Making the choice to live in an RV full-time can be a daunting one. There are so many unknowns!
Where do you dump and clean your black water tanks? Where do you get water? How will you find companionship and friends on the road? Where will you find campsites? What about repairing your RV on the road?
If you’re worried about these questions, you’re not alone. Everyone who starts living in an RV full-time has had to deal with doubt and uncertainty.
But the great things about RVing is this: You’ll find your tribe. You’ll learn to deal with your tanks and repairs. You’ll change as a human being. You’ll experience freedom and adventure.
What could be better?
If you’re wondering what full-time RV living is really like, it’s best to ask people who are living that lifestyle.
Here are insights from 12 awesome RVers you’ll definitely want to read.
Ashley Mann – RV Inspiration
(RVing since 2016 in a 2009 Keystone Everest 345s Fifth Wheel)
We had a wake-up call the day we moved into our RV. When we showed up in a U-Haul we discovered the RV was over 90 degrees inside—the main AC had given out during that week’s heat wave.
We headed to Lowe’s and bought a free-standing AC unit to supplement the bedroom AC and get us by until we could have a mobile repair service come out and install a new one (which was thankfully covered by our warranty!).
We love our home on wheels 95% of the time, but when a mechanical issue does come up we’re reminded that we live in a vehicle. Whatever we had planned for that day goes out the window until we’ve fixed the problem.
I don’t know anyone who lives in an RV who hasn’t run into mechanical issues at one time or another, and a positive, problem-solving attitude is a must, along with Google/YouTube search skills! (I also highly recommend a good after-market warranty!)
In spite of all that, the ability to live wherever we want and easily relocate has been worth the extra hassle.
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Michelle Rudge – RV Obsession
(RVing since 2018 in a 1979 Millard Pop-top Caravan 14FT)
Being such a teeny tiny caravan, we knew it was going to be a massive adjustment to live in it full-time.
But we had already moved from New Zealand to Australia the year before and spent five months traveling around Australia with a tent trailer. After that, we knew that the nomadic life was what we want and we were prepared for the sacrifice of space and comforts.
However, the biggest surprise is probably the fact that we haven’t killed each other!
We are in each others company, constantly. There is no other room to go to. We’ve always enjoyed being with each other, and after 11 years of marriage, it’s nice to know that the same still holds true for us.
Nissa and Matthew Haight – Exploring New Sights
(RVing in a 2019 Palomino Puma 31 RLQS Travel Trailer since 2018)
Living in an RV did come with some adjustments. Surprisingly it was not the tiny living part, because after sharing a 10×11 room with no closet for more than 6 months, we were actually ready to have more space.
The biggest adjustment was the learning curve that comes with the lifestyle.
We were green RVers! No one in our families even owned an RV.
We learned about the propane tanks, the grey and black tanks, the slides, and the roof and window seals all online and on our own.
Another adjustment, for me personally, was getting used to sitting on the couch on the slide. I had to let go of the fear that the slide was going to just fall out of the RV. I even worried that the stabilizing jacks would give way and we would crash down in the middle of the night.
Also, I had a dream that the RV just blew away like Dorthy’s house in Kansas on the Wizard of OZ.
Thinking back, I feel so silly for having those worries.
However, living in a house with a firm foundation my whole life, it’s understandable. It did take a couple of weeks for me to be completely comfortable.
Now, it’s just normal life and we love it! Learning more and more and blogging along the way!
Heath and Alyssa Padgett – HeathAndAlyssa.com
(RVing since 2014 – just sold their 2016 Winnebago Brave)
There’s a steep learning curve with moving into an RV (note to future RVers: leave your grey tank open if you don’t want your husband to flood the entire RV while you’re gone).
But I think the biggest adjustment was getting used to moving around the space. We spent most of last year in Class B RVs in New Zealand and Canada and kept hitting our heads on the cabinets!
It’s comical now, but we ended up with bruises all over from running into all the cabinets and door knobs.
You might also like:
- Why full-time RVing with kids doesn’t suck
- How to find community when living in an RV full-time
- The best small Class C RVs of 2019
Grainne and Frank Foley – The Roving Foleys
(RVing since 2015 in a 38 ft 5th wheel Open Range Roamer)
I think the biggest realization for us was just how little there actually was to worry about.
From the time we decided for sure to go RVing full time- we worried. We agonized over the decision to quit my job, sell the house, which RV to buy.
We lost sleep over the prospect of homeschooling our kids.
And there was, of course, the ever-looming prospect of meeting up with degenerates in every campground.
Once we finally got on the road, all of that went away. We quickly realized that the adventures we were having so far outweighed those old concerns that they hardly mattered. We don’t miss the job or the house, and the people we meet are almost always wonderful. As far as the kids…they love homeschool and are doing really well. So those early worries were really just wasted stress.
Dan and Lindsay McKenzie – Follow Your Detour
(RVing since April of 2017 in a 2018 Winnebago Navion Class C Motorhome)
We thought the only benefits to full-time RVing would be the travel and adventure.
We were surprised how RVing changed us and set us on a journey of personal growth.
It expanded our network and brought so many wonderful people and opportunities into our lives.
RVing taught us what we value most in life and how to live more intentionally and more in the present. It was one of the first “big risks” we’d taken and it has allowed us to continue doing exciting things and reaching big dreams!
Camille Attell & Bryce Cripe – More Than A Wheelin’
(RVing since 2016 in a Tiffin Allegro gas coach)
My biggest adjustment to RV living was how emotional the experience was.
We left behind good paying jobs, our house, and friends and family.
I was looking forward to a life of adventure and fun, and while that happened I still also experienced the feeling of loss of identity and missing aspects of my “old” life.
Even when we humans make positive life changes we can still experience a range of emotions. The key is to lean into the experience and know that growth is happening. Today I am thrilled that we made this choice because we live life on our terms and know that we can create whatever lifestyle we want to live.
Julie Chickery – Chickery’s Travels
(RVing since June of 2014 in a Heartland Cyclone 5th Wheel Toyhauler)
We were surprised at the constant maintenance that was required. We had a brand new RV and since the very beginning, it has required regular upkeep, as well as numerous repairs.
In addition, we were planning to just use the warranty to have all the work done. However, we didn’t realize that most repair facilities (and even many mobile repair techs) are so busy that scheduling your repairs can be challenging.
Luckily, Sean has been able to learn how to do almost everything himself now, and he keeps us on the road.
Carrie Fay – Making Money and Traveling
(RVing since 2017 in a 36′ 1999 Rexhall Rexair – Just sold to start a bus or van conversion!)
Full-time RVing has impacted me in many more ways than I initially thought it would. I have been challenged (in a good way) emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Full-time travel opened my eyes to just how many people there actually are out there working to make their nomadic dreams a reality.
It helped me realize that there were so many more people just like me – sick of the rat race and the standard American dream of school, more school, work for 40 years and retire. People like us are not alone and the desire for time, location and financial freedom is not a crazy dream, nor is it a lot to ask for.
I have had the freedom to discover who I really am and what I really want from life and continue to grow as a person as a result of leaving my 9-5 and old life behind.
I have become empowered to empower others along their own nomadic journey.
I have struggled with feeling isolated and I have thrived with finding a like-minded, entrepreneurial and nomadic community via the internet.
I have struggled with adapting to life without the creature comforts of indoor plumbing, material possessions and lots of space.
I have learned to embrace what is most important in life – relationships and experiences over ‘things’ and amenities.
I have also become a super efficient problem solver and no longer freak out when things go wrong or break… because things ALWAYS break 🙂
I have so much more confidence in myself as a result!
Laura Green – Chapter3Travels
(RVing since 2016 in a Tiffin Allegro Class A Motorhome)
Our biggest surprise has been a happy one. Not only have we met more people in the last 2.5 years living on the road than we did in the decade before, but some of those people have become our closest friends.
We’ve faced some huge challenges on the road, both health-wise and in dealing with difficult family situations back home.
The people we leaned on during those times were our RVer friends. Not only did they come through for us when we needed actual assistance, but they were there for us to lean on and be a sounding board when we just needed to talk.
I assumed we would meet lots of people on the road, but I expected those interactions to be limited by virtue of our constantly changing locations. I never expected to create this community of friends that would, in some cases, be more reliable and supportive than the people we’ve known for years.
Turns out, when you’re out on the road, away from your normal support structure, you’re surrounded by other people who are in the exact same situation, and they understand just how important it is to be there for their nomadic friends.
Robert & Jessica Meinhofer – Exploring the Local Life
(RVing since 2015 in a 2016 Forest River Grey Wolf 26DBH)
The biggest surprise in our RV life was that we didn’t simplify our lives at all!! Before we started RVing, we thought tiny living in our camper would mean tons of time exploring the US, non-stop hiking, nightly campfires, and lots and lots of s’mores.
In reality, though, we traded mowing the lawn for a long-list of repairs.
If it wasn’t our camper that needed repairs, it was our truck. We knew that RVs aren’t made with the best components, but we thought it would take a year or two before we had to make repairs. We were wrong!
Add to this our truck breaking down and needing repairs several times per year and we have missed our share of campfires and hiking.
Coming in at a close second in the surprise category, was the fact that we hardly ever ran into families on the road.
We assumed that we would find full timing families at nearly all campgrounds based on the size of the Fulltime Families Facebook group. What we found were lots of couples and when we did find families, they were focused on spending time together. They weren’t looking to mingle with other families, this was their time after a long week of working or their long-awaited vacation.
Add to this the fact that we weren’t RV camping at Fort Wilderness (Disney’s campground) or in popular kid-friendly cities.
We found out the hard way that there are lots of fulltime families out there, but you have to go and find them.
Erica Shepherdson – Thriving in Tie Dye
(RVed for six months in a 1985 Toyota Coachmen across the U.S. Now planning the next adventure)
Our biggest insight after living on the road full-time is that there’s so much to life outside the regular 9-5 grind.
Living freely without an agenda or plans opened up so much bandwidth in our minds to ask ourselves important questions, think creatively, and to connect with other people on a deeper level.
Making the jump from working full-time and living in a house to living nomadically in a 21ft RV also gave us a completely new outlook on our ability to achieve our dreams.
When we decided we wanted to hit the road, we were willing to sacrifice anything in the way of that goal – jobs, stability, comfort – and once we jumped… a net suddenly appeared.
Not to say that we didn’t have significant struggles and setbacks, but since we were so set on turning this dream into a reality – we were able to work through those problems and achieve what we set out to do.
This provided us with the perspective to see that we could apply this work ethic to ANYTHING that we truly desire in life.
Our dreams of living a comfortable life in one beautiful place have morphed into dreams of financial and physical freedom to call many places home.
Beyond everything else, living on the road gave us the insight to realize that dreams don’t just happen… you make them happen with hard work and determination.
Conclusion about full-time RV living
As you can see, these RVers dealt with struggles, but they’ve also found joy, companionship and adventure.
It might sound scary to leave everything you know and love behind. But know that if you do, there’s an entire community out there ready to support you and your dreams.
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Kristin Hanes is a journalist who founded The Wayward Home as a place to learn about alternative living. She currently lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van, and has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire and SF Gate. Read more about Kristin here.