Full-time RV living rocks, people. It’s not easy, and it’s not for everybody, but if it tickles your fancy and you’d like to give it a try, I’m going to lay out some of my thoughts and experiences on the matter here in the blog space.
Why full-time RV living?
There are so many different reasons that people choose the full-time RV lifestyle, and often it’s not one single reason but a combination of many that tips the scales in RVing’s favor.
Sometimes its financial reasons; a lot of retirees these days are finding themselves trying to stretch their retirement dollars further, and full-time RV living can fit that bill, if you do it right. (A word of warning, though: On the flip side, it can also be way more expensive than expected, if you don’t plan things out. More on that in future blog articles, I promise.)
Sometimes its being at a crossroads in life, wanting more, wanting freedom, wanting to travel and roam and see the world and sometimes just generally wanting to break free of the blah, humdrum mold of the life mainstream society tries to force us into — no matter whether you’re blue-collar or white-collar, younger or older. I’ve met people from a really broad range of demographics in the RV lifestyle, even having just been a part of it for a little over a year now.
For me, it was a combination of all of the above reasons — having just gone through a rough divorce, moving around restless and groundless for a while between staying with friends and staying with family, feeling the desperate need to have my own private space again, and really wanting that private home space to give me back the sense of financial security and personal strength that it felt like the turmoil and uncertainty of the whole divorce process had just ripped away from me.
The joys of house-lessness
It might seem crazy to some, but living 24/7 in a 20-foot-long space (or a 30-foot-long space, or even a 40-foot-long space, if you’re livin’ large in RV style) is actually a lot more freeing than you might imagine. (If you’re curious, my space is about 20 feet long for now, but I’m thinking of upgrading it in the future.)
I mean, think about it. You don’t need to be tied down to a rental contract or a mortgage. And upgrading an RV is a heck of a lot easier than upgrading a sticks-and-bricks home. With a lot less paperwork required, too! And I’m all for that.
But also, for me, full-time RV living has connected me more deeply with nature, with my community (people who get me!), and with a deeper sense of myself, better than anything ever has before in my life. And in that sense, the RVing journey has been a really emotional one, but in a really good way.
It’s also just really an awesome-sauce kind of magicalness to be able to hitch up and head out anywhere, anytime, and take your whole life’s worth of “stuff” and your comfy familiar bed and your own food and your awesome dog-daughter and ALL of your toiletries with you (without having to choose only what will fit in a quart-size ziploc bag and a few 3-ounce containers!).
The challenges of RV life
It’s not all puppies and roses, though, don’t get me wrong. Just like with any other life endeavor, RV life comes with its own set of unique challenges. There’s a steep learning curve that needs to be respected when jumping into the RV lifestyle. An RV needs a lot more active maintenance and upkeep than a brick-and-mortar home, and things tend to break a LOT more easily, even in a brand-new RV (watch a video sometime on YouTube of how these things are basically slapped together on the assembly line in under an hour, and you’ll see why).
So you have to be ready to roll with the punches at pretty much any moment, and you also need to educate yourself to make sure you’re not neglecting any critical maintenance that might develop into a HUGE problem down the road.
For instance, a lot of newbie RVers don’t know how important it is to level the RV whenever they camp (if you don’t level, you’re setting yourself up for your fridge to break down in the future, because this causes cumulative refrigerator damage that you probably won’t even notice until it goes belly-up). Newbies also often don’t know that they need to check the seals on their roof every year or so and do some resealing if needed (or suffer irreversible roof damage as a consequence).
Oh, and let me tell you, my (brand-new!) RV tub was leaking for a while and I didn’t know it. If I hadn’t found and corrected that problem, the flooring underneath it (conveniently tucked WAY out-of-sight, to where I had to unscrew a wall panel to see the problem) could have totally rotted away in time, leading to all sorts of issues.
My city water valve connection also cracked and totally flew off the side of my trailer and sprayed water everrrrrrywhere a few months back, necessitating an emergency mobile RV repair visit. But that’s another story I’ll get into later. Ahem. And it was totally not my fault, let me just say that, too.
Getting ahead of the learning curve
Like many things in my life — including my oh-so-brilliant purchase of a used stick-shift THREE-CYLINDER Geo Metro that I bought way back in 1995 sight-unseen and with absolutely ZERO idea how to drive a manual-transmission vehicle — I jumped into RV living with a hope and a prayer and lots of positive thinking. LOL. (Ahem, I did learn how to drive that car, in case you wondering, and I totally rocked it. Even though its awesome three-cylinder-ness took about a full minute to get up to freeway speeds, and on-ramps were a bit like playing a game of chicken with the flow of traffic because of my pokey roll.)
So I’ll be honest, you all. I had no idea how to tow a travel trailer (or tow ANYTHING actually), and had never been comfortable driving anything bigger than a compact car prior to starting my great RV adventure. But I pulled on my big-girl-pants and went out and got me a truck and a cute little Gulf Stream trailer (yes, cuteness was a selling factor… I’m a bit of a sucker for cute stuff) and got rid of my (also very cute) little green Mazda2, and hit the road.
But I did do some research first, and I actually found a bunch of online training courses that were SUPER helpful, both for learning how to drive a tow vehicle safely AND for learning how to RV safely and smartly. There are live, in-person options as well, some of which I attended, and some of which I tried to attend but fate intervened. More on that in future blog articles, for sure! Because safe RVing is super important, y’all, and I see a lot of travelers on the road that I don’t think have all the info they need, and I’d like to help change that, if I can.
It’s the RV life for me!
I wasn’t sure I’d love full-time RV living when I started out, but after a year, I’m hooked. I know a lot of people don’t understand why anyone would prefer an RV over a non-mobile-home, but living this way feeds my flame so much that it’s just ridiculous. And you guys know I’m all about being true to your self and living your authentic life.
I’m definitely not nearly as nomadic as a lot of others I see in this lifestyle, since I tend to like to hang out in one spot for a few months before moving on (with water and electric and sewer hookups, cause I’m fancy like that… but also because I haven’t gotten around to all the necessary boondocking upgrades yet), but it suits me. I tried the whole moving-around-every-day thing for a bit, and it was fun and I saw a lot, but it was also tiring, and I wasn’t able to take as much time as I wanted to do all of my self-care stuff, which is so important.
But that’s not to say I don’t want to travel more in the future. My upgrade plans right now include getting a bigger rig that I can leave in one place for months at a time as a kind of home base, and ALSO a small camper van that I can toodle around in all over without having to worry about rough/windy/curvy roads, overhead clearance, turn radius, and all that jazz. It’s good to have dreams, right?
More on all this stuff soon! Hope the road of life takes you somewhere interesting in the meantime.