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In the United States, there is a very definite (if somewhat smallish) community of full-time RV'ers. There are several websites and blogs maintained by people who do not live in a sticks and bricks house, but rather live in their campers / RVs for years. The general consensus is that for vagabonds and travellers, this can be an inexpensive means to living a rich bedoiun life in the United States. There are groups such as "RV Escapees," "Good Sam" and websites such as rv-dreams to assist the full-timer both with practical needs as companionship.

I'm curious about the practical implications of doing this outside the United States, however. Is it feasible to live in an RV in Europe and or Asia (I'm guessing Africa would be just a bit rough!), and if so, are there clubs and websites that would speak to that experience?

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I'll wait for someone to give an authoritative answer for this. But at least in South-East Asia and the Indian subcontinent, RVs are not at all popular. Too much variability in quality of highways and facilities I guess. –  Ankur Banerjee Oct 7 '12 at 18:50
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@jwenting: Seen many of them when hitchhiking or on road trips in Europe the past few summers. I watched a convoy of about nine of them coming down the highway toward the beach I was staying at in Romania just near the Bulgarian border. –  hippietrail Oct 8 '12 at 9:51
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Note that in the UK/Ireland, these are typically called "motor homes" or camper vans - the term "RV" is not popular. It might help if you add those synonyms to your question. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recreational_vehicle#Other_meanings –  Andrew Ferrier Oct 8 '12 at 10:08
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@vartec: the question is very specifically about living in RVs permanently. –  Michael Borgwardt Oct 8 '12 at 10:46
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There are also the Irish travellers. –  gerrit Nov 3 '12 at 13:42
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my name is Karyne. I am French, 40 years old and started fulltiming 8 years ago in my RV. I have been fulltiming mainly in South Spain, South Portugal and some parts of France, and I'd like to share my experience and observation with you. First of all, to avoid confusion: we call European recreational vehicles "motorhomes", and US ones "RVs". Most Fulltimers in Europe chose to live onboard RVs for the obvious reasons that they are made for proper living onboard in all comfort, when motorhomes are mostly made for Partimers. We call Fulltimers people who live 100% of the time in their RV or motorhome. Anybody staying part of the year in a house are Partimers. Amongst all RV and motorhome users in Europe, I'd say that there might be around 5% Fulltimers. Fulltimers in Europe are probably around 95% retired people above 60 years old. There are very few mid-age Fulltimers. The Fulltimer community, in particular for mid-age people is not organised at all like in the US where there are special web-sites for temporary jobs or jobs-on-the-go dedicated to RVers, so it isn't easy to find a way to earn a living. The elder community however is better organised. perhaps because they move less than us and tend to go from point A (North country) for 4 month in same campsite to point B (South country) for the rest of the year. They tend to Jamboree and have plenty of time to spare and meet friends. Many of us mid-age RVers often need to "square-wheel" for a while, parked in a place where there is work (my case for the moment), but we never ever leave our trucks!!! It's in you or not... Well hope this might have helped a bit. Plenty of hellos from Southern Spain to all Fulltimers...xxx Karyne

Hi guys, Karyne again. I have red some of the posts, and I think there might be a big confusion for all of you between Partimers and Fulltimers. Please read above for details. However, as far as the Partimer market is concerned, it is surely huge and predominant. I also forgot to mention that the worse the economical crisis gets, the more people are looking towards alternative ways of leaving and moving to other countries. So yes surely campsites are full of square-wheelers all over the place. A monthly campsite's pitch fee is not cheap, very similar to a small apartment's rental (300€ to 400€), and to get best rates we always ask for a special long term stay, usually 3 month, but once you add all extra costs (electricity, water, taxes etc), campsites are cheaper, kids can still play in a safe garden, there is no maintenance at all to do apart from your own rig, etc etc.

Karyne....AGAIN....lol I was contacted in 2007 by Jim Twamley, Professor of RVing, in order to write an article for www.rvtravel.com about fulltiming in Europe. You can read it here:

http://rvtravel.com/blog/rvnow/labels/RV%20Europe.html

Of course since then loads of things have changed in my life, including husband, lol, I started to travel alone, following friends or my parents who are also fulltimers nowdays, but I'm still in the same RV....

Concerning fulltimer cost of living, of course it all depends from how many people are travelling, if there are any pets, pulling a trailer or A-frame for a car....it all adds up. I have personally noticed that campsites stay or wild camping often evens out. Simple, if you wild camp you don't spend on your pitch but you do on gas (there are extremely few wild camp places where you can stay longer than a few nights). Of course the longer you can stay the more you are saving. The rest stays the same....food etc. We take the principle of 800€ to 1.000€ a month for a couple, assuming you stay in a campsite at least 3 month at a time to get up to 50% discount, or keep on moving from wild camp to wild camp.

Feel free to contact me by mail on barb.fulltimer@hotmail.com or look for my name Karyne Fouillet on FaceBook. If I can be of any help, it'll be a pleasure.

xxx

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Here is the part one of my story: rvtravel.com/blog/rvnow/2007/10/… –  Karyne Fouillet Nov 3 '12 at 14:40
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I tried to use a more popular science approach to answer this question: Camping.info is a good online portal to find camping places in Europe. Judging from their database, approximately once third of all campgrounds in Switzerland offer permanent places. Using the same approach, approximately 14% of all campgrounds in Europe offer permanent camping places.

For Switzerland I found a more reliable data source. The official federal statistics department. They have concrete numbers for 2011. There you can see that in Switzerland, 56,821 places are available for campers. 24,721 of them (43.51%) are for permanent residents. This is in my opinion quite a huge part and one could guess that the full-time RV community is quite huge in Switzerland. Judging from the historic data, the fraction of full-time camping places has been constantly around 43% for years now. Therefore the community seems also to be pretty stable. For Switzerland I draw a more detailed chart so that you can see where the full-time RV community is particularly strong:

Switzerland RV chart

And now my personal experience: At least in the German-speaking part of Europe there is a strong community of full-time RV people. Most of them do live a huge part of the year in their mobile home. But most of them also do not drive around with it. Far from it! Almost every bigger campground in Switzerland for example has a large section that is reserved for permanent residents. They rent the place for years and sometimes for generations and then they leave their camper there approximately from Easter to October. This looks typically like this:

[permanent RV campsite]

Some campgrounds also offer year-round permanent places, but these are rare. In this part of Europe, the campers are most often from the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany.

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Judging by the increasing number of campers on the European Highways I assume the answer is yes. I did a Google search and found two links about organizations for Camper lovers in the Dutch-speaking world ("Kampeer en Caravan punt nl" and "Nederlandse Kampeerauto Club"). Both links are in Dutch, which indicates a potential problem in getting in touch with these groups. My impression is that there are very active communities, but they are mainly language-bound in their communications through websites and magazines.

So to find European peers, I would either try to start in the UK, or go to an event where non-native-English speaking RV enthusiastss gather. There will be one in the Netherlands soon.

I even found a school that organizes education for long-term campers. Again this link was specifically aiming at a Dutch-speaking community.

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Those links were exactly what I was looking for. Thanks! –  Affable Geek Oct 9 '12 at 12:34
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In Sweden there has been a huge increase in sales of RVs and though many do not use them all-year I personally know of three RVs used 9 months a year. There is also a very large number of especially German registered RVs going through Sweden every year, I do not know if they are used all year or not.

All over Europe they are more popular than ever, 20% of the Swedish sales are at the exhibition for RVs and trailers at Elmia, Jönköping. Never been but I'm sure it's huge and well visited and probably a lot of community information going on there.

Incidentally this is the same place they have Dreamhack every year, the biggest community gathering of geeks, gamers and e-sport lovers in the world.

My answer would have to be Yes, there is a strong community of RVers in Europe, but the RVs are smaller and far less year-round users than in the US. But keep in mind that Europe is a very diverse place, lots of cultures with different ideas. I've seen lots in west and central Europe, not as many in east and south.

As for links I can find you some Swedish links, would that be helpful?

Having spent 5 months the past spring in Thailand and visiting Malaysia and Singapore I can say I never saw a single RV. For the areas I visited, I can't see myself ever risking my or others lives by going in to traffic with one. The roads are of very varied quality (usually on the not so good side) and the general rules of the traffic do not make it easy for RVs.

Example: In Thailand they drive on the left side and any major road has a huge ditch or divider in the middle. If you want to turn right you have to find a gap in the divider and do a U-turn over 2-3 lanes with vehicles ranging in speed from biking to 130 km/h. Drive back then turn left in to the road you wanted to access.

Edit:

I just want to clarify again after reading the comments posted on the question. As I've said I believe there is a strong community of RVers in Europe, while it is strong it is slimmer on the full-timers than the American is. I don't have any numbers on this, it is just the feeling I get from living in Sweden and enjoying traveling in Europe.

I also noted that a lot of hits I got were about accessories sold for RVs, campers, trailers, boats and so on. Such as solar panels. I feel a link to shops are not necessary to put in this list. I just noted a lot of it, and many pages mentioning this.

That said, here are a few links to Swedish sites that I found upon googling.

The Elmia exhibition official site for the caravan and camper show might be interesting. A lot of information on the Swedish version, not so much on the English. But they can probably direct you to organizations in the field.

husbilsklubben.se is perhaps the largest community in Sweden. Translates to "The RV Club". The link is to a discussion about taking the step of selling the home and moving in to the RV. It goes on to mention that most of them live abroad half the year, because to be honest everyone would be miserable spending a winter in an RV in Sweden ;)

My reasoning for calling it a strong community is because in this very chat several couples are throwing out contact information and inviting others to come visit to check it out or tag along for a trip and similar. They also mention having met couples from other countries having done the very same.

The newspaper Hallandsposten posted a picture article about a couple moving in to their RV.

byggahus.se (build house) has a miscellaneous section where there is a discussion about cost and living year round in trailer/RV. One post mentions 20 families with children living permanently in campers/trailers/RVs (doesn't specify, I suspect it is trailers) somewhere around the Swedish town of Ystad. Given that Ystad barely freezes over in the winter I would say that isn't a half bad place to do it.

"RVs - The hottest summer item right now" according to the paper Dala-Demokraten. (2011)

If I spoke German I am positive I would find the same over there, probably a lot more. Surely half the RVs I saw last year in Sweden were German registered. And with that many making it up here I am sure there are lots more going around Europe. I am sure they got lots of great communities.

Watching the British tv show Top Gear has lead me to believe there are many "...pestering motor-homes ruining the drive for the average Joe sports car driver..." ;) (Disclaimer: Not actual quote, just remember them bashing the motor homes and caravans)

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I'd love the links! –  Affable Geek Oct 8 '12 at 19:30
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