Podcast

LCW 1.03: Workamper Compensation

Season 1 Episode 3 of the Live.Camp.Work. Podcast!

It’s all about making sense of money!

In this episode, I’ll discuss the money matters of the Workamping. How much is typical compensation, how to compute your actual wage for each hour worked, being overqualified for Workamping jobs and why that’s a good thing and much more!

Come along for the adventure as I navigate through the world of Workamping with real information, tips & trick, stories from the road, and interviews from Workampers and Employers!

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Episode Transcript

Let’s get started with Episode 3: Workamper Compensation

How Much Can I Make?

I  like to be as upfront as possible with people about the income you can expect from Workamping jobs. To be frank, it’s not the best and it’s definitely not the highest wages you’ll likely have made in your life.  But it is a modest reliable income that can help get you on the road faster than you thought, my making it possible for you to travel now rather than later.

A combination of paid positions, non-paid positions, and volunteer work as well as those that offer a combination, are what you will typically find from Workamping employers.

Many positions are noted for paying minimum wage or something slightly higher. These positions are the most common and include jobs that are easy to acquire and most anyone is capable of completing. So this s what I was talking about in the last episode, when I said most Workamping jobs do not require a special skill set.

Theses jobs include things like reservations, housekeeping, landscaping, grounds crew, light maintenance, cash register operations, and check-ins, front desk jobs, activities and maybe even some basic security. For these positions, you can expect to be paid close to the state minimum wage and should use your super sonic, negotiation power when interviewing to assure you receive the best possible compensation plan you can.

Word to the wise: While I love to negotiate, it just doesn’t work in every situation. I’ll give you a heads up from one Workamper to another… negotiating with larger employers with well-established programs that typically hire hundreds of Workampers is literally a waste of time! If you think you’ll be able to talk yourself into a different comp package with the places that have  almost robotic hiring processes- think again. But if you don’t believe me, give it a try! The worst that can happen is them saying no… so why not, right?

When we’re talking about how much you can make while Workamping, there are really two parts of the conversation. One will be about the money coming in and the other will be about the money going out. If you are able to find a balance between the two where you feel both comfortable and confident- then you’re doing excellent!

In my book- I call this Making Sense of Dollars

Basically because you have to figure out for yourself, where the money makes sense… meaning how much you need to make at the Workamping Jobs, to maintain this lifestyle.

Workamping is a small niche. It’s an alternative way of living for some and a way to travel for others. For most folks, it is a combination of the two that seems to allow the best of both worlds.  Workamping can be your ticket to travel when you have limited income from outside sources such as small businesses or hobbies that generate very little. It can allow you to take to the open road pre-retirement and stay afloat, so long as you are willing to make necessary adjustments to how much you pay out in respect to the income you have coming in.

Living in an RV can obviously lower your living expenses and free up cash to do fun things like exploring your new destination, but for some it can also provide the needed slack to pay off debt, such as student loans, or credit cards you’ve let run wild for months or maybe even years at a time. Many people have found this to be true and continue to use it as a way to downsize their lives and live within their means.

One thing that has remained the same if not pretty close to constant over the years, has been the cost associated with RVing. It’s not free living!

It can be cheaper than a traditional travel lifestyle filled with hotels and even gives the American Dream of owning a home in the suburbs a run for its money, but let’s be clear… it’s not free living!

Many of the costs associated with RV travel can be greatly reduced and sometimes erased through the decision to Workamp along the way. Workamping lends its hand to help RVers save cash on things like housing expenses, site rental costs, paying for electricity at monthly sites, and having to pay for use of onsite amenities. Another huge savings is the fuel, as you will not be driving your RV daily from here to there, while Workamping. In fact, Workamping will allow you to stay for extended periods of time in some of the most desired locations in the US, where only local driving will be necessary. This of course is a huge savings and can help you extend your travel budget quite a bit!

Working for Site

A major consideration for people considering Workamping is “How many hours will I work for my site?” Personally, I like to respond with a big fat ZERO… And this isn’t because I there are no employers asking for Workampers to work a certain number of hours for their sites. No! Its because I personally didn’t accept positions that had this stipulation.

But sometimes this is just not the case. Some employers will not provide a free campsite as part of your compensation and they will want a set number of hours worked to cover its cost. In this situation, since your job duties will depend on your position and the working environment may or may not be seen as an added benefit along with any other perks, you will need to compute how much you are being asked to pay for your site. This will help you to decide if the hours worked are benefitting you, the employer, or both.

Using this formula to compute the value will help you make sure the cost of the site is worth your time and energy:

Monthly Value  ➗ Required Hours  =  Hourly Wage

Monthly Value: equal to the site rental fee (either based on the monthly or seasonal rate) + monthly utility cost + value of perks or additional benefits provided by employer.

Example:

Step 1: $650 monthly site + $150 utilities + $100 perks = $900 monthly value.

Step 2:$900 monthly value ➗80 hours (20 hours required per couple/per week) = $11.25 per hour

If this ever comes out to even a penny below the minimum wage, I would strongly suggest you rethink the decision to move forward with the job opportunity, unless there are huge benefits to being in that location during the specific time period the job would run. Also, if there is not a monthly rate available you should use the seasonal rate or something equivalent, but definitely not the daily rate by any means!

It’s very typical now to see many jobs offering a site plus pay. These jobs will pay a general range of somewhere between $8.00-$12.00 per hour. If you can confirm a position with an employer who is paying $10.00 or more per hour and offers a FHU (full hook-up) campsite for FREE, you are doing well!

I don’t say that to be cute, mean or funny… I say it because it is the absolute truth and I think you need to know this upfront. I want to help set realistic expectations and let you know from the start that you will not get rich Workamping! If making big bucks and living lavishly is your thing, this might not be the life for you!

Also, now is a good time for me to mention that depending solely on your income from Workamping jobs is not a good place to start. Not only have I been there and done it, but I did not enjoy it and it didn’t last long. Workamping is much better lived with some other source of monetary funds flowing in. I like to think of it as a way to decrease costs and help pay the bills. It will not afford the luxuries of eating out, buying nice things, exploring the top tourist attractions, or even paying off pricey payment for big rigs with big notes.

Overqualified? Yes Indeed!

Workamping is not a career. You will not find career type wages in comfortable desk jobs with employee benefit plans offering a 401K and stock options, but it can still be a fulfilling way to earn some income while you travel! This lifestyle is typically centered around jobs in the outdoor hospitality industry and you should expect to be offered positions that involve interactions with the public as well as some based on basic computer skills.

It’s easy to feel like your past experience in careers that may have dominated your previous life would deem you as overqualified for the majority of Workamping positions regularly advertised and you’re probably right to feel this way! You are likely very over overqualified for 90% of the jobs you will be asked to complete, and this makes you the perfect choice for Workamping employers!

Workamping employers are tired of hiring from the local employment pool which includes people too close to home and those who may have just entered the workforce. They’re looking for Workampers to diversify their team! They long for the chance to hire someone with a skill set they can depend on for knowledge as well as the professionalism that comes along with it.

Workampers looking to leave behind the pressures of working careers and fast-paced jobs are in luck. employers are looking for you! Include details about your field of expertise and areas where you have thrived in the past on your resume. If an employer is looking for someone who has electrical or sales skills, your resume will stand out if you are open to sharing this information!

Think it Through

Two Views of Workamping

Overall, Workamping was first and remains most commonly known as the optional travel life for adventurous souls who want to spend their days exploring and creating memories while staying active in communities across the US. In this view of the lifestyle, people choose to RV and live happy lives based around exploring new areas. They enjoy their days in short-term jobs that fuel their adventures and they use their off time to see and do as they please.

On the flip side, some have recently pegged Workamping as the fallback plan of those who fail to attain a standard of success and have no other choice but to wander aimlessly through life or what’s left of it in search of low paying jobs as a migrant workforce. This was obviously not the intent of the Workamping lifestyle. The reality is that folks who have hit hardships have found that living the RV lifestyle, which offers reduced costs, is an attainable option.

You should choose which group you want to be associated with and what RVing will be for you.

Think thoroughly about how Workamping will fit into your life, or your new life as an RV traveler before you jump in. Hitting roadblocks are not fun when you don’t have the time, patience or available resources to figure your way out. Do yourself a favor and get your house in order before you start this journey. You will be thankful that you did!

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