The average workamper used to be content to work a few hours each week in exchange for a free campsite and perks like free laundry. Nobody ever got rich from these jobs, but for many folks, trading their time for free camping worked very well.
Things are changing however. Today many full-time RVers who are thinking about workamping become irate when they discover that many traditional workamping jobs technically pay less than minimum wage.
Here’s a Workamper News workamping job wage formula that reveal a job’s “true” wage.
After running the numbers, some future workampers get vocal about employers paying “illegal wages.” And yes, at first glance these arrangements seem unfair, but I urge these angry full-timers to consider the perks that you just can’t put a price on.
For instance, my husband and I have worked in two different workamping jobs that technically paid less than minimum wage. And we loved every minute.
Our first workamping job was on a small family farm. We took this job because we thought we would become farmers after our one year full-timing sabbatical was over.
Our campsite was behind a smelly barn and consisted of a makeshift sewer dump, an extension cord and a garden hose. We didn’t get paid a dime for six days of work each week, but we received off-the-record bonuses like:
- Free healthy and tasty organic food that we couldn’t afford somewhere like Whole Foods.
- Expert guidance on running a family farm that others learn the hard way.
- Hands-on experience running a farm store, doing farmer’s markets and marketing to the public.
- Becoming part of a wonderful family who took us in like long-lost relatives.
- Wintering in beautiful, sunny Florida.
The biggest reward? We learned we’re not tough enough to be farmers!
Our other favorite workamping job was spent on an historic dude ranch run by the original homesteaders. We took that job thinking we wanted to buy a resort some day.
We earned an hourly wage and had a better RV spot, but even the family knew they couldn’t afford to pay us what the job was really worth.
So how did they make up for it?
- Free use of the family’s 2,000-acre private land and fishing ponds, in the prettiest mountains of Colorado
- Two free meals each week at guest dinners
- Free use of anything on the ranch, including their horses and 4×4 jeeps
- And once again, this family treated us like relatives.
Again, we got a bonus: we know for sure that we never want to run a resort.
In many jobs like this, workampers get access to unexpected bonuses that you can’t put a price on.
If you can’t afford to live on the wage because it’s your only income source (I don’t recommend that), then don’t apply. But if you have other income means, before saying no to a job you should ask yourself two questions:
- Will this job teach me something I want to learn?
- Is it in a location I’ve always wanted to explore?
If the answer to either question is “yes!”, then you owe it to yourself to at least apply. Workamping isn’t going to make you rich or put you on a career track, but if you think it will make you happy, then open yourself up to the adventure that just might be around the corner.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.