Travel Nursing with an RV
Thinking about getting an RV and using it for your housing option? As a travel nurse I found that the industry, for the most part, it is an amazing opportunity and experience. The only issue we ever had was finding good, clean, housing for a reasonable cost that wouldn’t eat up all of my paycheck. For me, the answer was buying an RV. Here are some starting points that you should consider if you are thinking about diving in to the RV lifestyle. We started out by testing the waters and I highly recommend doing it this way. We bought a used, inexpensive camper ($6500 Yes, that is inexpensive when it comes to campers!) and tried it out for a year before we decided to upgrade. It also gave us time to figure out what we did and didn’t want in our next RV. Too often I have seen people jump into the lifestyle, buy a huge, expensive, new RV only to hate the lifestyle and then be upside down on the cost of the RV and not able to sell it.
When you purchase a new RV, unless you make an amazing deal which is rare, or you pay cash, you will be upside down on that RV when you sell it. They depreciate about 30% when you drive them off the lot. No one will pay what you owe on an RV, no matter how wonderful it is, when they can go buy a brand new one and pay almost the same thing. Buying used the first time is the best option as long as you have it inspected by a certified mechanic. There are usually certified mobile RV repair guys in every city and it’s worth the $150 they will charge you. Try not to buy an RV older than 5 or 6 years because many RV parks won’t allow them over 10 years old. Some will allow them if you can provide a picture and some will just flat out refuse them. There is also a service where you can have any used RV appraised for $30 and they will give you an appraisal and a fair market price to offer (usually thousands less than the posted price) and save you a lot of money. This service is offered by David Lester and he has a group called RV Pricing and Values on FB. Worth joining! One other downside to using the RV to travel is finding long term RV spots. The lifestyle has become VERY popular these days and more and more people are doing it. There is also still a huge population of senior citizens that fill up the good spots in the warm states every winter. So you have to plan ahead and be very flexible when choosing assignments.
So far, we have never had an issue finding a spot. We plan ahead though. Knowing that we want to be in Florida, AZ, NM or CA in the winter, we will book a spot months ahead of time. There are always hundreds of travel jobs in the Tampa Bay area and Phoenix area in the winter so it’s a safe bet to book in those areas way ahead of time. Going north in the summer is a little trickier but we knew we wanted New England this year so we booked a spot in Maine and then looked for jobs in the area. If you are fond of going to big cities, it may be difficult for you to find parks close enough to commute. You may have to drive up to an hour (the most we’ve driven was 45 mins) but for us it’s worth it. I you have a specialty that requires call, it can be more difficult. Some travelers that require call will use smaller RVs that they can “boondock” in the hospital parking lot with. Boondocking is when you park with no hookups like water or electricity or sewer. Motorized RVs like Class A, B, and C RVs come with built in generators so they can run on them while parked (some have solar power). You can also fill your water tanks and then dump your sewer at a nearby campground for a small fee. You can also park at the hospital (with permission from the hospital) on your work days and then go “camping” to state parks etc, on your days off. This is much easier to do if you have a smaller rig that doesn’t require much set up like a Class B or C.
I think the biggest fear going into is “can I drive/tow an RV by myself?” YES!! I know so many single women who RV! They drive huge class A’s and tow fifth wheels. It’s just a learning curve, it’s not a matter of physical strength. You CAN do it! We have a huge supportive base on the Adventures In RV Travel Nursing page. If you’re a dreamer or a doer, come join us. We are always finding fellow travelers in the parks we go to! Just do your homework. Walk through hundreds of RVs before you decide what you really want. Consider the cost of towing your vehicle or having to buy a large truck to tow your fifth wheel or Travel trailer and then the cost of park rent. These things can add up and cost almost as much or more than you would pay for housing. You HAVE to be flexible with your destinations and finding RV spots... going to SF in the winter will be much easier to find a spot than going in the summer when they are full. Well.. the spots are pretty much full there year round, so going to SF on contract is never on my radar.. but those are the things you need to consider first, before you pay tens of thousands of dollars on an RV.
The plus side! We always have our own things, our own bed, a campfire, sometimes a lake or a river and if we don't like our neighbors we can move spots! It makes traveling with a pet and children so much easier. (Many parks will still have breed restrictions, FYI) but no large pet fees usually. We have had some amazing views and beautiful spots on the rivers and lakes... it makes coming “home” a whole new experience every contract. We have met so many amazing people on our travels and made lifelong friends. We sometimes even plan our next contracts to hang out with some of our favorite RV travelers.
I will be posting some more tips and tricks and how-tos in the coming months and some of our favorite places to contract and RV. Feel free to message me any questions or topics about RVing that you would like me to cover.