One million Americans live in their RVs, says The Washington Post in an article about the “modern nomads” published today. The Post profiles some of these nomads, and what motivations drove them to abandon their stick homes and become RV “fulltimers.”
When Robert and Jessica Meinhofer told friends they were moving into an RV in 2015, most thought they were crazy.
The questions poured in: How could they go from living in a 2,000-square-foot home to living in a 250-square-foot trailer? What would they do with their stuff? What would their children, ages 6 and 9, do for school? Was this a midlife crisis? The hardest people to convince were Jessica’s parents, who grew up in an impoverished Latino neighborhood in the Bronx and worked hard so their daughter could have a better life. They couldn’t understand why the couple wanted to live like migrant laborers.
The Meinhofers are doing this by choice, not financial desperation. They are part of a movement of people ditching “sticks and bricks” homes that have long embodied the American Dream and embracing a life of travel, minimal belongings and working when they want.
“We’re a family of four redefining what the American Dream means. It’s happiness, not a four-bedroom house with a two-car garage,” said Robert Meinhofer, who is 45.
The Meinhofers and a dozen others who spoke with The Washington Post about this modern nomadic lifestyle said living in 200 to 400 square feet has improved their marriages and made them happier, even if they’re earning less. There’s no official term for this lifestyle, but most refer to themselves as “full-time RVers,” “digital nomads” or “workampers.”
Most modern nomads need jobs to fund their travels. Jessica Meinhofer works remotely as a government contractor, simply logging in from the RV. Others pick up “gig work” cleaning campsites, harvesting on farms or in vineyards, or filling in as security guards. People learn about gigs by word of mouth, on Workamper News or Facebook groups like one for Workampers with more than 30,000 members. Big companies such as Amazon and J.C. Penney even have programs specifically recruiting RVers to help at warehouses during the peak holiday season.