Living in a Motorhome (UK)- Pros, Cons and essential tips!

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Dreaming of living in a motorhome/ camper? Whether you want to live in a motorhome full-time, or for long extended periods, there are many things you need to take into consideration. Here are the pros, cons and insider tips from people who live in their motorhome in the UK permanently. 


When we first had the crazy idea to travel Europe in a motorhome, we were unsure whether living in a motorhome full-time was the right lifestyle for us.

We had many considerations to think about, not least the fact that our daughter was in college (after being home-schooled) and we needed to keep a base in the UK for her.

We always say we aren't full-time motorhomers, as we still have that base in the UK (and now a small place in France thanks to BREXIT), so the camper is not our only residence.

HOWEVER, I know you want to hear from people who ARE living in their motorhome full-time; where their van is their permanent (and only!) home.

So, we spent some time chatting to Pete and Brydee, from Champers and Campers, and they answered all your questions about full-time motorhome living- and more!


Pete, Brydee and Molly the lab- living in their motorhome fulltime since 2019 and exploring the UK
Pete, Brydee and Molly the lab- living in their motorhome fulltime since 2019 and exploring the UK

Living in a motorhome (UK) Full-time

We chatted to Pete and Brydee, who have been living in their motorhome full-time since 2019. We spoke about all sorts, from how they got started with this idea, how people have dealt with it, what to do with all your ‘stuff', practicalites, tips and much more.

We spoke for over an hour, so I won't write up everything they said. If you can't watch the video right now, I highly recommend you come back and watch it, but here are some notes with the important points.


Watch the video- Living in a Motorhome full-time; is it for you?

We chatted to Pete and Brydee inside the Wandering Bird Membership group. If you'd like to join and be able to chat LIVE to people living in a motorhome or travelling full-time, you can join us here. We have different speakers and topics each month.

We hope you found the video useful. If you did, we'd love it if you followed us on Youtube. Thanks!


Why decide to live in a motorhome full-time in the UK?

In their words, it just happened. Their goal has always been travelling and wanted to be more financially stable and stress free. This lifestyle is so much easier, saves money, allows for more travel and time spent together


What's the best motorhome to live in?

Currently, they're on their second van. They realised pretty quickly that they'd made a mistake when they bought their first van- especially when it came to one person getting up earlier than the other!

So they decided to exchange and currently have a Rapido 8094df, which meant them having to upgrade their licences to drive a motorhome over 3.5 tonnes. So far, they love it- but watch this space!

(If you want to avoid making a similar expensive mistake, here's how to buy a motorhome and get it RIGHT first time!)

TOP TIP for full-time motorhome living: Look carefully at the van layout and how you will use the space. They've gone from lots of storage to more living space for them and their dog (more on her later!).

Living in a motorhome full-time- pros, cons and tips for fulltime permanent motorhome living in the UK
Living in a motorhome full-time- pros, cons and tips from people doing it!

Did you hire a motorhome first?

Nope. They hadn't even really been in one before deciding to live in a motorhome! They had no experience at all! (If you're new to motorhomes, hiring a motorhome is a GREAT idea.)


How do you fund this lifestyle?

Pete still works fulltime. Much of his work can be done online from the van, but when he has to travel within the UK, they can drive together. It's only when he has to go overseas that he's away from home- a great improvement on how things were previously.

They also have a rental property which they rent out.


Wildcamping in the motorhome

Pete and Brydee often wild camp in the UK 2 nights and then stay at a campsite for a night to fill up water, empty waste and charge things. Don’t use tap water for drinking, so normally they can last five days.

They recommend avoiding wild camping on Friday or Saturday nights due to the increased likelihood of “boy racers” causing disturbances.

They've had a few situations where it's been tough to wild camp- motorhome and campervan parking laws in the UK are strict! It was especially bad in Scotland in October as most campsites were closed so disposing of waste and getting water was tough. They used public toilets where possible and filled up with fresh water in petrol stations as often as they could.

Staying safe while wild camping

Rarely feel unsafe- a couple of times they haven’t even locked the door. Molly is a great guard dog. One time, they took her out and she was really weird and alert and whining and pacing. So they moved on. They never stay in the middle of cities or anywhere they feel safe.

Power

Pete and Brydee use a 120w rigid solar panel to help them with power whilst off-grid. They also have refillable Gaslow bottles to help cut the cost of gas usage

READ MORE: 21 essential motorhome accessories you need (do you have them all??!)

Living in a motorhome fulltime with a dog in the UK- permanent vanlife with dog in motorhome
Fulltime motorhome living allows you to explore some incredible places in the UK

Living in a motorhome permanently- practicalities

Mail/ banking

One of the most common questions asked was “How do you deal with mail/ banks”? They send all mail to a family member's address.

TV

They have a 12v motorhome television with a Roku streaming stick, which has worked perfectly. Make sure your TV has a USB connector port, like this one.

Navigation

They currently use Google Maps, which isn't great with such a large vehicle- they keep getting stuck! We highly recommend one of these best sat-navs for motorhomes– worth every penny!


Fulltime motorhome living with a dog

Pete and Brydee have an adorable labrador called Molly, currently aged 12. She's taken to vanlife like a champ and they are ecstatic by the unexpected benefits of full time living in a motorhome.

She’s lost weight, has a better coat, is happier, and some lumps she had have gone down. She never has to wait for them to come home and is more chilled.

One small problem is she forgets how tall she is and bumps her head on table, although she'd getting more used to it now.

Living in a motorhome fulltime with a dog in the UK- permanent vanlife with dog in motorhome
Molly- thoroughly enjoying motorhome travel and living in a motorhome

Have you taken the motorhome to Europe yet?

Not yet! Plans are on hold, but they hope to travel to Europe with their motorhome very soon!! They're focussing their attention on planning awesome UK road trips and preparing for life back on the road.

If you'd like some tips, here's a step-by-step guide to travel Europe with a motorhome, here's a step by step guide.

You can also grab your FREE Europe travel checklist below.

Europe Motorhome travel- free checklists

Want to head to Europe with your motorhome?

Grab your FREE (printable) checklist and discover 25 things you NEED to take with you when you travel in Europe. Make your life easier today.


Favourite thing about living in a motorhome full-time?

Waking up somewhere new, feels more simple and with nature. Also, the people they meet- always friendly and helpful. They spent a wonderful Christmas on a campsite with total strangers who are now firm friends. (It's amazing how many people who enjoy life on the road say the same!)

For anyone worried about being lonely, there are ALWAYS people around you can meet and socialise with if you wish to. It's a wonderful community.


Worst thing about full-time motorhome living?

Flies on the windscreen- it's a BIG windscreen to clean. Also, Molly loves mud and they have clean white leather seats…

They miss having baths and the space you get in a house… but not enough for them to regret their choices! Also, motorhome insurance is tough to find as fulltimers.

Dealing with arguments

It's not easy living fulltime in a small space with someone else. You need to be patient and learn to take a second to breathe. Going for a walk helps.

If you want to live in a van, you need to be open with your partner and work together to fix any issues… although Pete and Brydee do still argue about navigation! 😉

Lockdown

Lockdown was tough, especially as the UK was not great at providing places for full-time vanlifers to stay. They started out having to rent a cottage just to find somewhere safe to stay.

However, they did find a campsite eventually and have been socially distancing there. They also took advantage of the unexpected extra time to start their awesome motorhome podcast- Champers and Campers- available everywhere you can find podcasts.

I highly recommend subscribing and listening to their advice and experience- it's very good. I was on there a while back, chatting about all things motorhome life and travelling in Europe. Have a listen HERE

Winter in a motorhome

Winter 2019/2020 was particularly tough in terms of storms and violent winds. A couple of times they were concerned for the safety of the motorhome, but it was all ok eventually- just a few sleepless nights!

If you are living in a motorhome, be sure to deal with condensation promptly- before it spreads and damp takes over. Here are 12 great ways to tackle condensation in a motorhome.


How long is vanlife for them?

For the foreseeable future. We talked about stress and ‘normal life' and how vanlife is generally much less stressful. They love the control they have over their lives (global pandemics non-withstanding!) and the lifestyle they have whilst living in a motorhome.


Top Tips for Living in a motorhome permanently

So, if you want to follow in Pete and Brydee's footsteps and live in a motorhome long or full-term, here are their top tips to get you started:


I'd like to say a huge thank you to Pete and Brydee for their time. It was a pleasure chatting with you.

You can follow Pete and Brydee on:


So, what was your favourite tip? Are you still interested in learning more about living in a motorhome in the UK? Share your questions or dreams in the comments below.

Living in a Motorhome fulltime- essential tips for UK motorhome living and permanent vanlife

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4 thoughts on “Living in a Motorhome (UK)- Pros, Cons and essential tips!”

  1. Hi Kat,
    loved to see your pic of Gavarnie. It’s given us an idea of where to go.
    My wife and I decided to “treat” ourselves to travelling on our retirement (2018/9) for as long as our health allowed. The only way we thought we could afford to see as much as we wanted to was to buy a motorhome. Never had any experience.
    We rented a campervan in Tassie for 16 days (a wonderful place to travel!) to find out if we liked the life (& get along full time!) From that, we worked out what we did and did not need/want in a ‘van. We did months of looking on fleebay and gummy before we arrived in England so we had an idea about the cost of vehicles and the lay-outs.
    We spend 3 weeks phoning and driving round England looking before we found what we were looking for. The BIG surprise was not realising that we had to buy everything to get it ready to go on the road – pots, pans, plates, sheets, doona’s etc.
    Insurance was a rip off! We have full no claims bonus in Oz; not recognised in the UK! That was a sting!
    We bought 2 electric bikes. How I envy you and your motorbikes! I have a few back home. We also bought a car and a trailer. A pain unless we stay in ‘proper’ campsites for a period of time. We’re 12.5 meters long and I refuse to use motorways. (I didn’t realise how narrow the roads were!)
    We took to the road on 17th June ’19. We did a few nights free camping in southern England but felt so unsafe that we decided to stay only on campsites. Powys and Suffolk were our standout places to visit.
    Nov ’19 we landed in France did the WW1/2 tourist thing and spent Christmas at a chateaux in Bougogne for our wedding anniversary. Tres romantique!
    I’d read about the white horses of The Camargue as a child so that’s where went. A dream fulfilled!
    We spent the winter in Spain, cold by our standards but better than England and northern France. We left Spain via the Somport tunnel 15th March the day Spain closed it’s border and eventually ended up in an aire at Chalus, Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
    1st April it snowed all day! An English speaking woman took pity on us and told us she had a friend who had a gite but no customers. We have been in Dordogne for the lock down. (our flights were cancelled) We are now on the move again. We’re planning on going home in November leaving our van here in Dordogne and returning next northern spring. Loving it!

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  2. This was such a useful article and the interview with Champers and Campers was absolutely fascinating, thank you Kat.

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