If you haven’t already, check out “Part One” of my post on travel healthcare housing in an RV!
Ease of Finding Housing
One of the hardest parts about working as a traveler is finding short term housing, because hardly anyone wants to rent short term. We experienced this when trying to find short term housing for our first assignment before getting our RV. It took an entire day of phone calls to find a place that was willing to allow us to stay there for only three months, and even then we only found ONE place on Craigslist. All of the apartment complexes we called would only rent for 6 or 12 month leases, and there was only one, rather shady looking, extended stay motel nearby. This helped solidify our decision to get an RV!
On the other hand, for RV parks, people staying short term is the norm, so we’ve had no problem finding somewhere to stay with an hour or less of research for each assignment. It’s as easy as googling, “campgrounds near __ city,” comparing the distance from each campground to our workplace, comparing rates, and making a call to find out if they allow monthly stays and if they have available spots.
Initially, we were worried that we would have trouble finding campgrounds near our assignments, but for the most part it has been extremely easy, with our drives to work usually being in the 10-20 minute range. There are a surprising number of campgrounds available when you start looking for them! Sometimes, however, it can be harder to find them close to big cities, which for some people could be limiting. Also, some “campgrounds” don’t actually have full RV hookups or don’t allow monthly stays, so some research is required. One other downside is that the campgrounds don’t always have WiFi, and if they do it often isn’t great. We have gotten around this in the past by using our phones as hotspots, which has worked pretty well in most areas.
Consistency in Each New Area
One of the unexpected perks for us traveling in the fifth wheel as been having some consistency when moving from place to place. We love knowing that even though almost everything in our life will change at our next assignment, we will still have the same kitchen, shower, couch, and bed, with the most important of those being the bed. From our weekend trips and international travels, we know that having an uncomfortable bed can really put a damper on our moods, so knowing that we will always have a comfortable bed to sleep in eases our minds. It’s also nice to have everything already in its place, including our clothes, our kitchen supplies, and all the in between. We don’t have to worry about using up the last of supplies like food, condiments, toiletries, paper towels etc. They just come along with us!
Size of Living Area
The biggest hesitation for many travelers who are considering living in a camper is that they are unsure if they will be able to live in such a small space. This was also a major concern for us, since we were both used to living in large houses/apartments. We spent a long time looking at different fifth wheel layouts and sizes to find something that we thought we would be happy in. To our surprise, our fifth wheel ended up being quite a bit bigger than we needed for the two of us. We have a dining area that we rarely use and some extra storage areas and cabinets that we could have done without. I’ve found that many people living in a camper full time are surprised by how much space there actually is, especially when most of your day is spent at work and hanging out outside of the camper anyway. While on assignment, when we are inside the fifth wheel we are usually either cooking/eating, watching TV, or sleeping. As long as you have a decent sized kitchen, a nice couch, and a comfortable bed, you can actually get by with a much smaller space than you think!
The financial benefits of living in a fifth wheel were not nearly as significant as we originally anticipated, but the intangible benefits have been really important for us over the past few years of traveling in our fifth wheel. We love being able to pack and move quickly, having minimal difficulty finding campgrounds to stay at compared to short term housing, and having some consistency in our hectic travel therapy lives no matter where the wind takes us. As long as you plan to travel for at least a couple of years, and ideally will be buying a used rig with less potential depreciation, then I think that traveling in a camper/RV is a great plan for you as a travel healthcare professional.
Jared Casazza has been a traveling the country as a physical therapist for a little over three years since graduating in 2015. He travels with his girlfriend, Whitney, who is also a physical therapist, and the majority of their time traveling has been in a fifth wheel camper. He writes about travel therapy, domestic and international travel, as well as personal finance and investing on his blog “Fifth Wheel Physical Therapist,” and he helps mentor new travelers on the site “Travel Therapy Mentor.”