White truck camper near RV

Can You Live In a Truck Camper Full Time?

My wife and I have a lot of questions about our next life phase when our nest is officially empty. This should become a reality in about a year. So the questions are top of mind and they seem to multiply every day. But our biggest question at the moment is whether or not we could live in a truck camper full time.

The short answer, if you’re really short on time, is a resounding YES. We could do it, and you could, too. Plenty of people have made the move. We met a wonderful couple who lived full-time in a truck camper for years with a teenager!

Yes, we can. But, whether we (or you) should buy a truck camper and call it home is a completely different discussion. So let’s talk about it.

truck camper full-time RV living

We have little doubt that full-time RVing of some sort is in our near future. Although we sold our travel trailer a couple years ago, the RV lifestyle has never left our minds.

There is no denying that we continue to have dreams of the open road. We want to return to wide, serene spaces, and explore the beautiful wild places of our nation’s public parks.

But the question remains: Is a truck camper the perfect option for us as a full-time couple?

It’s time we dig in and try to answer that question for ourselves through research and a bit of personal analysis. If you’re struggling to answer the same question, I hope you will find the information and insights useful in your journey toward the full-time RV life.

truck camper in rv park

Is Full Time Life in a Truck Camper a Good Idea?

Before we start, know that a massive shift in your lifestyle can be daunting and overwhelming. It can easily paralyze your decision making if you’re not careful. (Ask me how I know.)

The best way to start is to develop thoughtful answers about your genuine interest in a lifestyle on the road. Dig deep to confirm your level of resilience and willingness to make sacrifices.

Make no mistake: Whatever lifestyle you choose, on the road or otherwise, you WILL make sacrifices. We make sacrifices every day. We generally just don’t notice when the choices are so clear.

When decisions are made in line with societal norms – family, career, and health, among others – it’s easy to pass over the sacrifices. You’re the fish in a fishbowl without a clue about the water.

But now, it’s time to ask some tough questions and become more aware and more informed. Put on your big boy (or girl) pants.

Start With Some Basic Questions

Which Living Situation Is Most Satisfying?

If you’re like the average American or Canadian, you’ve likely lived in a pretty wide range of properties and circumstances. Some you probably enjoyed more than others.

Look back on those experiences and honestly answer this question:

What Type of Home Brings Joy?

Start making a list of the specific properties you have called home. Under each property, create a list of the size, amenities (beds, baths, etc.), and costs. Include details about the home that you liked and disliked. An example might be proximity to a park, the library, or close friends.

Complete this exercise for your three to five most recent homes. You should notice some patterns and will likely see similarities about what you liked and disliked across all properties.

If larger property size seems to be a consistent factor that led to your enjoyment and satisfaction, you should probably move on from the idea of full-timing in a truck camper.

Trust me, you have plenty of other full-time RV options of all shapes and sizes out there to explore.

Related Reading: Small 5th Wheel Trailers

For our family, a full-time life in a 200 square foot travel trailer led to some of the best memories of our lives. It was challenging, at times gut wrenching, but it still satisfied, thrilled, and left us wanting more.

We traveled across North America with our kids. So there were always four and sometimes five adults in the trailer. Now that it’s only me and my wife, a truck camper feels like it be the right size.

truck camper and toy truck camper

Related Reading: Pros and Cons of Living Full-Time in a Travel Trailer

Home Much Do I Value Simplicity?

The older I get, the more I value simplicity. The fewer moving pa

rts in my life, the fewer complicating factors, the fewer things to worry about, the better.

The only caveat there is that I will suffer the loss of some simplicity for the sake of an adventure that makes me feel alive.

For example, when we moved to Hawaii, we made the move with only two suitcases per person. So while moving to the island wasn’t simple, we simplified the process as much as possible. And what an adventure it was!

The bottom line is that since 2016, at the age of 41, I’ve been moving strongly in this direction. Simplicity works for me and I pursue it and choose it whenever possible. And that becomes more true for my wife everyday.

Related Reading: Key Factors to Consider When Choosing an RV

So that’s me in a nutshell. But the question is: How much do YOU value simplicity? Looking back at your life, and at your current situation, if you were to pick a point on a line that ranges from “Simplicity” on one end to “Comfort and Convenience” on the other, where would you honestly land?

If you give it a few minutes of honest reflection, it won’t be too hard to answer that question. It’s an important answer, take your time.

It’s safe to say a truck camper will offer you probably the simplest possible full-time RVing experience with the least moving parts and potential failure points.

If you’re anything like me, that statement above really gets your juices flowing! Simple and lightweight are both winners in my book, and the truck camper offers both (although some models can get pretty heavy…so do your homework and be sure your truck matches your camper properly).

What Excites You Most When Thinking About Life on the Road?

You have most likely talked about and thought about a number of things that get your heart pumping when you picture yourself living the RV life. Maybe it’s the beautiful sights you will see, people you will meet, and all the places you will visit.

No doubt, you can experience thousands of locations in any type of RV, but many locations will be off limits to you if you’re towing a large trailer behind you or driving a larger Class A or Class C motorhome.

A truck camper is uniquely suited to allow you the opportunity to explore the wildest places our world has to offer. It’s no surprise that the wildest places are also some of the most secluded places, where you may not see another living soul for days if you wish.

If you just got really sad or a bit freaked out reading that last paragraph, it’s possible that a truck camper may not be the perfect adventure vehicle for you. Going off-road and boondocking in remote locations is not for everybody, and if you don’t see yourself pursuing those types of opportunities, it’s possible that a travel trailer (also smaller and simpler) may be a better fit.

Bottom line: If you like to be in the middle of the action and surrounded by fellow RVers in a park or campground, and if this is how you picture your RV life, you may not be fully prepared to experience all that the truck camper lifestyle has to offer.

But…the great thing about a truck camper is that it does offer flexibility, so you can live both lives (the social one and the recluse one) in the same vehicle if you choose. And if small spaces and simplicity are absolutely your thing regardless of what you’re up to, then keep reading! You may just end up in a truck camper after all.

truck camper set up

Truck Camper FAQs

Okay, now that we’ve covered those three most important personal questions, you should be starting to get a better idea of whether you should continue exploring this truck camper path.

If you’ve weathered those questions and feel that your love affair with truck campers is still going strong, I think a few of these most commonly asked questions about truck campers will provide some more valuable insight and keep moving you forward.

How Much Does it Cost to Live Truck Camper?

Ah yes, the ever-present and impossible-to-accurately-answer question that keeps buzzing around in your head and refuses to let you sleep at night. I remember it well from my early days of exploration.

Here’s the short answer: It can cost you as much or as little as you want!

Cost of Living Depends on Individual Decisions

But the truth is that the cost of living in a truck camper (or any RV) will be different for every single person. For instance, this full-time truck camper couple lives on $800-$1,000 per month! (No, I am not sure how and I am almost certain I couldn’t pull that off.) They headed out of the rat race and toward this lifestyle with an attitude that said:

“I’ll eat beans and rice into my sixties if it means I can do what I want with my life!”

~ Dave Gilbert

I’m pretty sure the Gilberts are not eating beans and rice for every meal, but they are certainly capable of pinching some pennies and managing their money well.

truck camper driving down the road

But in my case, when we hit the road in our travel trailer with a family of five for our full-time RV adventure, let’s just say it ended up being a bit more expensive than I had anticipated. (And it was totally worth it, because we created experiences and memories for our family that I wouldn’t sell for a million bucks!)

Look, if you go in with a mindset like Dave Gilbert above and you are fully prepared (equipment-wise and mentally) to do some serious boondocking in some wild places, staying under $1,000 is definitely possible for a couple. I don’t have any doubt.

But if you are more interested in “living the good life”, not pinching your pennies and staying in parks and campgrounds with full hookups every night, you should be more prepared for a budget of $2,000-$2,500 per month for a couple.

You could easily spend more than that, trust me! We averaged about $600 per month just in site fees…even with a campground network membership to help reduce costs. It adds up fast, especially when you are not set up properly for boondocking opportunities.

These financial decisions on the road are really not much different than the financial decisions you have made all of your life. On the road, if you can find ways to control “the big three” expenses of fuel, food and nightly site fees, you can make the truck camper lifestyle happen on a very reasonable budget.

Be sure to check out our essential tips for living in an RV without going broke for more ideas on how to find some financial peace of mind while on the road.

Are Truck Campers Safe?

Safety. Yeah, this one’s a biggie. If you’re asking this question, there could be several potential meanings of your question. I’ll try to address a couple of the most likely meanings.

Structural and Component Quality

If you’re wondering whether a truck camper has adequate structural and component integrity to stand up to your lifestyle long-term, the short answer is: It depends.

As with any vehicle of any type, and especially for RVs, build and component quality can range a great deal, and this mostly depends on sticker price. For the most part, your higher-priced truck campers (Lance, Cirrus, etc.) are going to provide you with a superior quality that you will certainly feel after some time on the road.

But many of the truck campers on the market will be adequate for a full-time adventure if they are cared for properly and will keep you safe from the elements. The importance of regular care and maintenance cannot be overstated when it comes to truck campers of any price or quality.

Many types of truck campers have served full-time adventurers well when they are properly cared for and maintained, from pop-up truck campers to hard-sided truck campers. So, my advice is to do your homework, understand the quality offered by each brand, and buy the best that your budget will comfortably allow.

By buying more quality up front, you are giving yourself a far better chance of not “losing your shirt” when it’s time to sell or trade in your first truck camper.

truck camper

Personal Safety and Theft Prevention

If you’re more concerned about safety and security while your truck camper is parked at a campsite or off-grid somewhere, that is an extremely tough one to address.

Just like it would be in your normal home, if someone wants into your home badly enough and comes equipped to breach it, there’s not much you are going to be able to do to stop it. Windows are windows, and they all break the same, so gaining access to the truck camper would not be overly complicated. (I certainly don’t think there are many folks out there who would try this, however, and the statistics would bear that out.)

Since this is the case, physical safety really becomes a matter of your choices related to personal safety. Each person has to decide if they want to travel the country armed with a weapon and deal with each state’s regulations related to firearms. That is a very personal decision and not one I choose to address here.

Can You Park a Truck Camper Anywhere?

Honestly, I think one of the biggest pros of traveling in a truck camper is simply the ease of travel and overall flexibility it offers.

I can’t tell you how many times I had to pass up small gas stations while traveling with my long bed truck and 26-foot travel trailer behind it. Many stations will not accommodate a setup that size and this can certainly complicate your travels and make them a bit more stressful.

But with a truck camper? Well, I don’t think there are any gas stations in the country that don’t have 10+ feet of vertical clearance to allow your rig to access the gas pumps. If gas is available, you should be able to get it. Trust me, that can be a big relief and give you a definite reduction in stress level.

And if you need to do some shopping at a rather crowded grocery store with a full parking lot? Your chances of finding somewhere to park with your truck camper are 10x better than if you are towing something behind you, which always complicates the situation and adds to the stress level.

truck camper in the mountains

Can You Sleep in a Truck Camper That is Off the Truck?

And speaking of flexibility, there is another feature of the truck camper that would work really well for me.

Because yes, you can sleep in a truck camper when it is off of your truck! This gives you the versatility to drop the camper at your site (normally if you are going to be staying put for several days at least) and then explore much more freely in just your truck. This will save wear and tear on the truck, will improve your fuel efficiency and will keep you from having to avoid any low clearance routes as you explore.

I can’t talk about this topic without recommending a product that was released in 2018 which helps to keep your truck camper stable while it is off the truck and avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the camper supports/jacks and on the body of the camper as well. The StableCamper product is a high quality product that you need to take a look at.

As an additional benefit, it should also help you sleep better if you are sharing the camper with others, as it is supposed to significantly reduce shaking and shifting caused from moving around in the camper.

Can You Remove the Camper in RV Parks?

When you’re dealing with private RV parks, especially the higher end campgrounds, expect to run into some strange and inexplicable rules about the types of RVs allowed.

rv park sign

Generally speaking, truck campers in good condition are allowed in the vast majority of RV parks. You might find 5% or so that have rules against them, but most of the time it will not be a problem. Some might restrict campers (or any type of RV) older than 10 years, or simply require that you send pictures of your rig for approval before arriving.

As we discussed above, there is no problem from a safety standpoint with sleeping in your truck camper when it’s off the truck. Having said that, the more likely issue you are going to run into with a truck camper is a rule that doesn’t allow you to remove the truck camper from the truck in the RV park.

Some folks claim that they ran into this issue so often that they ended up getting rid of their truck camper because it was just too much hassle and kept them from exploring freely, without the camper, as they originally planned to do.

Bottom line is to consider where you plan on spending most of your time: In nicer RV parks likely to have more rules, or in more rustic campgrounds and boondocking locations where you should be more free to do what you need. If RV parks are more your style, a truck camper could end up cramping your style as you navigate some of these inconvenient RV park rules. It’s something to think about…

How Many Truck Camper Options are Available in the Market?

If you think there are only a handful of truck camper options, you are wrong. Very wrong.

According to Truck Camper Adventure, there are more than 30 different North American truck camper manufacturing companies. Moreover, new options are coming to market every year.

With the recent surge in demand in RV living and travel, I imagine the list of truck camper options will continue to expand in the coming years.

Is a Truck Camper the Best RV for You?

We covered a lot of information about full-time life in a truck camper. Understand, of course, this is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There are far more variables than we are able to discuss in a single article. Living in a truck camper is not an easy decision. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Start off with some honest answers to the questions above about your history and your preferences. Follow it up by considering the answers to these common truck camper questions. Look at your own financial situation and decide what’s feasible. Trust your intuition as you go.

But if a full-time adventure on the road is where you’re supposed to end up, don’t let anything stop you. I am confident it will be the best experience of your life.

can you live full-time in a truck camper

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  1. Just wondering how many truck campers there are in Hawaii. The author said he moved there in 2020. Didn’t say whether he shipped his TC….just something to ponder.

    1. Hi John, that’s a good point. I did not mention anything about TCs in Hawaii. The truth is that they are not very common at all! I just asked my wife about this, and neither of us can specifically remember seeing ANY of them in Hawaii. About the only RVs we did see in the 8 months we lived there (and we rented one) were camper vans, but even those were very rare.

      We did not ship a TC to the island. If you choose to do that, the cost for truck and camper would easily exceed $3K…if they allowed a combo of that size. Have not looked into it so not much help there.

      Let us know if you end up taking a TC there and how it goes! Happy TREKKN, John!

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