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What is it like living full-time in an RV

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It could be summed up by saying that living full-time in a motorhome is a lot of fun, but I'm sure you want to know more about it than that.

(Personal Note: I live full-time in a 2002, 34-foot class A National Sea Breeze motorhome. It's not an expensive rig, but it's well built and has been very dependable.)

Below are pictures of my, "home." The first picture was made when I pulled into a Cracker Barrel restaurant for lunch. The second one was made at Anastasia State Park in Florida. I loved the privacy there and the beach was only a short walk away.

In Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine, FL
In Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine, FL

As you can see, I tow a car behind my motorhome. It's a 2012 Prius that I tow using a dolly (because a Prius, like a lot of cars, can't be towed with all four wheels on the road). I'll talk more about towing a car in a different article.

Living full-time in an RV, is not a permanent vacation. And you're not a tourist everywhere you go, but rather a temporary resident. You're not camping for a weekend. It's the way you live. All RVs are equipped with a full kitchen and you cook an eat just like you would in any other kitchen. Your kitchen however is mobile and you can eat wherever you want with whatever scenery you want.

Nine million people in the US own RVs. Between 250,000 and a million of them are living full-time in their RVs (depending on how you define full-time and which experts you listen to). For example, there are a lot of people who live in an RV full-time -- part of the time. They live in their RV during the winter or during the summer. Are these people full-timers? It depends on your definition of the term "full-time."

Anyway, let's just say that there are a lot of people who live the RV lifestyle. For a high percentage of them, it's their only home. What surprises a lot of people is how many of these people are not retired. They're making their living while living full-time in their RV.

You don't drive every day. The average RV is driven about 3,500 miles a year. That's less than 300 miles a month. That's why if you look at a 10 year old RV, it will likely have about 30,000 to 40,000 miles on it.

Even if you have a goal to visit every state or see every national park, go slowly the first year. Don't over do the travel. The states and national parks will all be there next year and the year after. They're not going anywhere. Slow down and have fun. Enjoy the journey.

A lot of people think of living in an RV as traveling all the time. Some people do that, but most people stay at one campground for several days, a few weeks and even for months. As the picture below shows, some people stay in one place long enough to have a garden.

Well, maybe not really. If you look closely, you may be able to see that the plants are all in pots. When the garden owners are traveling, the pots are placed inside the RV until the next campground. The plants get plenty of light in the RV, so traveling doesn't even slow down their growing process.

Pros, cons, and things to consider when you're thinking about living full-time in an RV

The Pros:

  • Freedom. You can live where you want to and move with the seasons. You are not tied down. You can change your mind tonight and live somewhere else tomorrow night. You can go wherever whim and chance might take you.

  • One of the things I like even more than going to different places is the freedom to know that I can go if I want to.

  • If you change your mind about the RV lifestyle, you can sell an RV in a matter of weeks instead of the months or years it can take to sell a house.

  • If you don't like your neighbors, you can move to another location in a matter of minutes.

  • You can do international travel and not have to still be paying living expenses back home while you're gone. Just put your RV in storage at $50 a month or so while you're gone. In fact, most RV insurance policies allow you to drop your liability insurance when you're not driving your RV for a month or so and then reinstate the policy when you hit the road again.

  • When I was between houses, condos and RVs, I spent six months living in Costa Rica. It was a fun and interesting experience. It was very inexpensive, but it wouldn't have been as inexpensive as it was if I had been paying for rent (or a mortgage payment), electricity, cable TV, Internet, taxes, etc., back home. When you're living in an RV, you have this freedom to almost totally eliminate expenses back home while you travel abroad. Whether you ever do it or not doesn't matter. Just having the freedom to do it is a good feeling.

  • Having everything I need handy is one thing I really like. I know where all of my tools are, my books, my clothes, etc. are. Nothing is in storage or somewhere out in the garage or somewhere up in the attic. It's all right here.

  • I like the idea of arranging my travels so that I can stop and see friends and family who live in different parts of the country.

The Cons:

I had a hard time finding things to list in this section because I like almost everything about RV living -- but that's just me. Here are some things that may be considered cons for some people:

  • You don't have as much privacy in campgrounds (sometimes you do, particularly in state parks, but not always).

  • Sometimes there are noises like barking dogs, RVs pulling in and out, being located next to busy highways, etc.

  • You won't have your 'back-home' friends nearby to enjoy and spend time with.

  • Your regular doctors may not be close by.
Other Things to Consider:

  • If you are a couple, do you both really want to do it?

  • Do you both have hobbies, interests or things you really like to do that doesn't involve the other person -- reading, writing, knitting, crafts, computers, golf, fishing, hiking, painting, etc.?

  • Do you have things or people back 'home' that you need to look after or take care of -- rental property, aging parents, etc.?

  • Headsets or ear buds are mandatory when two people are living in an RV.

  • How comfortable are you and your spouse being together 24/7? The little things that annoy you about your spouse can get magnified when you're together 24/7 in a small space. Most people need a little time apart. There are ways to do this while living in an RV, but give it some consideration. Be sure to schedule some "me" time. Of course, the work you will be doing could give you some away time -- unless you're both making your income by doing computer work.

  • Just like in a stick and brick home, there will be unexpected maintenance expenses from time to time. Allow for these expenses in your budget.

  • If you act like a tourist and want to eat out a lot and see and do things like a tourist, you will end up spending money like a tourist. To keep your expenses low, you have to remember that you're not on vacation.

Life in an RV can be much less expensive than living a traditional stick and brick lifestyle -- but you have to learn a few secrets and techniques covered in other articles.

To get a feel of what it's like to live full-time in a motorhome or RV, visit Chris and Cherie's site at


As you will see from Chris and Cherie's website, they make most of their income by working on computer projects, but they do some workamping gigs from time to time -- such as being a host at a lighthouse on the Oregon coast.

You will find their website informative and useful. Take time to check it out and you will have a much better feel of what it's like living and working full-time in an RV.

RVers are a diverse bunch. There are doctors, lawyers, school teachers and Indian chiefs living the RV lifestyle, but you may not know that when you meet them because in the RV culture no one asks you much about what you use to do. They just ask, where have you been, where are you're going, what interesting things have you seen, etc.

Even though I talk about spouses and couples in this book, you will see a lot of solo RVers in your travels. There are several websites where solo RVers share concerns, stories, etc.

More on what it's like living full-time in an RV

The cost of living full-time in an RV can be substantially less than living the traditional lifestyle in a brick and stick house or apartment.

You have the option to not travel for a month or so, stay in a campground where you get free camping in exchange for some volunteer work and your living expenses will be almost nothing -- except food, insurance, etc. You also have the option of "boondocking" (camping on public lands where it's totally free, but without water and electricity) for days, weeks or months. I'll talk about boondocking in a different article.

Speaking of boondocking, when you're just traveling and your goal is to get from one place to another, you have the option of stopping for a night or two in a Walmart parking lot (most of them allow this). This is free also. Of course, you usually go into the Walmart store and stock up on supplies, groceries, etc.

One woman told me, "When living the RV lifestyle, you will also save a lot of money by not buying things you don't need. Going shopping will no longer be a considered a form of entertainment. There's no place to put things you don't really need." How many pairs or shoes do you need? I had not thought about it, but she's right. I don't buy 'stuff' like I used to. I did buy a new pair of shoes the other day, but I also threw out an old pair. There's no room to accumulate things.

One good way to learn more about what it would be like living full-time in an RV is to talk to people who are doing it. If you don't know anyone personally, the next best thing is to watch some interviews with people (retired and non-retired) who are living full-time in their RVs. Listen as they talk about their experiences and how they're making their incomes. Below is a link to one such video where 17 full-time young RVers tell about their lives and how they make money on the road. One thing you will notice in the video is that these young RVers have all types of RVs -- big, little, motorhomes, trailers, and fifth-wheel rigs. Here's the link:

This is another video that was created by Chris and Cherie who I talked about earlier and you can see more of their interviews at this link:

What do I miss about my old lifestyle?

A lot of non-RVers ask me this question, but I can't think of much I miss about my previous lifestyle. I think more about what I would miss if I gave up my RV lifestyle.

Here are some of the things I would miss if I gave up living in my RV:

  • Being free to travel and see the country

  • Going to music festivals and rallies

  • Enjoying 75 and 80 degree January and February days

  • Hour-long coffee times with friends

  • Spending time with wonderful, like-minded friends

  • Sunrises and sunsets over water

  • Never having to deal with snow and cold weather

  • Always having friends nearby to have a glass of wine with from time to time without having to take more than a few steps

  • Sitting around a campfire with interesting friends

  • Being able to explore charming little towns

  • Always being near new and interesting hiking trails

  • In other words, total freedom

    When I talk to other RVers, I find out that for most of them, their biggest regret is that they didn't embark on the this lifestyle sooner.

    Make your decision

    The information on this website, along with the links, references and other books I recommend will give you the information you need to make your decision -- but you have to make the decision.

    In a marketing class at Harvard one time, a professor asked a student what he would do in a case being studying. The student said that he would go out and get more information. That was the wrong answer.

    The professor said, "Every decision you make for the rest of your life will be made with incomplete information." He said, "Do a reasonable amount of research and investigation and then make a decision. If it's wrong, you can change it." He said that businesses lose more money by not making a decision than they ever lose by making a wrong decision.

    That concept applies to personal decisions, too.

    What if you change your mind about RVing?

    Full-time RVing is not for everyone. Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle, individually or as a couple. Selling an RV can be done fairly easy in a matter of a week or two or a month or two at the most. In fact, you can list your RV on eBay and sell it in three days -- and at a fair price.

    You are not locked in. You can change your lifestyle in a heartbeat. And if you do your homework and find a great deal (and do a good job of negotiating) when you buy your RV, you can likely sell it for more than you paid for it.

    Bottom line: Do a reasonable amount of research, soul-searching and fact-finding and then make your decision. You will never have all of the information, but remember, when you're living the RV lifestyle, it's easy to change your mind, sell your RV and live a different lifestyle. Keep reading articles on this website and then make your decision.

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