How to Live in an RV (And Love It!)

The idea of living in an RV really appeals to some people, but it can be scary. After knowing many people that have lived full time in an RV, I have accrued the necessary tips and tricks for being happy in an RV full time.

So, can you live in an RV and love it? Many people make RVs their full-time home as opposed to living in a traditional home or apartment. Living in an RV takes a lot of organization and adjustment from traditional living. Renting an RV will usually give individuals the chance to try out living in an RV before comitting.

There is so much to learn and understand about living on the road. The trick to it all is knowing what you are getting yourself into. You will miss things that you won’t predict missing. Many of these tips really helped me adjust to living in a trailer, and I would bet they will help you.

Things to Prepare Before Living in an RV:

I have assembled a list that you need to do to prepare to live in an RV. Meaning these need to be completed before you even think about getting an RV.

Try Renting an RV first

Now I know I said that you need to do these things before getting an RV, but what I mean is that you need to rent an RV to make sure that you can handle it.

It is important to test your ability to rough it. Living in a confined space can be rough on mental health, so try to make this test run of sorts as long as you can. Make sure to bring everybody that will be living with you on the trip. This will help you to understand what you are getting yourself into.

Living in an RV is not for everybody. In fact, there are some studies that living an RV can be dangerous for mental health.

This is really hard to test if you are going to go stir crazy, but it’s important to do your best in understanding it. Take as much time as you need to feel confident that you can do this. Confidence is important when changing your lifestyle this drastically.

Be a Minimalist

Before you can live in an RV, you need to be able to live with very little. can you imagine only owning 10 shirts? Could you get rid of almost all of your possessions so that you can fit in a limited space? This is not easy.

Turning your life into a minimalist lifestyle is a process. Take the time each day to throw things out that you do not use on a Bi-weekly basis.

Those that live in RV’s normally come from very simple lifestyles. Those that risk the transition from an extravagant lifestyle to living in an RV rarely succeed and will generally give up within the year.

“No need to cannonball into the minimalism pool. It’s ok to dip a toe in first.”

Asha from Adventures with Asha

The type of minimalism I am talking about is really minimalist. People living in an RV have a very strict ‘one in one out’ policy, meaning when you get something new you have to get rid of something. You simply do not have the space for acquiring stuff like you used to.

When I moved into my first trailer, I was a little fearful of getting rid of things. I could fit everything I owned into 2 suitcases (not including bedding). That is really hard. You have to really know what is important, and the rest is not necessary.

The first step to minimalism is making a list. Make a list of rules that you will live by. One example is “I will not have duplicates of anything”, or “this space will be clutter free”

Take your time and make sure to do it right. Gradually throw things out or donate them. This process is going to take time, so it needs to be achieved well before you buy your RV. Think about how easy moving into your new home will be!

Make Sure it’s What Your Family Wants

Living on the road is a team effort, and requires the support of everybody involved. If one person of your gang doesn’t want to live in an RV, then it should not be done. Everybody involved must want to live the lifestyle, otherwise you will be torturing yourself.

Some people are too submissive to speak their opinion, so make sure that whoever you are taking is okay with this. I cannot stress this enough.

Have a Reason

It is really important to have a reason to be doing this. For almost everybody that lives on the road, it is the desire to see new places.

Seeing the world is a great reason for moving into an RV. Another great reason is that you want to meet new people. In any case, you need a reason.

Just doing it because you want to say you did is the wrong reason. Is this something you want to do or are you just bored?

But then again, if you have the money you can practically do whatever you want. Don’t let anybody tell you different am I right?

Have the Funds

Whether you have a job that you can work remotely, are retiring, or you have won the lottery, you need to be financially ready for this. RV living has a lot more expenses than most people realize.

Do all the calculations for what you think you will be paying in a given month on the road, and error on the side of the more expensive. Set aside funds for RV repair.

If your RV breaks down then you will need to stay in a hotel for the complete duration of the repairs, and that can be pricey. Leave some funds for rainy days like this.

Find a Supportive Team

Something that is necessary for RV living is having people that you can fall back to.

For example, where are you going to get your mail? Some people will tell you that a PO box works fine, but what about urgent things that you don’t want to cross the country to get?

Having somebody, preferably family, that you can rely on for such things is a great way to circumvent a lot of problems that come up.

You need to list this place as your physical address, so make sure they are not going anywhere. Whether this is your adult child’s residence or your parent’s old place, you still need a home base.

Picking an RV

This is so important to how your experience is going to be, and you should be really careful not to screw it up. Below are some really important aspects to choosing an RV.

Do Your Research

I cannot stress this enough. Please do the due diligence when selecting an RV. You will not enjoy your trip if you choose something that you don’t absolutely love. Think of this as going house shopping and car shopping all at once. Do the research according to these criteria/questions:

  • What is it that you want to do in your RV?
  • What is your budget?
  • How much of the maintenance can you do yourself?
  • How many times are you going to move?
  • How cold will it get in your destinations for the wintertime?
  • How many people are going to be with you?
  • Do you want to drive your house to the grocery store?
  • Will you be staying places that have access to power and water hookups?

All of these questions will help you find out what type of RV fits you best. You should have done enough research that you have no doubt in your mind that you are about to make a good decision.

One last note about choosing an RV – Bigger is not always better. Many people living in an RV full time will buy the biggest RV they can afford, only to sell it and get a smaller one. It can be scary getting a small RV because of how much you need to get rid of in order to fit, but a smaller RV means you will be driven to adventure.

If you are looking at this article then chances are you are doing this step right. Good for you!

Motorhome or Trailer?

One of the first decisions you will make is selecting either a trailer or an actual motor home. This decision is difficult but simple.

If you are the type that is going to be moving a lot, then a motorhome is probably going to be best. Here are some pros and cons for choosing a motorhome:

Motorhome Pros:

  • Easier to manage – You will be able to pick up and leave a lot faster than someone that has a trailer.
  • Access to things while traveling – When you are taking a road trip, you want to be able to access everything at ease, and your car is also your house!
  • Simpler – You have one thing. Everything is in one place.

Motorhome Cons:

  • Using it for everyday tasks – If you want to go get groceries, you have to pick up your entire house. Moving your house for a milk run is exhausting!
  • Almost a bus – A motorhome is difficult to move around in a big city, and only experienced drivers should try it. If driving a bus sounds scary to you, then a motorhome is oftentimes no different.
  • Nowhere to live in a breakdown – Heaven forbid your motorhome breaks down while on the road. If that happens, you are left without a home or car!

Trailer Pros:

  • Easier to manage in cities – When you have a truck pulling a trailer, you now have the ability to turn corners a heck of a lot easier than a classic motorhome.
  • The potential for size – If you choose to have a truck pulling a trailer as your option, you have the potential to get a much larger home. I never recommend people to get huge trailers, but the option is nice.
  • Easy errands – You now have a car and a home! It is really convenient to be able to go into town without bringing everything with you.
  • Extra storage space – You now have an entire truck bed to store your stuff. Although I think you should stay as minimalist as possible, a truck bed allows you to maybe take some toys along.
  • Value – Some trailers hold their value for years. Things like an Airstream, for example, will sell for almost what you bought them for even years after you bought them.

Trailer Cons:

  • Set-up and take-down – A trailer is not something you can just park and hop in. Generally, you need to unhitch it from your truck and put out the struts. This takes time, so moving can be a pain.
  • You will leave it alone – If you have a car, you might be leaving your trailer alone for several hours. People like to break into trailers because of their usual lack of security, so it is a risk.
  • Hard on your truck – Unless you choose to pull a trailer with a truck designed to pull something 24/7, it can be hard on your engine. Most people choose diesel trucks for exactly this reason.

I recommend taking both on a test drive to see how you do with it. It can be difficult for some people, so test out both to see which one you like more.

There are a lot of guides out there about buying an RV, so I will not dwell too much on this topic. Basically, just choose something that will last and that you will be comfortable in.

RV Living Strategy

Okay, you have made all the preparations. You have an RV. You have downsized to the point that you can fit everything you need in your mobile house. What is the plan now?

These are not the only strategies for living in an RV, but they sure are important. Don’t let your strategy end here! Do research and come up with a plan that fits your desired lifestyle. Every single person is different, and so should be your RV life!

Take it Slow

I get it. You are super pumped to get on the road and see all the sights! You probably have a hit list for all the places that you want to visit in your new living quarters, and you definitely should if you do not.

You are now living full time in your RV. You will get there I promise. Set a standard for yourself on how many places you will visit maximum in a three month period.

It is dangerous to your mental health when you constantly move. Take it easy and stay in the places that you like for several weeks. You will be less stressed and spend less money. Don’t worry about hitting every spot on your list, just take things one day at a time and let your batteries recharge.

Take things slow and spend time enjoying wherever you are. This is the beautiful thing about living in an RV. You are completely free to do whatever you want, and you aren’t limited to only spending 1 week in a place because that is when your flight leaves.

Your ability to really experience each location is completely unique to this lifestyle. You can live like a local! Don’t waste the opportunities you have to learn a new area because you want to see a massive list of spots. You will get there I promise.

The best possible option would be to buy your RV, and slowly start spending more and more time on the road. This way, your transition is really slow, and it will feel more natural. Soon your house wont feel like home anymore!

The problem with doing this for most people is of course the cost. Not many people can afford to pay for both a home and an RV at the same time, and if that is your situation don’t worry too much. You should still chase your dream of living in an RV!

Don’t Listen to the Masses

People are going to tell you that what you are doing is irresponsible. They will tell you that you need to get back to the real world.

I am here to tell you that you can do whatever you want.

People might really get angry at you for trying this, and there are a lot of reasons for that. Times are changing, and with technology, this type of lifestyle is becoming ever easier. You have the ability to travel and work at the same time! Don’t let people with old ideas tell you that your life isn’t the right way to live.

The type of people telling you to get back to the real world have limited views of possible lifestyles. It is not their fault, they were taught that humans must live a certain way to be successful. Just do what makes you happy!

Living in an RV is hard, but so rewarding. Don’t let other peoples unimportant opinion make this lifestyle any harder.

Hold on to Relationships

One of the things people don’t think about is how hard it is going to be to hold on to relationships that are thousands of miles away.

Although difficult, this is so important. If you really want to love living in an RV, you need to understand this concept. One of the pillars of mental health is relationships, and even though you will probably have some people living with you in the RV, you need more than just that relationship to stay mentally stable.

The best thing you can do is establish a circle of friends that are also living in an RV 24/7, and meet up with them often. Find online groups of people doing what you are doing. You will quickly set up a vast network of friends in every city you visit and will be happier because of it.

Keep Your Space Clean

Even though your space is small, it can get cluttered quickly. One of the most important parts of RV living is making sure everything has a place. If it doesn’t have a place then you need to get rid of something.

If your RV has clutter, you will become stressed. Dishes should never be in the sink. You bed should be made after you get up. All of the little things.

As you keep everything clean, you will be able to relax in your limited space, which is really important.

Find Alone Time

You are probably living in close quarters with a loved one. While this is really great most of the time, everybody needs a little bit of time to themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask each other for some space.

The easiest way to make sure this is not awkward is to establish some very clear signals to indicate what you need. Headphones, a book, or whatever you like to do to recharge your batteries are great indicators that you want to be left alone.

Treat Yourself

When you are living in an RV, it might seem that you are constantly on vacation, but this is not the case. You are probably working remotely, and therefore you still need to take some breaks.

Take your vacation days and spend some time touring the awesome places you are in. Don’t get stressed trying to do both at the same time.

RV-Living Essential Items

The list of items you can take with you should be short, but some things you just cant live without. Here are some awesome RV living essentials:

  1. Collapsable Everything – The goal here is to have an entire kitchens worth of stuff in a very confined space Some examples: Folding Toaster – This bad boy lets you cook toast on the stove, and then folds up small enough to fit nicely in the cupboard! Collapsible Measuring cups – Again, space saving where you can.
  2. Magnetic Spice Rack – There is nothing worse than having everything fly off the shelves, so magnetic solutions are great.
  3. Solar panels – Sometimes you are not going to have access to an electric hookup, and it really helps to have a solution that isn’t a generator or starting your engine. If you are the type that wants to go “off the grid” this is an absolute must-have. The only way you are going to stay functioning is with some solar panels. Nobody wants to hear or smell a generator.
  4. A great vacuum – Some people try to live in an RV with a tiny handheld vac, but soon realize how important it is to have something a little more sturdy. You don’t need a full-sized vacuum, but something with a little more oomph than a handheld.
  5. A Dog – Some people will condemn me for recommending this, but a dog can be really happy in an RV, just make sure you get a dog that does well around people. Sometimes a furry companion is exactly what you need to finish the whole set up! I had a dog when I lived in a trailer, and “Wolfie” always brought smiles to everybody around. Just make sure you don’t leave your dog alone inside your RV when you are away!

What to Do if You Aren’t Loving It

Some of you might try this lifestyle and have some trouble adjusting.

Most people are going to have trouble with this adjustment. You will miss things like your bathtub, dishwasher, or consistent surroundings. It’s normal to have trouble at first.

The important thing is to just keep going, you will adjust. You might need to be a little headstrong and just push through it. Find joy in the things that RV living can give you. Go see some places that are common vacation spots.

If you are really stressed, stop moving for a little while. Take a break from moving and just live in a spot that you enjoy. After reading several blogs of people that do this, they end up spending months in places that they would never have guessed. Take it slow!

For some people, they realize that RV living is not for them. Don’t stress if this ends up being you. Try a different way of living. Don’t be afraid to do this, even if it is embarrassing for you.

Admitting defeat can be hard, but your mental health is more important than your pride. You might need to scale down your RV and get a small base of operations. This way, you can still make plenty of trips while still having a standard home. Who knows where your balance is!

Great Resources

Online Groups – There are so many groups of people online that RV full time. Some of my favorites are blogs! These people are very open-minded and will never judge you for wanting to be a full-timer. The key to success is learning from other peoples mistakes. One of my favorites is Health and Alyssa, who are focused on being entrepreneurs as well as full-time RV living.

Family members – Make sure to make plenty of visits to family members on your trips, and make sure that they are there for you on your escapade.

Live. Work. Dream. – This is such a great resource for people that are looking into having a job while on the road. Even though the website isn’t perfect, they have great information.

Xscapers – This is a group that is trying to embrace those that are new to the RV lifestyle. This will teach you all the necessary tips and tricks for living in your RV fulltime.

Related Questions:

How much does living in an RV cost? 1000-2000 dollars depending on how much your RV cost you. Many people use an RV to save money. However, the gas and RV park charges can add up and can almost double that depending on where you stay and how far you drive.

How much gas does an RV use? A normal 30 foot RV can expect to get between 10 and 15 miles per gallon. The average distance driven in an RV is 500 miles a month.

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