And The Best RV For Full-Time Living IS…
By Kelly Beasley
Looking for the best RV for full-time living?
This is wrong.
Absolutely wrong. I feel you, but you're barking up the wrong tree, my friend.
Yes, I'm waving my finger at you (but I was in your shoes a few years back, so this isn't me judging you! It's me judging you with empathy, haha)!
Based on the title of this post, you want to know what the best RV to live in full-time is, and I'm here to inform you that you must change your mindset.
Because there ISN'T any universal 'the best' RV for full-time RV living, there's not even a 'best-for-all' brand (details to come).
Any website touting one particular (or many) RVs in a list of the 'best' for full-time RV living is blowing smoke up your ... well, you get the picture.
Because EVERYONE'S wants and needs for a rig are different, and no matter what type or brand you get, there's always a compromise when it comes to the best campers you can live in.
All people want their own bells and whistles for their full-time house, whether they want a 5th wheel, a travel trailer, or a Class A. So how can there be a one-size-fits-all?
Camp Addict recommends The Dyrt Pro!
Our favorite way to find camping locations.
Try PRO for free today, no strings attached.
Camp Addict recommends The Dyrt Pro!
Our favorite way to find camping locations.
What?? No Unicorn Rig?
Nope, sorry. There isn't one.
That's not to say the almost perfect recreational vehicle doesn't exist for you. It does, but with some compromise.
It will be a great RV for full-time living 'except' (choose one or all of these possible scenarios):
So it's time to change how you think about finding the 'best' RV for full time living to find the right one for YOU.
How Do I Pick An RV To Live In?
This guide will help you determine the essential features for you when it comes time to choose the best camper to live in (for you).
This will be based on what I (after almost six years of full-time experience on the road) believe to be the most important full-time factors (including input from Marshall and full-time friends). No matter what you decide on, plenty of compromises will be made with whatever you get.
You must figure out what's best for your personal needs and camping style. Here you will learn which aspects of your RV lifestyle are the essential features and which amenities to consider.
Sure, figuring it out (and getting it right) is easier said than done, but it's doable.
Factors To Consider For Full-Time RV Living
Here are some of the many things you must consider before even thinking about what kind of RV might suit you for full-time RV living.
Most Important Factors:
I'd say these are some of the most important factors to consider for finding the best RV for full time living:
Now let's talk about how certain types of RVs are or are not good for these factors.
Considerations For Choosing The Best Camper For Full-Time Living
Length of Stays?
To know what RV will be best for your situation, you need to know HOW you will use it.
You should consider these choices before you decide on a recreational vehicle type:
First, you must know HOW you will full-time RV.
There are plenty of ways to be full-time. You could be:
- Stationary not traveling.
- Full time traveling.
- Occasionally traveling.
- Travel 1/2 the year, parked 1/2 the year.
Each style has challenges and benefits, and they are important to consider. You should also think about:
Why Are These Factors Important?
Because what kind of rig is best for you might depend on how you live. For example, if you're going to move every few days, a fifth wheel or a 42 foot motorhome probably isn't so convenient due to the large size.
They are great if you stay in one place for long periods. However, your rig may not fit into certain campsites. (Be aware- most state parks and many national parks have a length limit.) They are big and long and take up even more room with their slide-outs and awnings.
If you're going to stay on public lands a lot, think about your ground clearance (and length). Public land dirt roads aren't level and flat. Therefore, they aren't always friendly towards low axles, long motorhomes, or long back ends that can drag.
Sure, anything can work on public lands. You will find it all 'out there.' But the longest and lowest of rigs won't be able to get to all places without damage or getting stuck.
Even More To Consider In A Livable RV!
Say you want to stay in one spot for extended periods. In that case, almost any variety will suffice.
But if you can't connect to power where you are, you might need solar and a generator to use your air conditioner, microwave, or other appliances.
Then you must decide if it's best to have an on-board generator or a portable RV generator. Portables can be stolen, while an on-board generator in a Class A motorhome, Class C RV, or a fifth wheel cannot.
Travel trailers you can live in rarely come with an on-board generator.
On-board generator access is as easy as the push of a button. Portables must be outside and turned on outside unless it has a remote.
Not as convenient, especially when you are boondocking. Gear can get stolen, no matter if you're in a campground or on public land.
Does it rain a lot? That's not great for a portable. You either need a cover for it, or it needs to be under something. (FYI, putting it under your rig might cause deadly fumes to come inside.) All are problem(s) to consider.
You may not yet know how you want to RV, but the more of an idea you have, your chances of picking the right RV package are much better.
So Many RV Floor Plans
RVs come with a crazy high number of different floor plans. Often, RV choice is made because of the design, the luxury, sleeping capacity, or the layout. Not much else is taken into consideration, especially if it will make for a good RV living space.
Doing this is a horrible way to choose which rig to purchase. There are tons of other factors and features to consider with any floorplans.
That said, floor plans can also make or break your happiness with any unit. Counter space, flow, bedroom location, refrigerator size, dinette comfort, bathroom size, storage area, sink size and depth, living area comfort, lack of windows, and SO much more can make or break your happiness when it comes to livable RVs.
Before you buy an RV to live in, test everything as if you were actually living in it. Does this rig have a full-time RV living interior, or is more suited for just weekend trips? (What to look for when buying a used camper)
RV For Full-Time Living Compatibility Checklist:
One of the biggest complaints is the lack of counter space in the kitchens. It is genuinely annoying not to be able to utilize enough counter space to make meals, etc.
It's frustrating to try to cook, work on the computer, organize paperwork, put groceries away, etc.
Is the table large enough? Are the bathrooms adequate? What about closets? Is there enough storage? Does the vanity have counter space? The list goes on and on.
A little good news? Almost all RV mattresses can be replaced, so don't worry if you don't like them (but often, the size must stay the same).
Will you want to be able to use your RV with the slides in on travel days or while parking overnight at Walmart? You might consider a different RV if access is blocked with slides in.
Your Family Size
Do you have a small family? Or five kids? Or a partner? Because this will also be a big part of what RV makes everyone happy.
The more people, the more room required for living. But not everyone can do that, nor is bigger always easier unless you never move. Still, you need to have enough sleeping capacity to fit everyone comfortably.
I have friends with kids that have a toy hauler travel trailer. They made the 'toy' area a giant playroom. It was a separate section with a door, so parents had 'away' time when they were at play. (Genius)
You may need a camping bunk mattress setup. Not every RV model offers this configuration. Find the ones that offer that layout with bunk beds.
Is there enough dining space and seating for everyone to eat? What about a storage area for toys?
For more insights and helpful tips for full-timing with kids, check out Full-Time Families.
Couples/More Than Two
Almost any setup can work for two people. But if you want 'separate' living areas, you could consider towing a light travel trailer with a van conversion. (Example: Pull a trailer with a Nissan NV converted to a camper.)
This is also tricky as you must watch weight ratings so you aren't overweight towing or overweight with what you can tow due to the added weight of the van conversion.
Then you have the van as a separate living quarter.
That said, I do know of families that RV full-time that live ONLY in a van. Don't ask me how they do it!!!!
Also- do you really need a queen bed? Some RVs come with odd-sized mattresses. Watch out for this. Be aware that they may be shorter or even narrower than a traditional Queen (or King).
Other Things For You To Consider
Your RV holding tank size (black, gray, and freshwater tanks) will also be very important to consider if you plan to dry camp. The more people in the unit, the bigger your camper tanks need to be. This makes your ability to park longer without moving possible.
What size refrigerator does it have? Is it a residential fridge? How is it powered? Can you fit enough food to feed everyone without hitting the store every two or three days?
Will you want the convenience of a washer and dryer? Or are you fine using a laundromat?
So. Many. Things. To. Consider. (And I am glad I don't have to consider how I'd handle kids, lol)
RV Quality: Picking The Best RVs To Live In
This may be the most crucial buying decision you make. No RV is perfect; they can all have (and will) have issues.
Your odds of getting a good product are better if you choose an RV brand known for making quality products.
Me? I lucked out with my used 24 foot Crossroads Slingshot travel trailer with no slideouts. It's a Thor product, yet I have had virtually no issue with it in the over 6 years I've owned it.
So, just because you get a lesser quality RV doesn't mean you WILL have problems.
That said, some brands have build quality than others. You can find a list of those brands in our top RV brands page.
The picks are not a guessing game and are not subjective. They are based on a few factors, including honest user reviews from real owners.
We suggest you do your due diligence and fill yourself with knowledge.
Then you can find the best campers to live in that fit your criteria of facilities and comforts with the least risk, no matter what floorplans and amenities they have.
The best RV to live in year-round is usually one that has a four-season package. That said, my Crossroads Slingshot does not have such a package. Because the pipes are inside the rig and the insulation is adequate, I could easily keep it in below-freezing temps for short time. But if you stay below below-zero for months, get a four-season camper for full-time living.
If your dream includes staying where it will snow/get below freezing for periods, you should:
Benefits Of The Different RV Types
A few more tidbits for you first.
Don't expect great gas mileage from any of these—the lighter, the better. Also, consider diesel vs. gas. Is diesel readily available to trucks/RVs around your area?
You may want to consider: Do you want to tow a car with your motorhome? (Also known as a 'toad.') Do you want a heavy-duty truck with a stiff suspension to be your daily driver? (Fifth wheels usually require this.)
If you REALLY want a toad, you will have two vehicles/engines to maintain if you get a motorhome.
This was important to me and was why I didn't want a motorhome coach. Also, a coach is usually much more expensive than a bumper-pull travel trailer.
Read on to learn about the pros of different types of campers.
- Good for staying in one place for extended periods (great RV for permanent living).
- Most have the feel of a house. Among the most livable RVs.
- Offer a lot of storage space/cargo room.
- Many have an on-board generator.
- Roomy- they can be big and tend to have a lot of slide-outs which make for a really good full-time RV living interior.
- Often need a heavy-duty truck to tow them.
- The largest have very high ceilings/roofs and often feature a large kitchen with a kitchen island.
- Short or long stays- the hitching up is a hassle, but your tow vehicle, when free, can be a more comfy ride if not a super heavy-duty truck.
- A pretty good option for living on public lands (but the shorter, the better for this).
- Bumper pull travel trailers are much cheaper (best value) than motorhomes or fifth wheels.
Motorhomes (Class A RVs, Class B, Class C Motorhome)
- A motorhome is physically easiest to use. (No connecting/disconnecting/unless you have a toad. You may not have to level, depending on what you get.)
- All in one vehicle.
- Easiest to move around and set up.
- Usually has an on-board generator.
- Great for campgrounds but not for extra long stays. The engine must be exercised regularly.
- Gas engine or diesel engine.
- The price may be very high.
- You can get 'out there' almost anywhere.
- Stealthy (kind of) and fits into very small spots.
- Easy to move around.
- Though nimble, living full-time in this might be tough.
- Very small interior space.
- Easiest to stealth camp in.
- Nothing to tow.
- Nimble but tiny.
- So easy to get around in.
Full-Time Factors To Consider: Do You Really Want To Full-Time?
After having lived in MY best RV for full time living for almost six years (starting in May of 2015), I've collected some insights that might give you pause.
Hopefully, you're not basing hitting the road or just living in an RV based on those dreamy #Vanlife Instagram photos and stories. Yeah, those stories are not real life.
Things will break. They will, no doubt about it. It's a home on wheels made of (usually) cheap materials on top of a chassis or a frame bouncing down the road. It's either fix it yourself or go to a service center.
If you don't have the means to do either, this life may not be best for you.
If you expect just because you bought a brand-new RV, you won't have any issues, and you certainly have not done enough research on life yet.
All RVs end up with issues. Even (and sometimes especially) brand new ones.
Campground life is not 'vacation' life. It's not that nice, either. People are constantly driving or walking RIGHT by your space. (OR playing right outside your living space.)
There's leafblower noise. Lawnmower noise. Dogs barking. People fixing or building stuff noise. Traffic noise. Engine smells. And there are lots of rules.
You're often crammed into your space, neighbors in your face. Privacy doesn't exist unless you hide inside your RV (But keep your voice down so your neighbors don't hear you).
Reservations are a pain to make. You get to smell your neighbor's cigarette smoke. And many campgrounds ARE NOT cheap.
I am NOT lonely on the road. But I live among a specific demographic of people- very active and fun RVers.
We are not retired, we aren't seniors (some of my friends are), we are very social, and we don't sit around all day (unless we are working). I got lucky with my friends. You may not make friends on the road.
In that case, unless you are very content to feel alone all the time, you may not like the lifestyle.
Often, people get the notion that living in an RV will be a much cheaper way to live. It CAN be, but it can also be comparable to living in an apartment. Campgrounds can be as costly as rent or a low mortgage.
Then again, there are locations where you can live for VERY little per month. But those types of campgrounds are often undesirable. So once again, what are you willing to live with?
You can boondock full-time and live for free as I do, but you must be either a remote worker or independently wealthy to do so.
Seeing a doctor is one thing if you are parking permanently. It's another thing if you plan to move often from state to state.
Freedom is great, but getting your medication and getting appointments to see new doctors can be a HUGE hassle and very expensive if out of network.
If your insurance doesn't cover you seeing doctors out of state, you could be in a world of hurt when it comes to medical bills. This is VERY important to research BEFORE you become travelers if that's your plan.
Choosing The Best RV To Live-In During Harsh Winters
For cold winters, it would behoove you to get an RV made for 'four seasons.'
These may be better insulated, may have a heated basement, and should have the water pipes protected underneath. (This does NOT guarantee that they won't freeze in freezing temps. Even 'four-season' RVs aren't meant to endure the stress of long and hard cold spells.)
Two of the best brands for cold winters:
That said, my Crossroads Slingshot travel trailer does GREAT in the cold. Why? Because the pipes are all inside my trailer- I can see them inside and know exactly where they are.
Therefore, I just need to keep the interior above freezing to keep them from freezing.
I help this by opening cabinets and the bathroom door so that the warmth can get to where the pipes are. So just because your RV isn't a 'four seasons' RV doesn't mean it can't survive a winter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Legal To Live In An RV Full Time?
Living in an RV is legal; there are no laws against that. But there are legit laws and ordinances in many areas disallowing anyone to live on a property in an RV full-time. If you're traveling around in campgrounds full-time, sure, you can live in an RV for the duration (though many campgrounds only allow a certain length for your stay).
Is Full-Time RV Living Worth It?
This is another question only you can answer. You might find the best RV for fulltime living, but then decide the lifestyle is not up your alley. If the lifestyle calls you, do your homework, discover the ins and outs, and get out and do it. That's the only way to determine if you like it or not, and hence if it's 'worth' it.
Can You Live Full-Time In A Class B RV?
Yes, you can surely live full-time in a Class B RV. Though small, plenty of people have learned that they can live with far less and in a smaller space than they ever thought, including quite a few that we personally know.
Can I Afford To Live In An RV Full Time?
Here is another question only you can answer. Expect your normal bills to remain the same or almost the same, such as:
- Health insurance
- Vehicle insurance
- Retirement savings
- Vehicle maintenance and repair
- Etc... you get the picture
What changes are you either losing a mortgage or rent but then having campground fees unless you exclusively boondock (stay on public lands for free). Then you have other added bills such as more in gas, and you may have a new vehicle payment, vehicle insurance, roadside assistance, propane, etc.
So the answer to the question, "Is full-time RV living cheaper?" depends on your income, fixed expenses, and how you choose to live the lifestyle.
Many factors go into deciding what is the best travel trailer or coach or whatnot for full-time living. There is NO one best recreational vehicle brand in existence. Don't let any other website jerk you around trying to tell you there is ONE best travel trailer for full-time living (or motorhome).
Figure out as best as possible what living full-time looks like for you, and then figure out what rig will best fit your new lifestyle and adventure.
You might sit in one place permanently. Or, you might take road trips. You may want to make a weekend trip here and there. Every way you could do this life will determine the elements that will make your choice the best for you as a beginner.
Do lots of research. Heck, do all the research. You might end up with an Airstream or a C class motorhome. It all depends on your budget, what size holding tanks you need, if you want to road trip or sit still, what kind of campsite you will primarily be at, and SO much more.
The above is my advice to you. If you have a question, feel free to mention it in the comments below. I answer all RELEVANT, logical, well-written comments posted here.
Good luck finding the best RV for long-term living for YOU!
Author: Kelly Beasley
As a seasoned and passionate RVing expert, I have dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 5.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road. Join me on this journey and let's make some unforgettable memories.