Adventure
When living in a motorhome, you typically do not stay in one place too long. You visit any places you like all across Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales, as well as travel to other European countries. You probably know that exciting sense of adventure that can be experienced during a trip. Now, imagine that you can have it on a daily basis! Motorhome full-timing means you will constantly see new places and meet new people, as well as experience different ways of living. You will never feel bored because whenever you have the need for a change, you can just hit the road again.
Opportunity to Try a Minimalist Life
Maybe you have once read Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering or a similar guide, but you have never managed to put it into practice. When you live in a motorhome, you have limited space, so you need to stick to the possessions you really need the most. See how it affects you, and check if you really miss all the things you used to consider essential at your old home. It may turn out you do not need that many items to be happy and that it is much more important to be with people you love and live around nature than to gather all those possessions.
Apart from seeing how a minimalist life affects you, you have a chance for a lot more personal growth while living in a motorhome. Namely, as the situation will change frequently, you can become more adaptive and less afraid of what the future brings. You will find out that not everything goes according to the plan, and that is okay – there is always a solution, and you do not need to worry. All the novelties and challenges make you grow by leaps, which is a fantastic side effect!
Lots of Opportunities to Meet New People
Naturally, if you travel a lot, you will meet a lot of new people. They can be other campers (who are typically very friendly and willing to help you in any difficulties, share their water, give you some tips etc.), hikers, campground hosts, and more. Of course, when you change your location, you may not be able to see them often, but as we live in the era of phones, messengers, and social media, it is not hard to stay in touch and try to meet some other time.
There is this famous quote from the already mentioned Nomadland film: “You know, I’ve met hundreds of people out here, and I don’t ever say a final goodbye. I always just say, ‘I’ll see you down the road.’ And I do. And whether it’s a month or a year, or sometimes years, I see them again.” It could not be more true than that!
The Cons of Living in a Motorhome Full Time
Like with everything in life, full-timing in a motorhome may also come with some disadvantages. You will find a few of the most important ones below!
Limited space is inevitable in full-time motorhome living – it can be a pro if you want to save your time on cleaning, but it can be a con if you like to have a lot of possessions with you. Also, if you live with another person, you need to bear in mind you will have to share the same bathroom and, most probably, have your beds very close to each other.
Also, it is not hard to get messy while living in a vehicle – however, with the right self-discipline and control, you can keep it clean at the end of the day. Moreover, you need to take into account that every additional person in a van means less space to store your belongings, so choose your motorhome roomies wisely!
A motorhome is a large vehicle, so it can be challenging to drive around, particularly if you do not know the area. If you find it difficult to drive a van, you should think twice before moving from your home into such a big vehicle.
Nevertheless, sometimes it is just a matter of practice, and you may find your motorhome driving skills improving day by day. However, take into consideration that some motorhomes may require a category C driving license in the UK and generally in Europe, so before investing in one, make sure to get the right qualifications.
Unfortunately, when you want to park a motorhome in the UK, you need to choose the right area. It can be someone else’s private area if you get the landowner’s permission or a dedicated car park. Keep in mind that both options may come with some costs, but usually, they are not that high – and definitely lower than the cost of spending the night in a hotel!
Nowadays, it is not that hard to find a suitable parking spot because you can use various apps telling you where to park in the UK and all across Europe. What is more, there are also Facebook groups and Instagram accounts where travellers share their experiences from a particular trip and provide useful tips, telling you which places allow you to get fresh water, use the toilet, etc. A nomad community is very helpful!
No Fixed Address
Contrary to living in a house, if you decide to stay in your vehicle full-time, you will not have a fixed address. It causes difficulties with getting the post, filling out forms, insurance, and paying off bills. Most people have family or friends who have a fixed address which you could use as a correspondence address. The most important requirement of an address you will use for your correspondence is that you mail will be secure! There may be times when you need bank cards, insurance document, medical letters etc sent to the address so you need to be sure your personal data is safe.
You can rent mailboxes which are companies that receive mail for you which you can collect periodically. These services are chargeable but something else to consider is some companies and organisations won’t send mail to commercial mailboxes to prevent fraud.
If you don’t have any family or friends that can help, you can talk to other motorhome full-timers from your area to find out how they deal with that issue – and as it was already mentioned, the nomad community is always willing to share useful tips!
Also, you need to remember that while travelling, you will be far away from your family and friends. But you can take the closest person to your heart with you, and you will be able to make new friendships down the road.
Before making a decision to move to a motorhome and live there full-time, you need to take into account all the pros and cons. Keep in mind that you will have to deal with limited space and the lack of a stable address and that you may be far from your loved ones for a long time – but nobody stops you from visiting them as often as you like!
On the other hand, motorhome full-timers appreciate the fact that they do not need to spend a lot of time cleaning and they can try to be more minimalistic. Also, the most significant advantage is definitely the constant possibility to experience adventures, see new places, and make new friends during every trip. Moreover, you can lower your costs of living and have a lot of space for personal growth. When you are down the road, the sky is the limit!