Full time Life Salton Sea

Full-time RV Life: What is it? Part one

We have had so many questions lately about how we make full-time RV life work for us, what it’s all about, and a ton of detail-oriented questions about everything from our water storage capacity to how we choose where we stay to internet questions. In fact, the internet might be what we’re asked about most!

To help clarify all these things, we’re starting a blog series in which we address all the ins-and-outs of full time RVing from our perspective. We hope we can answer a lot of questions and maybe even convince a few friends to join in the nomadic lifestyle. If you have a question about full-time RV life, send it on over, or leave a comment. This way, we can make sure we’re addressing questions and concerns in our later blogs.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Part One: What’s full-time RV life really all about?

Full-Time RV life is exactly what you’d expect. We live in an RV: a Class A Diesel Pusher motorhome, to be exact, but we’ll be addressing types of rigs in a later blog in this series.

We conduct our entire “regular” life from the comfort of our HOW: our home on wheels.

Full-time RV life means Jeremiah works from the road.

Why would anyone choose to live in an RV?

So, why RV life? For us, this answer was relatively simple and straight-forward. We wanted to see more of the United States and couldn’t just “go on vacation” all the time. It’s evolved, but that was the initial reason.

Your answer might be very different for why you became interested in the lifestyle; we’ve seen families who live in RVs so that they can pay back debt, others who have family on both sides of the coast and everywhere between and want to split up their time between areas, couples that have navy jobs that rotate frequently, and people who just can’t figure out where to settle down. (This was part of our story, as well!)

This lifestyle allows us to travel and make our own routines, all from the comfort of our home. Bringing our home with us is pretty amazing, especially with some of the views we wake up to. (Not all views all glorious, but I’ll address that in a minute.)

In the end, we live in an RV full time because of the immense benefits it brings with it, and we’ve come to terms with the disadvantages and have deemed them okay to lose out on. This lifestyle gives us the option to visit friends and family across the United States, go to places (like Mexico) on a budget that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, and see all the in-between places that people rarely see when they’re flying to specific destinations.

It has not brought us clarity, which we thought it might. Instead, we just have adapted to this new “normal.” Humans are shockingly good at normalizing new situations!

Who full-time RVs?

Something we’ve heard numerous times from friends regarding how we live, “That sounds amazing, but we could never do that.” Yes, you could. There are very few restrictions that fully prevent you from being able to full-time.  If you want it badly enough, you can figure it out. You may have to completely change what you do for work, start home-schooling your kids, figure out different methods to deal with health issues, etc, but that doesn’t mean it’s not for you. If you really want to full-time, with enough hard work, you can.

There are all types of people that live full time in RVs, from young couples (we consider ourselves in that category) to families with multiple kids, to people much older than ourselves. The type of work people do varies significantly, as well. Many of us make our living on the road via remote work. Others choose to stay put in a place for a season as workampers. We’ve met a lot of travel nurses (one that actually took care of me when I recently went to the hospital) that switch up where they work for 12-week stints.

What I will say: if you want to succeed in full-time RV life, you must be able to adapt. It’s not my strong suit; I enjoy routine, but in this lifestyle you will not have a lot of joy if you are not able to adapt to situations differently than you expect. If you know you could adapt, this type of travel life might be up your alley. If you are staunchly opposed to adapting and evolving, you may simply not find contentment in this lifestyle.

When we recently told a friend we’d be staying put in our HOW for a few months, their reaction was one of confusion, paired with the question “Why don’t you get an apartment for a few months and store the coach?” No. Let me make it abundantly clear that our motorhome is our home. It doesn’t mean it will always be our home, but for now, we consider the rig the place where we go to sleep every night, the place we cook our meals, and the place we work from.

Differences between RV living and living in a sticks-and-bricks home

A lack of “comfort” in new places

The biggest problem we have had with living in an RV is the lack of comfort we usually feel. When we’re in a place for a few weeks to a couple of months, like we were when Jeremiah had back surgery, we start to figure out the area. But think about your daily routine. You know how to get to work, know the best grocery stores, the nicest hardware stores, where to buy your cat food, the vet nearest you, what doctors in the area accept your health insurance, and how long it takes you to get from your home to a restaurant during rush hour.

We don’t know any of those things.  

We took for granted how comfortable our life before full-time travel was. Every day, we feel a little like a fish out of water. Some days are better than others, but if you’re like me, you will have anxiety whenever you have to go to a new place, whether it be to find stamps at a USPS or look for a certain ingredient that you can’t find at the closest store. That’s also what makes it exciting though: things are frequently new to us.

You won’t have a yard; our old home had a big yard for the dogs to run. Now? I walk Bernadette three times a day, sometimes more. We can not just open the door and tell her to run outside. This might not be the case for you. While there are beautiful places we get ot walk and hike, we have to take those walks daily, rain or shine.

Car issues

A big issue we were aware of before we hit the road was the lack of maintenance we can do on our toad vehicle. (A “toad” is the vehicle we pull behind our motorhome and is our source of transportation whenever we’ve set up camp.) RV parks do not (almost ever) let you do work on your vehicle, so we try to do things like oil changes at our friends homes when we see them. However, things that we could easily diagnose and fix at our old sticks-and-bricks home, we now typically take to a mechanic. This is an added cost and time-suck.

The toad going to the mechanic on an emergency wrecker

Water and energy

If you boondock, which means to stay on land without any form of electricity or water hookups, then you will have a huge list of differences between living in a house and living in an RV full time. You’ll have to conserve water, consider how you’ll be getting your energy (solar, diesel, etc) how you will heat and cool your home, and so on. We’ll be doing a whole blog on what you might need to consider if you boondock.

Health care

Health care – again, we’ll do an entire blog on this, but suffice to say that health care differs greatly while full time traveling, from finding doctors and dentists who accept your insurance to scheduling out appointments far in advance.

Chores and errands

Chores outside the home always somehow take a lot longer, and there are a couple of reasons for this. In our sticks-and-bricks home we had at least 2 cars, so we could split up to do errands. Now, if someone needs the car, the other person often goes with them. What could be done in half the time by splitting up now takes that full amount of time.

If you don’t have things like a washer-dryer in your rig, you’ll need to figure out how you’re doing laundry. Most RV parks have laundry, but if you’re boondocking you’ll have to make time to go into town to wash your clothes. Truth be told, we re-wear clothes for several days when we boondock. While we have our own washer and dryer, we don’t like to use the water for laundry unless we’re hooked up. Both the dryer and washer take an inordinate amount of energy, so we also need to be fully aware of that and turn on the diesel-burning generator to use them. Again, it goes back to things that we took for granted that we have to make efforts to perform now.  In a home on wheels, everything is connected and depends on or affects a different part of our life.

Things that remain the same: we cook, we clean, we work. We eat at new restaurants, and call family on the phone.

Misconceptions of full-time RV travel

Misconception one: You’ll save so much money by living in an RV. No. You can save money with full-time RV life, but you can save money by moving to a different area or downsizing your apartment, or by cooking low-cost meals instead of going out to dinner. If the only reason you want to live in an RV is to save money, you likely won’t like the disadvantages of fulltime RV life.  You will not automatically save money, especially if you move your rig often. I can’t stress this enough. It is not a valuable enough reason to move into one. 90% of the time, you will get more out of downsizing where you live than just moving into an RV park and staying stationary.

Misconception two: every day you will see a bright pink sunset, and every morning you will wake up to 70-degree weather with a view to die for. If this is what you want, you’re looking to go on vacation. I don’t blame you. I love sitting on the beach in 80-degree weather, my feet in the sand, drinking a margarita. We do have some days like this, and other days we’re working enough that we wouldn’t notice if we did have a beautiful sunset.

Misconception three: everything will just fall in to place while traveling. RV maintenance is exhausting sometimes. Things break every time we go anywhere because we’re literally driving our house down the road. The first 3 months were rough for us. At one point we thought we’d made a horrible decision because it felt like the maintenance was never over. Now, we are fully aware that maintenance is inevitable.

Misconception Four: I love traveling, so I’ll love RVing. It isn’t a full-time vacation. It’s full-time life. Just happens to be we get to drive our house around with us. If you’re trying to escape your life, this isn’t the way to do it. You can physically leave where you currently call home, but life’s problems will not just cease to exist.

There are other misconceptions and quirks that I haven’t added in; if you’d like more, let me know!

Is full-time RV life for you?

How do you know if RV life is for you? Here are some questions you might want to answer:

  1. Are you looking for a significant change in how you live your life?
  2. Do you want to travel more, but don’t have the budget for going on vacation every month?
  3. Are you willing to learn and potentially become overwhelmed with the sheer maintenance of driving your house down the road?
  4. Are you willing to research extensively to see places you’d like to visit and be okay with not being able to see everything on your bucket list?
  5. Can you imagine giving up physically seeing your friends in the area you currently live I for the tradeoff of full-time travel? This one is hard; being on the road can be very isolating. As an introvert, that’s not something I thought I would struggle with, but I consistently miss people I used to see.

Next week’s blog, we’ll focus on some of the details of finding the perfect rig for you, and further down the road we’ll be looking at details! Seriously, we’ll be looking at everything from budget to black tanks. Then, we’ll get to the good stuff, like how we choose where we dump our jacks.

Are you thinking about hitting the road full-time, or even part-time? Let us know what questions we can help answer in this blog series.

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