The Interesting Way I Became a Digital Nomad
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What is a Digital Nomad?
Digital nomads are people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living from anywhere in the world.
This lifestyle appeals to individuals who work remotely, because you explore the world as you make money and support yourself, or in our case a family of four.
As an online digital products creator, I knew that I could work from anywhere in the world. My husband works for a large corporation as a design engineer, and he can work from anywhere as well.
This is when we started exploring if a digital nomad lifestyle made sense for our family. I will show you how to become a digital nomad!
How do digital nomads live?
When I started exploring the digital nomad lifestyle, I noticed it was mainly people younger than myself without kids.
They were selling all of their possessions and practicing geoarbitrage, like Kristy Shen in the book Quit Like a Millionaire.
An individual practicing geoarbitrage is able to work their remote job from anywhere.
Let’s say they are a US based software engineer. This person could make $80,000/year. With this income you can move to a place like Thailand and live comfortably on $1,500/month.
With the rising cost of living in the US, it is no wonder that individuals are interested in living abroad to make their income go further.
Unfortunately, this didn’t make sense for my family or four with a 5 year old and 3 year old in tow.
We love to travel, but travelling with small children is tough. Also, with the borders closed down, it made the most sense to work and travel from the road of our own country, the USA.
We ultimately decided to buy a fifth wheel recreational vehicle to live and work from.
Exploring the world as digital nomads and experiencing as much as we can with our children while they are young is important to us.
Taking our living situation on the road was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.
To live the lifestyle of travelling with small children, we needed a comfortable home on wheels to maintain our daily routine.
Our children love their routine and the comforts of home. This is why RV living was the way to go.
How much does it cost to be a digital nomad with family?
For the last two years, we were saving money so that we could move to a low cost of living state where we could also get more family support for our kids.
When the pandemic came, we were able to save money faster by doing things such as a no spend challenge.
After we reached our savings goal, we realized that not only did we have a down payment and moving costs for a new home, but we could also afford a down payment on an RV.
As a frugal family, we live on less than $2,500/month for all of our expenses. Purchasing an RV, and a new truck to haul it with, would add to our expenses, but it wouldn’t hurt our financial goals.
We have been saving half of our income for years now in order to reach financial independence. After detailed research, we discovered that the monthly payment on an RV, and new truck, would be $900/month.
The cost of our RV was $50,000 and the cost of our new truck was $50,000. We put down $20,000 on the truck and received $5,000 for the trade in on my car. Our monthly payment is $470. We put down $15,000 on the RV so that we could take advantage of $16,000 in rebates. Our monthly payment is $430.
You don’t have to put a large down payment on an RV. Most dealers want 10% down.
The cost of a new RV can range from $8,000 to over $300,000, so the cost can fit your unique budget. You can also buy used to save even more money.
For us, we keep our costs low when traveling by not eating out, staying at affordable or free campsites, and by keeping our activities free.
We can spend $25/night on a campsite with full hookups or can stay for free at a spot without hookups such as a local park, casino, or Walmart parking lot.
For a month of camping with full hookups (water/electric/sewer/sometimes Wi-Fi) it will run you between $800-$2,000/month depending on which season you are traveling in (summer is the most expensive), and how close you stay to major attractions.
Staying in a more rural area near a city, or a state park, is a great way to keep your campsite costs low.
Gasoline to our destination runs around $80. Propane gas for our heating and cooking needs runs $60/month.
With our grocery budget running us around $800/month for all household goods plus food, we are looking at a total budget of:
By adding in some free activities, this is an extremely cost effective way to live, work, and travel monthly as a family of 4.
By focusing more on making memories instead of buying stuff, you are living a digital nomad life of adventure and freedom!
I know that there are other budget categories not included in the information above, such as healthcare, medications, other debt, savings, repairs fund, etc.
These are budget categories specific to an individual’s budget and can fluctuate wildly between families.
Do all the accessories you need for the RV come with it?
When you buy a new RV you learn that none of the RV accessories you need come with the RV.
The list includes, hoses for fresh waster, dumping waste, converting 30amp electricity hookups to 50amps, water filters, hose slinky’s, wheel chocks and more!
The cost of these items can quickly add up. This is why we did tons of price comparisons for these products to get the best value, and quality, for our money.
We decided to not scrimp on certain items like the surge protector and water filter. We read many horror stories during our research about items such as these not being of quality when purchasing the lower cost products.
RV living for us is an investment, and we wanted to make calculated purchases based on quality over price. We save in other ways such as on campsites, entertainment, and food costs.
Below you will find each item we initially purchased for our RV rig and truck to make our digital nomad experience the easiest and most enjoyable:
Why were these specific RV items purchased?
Below we go through the reasoning of why we purchased these items for our initial RV adventures. This is everything you would need to go out on the road tomorrow without missing any accessories you would need for a stress free journey.
The Tekton Digital Tire Gauge was purchased because it gives a clear digital readout, has a lighted nozzle and display screen so that you can check your tires in the dark. It is also simple and easy to use.
A good tire gauge is crucial on the road so that you can make sure your rig is safe to drive.
We purchased the Viair Portable Air Compressor Kit, because having a dependable portable air compressor is important for ultimate tire safety when traveling from point A to point B.
This runs on a 12V battery, which is the battery that your vehicle uses.
If you have a low tire situation in the middle of nowhere, this will save you. It is a necessary item for all car and RV travelers.
Gray Water Hose – Non-Potable Water Hose
We use this zero-G hose specifically for our black tank (bathroom sewage) flush. Why do we use it? It is black which makes it easy to remember what it is used for. Also, it is 50 feet long and is kink free. It has worked out great so far, and was an excellent purchase.
Sewer Hose Kit
Our RV has two drain ports. Getting the Valterra 20 foot RV Sewer Hose made sense for us. It comes with 2 – 10 foot sections instead of one 20 foot hose so you can piece together what you need. This product also has great reviews.
The Valterra sewer wye allows you to wye both drain ports together for simple and easy disposal. Being able to drain both ports at the same time saves time.
Potable Water Brass Wye
When using a wye for potable water you need one made out of stainless steel and brass.
This particular wye has shut off valves so you can cut off water to the camper easily. You do this when you need to get fresh water to the camper and for the black water flush.
You perform a black water flush after you have drained your black tank. It helps to get any remaining sewage from your tank. This wye is one of my husband’s favorite RV products.
We purchased the Valterra sewer extension just in case we needed more length to be able to drain our sewer line.
This is useful if you park at a site where the sewer drainage port is far from your rig, which is the case in some RV parks.
Sewer Hose Support
We purchased the Valterra 10 foot Slunky Hose Support and 20 foot Hose Support because most parks require you to keep your drainage hoses off of the ground.
This product also helps the angle of the hose as it drains into the sewage port. Most parks we have visited require this item.
To get ahead of a possible “sewage smell” in your camper you have to have the Happy Camper Organic Holding Tank Treatment.
This breaks down the fats in your black tank so you don’t end up with sticky sludge. We have never had an unpleasant odor in our camper. This product is amazing and I highly recommend it.
We watched a ton of videos where people were breaking off trailer locks. This was the only one that was unbreakable. Having a trailer lock prevents someone from stealing your trailer.
Moisture is the worst thing for your trailer. It creates mold and mildew inside of your rig. One way to prevent that is to purchase a mattress underlay to create a space under your mattress for moisture to evaporate.
The Habor Hygrometer is a small digital readout device that tells you the temperature of your room and the humidity level.
It is fantastic for helping you to understand how humid your camper is so that you can do things to decrease the moisture in the air to prevent mold.
The easiest thing I have found to decrease the amount of humidity in the air is to run the air conditioner. This is because the air conditioner pulls the moisture out of the air.
Your sensor will show a happy face when you have reached a good level of humidity, 50%, so that you know you have done what is needed to make sure you keep your camper mold and mildew free.
We purchased two of these. One for the kitchen/living room area and one for the bathroom. I also take it into our master bedroom when we do laundry.
Another way to remove moisture from the air is to use a dehumidifier. This product looks good, works great, and can also be used as a night light. We put ours in the bathroom of our camper. I have constantly been amazed at how much water it pulls from the air keeping our camper safe from mildew and mold.
Dehumidifier – Powerless Device
This is the perfect dehumidifier for when you store your RV. It doesn’t require any power to work. You only have to power it in when you want to recharge the dehumidifying crystals within the device. It works great!
An x-chock is a device you put in between the tires on your camper to reduce rocking and to prevent someone from stealing your camper.
Leveling blocks are used to make it quick and easy to bring down the front jacks. They are good to have for leveling your camper and for faster set up and tear down. We use four blocks on each side.
These Andersen camper levelers are a quick and easy way to level your trailer side to side and chock the wheels.
Leveling your camper is very important. We learned that having a level camper can keep your slide outs from misaligning from their tracks (lesson learned).
We take every precaution to keep our rig leveled at all times.
Use these rubber chocks behind your back tires to get the trailer from rolling away after you park to get set up.
I love that these are heavy duty. They are the perfect way to keep your camper in one place.
Our camper comes with a large awning. We noticed that during the day the wind can change quickly, which means your awning can start to rock and shake around easily.
To prevent any damage to your awning from wind, I recommend using these awning anchors we purchased. They work extremely well at keeping an awning completely stationary at all times.
Potable Water Hose
This is the potable water hose we purchased for our fresh water. We purchased the product with extra length just in case we needed it. It also is kink free which is a huge help. I recommend also buying a shorter hose as well.
This is the outdoor water filter that we put right after the wye which goes to our fresh water tank. It filters through a carbon filter, like a brita filter for your RV.
It is a must, because you don’t know if the water you are bringing into your camper has potential contaminants in it.
To dry camp and still have power you need a generator.
Generators are loud, so we purchased two of these low noise generators. We can use them together or separately.
Two units gives us flexibility. They are dual fuel and can run off of propane or gasoline. One generator provides 4500 watts and a 30 amp connection.
We purchased a cord that allows us to run them in parallel, which gives you at least 6000 watts and a full 50 amp connection. A 50 amp connection will power everything in your camper.
If you need full power to run both AC units you can.
One generator runs on one full tank of gas for 18 hours, two can run for 36 hours. It takes 3.75 gallons to fill each generator.
This is an optional item if you aren’t planning on dry camping, but they give you the flexibility to make that choice.
To make sure that your generator is safe from the elements you need this generator cover.
Generator Cord – 50 Amp Parallel Cord
This is the cord we purchased to run our generators in parallel. Running in parallel delivers us the maximum amount of power while dry camping.
A good surge protector is a must have to protect your RV circuitry. This product has LED’s on it which will help you to ensure that the power you are connected to is properly wired.
You want to protect the investment into your RV, so a good surge protector is a must have item.
Power Adapter for a Home
Do you want to be able to park, and use, your camper at a friend’s house? You need to get this adapter in order to draw power from their AC electrical outlets.
Power Adapter for 30 Amp Campsites
Some campsites will only have 30 amp outlets. This is the case at a lot of state parks. You will need this adapter so that you can power your camper.
Our 5th wheel came with a 25 foot power cord. We wanted something longer in case it was necessary.
An easy to clean and use lightweight outdoor table is a must for campsites without a picnic table.
This product fits that need perfectly.
Camping shovels are something every camper needs. I have used this shovel several times. It is lightweight and easy to use.
Dissolving Toilet Paper
This toilet paper is something you must have to keep your black tank clean and easy to drain.
You can be a Digital Nomad
As you can see above, there are items you will need to start your RV digital nomad journey. You can purchase them in a frugal and cost effective way.
For example, If you don’t plan on doing any dry camping, you can easily shave $2,000 from the budget table shown above, because you won’t be purchasing generators.
Create an RV journey that works for your budget.
I believe that you can become a digital nomad, just like I have!
I love this blog post so much. We own a camper van and our family of 5 is considering becoming digital nomads.
Quick question, how do you register your vehicles if you don’t live in a particular state? Are you kids homeschooled? Which state do you file taxes in?
I read through most of the post and I didn’t see anything about this but maybe I missed it.
Thank you for you insights and input.