How to live in an RV?
One of the best ways to travel during this pandemic while maintaining social distance and safety protocols is with an RV. And whether or not your goal is travelling, just cutting down on cost of living, or maintaining a minimalist life all the way, the RV life is an awesome choice! So if you’re interested and curious about how to live in an RV, let’s dive into this article with everything you need to know!
Why are people choosing the RV lifestyle?
Now, more than ever, a lot of people have been choosing to live in an RV or travel trailer full-time. This lifestyle choice that’s getting even more popular these days allows them to save money on rent, travel or change scenery whenever they’re bored of the current one, and maintain a minimalist lifestyle, among others. It seems that the less cluttered and less complicated way of life has been attracting a lot of people, especially during these times.
For some, living in an RV or travel trailer is a financial necessity. And that is understandable, considering that expenses are usually way lower compared to a house or apartment, especially if you’re renting. Plus in an RV, you don’t need as much stuff, especially because there’s a limit to how much you can comfortably fit inside. This also means there’s not much to cool during summer or heat up during winter. In plenty of ways, the RV is fantastic in promoting a minimalist and frugal way of living.
The Freedom of life on the go
Many also choose the RV life for the freedom to travel it gives them. There are what we call full-time RVers who have mastered how to live in an RV. Some live in huge campers or travel trailers as big as buses. While there are also RVers in smaller mobile homes, perfect for those narrow roads and out of the way hidden destinations. Regardless of the size of their home on wheels, it allows them the freedom of living life on the go.
This past couple of years has seen the rise of the COVID RVers, those who chose life on the road during the pandemic or because of the pandemic. Maybe, their jobs finally allowed them to work from home, offering them the great opportunity to finally go RVing. Or they just want to be able to at least move around while keeping safe, or they simply think that the RV life is the financially wiser choice in the midst of a pandemic. Perhaps, they may have even taken a page from our article on the Benefits of RV Life During the COVID-19 Pandemic and took the plunge.
People are choosing the RV life for plenty of reasons. Whatever yours is, we’re here to share some useful knowledge on how to live in an RV.
Selecting an RV 101
Just like in choosing a house, you’ll want an RV where you can be happy and comfortable living in. The first step is assessing the kind of lifestyle you want, then do some research on the kinds of RV out there. Here, we list the main points that you need to consider before choosing the right mobile home.
Living in an RV can either be mere a step-up from camping, be akin to a glamorous vacation, or everything in between. What type of camping vacation interests you and what do you want in a home? The answer to these questions can be almost the same to some people, but can be very different to others.
Would you like to go camping off-grid most of the time, or would you like to stay ‘near civilization’? Or in RV campgrounds, private or public, with all the fancy hookups and amenities? The answer to these questions will affect the size and type of RV you’ll want to live in.
Moving around or staying in place
Decide whether you plan to constantly be moving or just stay for a few months to a year in certain areas. Consider that you will also probably make this up as you go. Deciding on whether you want to stay a while in a place or just hunker down for the night.
Mind the Weather
If you plan on touring the southern United States or somewhere with a milder climate, you’ll probably do fine all year long without some heavy customizations. But if you’re staying somewhere with all four seasons, or even colder temperatures, you’ll want to choose an RV that can protect you against the harsher elements of outdoor life.
These are all just a cliffnotes rundown. There is still a lot to consider, especially in today’s world. For a fully-detailed guide on choosing an RV, especially during the pandemic, head on over to Best RV to Buy in the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Affordable RV Living
Who wouldn’t want to save a few dollars? Not only is cheap RV living possible, but it can actually be tons cheaper than living in a house. Some even say that the only answer to how to live in an RV is living cheaply!
While we don’t completely agree on that (we like a little luxury here and there), there are definitely many things you can do to keep costs down while living comfortably. Here are our top five tips.
1. Prioritize and Budget
Decide what’s important and what’s needed for your enjoyment and comfort. When you’re thinking of buying something, don’t you ever wonder if the next week or the next week, you’lll still be happy with your purchase? Unlike living in a brick and mortar house, buying as many items will end up cramping your RV quickly.
Life in a home on wheels is extremely simple, for the most part. Due to the limited space in the cabin, additional clothing and shoes should be carefully considered. Another thing to think about is how important travel is to you. Fuel and vehicle maintenance costs are highly dependent on the number of trips you’ll be taking. You don’t have to travel to live in an RV, but for many of us, it’s an essential part of the RV charm.
2. Save on Camping Fees
At many campgrounds, you can save a lot of money by booking 3-5 months in advance or availing a season package. The price difference between seasonal rates, nightly rates, or weekly rates can amount to hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars. If you don’t like seasonal parking, a seasonal location is definitely the cheapest option. Even if you only get a monthly or weekly fee for that location, you can save money on night camping.
The best moments of your life are free. Free-camping or popularly known as boondocking is a great way to cut down on camping expenses. Many free campgrounds are breath-taking and have easy access to lakes and rivers for swimming and fishing. Free parking spaces, such as supermarket parking lots, are definitely more suitable for taking breaks during travel. Free camping is available in almost all major cities. Thanks to the internet, finding the best place to store is easier than you think.
Here are our favorite places where you can get the most unexpected free camping spots: casinos, Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Bass Pro and Cabela’s, Camping World, Costco, Home Depot and Lowe’s, malls, 24-Hour stores, schools, churches, hospitals, police stations, national forests and BLM lands, truck stops and rest areas, picnic areas, docks and dams, dog parks, vet clinics, and animal hospitals. Surprised? See what we have to say about this list and how to score a spot in these place at 20+ Places For Free RV Parking That May Surprise You.
Knowing how to boondock is knowing how to live in an RV! For a more comprehensive guide on this free adventure, here’s Everything you Need to Know About Boondocking.
4. Eating well, healthy and cheap is part of how to live—and thrive—in an RV
This goes for every household and not just RVs. You have the vehicle anyway, why not visit the farmer’s market of wherever you will be this week or month and buy some cheap, delicious and nutritious ingredients. Of course, we hope you or someone in your RV can cook! Make friends with locals for they are sure to know where the hidden gems will be. Parking at the beach? Buy the catch of the day!
5. Learn to perform basic maintenance and repairs on your RV
If you learn the ropes of basic maintenance and repair, and develop the skills, you can save a ton of bucks! After completing the usual maintenance tasks such as oil changes, tire changes, and slippery maintenance of your tow vehicle, you can save a lot of money on repairs in the future. This will also save you a lot of time instead of waiting for your RV repair shop.
The realities of living in an RV
Downsizing is the name of the game
There won’t be enough room in your RV. If you’re moving from a house or a medium-sized apartment, you’re gonna be scaling down. Depending on how huge your closet or kitchen are compared to your camper, you might have to downsize big time. You’ll have to discard or put most of your clothes, appliances and furniture up for storage.
There are many ways to get rid of your stuff, of course. You can have a grand garage sale, sell your stuff online, or even give them away to charity.
RV plumbing is unique
RV plumbing is going to be a whole new experience. Installing and managing sinks, showers and toilets requires more consideration and careful thought in an RV. This is opposed to living in a house where you take a bath and that’s it.
Anything that passes through those RV pipes doesn’t just go down a simple drain to disappear forever in a sewer. Neither is it automatic. Everything must be stored in tanks first, until you have a chance to dump them. So you’ll have to be extra considerate about what will and won’t be poured, washed and flushed down your RV’s plumbing.
You’ll want to have a physical address
You may be halfway around the country, living your dream RV trip, but the little mundane facts of life will remain. You won’t want your bills, mail, etc. to also follow you from city to city, having a trip of their own, do you? Worse, neve to reach you.
Luckily, there are a few mail services that will allow you to access and receive your mail from anywhere. It’s a good idea to set this up before going on your RV adventure, though.
If you don’t wish to pay for services, you can also always use a trusted family or friend’s address. Make sure they don’t mind doing a bit of secretarial work for you from time to time. Someone who’s not a frequent traveler themself is best, so you know they’ll be around to receive your mail.
Not all RVs are made equal
Be careful when buying an RV, used or brand new. While most of the bigger RVs are tough enough, some RVs are not made for the full-time life. Of course, this also depends on the wear and tear you plan to subject it to. Whether, you’ll be bouncing down small, narrow dirt paths or staying safe on paved campground roads. Or if you plan to stay in sunny, mild weather or hunkering down in colder, wetter climes.
So, is living in an RV for you?
Living in an RV can be a challenging but wonderful experience. But it’s certainly not for everyone. Because you’re reading this article, we know that you’re doing your research. You may also want to talk to people you know who already have experience with the RV lifestyle. And the best thing we can recommend? Hire an RV and test it out for a few weeks to a couple of months. You’ll then know beyond a doubt if living in an RV is for you.
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