Living the RV Life
Full-time RV living isn’t for the faint of heart. While RV life can be fun and adventurous, it can also be full of unexpected challenges along the way.
Our journey with full-time RV living began a little over a year ago and it has been such a wonderful ride so far!
The Pros and Cons of RV Living for Beginners
If you have found yourself seriously considering making the jump from a traditional home to living life in an RV, these are some of the important things you need to know before diving in headfirst.
RV life can be totally amazing! This lifestyle can be a wonderful change of pace for the busy American family and it can be filled with so many fun experiences.
However, the challenges that arise while full-time RVing can be hard for some people to swallow — this is why it’s so important to know the pros and cons before transitioning.
4 Things to Know Before You RV
Just like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to RV living and these are the 4 things you need to know before taking the plunge!
#1 An RV is NOT a House
While an RV can become your family home, it simply isn’t the same as a brick-and-mortar house!
RVs have wheels — shocker I know.
This can be both a challenge and a blessing.
Living life without a foundation means you have to deal with things like driving in uncomfortable areas that might not accommodate your size (think downtown during rush hour). Not all towns, bridges, roads, or even campsites are created equal.
With that said, living in a home on wheels means you can hook up and go wherever whenever — which is such a wonderful feeling for every adventure seeker!
RV life will also bring other challenges to the table that most homeowners don’t expect or think of when they first embark on this journey.
There will always, always be extra maintenance that a traditional home simply doesn’t have. When you’re driving a home down the highway everything inside experiences a mini-earthquake. Things will come loose and things will break. While not a huge concern, it is something every new RV owner should be aware of.
There are also the extra tasks of hooking up, backing in, and emptying tanks — just to name a few.
Another important factor when it comes to RV living for beginners? Weather.
Weather can be a huge battle for full-time RV families. Everything from extreme heat or wind to below zero temperatures becomes a concern while living in an RV.
Our family wintered in Montana last year and dealt with a constant battle of condensation when the temperatures would dip — it was enough to have me thinking about Arizona next winter, let me tell you!
With that said, RV living means you don’t have to stay put! To put it simply, you can opt to travel more often and chase mild weather. Definitely something I’m considering in the future.
#2 You Can’t Keep Everything
Unless you have already adopted a minimalistic lifestyle, you will need to purge, purge, then purge some more before taking off in your RV.
A 2,000-square-foot home and a 200-square foot RV simply can’t hold the same amount of stuff — no brainer, I know.
If you tend to form emotional attachments to things, this lifestyle may not be a suitable choice for you.
If you chose the RV life you will have to get of things — plain and simple.
However, if budget allows, you can totally hang on to some nonreplaceable items by tucking them carefully into a storage unit or by storing them with a family member. Just keep in mind you may not always have quick access to these things — especially if you travel full-time.
Space will always be more limited in an RV than it is in a traditional house.
The days of massive Costco trips & only grocery shopping once every 2 weeks will be behind you! Not only will your space for decor, toys, and other everyday living items be limited, so will your space for perishables & bulk stock up.
With that said, our family still maintains our Costco membership and we still bulk buy many items! We just have to practice a little creativity — like using our car to store the extra toilet paper.
#3 Things Will Get Messy FAST
YES! This was probably the most difficult one for me to come to terms with.
I like things clean and in order.
When you move from a large home into a tiny home and do the exact same amount of living, messes pile up fast.
The first thing I noticed when we moved into our tiny camper last summer was the amount of dirt that would accumulate on my floors each day — it was a little overwhelming to say the least.
I swept daily (sometimes multiple times a day) and there would be just as much for me to sweep up the following day!
I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the mess until we upgraded to our 5th wheel and I found myself sweeping every morning (by habit at this point) and still encountering the exact same thing.
That’s when it hit me.
We are a family of 5 that used to live in a 2,400-square-foot house and now we are in a home just a fraction of that size doing the exact same amount of living, playing, working, creating, breathing, sleeping, etc…
Things simply pile up faster when you live in a smaller space!
While the daily cleanup can get mundane, living in a tiny home isn’t all bad.
Yes, an RV can get messy faster than a traditional home. But guess what? It can also get cleaner a lot faster than a large house!
I can basically clean my entire house top to bottom in a couple of hours — I definitely couldn’t accomplish that in my old house.
#4 Not Everything Will Change
I chose to list this one last because I feel it may be the most important.
Sometimes we make big decisions in our lives based on the fact that we think it will change everything for us. Choosing to move or change our lifestyle might just fix those family situations or we finally bring us the happiness we have been searching for.
It just isn’t that simple.
While RV living can be freeing and amazing in so many ways, it may not be the lifestyle change you think it is.
It will not fix all your problems just because it’s different.
Believe it or not but most problems you encounter while living in a traditional home such as kid squabbles, marriage issues, or other family frustrations will likely follow you into your new living situation.
Humans tend to be set in their ways — definitely something to keep in mind before you commit.
With that said, there are things that will change.
Take the scenery for example.
RV life can take you on so many incredible journeys which brings with it a change in scenery and possibly even a change in activities you experience! With those changes, your family may encounter a sense of simplicity that suburban life simply couldn’t offer.
Realistic expectations are key. Just because you work remotely, homeschool, and have the finances to travel doesn’t mean transiting to RV life will completely overhaul your lifestyle.
If you work a 9-5, work will still be there. If you have a family member that requires extra guidance or attention, that relationship will still need all the things it did before.
Just be sure to prepare yourself for the possibility that your family might stay the exact same — just in a smaller living space.
RV Living for Beginners Terms to Know
If you’ve made it this far and still consider RV life a valid option for your family, these are some of the terms you need to know that are an essential part of RV living for beginners. Check them out!
- Boondocking – this is when you are parked somewhere without hookups! You will need to haul your water in, your waste out, and rely on solar panels or a generator for power.
- Partial Hookups – this is when you are parked somewhere with only part of what you need for daily living! We tend to find these types of hookups at state parks more often than RV parks. Some partial hookups will have both electric and water, while others only have electric! You will almost always have to dump your tanks elsewhere.
- Full Hookups – this is when you have everything you need! Electric, water, and dumping. This is definitely the easiest set up (and most preferred) for RV living, but it isn’t always the cheapest!
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