While most people are tethered to stay in one place for a job or school, a few lucky folks have the opportunity to live a more mobile, nomadic lifestyle.
If you're one of those lucky people, great! The world is an exciting place, and if you live in a large continent like the United States or Australia, moving around with a house on wheels is a completely viable way to live and explore the country.
That said, taking the nomadic leap is a big decision. If it's your first time, you're leaving behind the comfort of a roof above your head and exposing yourself to a new array of problems. But if you're adequately prepared, this journey will be completely and utterly life-changing.
Let's return from orbit and look into the considerations you have to make before buying a portable home.
1) Your Purpose
It's totally okay to heed the desire to set out on a completely new adventure, even if it’s impulsive. However, right after realising these dreams, you'll need to take a step back and evaluate your decision thoroughly.
Is travelling in a portable home something you truly want? Or are you simply enamoured by the allure of novelty?
A good way to know whether you're truly invested in this move is simply by waiting. Allow a week or two to pass and see if your enthusiasm for the journey remains. If it does, then you may proceed with it.
If your desire shows any sign of faltering, you may just have a travel bug—and that's completely okay. Preparing for a two to three-week adventure in a totally new place is fun in its own right. You may want to consider this shorter-term solution if you're not completely certain about the nomadic lifestyle.
Travelling is not for everyone, and if the two to three-week holiday left you wanting more, then it's a hopeful sign that you're ready to embark on an even longer-term journey.
2) Financial Preparedness
Living in a portable home may be cheaper than owning a home, but if you're currently renting an apartment or a permanent house, then saving up to buy a mobile home upfront may be a challenge.
You'll need to consider the cost of buying a caravan, repurposing it, renting car spaces, fuel, and maintenance. In total, this can cost five figures every year. And if your financial capacity is lacklustre right now, the truth of the matter is that it will be difficult trying to get into a nomadic-style living setup.
There are ways to cut costs—like going on used caravan and motorhome auctions, fuelling your car efficiently, and staying in parking spaces far from tourist attractions—but you'll still need to save up a sizeable amount to make this move a reality.
So, as early as now, start diversifying your sources of income and ensure that you have your outbound cash flow under tight control.
3) Your Area's Towing Limits
If you currently reside in a large home, be ready to effectively downsize your possessions. Sure, you'll still need the essentials that make a house a home, like kitchen utensils and bedroom items, but you shouldn't bring too many items.
Another factor to consider is your vehicle's towing capacity. This differs from vehicle to vehicle and is measured using a term called the tare weight. You'll have to subtract that weight from the gross weight of the vehicle to get your load capacity.
This will usually round to about 400 to 500kg worth of goods, which in most cases is more than enough for a portable home. The reason why there's a limit in the first place is because of braking. It takes longer for a heavier load to slow down, so ensure your items are within the capacity limit. Failing to do so may result in an accident.
4) Your Moving Frequency
Most caravan owners will cycle between multiple designated parking spaces. This is not done merely to enjoy the sights and travel around, but it's also because of legal restrictions.
Caravan owners who don't hold a specific license are restricted from staying put in a single public space for too long. Parking places also often set a limit on how long you're allowed to stay in their area, even if they're already charging a fee. In addition, some towns may also restrict overnight camping in public spaces.
Be sure to check with the local laws and the park's own laws to determine whether you're living within legal bounds.
5) The Right Supplies
Besides setting your financial situation straight, you'll also need to buy a few items that'll make your caravan life easier.
Firstly, you'll need to secure a few supplies and tools that will support your new livelihood. For instance, things like a spare tire, extra oil, and jacks will come in handy in emergencies.
Besides that, you'll also want a GPS, a first-aid kit, a rag, and all-purpose tools for general repairs. Additionally, you should also get an onboard water tank and a portable generator as amenities if you don't plan on relying solely on campground hookups.
This only takes up a small fraction of the things you'd need to sustain yourself while living nomadically. It's best to prepare a caravan checklist to know what exactly you should bring (and what you should leave behind).