Many of you probably already know, or have deduced, that I live full-time in my RV. A small motorhome, to be exact. Somewhere back in my early archives I wrote about some of the considerations that led me to this lifestyle choice, but I figured it was time to revisit the whole concept. I’d also like to explore how it has been working out, now that I’ve been doing it for several years, and share with the curious just what RV living on a full-time basis is like.
About The Headline
While looking at my blog stats, I’ve noticed that I often get search hits with variations of “RV living” in them, yet “RV lifestyle” or “RV full-timing” almost never appear. While the latter terms are common among the RV community, “RV living” or “living in an RV” are what I guess most people call it. I hope my decision to go with a title that favors common usage over insider jargon helps folks interested in this lifestyle to find this series. I’ll be offering a combination of general information and specific details of my own personal home and lifestyle.
Did You Say Series?
I’ve decided to make this a series for a few reasons. There’s way too much to cover for a single blog post. It would end up being far too long while still skimping on details. By breaking it up into a series of posts I can give each subtopic the attention and space it deserves.
Each reader may not be equally interested in each facet of RV living. Some may be more interested in the technical details of the various subsystems, others in the details of travel and locational possibilities, and still others in the social and community aspects of the lifestyle.
There will even be topics of interest to folks who could care less about the RV lifestyle, but might want to learn about off-grid living, strategies for living in tiny spaces, and location independence, all of which are parts of RV living.
The series format will allow readers to pick and choose what interests them, while allowing me to sufficiently elaborate on each topic. It will help keep follow-up discussions in the comments section organized too.
Topics I Plan To Cover
- What’s in a name? – RV, camper, motorhome, pop-up, caravan, fifth wheel, house trailer, travel trailer, mobile home, van and bus conversions; what do they all mean and what’s the difference?
- Camping vs. living – The similarities and differences between RV camping and full-time RV living.
- Home is where I park it – Campgrounds, RV parks, private property, boondocking, and more.
- All the comforts of home – Lights, running water, flush toilet, and a complete kitchen, even in the middle of nowhere.
- Staying connected – Wireless telephone, internet, and HF radio keep me in touch no matter where I am.
- That’s entertainment – Accommodating music, video, and reading libraries on-the-go in tiny places. Other entertainment options, too.
- Similarities and differences – How is it the same as living in a tiny house or apartment, and how is it different? Exploring the unique challenges and rewards.
- Environmental considerations – Many people think of an RV as a big, gas-guzzling road-hog, but is it really that bad? It makes for a very eco-friendly dwelling when it isn’t rolling down the road.
- Is it expensive? – You can spend a fortune if you want, yet it can be surprisingly affordable, especially if you are handy and creative. Ongoing expenses can be very minimal.
- Is it for you? – It may not be for everybody, but if you have a sense of adventure and a taste for unconventional living, it might be for you. Why I chose to try it and why I’m still doing it.
You Can Help
I’m sure I’ve missed something. Those are only the things I’ve thought you might be interested in. Please jump in down in the comment section and let me know what interests you and what you want to read about. Nothing is carved in stone – this series can go where you want it to.
Also, would you prefer that I concentrate my writing efforts exclusively on this series, until I’ve exhausted the topic, or would you rather I do, say, one “Exploring RV Living” post plus an unrelated second post each week? Your opinion is important to me.
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I prefer alternating posts, Mike. Your miscellaneous ramblings are always enjoyable.
Thanks, Meg. It’s always good to know that my ramblings are appreciated.
I’m looking forward to this series! I do think alternating topics is a good idea so you don’t lose readers who may be less interested in these practical matters than in your usual posts. I, for one, am interested in the details of your lifestyle. It sounds like a great way to live.
It is a great way to live, Gip. It isn’t perfect and it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me the advantages continue to outweigh the drawbacks.
I traveled and lived in a popup for almost 8 months. Interesting experience. Had it been a trailer or motorhome, I would probably still be in it. I just got tired of popping up and down, and since there is NO SPACE in a popup, all living needs to be done outdoors, which sucks when the weather sucks. I am looking forward to your posts.
I don’t think I could full-time in a popup, Marti, but I’m sure people do it. A friend told me about someone he met in Quartzsite who was full-timing (or maybe just snowbirding; I think he had a conventional home somewhere) in a car. I have a neighbor where I am now who lives in a tent. I guess everyone’s needs and means are different. I enjoy seeing the variety of alternative homes people have created.
love this idea! i’m with meg i think. i like your take on all kinds of other things too. so would love if you did both.
looks like your topics have it well covered…
except… could you look into women doing this thing on their own? would it be safe? are we strong enough to set things up as necessary, hooking up whatever lines there are, etc… ???
you can see i’m totally ignorant about any of it! but the idea of living in a little rv has always appealed to me. we’ll see…. i already know i want some kind of tiny house!
Well, that’s three votes now in favor of alternating other posts with the series – SOLD!
Thanks for the suggestion about women, Tammy, and I’ll go into it in more depth in the “is it for you” installment, but the quick answer is yes, women can do it. There are plenty of women of all ages out on the road on their own. While your own physical abilities and confidence level might influence some choices you make, gender is not an issue nor in any way a limiting factor.
Mike, I love the idea of an RV blog..I want to know a few things…like, does it make sense to buy a piece of land and dig wells, and generate your own electricity, or is it worth it to pay for lot rent? Also, for travelling, I always thought a pop up wouldn’t be able to withstand muggers or bear at truckstops, or just on the road…what’s a strong RV that is not so heavy to tote around on the back of..well say my GMC V6 Jimmy???
Good ideas for the “home is where I park it” segment. I suppose if you want a home base, then buying land might be good. As for utilities, choosing to live on- or off-grid depends on many factors. That could be enough for its own post.
I don’t know that anything is mugger or bear proof, but certainly a soft-sided rig will be more vulnerable. You kinda need to keep security in mind when you decide where to camp or even overnight.
There are a number of tiny and light hardshell trailers, such as the Casita, that your truck could easily tow and would be just fine for camping if you expect to spend most of your time outdoors, though one would have to be an uber-minimalist to consider fulltiming in one.
So are you a retired full-timer or a work camping full-timer?
I have work-camped, but not at the moment. I do occasional odd jobs and freelance work, though. Good idea for a post – work-camping, volunteering, and other ways to earn money or offset expenses on the road. Thanks!
Hi Mike, just found your blog and thought I might have been reading my own blog. Wow! I call myself a “professional nomad” because I gave up close to 3000 sq ft on a small 49 acre ranch 1 1/2 years ago. Since then I’ve been “Living Free” which is what I call my blog. I’ve been “happily homeless” couch surfing and staying with friends around the country – mostly in the Mid-Atlantic region. I’ve never been freer or happier in my life. I don’t have the MH, yet, but that’s the plan and it goes back to my fantasies from my college days. I’m also a ham (for over 50 years) and while not a professed naturist – I’ve done a little. My blog has followed a pattern like yours and you and I seem to write similarly. I just read all you posts since the beginning and felt a degree of parallel camaraderie with you. I’m a bit older, but basically write about similar things. Glad I found your blog and I’m going to subscribe and also check out the others in your blog roll (I’m already subscribed to Courtney’s – which is how I found yours).
Ed – The Professional Nomad
Hi Ed! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad you are enjoying my blog. The transition from couch surfing to RV living ought to be interesting for you; you’ll have the ability to carry more with you (but don’t let yourself go overboard!) while becoming less dependent upon others.
I’m really looking forward to this series! My wife and I wanted to do the same thing a couple of years ago, but motorhomes were too expensive and we also weren’t sure about where to park it as we had safety concerns. At least now we can campervan vicariously through your blog! 😉
Hi Angela! You could consider pre-owned, and, if you’re really handy, maybe even something that needs a little TLC. Remember too, that once the RV becomes your full-time home, you hopefully no longer have the expenses of your previous home, just like any move. Where to park is a different consideration, and the possibilities are almost endless.
Anyway, welcome aboard. Vicarious passengers are always welcome.
How about the ability to be where you need/want to be? A friend with cancer was able to go where the best cancer doctor was located. Others were able to go to family when needed. Others attend celebrations they might otherwise miss. Etc.
Yes! You can go where and when you need and want. Health care and family emergencies, though I don’t look forward to either scenario, as well as visiting friends and family and attending special events. Many RVers are “snowbirds” and move with the seasons; others are seasonal or contract workers who travel to where their work is.
My husband and I have a travel trailer but his work seems to always get in the way of traveling. I would love to hear your ideas of making the jump to living in a RV full time from having a “regular” job, house and everything that goes with it.
You don’t have to actually be traveling to live in an RV, Betty. You could get started right now, so that when you have opportunities to travel, you’ll be ready. In the meantime, you can live in a trailer park, RV campground, or even on private property. Then, when your situation changes you’ll be all set to hit the road!
Can’t wait to read the serie, I’ve also made the conscient choice of downgrading from a 2 storey house to a small apartment (2 and a half room…that’s it LOL) and even though it might not be for the rest of my life, for now I can honestly tell you it give you a greater sense of freedom and makes you conscient of everything that we buy on a regular basis…because here I can only fit so much LOL. Great blog !
The downsizing from a small apartment to an RV might be about as much of a change as the downsizing from a large house to a small apartment was. Even the largest, RVs are only about 300 square feet or so. You might have a look at some to get an idea of how much more downsizing you’ll need to do.
Bookmarking you now as this is the future for my husband and I. Country folk cannot move into a cheap place in a town and so here we go.The travel trailer is small but…. We’re headin’ towards 60 years of age and have been rural dwellers so we’ll be okay except for the “space” which weather permitting, I plan to use only for sleeping and simple cooking. Planning on an early spring departure. My biggest problem is figuring out a mailbox service to use. Any ideas?
Yep, as long as you have plenty of space around you, there’s no need to fear going stir crazy in a tiny space, except perhaps during unpleasant weather (rain, excessive heat or cold).
Thanks for reminding me to include a discussion about (snail) mail in the “keeping in touch” installment, Penny.
The quick answer is that there are a number of options, from a simple PO box, family or friend to professional mail services that can even scan your paper mail and then email it to you. What you choose will depend on your needs, level of trust, and anticipated travel pattern – I’ll go into it in more depth in the relevant post.
I have just found your blog and started with your introduction. I agree with the others who have commented on alternating between the series and the ramblings.
I am also a fulltimer but have been, due to financial reasons, mostly stationary at an RV resort in Iowa. Since we’ve been wintering in our fifth-wheel for several years now, a newbie asked for some advice on how to get prepared for winter living in an RV. I started writing out a list of things to consider and ways to improve the experience. As the the list grew longer and longer, I had to break it into chapters. Then it dawned on me that I should post it on my blog.
So, my blog is giving advice on a very narrow aspect of RV living but I mix it up with miscellaneous thoughts and observations. Come visit sometime. I’ve already decided that I’ll add your blog to my list of RV links.
Just thought I’d say hello. I’m a recent full timer from Florida. I’m sitting out in the desert on BLM Land in Yuma AZ. I first went to quartzsite for the shows and now am uncertain where to go when it gets hot. Any suggestions? I also need to find some work of some kind. I’d be ope to suggestions on that as well.
Gary from Florida
Welcome to my blog and to the full-time lifestyle, Gary. Sorry to be so late in responding – I must have missed it when you first posted it. Central and southern AZ definitely get hot in the summer. Consistently over 100 degrees and a month or two well over 110. If you are willing to pay for a place with hookups you could do it, but you might be happier moving to higher altitudes – perhaps northern Arizona, New Mexico, or maybe one of the northwestern states.
As far as work, are you looking for paying work? or just to work in exchange for a campsite? Both are possible. If looking for a real job, you do that they wy you’d find any job. If you only need a place to park with hookups, you might consider workcamping or volunteering (National and state parks, BLM, etc).
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hi me an my wife an dogs an cats are living in my rv we live in minnesota it is getting cold. is there any help out there for pepole like us
Ive been an apartment dweller ever since I was able to leave home at the age 18. I was laid off back in April and have exhausted my savings. Now at the age of 42 Im facing eviction. All I have is $0 in the bank and a 2001 VW Passat, and Im pretty sure it wont be adequate for 2 adults, 2 small Jack Russell’s and a pair of lovebirds. I was looking on Craigslist in the barter section one day and saw where someone posted a RV for trade and it got me to thinking about the lifestyle. Really I have noting to lose and thought about giving it a try. Im pretty much a handy man and good with automotive work. Looking at it the RV on Craigslist the RV looked like it had some potential but when I got there it was pretty dilapidated and decided to pass that RV up. Tomorrow I’ll be looking at an old A class. They originally posted it for $1000 but just recently took it down to $800. At that price Im not expecting a beauty but if everything works, a sound motor, tranny, and rear axel, and it’s no leaks in the roof I may end up taking it. Not knowing much about RV’s what should I look for in an older RV? Here is the CL add if you’d like to see what Im looking into next. http://orlando.craigslist.org/rvs/3342660059.html
Hi, Mike, Cliff H. here. Sure do like your site! 73
I was stationed aboard a submarine in the 70’s, we emptied our waste tanks at sea by pumping 120 psi into the waste tanks which was plenty of pressure to pump them into the sea while submerged 100’s of feet below the surface while on patrol. I had the idea of pressurizing my rv black water tank to make dumping it quicker. A simple bicycle tire air nozzle soldered to the tank and 5 psi did the job in 10 to 15 seconds. All was well until something distracted my attention while pressurizing, the psi went above 30 and blew the o-ring out of the toilet filling my bathroom with, well, you know. Not a good idea.