A graphic depicting living in a motorhome permanently

Living In A Motorhome Permanently

Your questions answered

Ever dreamed about leaving the 9-5 behind and living in a motorhome permanently as a nomad, and how you might go about it?


That’s what this guide is all about. So let’s jump right in:

Section 1

The Pros & Cons of Living In A Motorhome Permanently

A motorhome surrounded by trees.

Pros

  • A sense of freedom like no other — Begin the day with a morning coffee in the mountains and wind things down at the shore of a lake. And if you really love someplace, stay as long as you like. With this lifestyle, there really is a sense of freedom that you can’t get anywhere else.

  • It’s cheaper than living in a house — the cost of living in a motorhome, including the upkeep and your day-to-day expenses, will all be cheaper than if you’re living in a house.

  • It’s cheap to park up — Most campsites or motorhome sites are fairly cheap. So if you ever want to stopover at someplace for a few days, it should be easy on your finances.

  • Energy costs should be cheaper — Most people living in a motorhome full time tend not to move around every day. This will reduce the amount and cost of the fuel you consume (and with the 2022 price hikes, I wouldn’t blame you for playing a game of static caravan for a while).

    It’s also still relatively economical to plug in at motorhome and campsites for electricity, hot water and heating. Especially when you compare the prices to the ones you’ll have to pay in a house (which always seems to be increasing).

  • Home is always there — No matter where you travel, it’s always your own bed you’ll sleep in, your couch you’ll crash on, and your own toilet nearby.

  • More free time — One advantage of having a smaller living space is that it’s easier to keep on top of and clean, and there are fewer chores to do. In my experience, it only takes about an hour to give the whole interior a decent thorough cleaning — and especially with a handheld vacuum cleaner. Meaning you’ll have more time to pursue your hobbies and interests at the end of the day.

  • Make wonderful new friends — Travel about in a motorhome and you will meet the most wonderful people in the world. Most of the time they’re friendly and helpful, and very sociable. There’s no doubt, the motorhome community is a wonderful one.

  • No more burnout — Many people report feeling burnt out or bored by the repetitions of everyday life. (Americans call this ‘Groundhog Day’.) But it’s hard to feel that way with motorway living. You can go wherever you want, within reason and the view outside is always changing. Plus it’s a great opportunity to make new friends and meet like-minded people.

  • Closer to nature — I know this is kind of like the first point, but I really can’t overstate how good it is being closer to nature, and spending more time out in the green and pleasant lands of Europe.

  • It’s never been easier — Thanks to the increase in remote working, reduced Internet costs and enhanced connectivity, many people are able to work on the road and maintain full-time occupations and stable incomes.

Cons

  • No permanent address can be a headache — Especially if you need to see a doctor, a dentist, or are looking to pay a bill or to receive something in the post.

     

  • Budgeting can be difficult — As you travel about, you’ll find some locations are more expensive than others. This is especially true if you are travelling abroad and it can make it difficult to set or stick to a budget.

     

  • No ‘alone time’ — We all need alone time every now and then. But this just isn’t really possible living in a motorhome with another person. Unless you think of a way to free up some alone time, you might find yourself getting irritated or arguing with the other person.

     

  • Restricted living space — This can be a blessing and a curse. If you naturally don’t have or want much, then it’s possible to be perfectly happy. But then again you might find things you want, that ultimately there will be no room for. Also, keep in mind that, if you live with another person, you will have to share a bathroom. And your beds may be very close together.

     

  • Messiness — It can be easier to mess up a smaller living space, but on the plus side it’s also easier to clean up that mess afterwards.

     

  • You will likely need a bicycle or towable vehicle — That is, if you want to avoid public transport. Something like a bicycle will come in extremely handy for exploring areas quicker and easier, and for a quick nip to the shops. But of course a bicycle or other vehicle will take up even more space.

     

  • Laundry facilities are either expensive or hard to find — For some reason, even at campsites with relatively cheap electricity plug-ins, laundry facilities can sometimes be expensive. Of course, you could wash the clothes yourself. But drying clothes will probably require a dryer.

     

  • Local conveniences aren’t guaranteed — people who live in houses can rely on late-night corner shops and trusted GP services at the end of the road. But you won’t have that comfort living in a motorhome or campervan.

     

    • Motorhomes can be hard to drive — Especially if you don’t have the experience. It can also be difficult to park and manoeuvre in certain models. And some roads and bridges aren’t motorhome-friendly. Finally, you might also need a special licence to drive the larger motorhomes. Check out our motorhome driving licences and the law article for more information.

       

  • It will get cold — motorhomes aren’t insulated like bricks-and-mortar houses are, so be prepared to wrap up in blankets on a winter’s night in the UK and northern Europe and to learn how to live in a motorhome during the winter

Section 2

Living In A Motorhome And The Law

A judge with a gavel.

Is it legal to live in a motorhome or campervan full time? Yes. There’s nothing in UK law to suggest that you can’t. You can live in a motorhome, a caravan, or a campervan. The only requirements are that:

 

  • Your motorhome has passed its MOT
  • It is fully road legal
  • It is taxed and insured
  • (Outside of the UK) You follow immigration and residency laws
  • (In the UK) You have a British passport or some other entitlement to reside in the country

Another restriction is that you might not be able to park where you like. There are all sorts of restrictions across the UK and Europe — usually set by local authorities — which will determine whether you can park up in a street or a layby for the night. The responsibility is on you to familiarise yourself with the rules. 

 

It might not always be safe to park in some places, especially at night. Download this PDF of the Highway Code and keep it with you. You should be familiar with it anyway. But if your home is literally a vehicle, you should know it like the back of your hand.  

Can motorhomes park anywhere?

No. There are all sorts of restrictive rules to do with parking, and they tend to change from one area to another. Rules often differ between wild camping spots, permanent motorhome sites, and in public parking areas — and it is your job to familiarise yourself with them. In some places, wild camping is forbidden. Doing so will result in large fines and possibly even wheel clamps. 

 

Other things to keep in mind include:

 

  • Leisure parks don’t stay open all year round. It’s against the law for them to stay open permanently (unlike with residential parks). Usually they close in the winter, so you will have to find somewhere else to stay.

  • You CAN park in a private area, providing you get permission from the landowner.

  • If you park up somewhere for a lengthy period of time — even on land that you own — the local authorities may come knocking, asking for planning permission.

Remember:

Motorhome insurance for living in a camper full time WILL be higher than normal, regular motorhome insurance. And if you are driving to risky areas, such as North Africa, a 12-month policy could cost you in excess of £1,000.

 

Even if you’re driving a top-of-the-range new model, the insurance companies will only look at it one way: that you’re more likely to be involved in a road accident or issue, as you are on the road more. Be prepared to have that reflected in the price.

Living in a motorhome on your own property

The law is actually quite vague when it comes to living in a motorhome on your own property. The result is that there’s been much discussion about whether the rules are actually fair or not. Some people think the UK has the most stringent rules in Europe. 

 

What is clear is that you can park on your own land for 28-days only within a 12-month period, with no planning permission needed. And even then, you can only do this if the water, electricity and gas lines aren’t permanently connected. The second you overstay this 28-day period the local authorities might come knocking. 

 

But the law also says that you don’t need planning permission if your use of the motorhome is ‘incidental’ to a dwelling or house and within the area of land attached to that house. 

 

So essentially, it seems you can live in one indefinitely without planning permission. BUT only if you’re already on the driveway or in the garden. And even then, there could still be an issue. As some properties around the UK have legal covenants in place preventing motorhomes and caravans from ever being parked on them. To make sure you don’t get caught out, check the Land Registry

Insurance and living in a motorhome permanently abroad

Getting the right insurance cover depends on what it is you’re planning to do. If you’re planning to roam about Europe, then you’ll need to choose an insurance provider that offers 365-day policies for Europe. 

 

Make sure that you can get coverage for the country you want to visit. Some further afield places, like Morocco and Turkey, require that you buy third-party insurance at the border. It’s quite hard to get an insurance company to cover you in these countries unless you’re at the border. 

 

You will also need:

 

  • Travel insurance
  • An EHIC/GHIC health insurance card (actually, this isn’t essential, but we do recommend that you get one)

 

Make sure to get travel insurance BEFORE you set off. You will have to declare where you’ve been a resident of or spent the last six months. A lot of companies won’t insure you if you’ve already set off. Some do, however, let you renew annually on the road, for example, True Traveller — but they only insure under-40 year-olds.  

 

The point is, plan ahead and it will make your life much easier to get the travel insurance before setting off.

Top travel tip:

Backpacker insurance is often the best type of travel insurance — even if you aren’t technically backpacking anywhere. You should be able to get it to cover you for up to 24-months. Although if you are over 55, you will probably have to renew it after 1 year. 

Backpacker insurance also tends to cover many activities and sports. At least as many as most other standard types of insurance, which is always helpful.

Brexit and long term motorhome living around Europe

Travelling is not as easy on the Continent as it was before Brexit, due to changes to freedom of movement for UK citizens. 

 

You can still travel full time in a motorhome around Europe, so don’t worry about that. But you can now only spend 90 days in every 180 days inside the Schengen area. This means you’ll have to leave most of the countries on mainland Europe after 90 days. But you can still visit the Republic of Ireland, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria, along with all the other nearby countries such as Morocco and Turkey. 

 

Here’s a map for more info:

A map of the Schengen area.

Section 3

Things To Consider & Tips For Living In A Motorhome

Cogs turning in a man's head.

Can you live in a motorhome full-time? It’s not against the law. But it’s a big step and you should be clued up. Here are some things you’ll need to consider first — and some tips for when you set out on the road:

The Cost

It’s not possible to give a precise estimate of the yearly cost of living in a motorhome — because there are so many variables. It can all depend on things like:

 

  • How many people live in the motorhome with you
  • How many (if any) financial dependents you have, such as children
  • How far you plan to travel each day
  • What countries you’re planning on visiting (some are more expensive than others)
  • How often you wild camp or stay at a motorhome park
  • Your ability to do without conventional home comforts and amenities  

 

It might be a good idea to track your spending in a spreadsheet. This will help you to keep organised. Divide your costs into ‘fixed’ and ‘travel’ budgets. This should give you the foresight and some scope to keep on top of your spending, and to adjust it as you go. 


I would also recommend an ACSI camping card. You can buy them for less than £13 a year. They only really work in the low season, but they provide fixed discount rates across many campsites around the UK and Europe. It could save you considerable money.

A word of advice:

I once spoke to a friend who was living in a camper full time. When I asked how they did it for so long, they replied: “We don’t stay at motorhome parks, and the longest we stay in any one place is a maximum of 2 days.” They also estimated that they spent around £1,700 a month travelling about. That did include fuel at the time, but bear in mind that fuel prices (as you well know) have increased since then.

The inconveniences of not having a fixed address

Most people selling up and living in a motorhome don’t plan to hold on to their house. But not having a fixed UK address can cause problems. Mainly because you will need a fixed address for:

 

  • Your driving licence and V5 document
  • To apply for motorhome insurance 
  • Banking
  • To receive letters
  • In order to vote 

 

So, such is life, you’ll essentially need some kind of fixed address even if you don’t actually live at it. Most full-timers use a family member or friend’s address to solve this problem.

 

This is a surprisingly easy way to solve most of your problems. Having a fixed address — any, it seems — allows you to get on the electoral register and to maintain a credit footprint which you will need to keep the DVLA and the NHS, and your banking and insurance companies happy. 

 

Plus, any postage that you get will go safely to that address. 

 

But if you go with a family member or friend bear in mind two things:

 

  • You could cause an increase in that person’s council tax, and so should pay the difference.

  • Your insurance quote could come back higher if the address is in a lower socio-economic area. So if you can, try to fix your address in an area that will return the cheapest insurance costs.  

 

If you don’t have a reliable family member or friend, you can ‘rent’ an address or even a virtual mailbox. Some companies will receive your post, scan it, and then email it to you — all confidentially. This way you can get your post even while you’re driving about. 

 

But be warned: the DVLA can be funny about virtual correspondence and may not accept it because of the high risk of fraud that is so commonly associated with virtual post. Really, using a real fixed address is your best option. But if you cannot, speak to the DVLA before doing anything. 

Seeking healthcare

You will need a home address of some sort to access a GP surgery. If you are using a family member or friend’s address to receive all of your post, then you should be able to register for the GP surgery in that area. 

 

That would also mean that if you need to see a doctor, you will have to travel back to that area. Virtual appointments are good for minor problems. But if you physically need to be inspected, then you might find there is no other option but to travel all the way back. 

 

If you need to take tablets daily, you might find that your doctor is only willing to prescribe three months’ worth at a time. This could leave you in spots without the necessary medicine — if you aren’t careful. You might be able to access medication abroad if you explain to a pharmacist that you’re full-time touring. And if you head inside with a passport and with one of the tablet boxes to show to them. 

 

In most countries, getting antibiotics over the counter isn’t a problem. Even if you haven’t seen a GP. But check beforehand just in case.

Full time camper living in the cold months

I won’t lie. You will struggle to keep warm in a motorhome if it’s cold outside. Your best defence is to buy a well-insulated vehicle with double-glazing. Skip down to section 6 below if you want to hear my thoughts on the best motorhome for full-time living.

 

Most modern motorhomes are manufactured with their water tanks situated underneath the vehicle where it always tends to stay a little bit warm — which can prevent them from freezing over. But some older models might have them in areas where they can freeze. So check this. If your motorhome looks like it has a tank that could freeze, you’ll have to take steps to prevent this disaster-in-the-making from happening.

Storage problems when living in a motorhome

Storage will always be a problem if you’re on the road full-time. Lack of space is an obvious factor, but so will be your vehicle’s GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) constraints. 

 

It’s also worth thinking about what’s important to you in your daily life and what this could mean for storage. For example, if you are an amateur astronomer or a musician — you’ll need to think about where your telescope, musical instrument, and all their accessories could go or if they’ll get in the way. 

 

And then, if you’re into your outdoor sports, you might want to bring along inflatables, bicycles, and maybe a kayak. All of which obviously will take up space even if they’re fitted to the outside and add to your motorhome’s overall weight. 

 

In my opinion, a bicycle is near enough essential for nipping out while on the road to get bits or for easier sightseeing. As for everything else, well… It will be a teething process at first. But after a month or two on the road, you’ll know what you use and what you don’t use. And what to get rid of. Motorhome living makes minimalists of us all. 

 

As for your everyday little things, you can buy hard plastic boxes that will fit under the bed and perhaps some soft felt ones for the overhead bins. All are cheap and are readily available at places like B&M, Ikea, and so on.

Parking while living in a motorhome
Parking is something you'll have to think about a lot if you're living in a motorhome.

Finding parking or a place to stay

Parking is much less of a pain than it used to be thanks to mobile apps like park4night and also, thanks to communities on Facebook and Instagram. 

 

Parking is even harder during the off-season (winter months) because a lot of overnight parking areas will be closed. In this case, you could try residential parks or ‘Park Homes’ as they’re called for a place to stay. Just make sure that, if you’re travelling to an area in the wintertime, you do your research. 


If you are travelling around Europe then you may want to try out the Eurocampings blog which often has fairly good information on what to expect in most European countries.

Watching TV

Personally I think a smartphone is good enough to watch the TV on, or a tablet. But if you want an actual television I would recommend a 12v model with a USB connector port. That way, if you have a streaming USB, such as the Amazon Fire Stick, then you can plug it in to watch everything that Amazon has to offer.

Finding electricity

A solar panel is a neat way to get that crucial extra bit of energy coming your way. Really, they can be invaluable in how useful they are. Even on a cloudy day, a 120w rigid solar panel can charge easily charge your phone or a lamp. A great way to get a power boost in the middle of nowhere. 


I touch on the topic of using a solar panel in more detail in our how to live off-grid in a motorhome guide here.

Getting about in your motorhome

There are plenty of mobile apps that can help you find where you’re going. The trouble is most of them aren’t designed for motorhome users. 

 

If you’re in a campervan you might be alright to stick with Google Maps or Waze. Although be sure to download the route on your phone in case you lose Internet connectivity (although you will lose real-time updates, such as traffic, so be warned). 

 

For the rest of us in motorhomes, it can be a tricky one. CoPilot prides itself on showing the way for caravan and HGV drivers. But recently there have been rumbles in the community about odd route choices and inconsistencies. 


But if you’re living in a motorhome full time, I would probably invest in a decent motorhome GPS like this TomTom GO Camper Max. It will cost you a few hundred, but it will save a lot of hassle.

Going to the toilet

This is probably a given but — make sure your toilet and shower work reliably. Most campsites are decent but a minority have horrid facilities. And in that case, you’ll want to use your own. 

Section 4

Ask Yourself: Are YOU ready for this?

A thumbs up and a thumbs down.

Giving up your home for a life on the road is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of thought before jumping in. A good place to start is by asking yourself these simple questions:

1.) Can you really get what you want out of the full-time motorhome lifestyle?

Think of the size and the amenities of the model you can actually afford. Then ask yourself:

 

  • Would you be happy being stuck inside it for days on end?
  • Is it really big enough to live in — even after you’ve gotten rid of most of your belongings?
  • Will it be tolerable on the coldest, darkest nights?
  • Is the bed comfortable enough to be your permanent bed?

2.) Who are you travelling with — and will you be able to live with them indefinitely?

Living on top of someone else can bring out the ire in even the most understanding, most patient people in the world. So make sure you’re both ready for the challenge.

It’s much less bothersome to travel about in a motorhome with a pet, but then you’ll have to think about sleeping next to a wet, shedding dog in a confined space.

3.) Are you willing to get rid of a lot of stuff you love?

In order to live in a motorhome permanently, you’ll need to get rid of a lot of stuff. It costs a fortune to store things away in units. So ask yourself, are you willing to let go of most of your material possessions?

Top tip:

Some people don’t sell up completely. They rent their households for some passive income instead. This way, you might be able to keep hold of some possessions as a ‘furnished’ house. Plus the house is always there to come back to.

4.) Ask yourself — why are you doing this?

If you’re chasing the dream by all means go for it. But if you’re running away from a problem at home, then full-time motorhome living is unlikely to solve anything. In fact, it could make things worse.

5.) What about your family and friends?

Your close family and friends may not like to see you go, and would you be able to spend so much time away from them? You will make lots of great new friends out on the road, but your parents might sorely miss seeing their child.

6.) And the big one… how will you pay for it all?

Remember that living in a motorhome in the UK is much cheaper than living in a brick and mortar house. So if you’re able to continue to work remotely, it shouldn’t be a problem. 

 

However, while it might be cheaper, it isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s probably more expensive than you might realise. 

 

Here is a pie chart that shows approximately, how you might be allocating your funds. It all depends on how much you have in the first place of course:

A pie chart showing how yours spends might be distributed when motorhome living.

Section 5

Living In A Campervan

An icon of a campervan.

Full-time camper living is a little different to full-time motorhome living, and mainly (obviously) because campervans tend to be much smaller. There are pros and cons to living in a campervan only.

Pros

  • A campervan can go anywhere a car can go — they’re easy to drive and park. You’ll save money going across toll bridges and you won’t have to tow another vehicle and you probably won’t have to bother taking a bicycle on tour with you either. As you can essentially nip anywhere.

  • Campervans are cheap(er) — most campervans are much cheaper than motorhomes. Most. Some of the fancier models can be just as expensive as many Class A and C motorhomes. (Find out more about Class A, B & C motorhomes and what they are here.)

Cons

  • Campervans are often made with lower quality components (compared to motorhomes) — meaning they might struggle with the demands of full-time touring.

    You have to remember that campervans are purpose-built to be affordable and for leisure. The generally lower quality components may wear out relatively quickly and need replacing.

  • Your holding tanks & gas will need refilling more often — can you live in a campervan if you’ll need to keep emptying or filling up the fresh water and wastewater tanks?

    Campervans are smaller and so these tanks will also be smaller — and need replacing more often.

  • You’ll need some kind of generator — campervans tend to not have a generator. Meaning you’ll need to get energy somehow. You’ll likely need a portable generator (which will take up space) along with a solar panel and a battery system.

  • Your possessions will be stripped to their bare bones — even the largest motorhomes turn people into minimalists. With campervans, you’ll pretty much have to get rid of everything. Except maybe the clothes on your back, a laptop and a guitar.

  • What will you eat? — with a lack of kitchen space and a small fridge freezer, you might have to rely on canned and dry foods. So you’ll need to think about how this will affect or change your diet.

There may be more cons than pros listed here, but really it all depends on what you want out of travelling If you have the right attitude and feel comfortable with it, then living in a campervan can really be the ultimate form of freedom. As there are even fewer restrictions on where you can go and what it is you can do in one.

Section 6

What is the best motorhome to live in full time?

A trophy.

This isn’t an easy question to answer. It depends on a lot of variables. Such as what you want out of your motorhome and where in the world you’ll be spending most of your time. 

 

That being said, here are the motorhomes that I know I’d be interested if I was going to live permanently in one:

Best insulated

1). Coachman Travel Master

The Coachman Travel Master range is, as they say, “built for the open road”. It’s made in Sweden by manufacturers Kabe. 

 

It’s a simply gorgeous four-berth motorhome that has a large battery, a solar panel, and insulation to keep you comfortable between -20C to +20C. And there’s a new range for 2022.

 

Check out the Coachman Travel Master’s website here.

Coachman Travel Master

2.) Hymer ML-T Crossover 4x4

This beast is built not only for the road, but also for off-road. With its solar system, this motorhome is built to regularly be able to last for 10 days of self-sufficient wildcamping. Even though it doesn’t sound like a lot, that alone will set you in a good position. 

 

Hymer motorhomes are stress-tested for the cold. They have an excellent closed-pore PU foam insulation shell that should keep the temperature nice and pleasant even through the winter, and gas consumption low. 

 

It’s available in 2-3 sleeping berths.

A picture of the Hymer ML-T Crossover 4x4

Most affordable

This is a difficult one as anything under £20,000 is a big ask nowadays. I really wouldn’t recommend living permanently in a motorhome in a low-priced model. That said, I’m going to give it a shot and choose what I think is best:

1). Hymer B584

This German-built A-class model has a nice lounge area with a drop down bed for the evening time. Here’s our video review of the Hymer B584:

2.) Hobby 750

Another German-built A-class model that’s spacious enough for living in.. Here’s our video review of the FMSe model of the Hobby 750:

Section 7

FAQs

A group of question marks.

No. Campsites tend to have a maximum amount of time that you’re allowed to be on there. And it’s always usually less than a year. You might be able to stay between 6-11 months. But you will be chased off before the year is up.

No — I wouldn’t say so. It’s healthy to get out and see the world. That’s good for the soul. It can be hard to eat healthily on the road, but if you’re creative and adjust your diet accordingly, you can still eat a balanced diet on the go.

No. Although you can wild camp in many places, other places might have funny rules — and you’ll have to request permission on private land. The attitude of the local authorities can change — even in the UK — from one council to another. Always check if you have permission. 

Yes. But not to the extent that you would if you were leaving it unattended for months.

No. Living in a motorhome, you could potentially drive through 40 different counties in a day. So which county would you pay? It doesn’t seem possible.

No. A mortgage is exclusively for real property (real estate). A motorhome is personal property, like a car or a boat.

In theory you can, but the law on this is vague and contradictory. It would be best to check with your local council (if you are planning on still having a fixed address for, say, postage and insurance) to see what they say.

Ready to make the jump to full-time motorhome living? Then we can help.

We’ve reviewed hundreds of motorhomes for you to check out both on our blog and also on our YouTube channel. In addition to this, we also run the Motorhome Insiders podcast, where we talk about all the latest things happening in the industry, advice on buying and selling, events and more. Please, check them out. You might find them helpful!

And of course, if you have any questions on motorhomes, any at all, just get in touch. We will be happy to help. 

A Note from the Author — Shane Malpass

We hope you have enjoyed this article. Let me tell you a little about our business. Over the last 10 years, we’ve helped hundreds of happy customers to sell up their motorhome quickly, without a fuss and no matter what the condition — for a great price in return.

So if you want to simply sell your motorhome and move on, or are looking to upgrade to a newer model or caravan — we’re here to make you happy and keep you satisfied. Your opinions matter to us. Just check out our five-star TrustPilot reviews!

You can give me a call directly on 07879 816463. In the meantime, find out more about me here and follow our YouTube channel for all the latest motorhome reviews, tips, and tricks.