You are probably wondering, since you clicked on this article, what it is like to live in an RV full-time as your only residence.
You're trying to find out if it's right for you.
This article should help you.
But- I hate to tell you this, but I can't answer that question for you.
You're probably smart enough to know that you have to do your research and then figure it out for yourself.
However, I CAN try to help you by letting you in on what my experience has been and what I have seen or heard happen to other full-time RVers on the road.
Personally, I think it’s awesome!
It’s challenging. It’s fun. It makes life a little juicier.
My 2-year nomadiversary was a few days ago.
Of course, full-time RV life is not without its issues.
There's still the mundane tasks of everyday 'normal' life.
There’s no escaping certain chores, no matter how you choose to live.
There are also going to be new challenges to be had.
Let’s take a look at some of the challenges that might dissuade you from living as a full-time RVer.
It's Not All Sunsets and Hikes
'Life' doesn't stop because you live full-time in an RV.
You're still going to have to do stuff you don't want to do.
Of course, you still have to do chores like run errands, pay bills, make dinner, and clean 'house'.
You know, everyday life stuff.
RV life CAN make doing these chores a little more exciting and a little harder all at the same time.
In my opinion, it's mostly more exciting.
However, my idea of exciting may NOT be your idea of exciting.
Let me explain a few of the ways it's more exciting IMHO that you may agree with.
No More Boring Every Day Same Old Routines-If You Stay On The Move
I live in my RV full-time AND I only boondock.
When you boondock on public lands, there is always a time limit for how long you can stay.
Usually, it's somewhere around 2 weeks. Therefore, I move to a new area that often, unless circumstances allow for staying longer.
It works for me because I love keeping my scenery fresh.
Also, doing errands is more exciting because I'm not going to the same old grocery store, seeing the same old people, the same gas station, the same route to get there every day, etc.
That, for me, is a big part of what keeps me happier living this way than when I lived in the same neighborhood for years at a time.
It might not be the same for you.
You may find it a pain in the butt to constantly have to find new gas stations, water supplies, dump stations, and grocery stores every few weeks.
You should be aware of your own comfort level in this regard before you decide how you want to live.
Should I Move Regularly Or Stay Put For Extended Periods?
Before I lived in an RV, things always felt fresh and new when I moved from one place to another.
Now I get to do it WAY more often than I ever have.
I find that it invigorates my spirit.
Your experience may not be the same.
Change might make you anxious.
In that case, you may prefer to full-time RV but to stay mostly stationary in a park or the like.
You might crave the familiarity of knowing where the nearest gas station is, or who your neighbors are.
If that's the case you may choose to not move very often.
The awesome part of it is that you have that option when your home is on wheels.
Deciding on whether to move a lot, to boondock or to stay in campgrounds depends on your comfort levels we just talked about.
Honestly, you may not know what you desire until you get out there and try it.
Be aware that campground life may be 'easier' if you have full 'utilities' as in sewer, water, and electricity.
However, it will cost you $$ for those things.
You will also have to hear and deal with neighbors, barking dogs, cramped parking spaces, and more.
You will also be missing out on the greatest part of living on wheels. (Seeing the country.)
On the other hand, if you choose to boondock and live rent-free, you will have a lot to consider (and more work to do) to be able to have the freedom to roam.
How will you earn money?
How will you choose where to go?
Will you need good cell reception for the internet?
How will you find water and sewer dumps?
It's a little more like caveman living.
You will have to 'hunt' for these things!
(Full disclosure- I have done it on my own, but now my traveling partner does most of the work of finding these things!)
The good news is boondocking is almost always free, you get way better views than in a campground, and you have much more privacy and peace and quiet.
This may be a major factor in your decision.
It can make or break living the lifestyle for some.
Think about if you are the type of person who likes these types of challenges of if you prefer a more 'luxe' lifestyle.
If you're 'luxe', you may be a campground/stick in one spot kind of person.
Also, keep in mind that the more expensive campgrounds are going to be the nicer ones.
If you want 'luxe', you will be paying a very high price for it.
The idea of boondocking on public land is scary sounding to most people at first, but it's safer than living in a campground.
Criminals don't drive for miles to see if they can find a needle in a haystack RV to steal from or to do harm to. It's way too much work.
For example, in a campground, no way am I leaving my solar panels out if I leave.
Public land where we are pretty isolated? Sure!
The people out on public land are usually there to camp and have fun.
Still, the idea usually takes a little getting used to.
What Don't I Miss About Living In A Sticks And Bricks?
I'm not exactly sure what you will miss, but I can tell you what I don't miss and maybe you will relate.
Things I Don't Miss About Living Stationary
- My nasty neighbors. (Yes, I had some)
- The same old same old scene when driving in and out.
- The homeowners association.
- How much it cost to cool and heat.
- The 1,060 square feet, most of which I didn't use or only walked through to get where I needed to go.
- My neighbors making noise.
- Neighborhood dogs barking.
- How routine and mundane life could get by being stationary for so long.
- How long it took to clean the house.
- I don't miss ANY of the stuff I got rid of.
Since RVs are smaller than almost all houses, most things are easier to do in an RV.
There is less that can go wrong.
If it does go wrong, it is typically going to cost less than to fix in a house!
I don't have to focus the majority of my time 'hobbying' on housework or gardening anymore.
I have no yard to maintain now.
I did enjoy manicuring my yard in Florida for years and years.
More recently, it became more of a chore than fun.
(Plus the dang mosquitos, biting ants, stinging wasps, heat, and humidity, etc, finally got to me.)
No more yard work for me!!
Now, my 'backyard' view changes when I want it to.
Currently, my backyard is the Grand Teton National Park.
Why live in an RV full-time?
If this photo doesn't jolt you into wanting to have the adventure, beauty, and photo ops that a house on wheels can provide you, I don't know what will.
What Do I Miss About Living In A Sticks And Bricks?
Hmmmm. It took me a while to come up with any personal examples for you, but here the ones I managed to conjure up:
- I miss springtime yard work. (ONLY the springtime)
- I miss some of the people I left behind. But, I am on wheels, right? I can go and visit them whenever it works for me.
- Ok, maybe I miss long hot showers as well. But really, I am very happy with my Oxygenics shower head. I can't just sit and let the water stay on during the whole shower, but I have adapt
So, other than those things (and I struggled to find those things to put on this list), there is nothing else.
Personally, I love this lifestyle. You may miss more, you may miss less.
Just try to really touch base with what you really value in life.
The things I thought I valued changed dramatically when I started this life.
There were things I had dragged around for DECADES from house to house but never used.
They are gone now, and I don't miss them.
What Might Keep Me From Full-Time RVing?
Well, I am not you.
I can't speak for all situations, but I have had friends on the road who have stopped traveling for various reasons.
I will share some of them with you here.
I've also thought up reasons one may not be able do it all by myself.
You may find that you relate to some of these.
Not that I want you to reconsider, I think full-time RVing is great!
But you might not have thought of some of these things.
I know families who are perfectly happy on the road and who intend to continue living this way.
However, I know a few families who have gotten 'off the road' in the two years I have been living this way.
One family had very young kids (3).
They were being homeschooled.
They were seeing the country and the inside of their classroom had views that could kill.
After a few years, the kids stopped liking the adventure and newness of the lifestyle and longed for friends as well as rooms of their own. They quit the road and bought a house.
Another family had a son reaching high school age and the kid decided he wanted to have a 'normal' high-school experience, so they are going to live in a regular house until he graduates.
These are valid reasons... everyone wants their kids to be happy.
On the other hand, I know another family with two boys who have been on the road for 4 years and going strong.
They love it and aren't looking back.
Lots of families live happily in RVs full-time.
Sure, boondocking on the road, especially solo, can be hard.
Even the biggest introvert may find it difficult to maintain a social life.
If you're not in campgrounds, you generally aren't around people who are wanting to interact with the others boondocking around them.
There's nothing 'mean' about this, it's just that most people who are boondocking are usually doing it for the serenity and the peace and quiet.
If you want a lot of interaction, it's best to stay in campgrounds or to find a caravan partner.
I know a young couple who tried full-timing for about a year(?)- and they were fighting loneliness.
Finally, it became too much for them and they decided to stop.
They live in Utah now, in a regular house.
As for myself, I am solo, but I met Marshall (Camp Addict Co-Founder) and we were both solo, so we started caravanning and it has worked out very well.
We don't annoy each other.
Enough so that we even started a company together!
I don't know if I could do this without a caravanning partner.
At least not for the duration.
Think about that before you decide how you want to live in your RV.
Using Instagram To Find New Friends
On a side note, I have met more people on the road than I had newly met living in my old neighborhood MANY times over using Instagram.
This app can really help you find your community.
Full-time RVing is like a big club, really.
Everyone instantly has something in common and most of the people doing it are very nice, down to earth people.
We had a ball both times.
Instagram can be a big help in finding your tribe.
Start following people who live the same way you do and use relevant hashtags for your photos so people can find you as well.
Some hashtag examples are: #VanLife #FullTimeRV #Nomadic #Rver #TravelTrailerlife #FifthWheelLife #Escapees... you can also use travel hashtags to get followers and to find people.
Especially local tags.
If you are in Yellowstone, hashtag your photos with #yellowstone.
Look for others who are using the same hashtag.
They should be close by and may happily want to meet up.
Well, here's a big one.
Unless you are retired with a steady income, you may need to still work.
Maybe you've have had the same job for years, and you're waiting to get your pension, etc, so you don't think you can leave.
I had a job with pretty good benefits and good pay.
That kept me there for TWELVE years.
Talk about stagnant!
I thought I pretty much couldn't live without that pay and those benefits.
Turns out I could.
Well, thanks to buying my home at a low in the market, I can ALMOST live off of the rental income from it.
That helped me decide to rent it and get an RV to live in.
When I launched, I also had an online side job doing customer support.
A year in or so, I lost that job, got another online job through FlexJobs.com, then quit it to build websites with my new RVing full-time friend, Marshall.
So, did I plan or know that this would all happen after I quit my 12-year job?
But I am a big believer in making things work.
And they have. There are also jobs you can get while on the road.
You could also opt to live and work in the same town if you don't plan on moving around.
If you already have an online job, as long as you have connectivity you are set!
So things are do-able if you want it to work.
If you can't fathom leaving your cushy job and big house and benefits, well, bummer.
You're missing out on a lot of experience and adventure!
You almost always can do it if you REALLY want to make it happen.
You might have to learn a new skill set.
This continues to be a challenging part of full-time RVing.
There aren't many plans left that allow you to get care in all 50 states.
Nationwide insurance networks are disappearing and don't seem to be coming back.
If you stay in your home state and don't intend to leave or to leave for long periods of time, then it's a non-issue.
If you DO intend to travel full-time then you may have some issues.
If you need to get regular medications from the pharmacy, but need to visit your doctor every few months or so for checkups for that medication, finding a new doctor in a new location to do so can be a challenge.
Options for healthcare include going to urgent care clinics, using medical sharing programs, getting a nationwide PPO, going to a different country (LOL!) or concierge physician networks.
If you can't make it work and your health is not good, it may not be in your cards.
The Need For Familiarity
This can be frustrating if you have certain special needs or just like to know where to find basic necessities.
If you need to find gluten-free restaurants or access to certain goods that aren't available in every town, or even if you have something shipped to you on a monthly basis and have to change the address every single time, those things will be a pain.
You will have to find new hairdressers for every hair cut if you want to keep moving, a new dentist, etc.
All of this is doable. It just takes more work when you are constantly moving.
If you are an 'agenda man' like my dad is, then this lifestyle wouldn't work for you unless you stay put forever in an RV park. But then, why live on wheels?
The weather is something that you will have to chase, ESPECIALLY if you are planning on boondocking, or going without full hook-ups.
RVs are not made like houses.
There is very little and/or thin insulation in most of them.
Unless you have a generator (or solar) capable of running your air conditioner, you may need to stay where it's comfortable, especially if you have pets.
On the flip side is cold and snow.
Frozen pipes aren't uncommon in areas that dip below freezing. In addition to that, driving an RV on snowy and icy roads is less than desirable.
Even 'four-season' rigs tend to need additional skirting and other preparations in extreme conditions.
If you want to live somewhere like Montana year-round in your RV, be sure to make special modifications for the winter.
If you are not willing to do these things to stay comfortable, you may want to reconsider full-time RVing.
Otherwise, life is going to get VERY uncomfortable!
Finding A Life Balance
If you work online, it can be a struggle to make yourself do the work you need to get done.
With beautiful views all around and the trails beckoning you, the temptation to simply enjoy your surroundings can get the best of you.
You will need to be on the ball about splitting up your work time with your playtime.
However, you will definitely (if you boondock) have some of the best work views out of anyone you know!
If you know you cannot work on a schedule on your own outside of an office, we are so sorry.
You should reconsider this lifestyle.
You Don't Have To Do It Forever
I am always a little disappointed when I hear that some friends got 'off the road'.
It's almost like a betrayal.
It's akin to your best buddy suddenly changing their favorite sports team that you two had in common.
In one case of people I had met on the road, they just got 'off' about 6 months ago.
I learned (because I had surely known but then forgotten) that they never planned to full-time forever.
It was just a chapter in their life.
Some people go full-time 'part-time' out of need (not enough funds to go forever).
Some just do it as an experiment or a chapter in their lives.
Whatever you choose to do is fine.
Just do what you want to do.
I hope you get out of it what you want.
Better to do it and have it as a memory, than to choose not to do it out of fear.
People rarely regret what do, they usually regret what they didn't do.
Now get out there and start planning if you think the life is right for you!
Check out full-timer blogs... read up on Camp Addict... talk to people who are already doing it.
You can't plan every detail before you just DO it.
Just try it and everything will eventually fall into place!
Wait, you're still wondering what full-time RVing is like?
You know what?
You will never really know your journey until you try it for yourself. A lot of the time it doesn't end up looking like you had imagined in your mind.
I didn't know I would end up only boondocking. Figured I would be in campgrounds at least some of the time.
Yes, you're going to make mistakes. Don't worry about it. You will live and learn from it. You can always rent an RV first if you're not sure.
It's expensive but it's way cheaper than selling everything, including your house, only to find you hate the small space or whatnot.
Just stop with the analysis paralysis (if that's what you are doing) and start making steps if this looks like the right life for you.
Comment below if you have questions or a different take on this subject from your own experience.
Camp on, Addicts!
Author: Kelly Beasley
Kelly Beasley is co-founder of Camp Addict and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since May 2015, Kelly's playful writing style helps make learning about the sometimes dull subject of RV products a bit more interesting.