Living in an RV: The good, the bad and the ugly

No matter how old you are, how your finances are, what family structure you have, people have proved that anyone can live on the road as long as they love traveling above all else – true travel. The one unchanging factor between all their experiences is work. They all are able to work remotely and independently unless they are retired of course. Most RVers, are bloggers, writers, designers, programmers, reviewers, journalists and traveling salesman. They turn mobility and travel into a no-factor or even better an advantage.

All people featured in this article have one very important thing in common. They love travel – the type of travel that makes you feel at home everywhere you go. In this article we will explore the different profiles of people living in RVs, how they live and their advice for anyone in a similar situation trying to leave the brick and mortar home for a full time living in an RV. We’ll also summarize the good, the bad and the ugly side of full-timing based on their experience.

You’ll find that many of the RVers we mention live very different lifestyles and have very different reasons that motivate their life on the road. There are challenges to living on the road, and you should about those before deciding to jump into the lifestyle. If you’re still on the fence about living in an RV, make sure to read plenty of RVer blogs and not just the ones that write about how RV living is great, talk to RVers and make sure to invest in a good RV. If you’re unsure of what kind of RV you want to get, you should look to rent different types and sizes of RVs to get a better picture of how much space you need, and what amenities you’re looking to include into your house on wheels. Don’t forget about conversion vans. They are getting more and more popular especially within the younger demographic as they are much more efficient vehicles, some offering a decent amount of living space.

The Good

Travel

If you’re looking to go full-time, chances are you like traveling. Liking to travel can mean different things to different people however. It’s important to understand that traveling on your vacation and living like a traveler are two completely different things. Living as a traveler is a wonderful thing and it will make every day different from the previous one. Just make sure that you’re willing to live outside of the routine and be the type of person that embraces change.
 
Mobility

By definition, living on the road will make you mobile. Whether you decide to move around often or not, you’ll always have the option to do so. Some people tend to be more aggressive moving around, spending around 2 weeks in each locations, others do it by the season and some only move once they get bored wherever they are. I previously documented a story about a young RVing couple that decided to live in all 50 states, picking part time jobs as he traveled. An RV will definitely give you the opportunity to live a more mobile and more adventurous lifestyle.
 
Control

Living in an RV full-time involves a lot of rule-breaking. Full-timers don’t want to be bound by an office job or schedule. This is perhaps my favorite part about living in my van. If I don’t quite feel like working a day or two, I can afford that luxury. Similarly, if I need to accomplish a lot of tasks quickly, I’m ok working a couple of 16-hour days in a row. In that sense living a life on the road will give ultimate control of your life and habits. You don’t just control the when, but the where and how also.
 
Affordability

Yes living in an RV is more affordable than living in a house. There are multiple reasons for this apart from a vehicle costing much less than a house. By living in a vehicle you actually limit the amount of things you use and that includes utilities, hardware, collections, furniture and many more material things. Your lifestyle will make you need and use less.

With a generator and 24 hour gym membership you can also get away from the RV parks and park on the street or in the wild. It comes down to needing less to consume; realising what you need and what you don’t is what ultimately going to save you a lot of money.
 
Self Discovery

I hope I categorized this in the right section, but self discovery is a great thing regardless of what you discover. It’s like that old saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone” – You also don’t need half of the things you have and living on the road will bring that message home. If you take a look at any of the RVing blogs, you’ll find a recurring theme: Full-timing makes you realize what you’re willing and what you’re not willing to live with or without in your life.
 
Unpredictability

Living in an RV is not for everybody, but if you dislike unpredictability then perhaps a nomad lifestyle isn’t something you should be looking to get into. Of course, you’ll be able to keep a daily routine and you’ll be able to predict your day more or less. Still you’ll be faced and exposed to things that differ than what you grew up with. The world is a big place after all and the open roads are much more wild than neighbourhoods.
 
The Outdoors

This is the most magical part of it all. Because when you live in an RV, you’re actually choosing to live in the outdoors. The RV is just a vessel to travel and slumber. Forests, deserts, hills and swamps all can become your backyard overnight!


The Bad

Friends and Family

Unless you choose to live in an RV and stay in your city (some people do!), you’re more likely gonna leave some friends and family behind. Of course with phones and Skype, we’re more connected than ever. Yet, there will be times where you’re gonna feel like you miss everybody, but that’s ok because your mobility will make it possible to go and see them every so often.
 
Facilities and Amenities

Ahh the dreaded internet speeds witnessed when living in an RV. Well, it’s not just the internet. Water, electricity, storage space and living space are all constrained when you live in an RV. It’s not a deal breaker but something still to keep in mind: Your access to resources won’t be as good in an RV as it will be in a brick and mortar home. No matter how much money you’re willing to throw at the problem, you’ll just have to get used to consuming slower and seldom no internet.
 
Occasional Loneliness

Even people who travel as a family will feel the occasional loneliness. RV parks will never replace communities. The occasional loneliness is just the price of entry to living a nomadic life and a lot of people are absolutely willing to pay it.


The Ugly

Work

Work is in this category because no matter what you decide to do, work will always be a little unstable when you live on the road. Whether you work for your own account or pick up jobs when you get into new towns. Living in an RV is a little less predictable and constantly changing. So if you know how to work for your own account then great, you’re in the clear. However if you’re looking to grab jobs in new cities where you arrive, you’ll be much less mobile and suffer from the same headaches you suffered from when you lived in the city.
 
Living Space

When you’re coffee machine is three feet away from your toilet, it can get pretty claustrophobic sometimes. Spaces in RVs are tight, and this is compounded by the number of people who live in the RV. OF course you can always go and sit outside, but there will be moments when you miss having a room of your own.
 
Maintenance

This is a constant headache and there will always be something to fix or improve in your mobile home. Live in an RV for a couple of years and you’re bound to become an expert not only in RVs but in electricity, plumbing, mechanics and philosophy too. You’ll most definitely need to have a separate budget for emergency fixes. It’s just the other side of the coin. You save a lot of money living in an RV, but you also spend back some of this money on maintaining your motorhome – which is a lot more frail than a brick and mortar home.


The many faces of full-timers living in an RV

The Young Couple

Many young couples are trying to get out of a predestined 9-5 life, forced by a perpetual routine forcing them to live passively. Living on the road with a companion helps get the sting out of the lonely roads and helps people discover their significant other, for better or worse, this is marriage 2.0!

The Wynns

The Wynns left their jobs as a photographer and makeup artist to go live on the road and write about it. They have essentially become on the road bloggers, writing mostly about greener ways to RV and how to make money while on the road.
Their philosophy: “Trade in everyday life to satisfy your wear-out-your-shoes sense of adventure.”

The big family

Living on the road can also be a way to bring a big family together. Have you seen families that are disengaged with each other? This is pretty much not an option when living together on the road. Your brother will become your best friend, worst enemy, school mate, companion and partner in crime.

The Kellogg Family

They are 14 strong. Yes they are that many living in an RV and they’re able to manage it. Chances are that you’re family isn’t as big – so it’s definitely doable. They enjoy outdoor sports and spending time with each other. In their blog, the Kellogg show, they talk about their adventures, homeschooling and how they manage their large numbers on the road.
Their philosophy: “Our American Dream doesn’t involve a 9-5 and retiring at 65.”

The Nomad

Nomads have embraced the RV lifestyle. They like the freedom, spending time in nature and embracing. They have somewhat of a renegade spirit, never quite fitting in a typical community but never trying to do so either. They see where life takes them all while staying true to their values and what they like.

Bob Wells

Bob wells has been living in his van for 10 years. In his blog cheap living RV, he talks about how to fix your RV on the cheap, which electrical systems are the cheapest to install and maintain. He is the ultimate new age hippie. Not willing to sacrifice his lifestyle nor technology. Fo anyone looking for frugal RV advice, Bob’s blog is a great ressource.
His philosophy: “When life flashes before your eyes, make sure you’ve got plenty to watch”

The Retired Couple

The retired couple is perhaps the most the most common type of full-timer. No secret here, the name of the game is to spend the golden years away from a hectic society and to enjoy peaceful times touring the country.

Ingrid and Al

Retired pilot and flight attendant Ingrid enjoy photography and spending time in nature. In their blog they teach campers how to pick cameras and document the moments important to them. Check out their blog here.
Their Philosophy: “After every chapter in life comes a new more exciting one.”

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