Are you dreaming of rolling into a small town to live and workamp for a season? If so, and you’ve never had the “small town experience,” be prepared to make some sacrifices. Doing so might seem like a chore, but it’s worthwhile to prepare for some lifestyle changes. After seven years of seasonal living and workamping in a town with less than 300 year-round residents, these are our four best tips for an easy adjustment to small town living when you’re on the full-time RVing road:
Tip #1: Learn to make do with local grocery suppliers. Small town grocers usually try hard to please, but sometimes they just can’t offer the prices or selections of big city grocery stores. If the only store in town doesn’t have some of your favorite food items, try to eliminate old eating habits and conjure up some new meals with the selections local grocery stores do carry. You never know what unexpected foods you might begin to enjoy.
Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to ask: If you don’t see something you need in a store, ask if the owner can order it. Usually they will, but you’ll have to wait at least a few days. If they can’t get it, see if fellow workampers or other friends are traveling to the big city anytime soon, maybe they can get it for you. Carpooling to the nearest shopping hub is another good way to save your hard-earned money for more important things, while getting to enjoy the company of new friends.
Tip #3: Shopping locally isn’t always more expensive. Be prepared for sticker shock when buying things in a smaller community, but don’t complain about prices. Mom and Pop merchants aren’t trying to rip you off, they just don’t have the purchasing power of a big box store. And if you think you can get it cheaper in a bigger town, stop and think before you make that drive: it’s so unwise to spend dollars on gas in order to save pennies on things like produce. Just think of how much time and gas you’ll save if you just hand over the measly extra fifty cents for a head of lettuce!
Tip #4: Shop online with care. If you’re staying somewhere long enough to receive package deliveries, you can get anything you need online as long as you’re willing to pay shipping fees, either outright as a line item in your order, or hidden within product fee. The best way to shop online and not get hit with excess shipping charges is to do it carefully and at specific intervals. Using a piecemeal approach to buying online will hit your wallet hard.
Of course, not all small towns have a community of merchants who can supply you with everyday items. Occasional trips to the big town are sometimes necessary, but if you utilize a combination of local business shopping and online ordering, you can save most of your precious time to enjoy more of the picturesque, fun-filled rural scenery that compelled you to hit the road in the first place.
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.