I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
It’s the dream of thousands of people these days to live year round in an RV and many of the reasons for wanting to do so are definitely attractive.
However, a good number of those who decide to “give it a go” quickly discover that while full-timing does have many benefits, for some the caveats they didn’t previously consider can be more than they bargained for. The problem, of course, is that people can’t know these things unless they have already traveled in recreational vehicles for long periods of time.
So, it might be a good idea for you, the reader, to pay attention to what I’m going to tell you now because doing so could save you a world of grief later!
#1 Using in Different Types of Water
We all tend to take water for granted, but living in an RV does not always provide the little luxuries related to water we are used to having. For example, if you are used to bathing in “hard” water, you could be miserable living in an RV park that uses water softeners because you will never step out of your shower feeling as though you removed all of the soap from your body.
Worse yet, those who have sensitive skin (like me) find that the chemicals from even the mildest of soaps can lead to a miserable case of rashes and hives that cannot be cured unless they move to another that has the type of water they can tolerate.
#2 Inconsistent Water Pressure
Some campgrounds have such strong water pressure that it can burst hoses, while others have such meager streams that taking a shower never results in that refreshing, all-clean feeling you may be used to.
A regulator like the one we use (the one I show below) is the best way to deal with avoiding the water pressure problems, but only if you use it properly.
- If you use one when it isn’t necessary, showers will become inefficient “trickles”.
- If you don’t use one when you should, you could flood your coach.
If you are parked in just one spot, you only have to set your regulator up once, but if you're on the road, you should use it as necessary every time you set up camp.
There are other types available, but this one is simple, inexpensive, and gets the job done for us.
#3 Chemicals in Water
Few RV owners realize that water quality varies from place to place and thus can cause problems for some full-timers. For example, I found one year when visiting Yellowstone that the water completely took the curl out of my hair and made me look just awful! Chemicals can also affect taste, so your coffee and other water-based drinks simply don’t taste the same. Thus, when people decide to move to a different location to set up a home base, if they don’t test the water, they could find themselves being forced to deal with uncomfortable daily living issues.
#4 RV Leaks
Sooner or later, all recreational vehicles leak. If not found early, they cause a horrid, mildew type smell and make your coach feel “damp”. They can be easy to fix, but hard to find, and when they occur suddenly, as when there is a heavy rain storm, they can wreak all sorts of havoc within your unit.
How to Protect Your RV From Water Damage tells more about this issue, but the bottom line here is that leaks can make living in an RV a miserable experience and cause owners a great deal of work.
#5 Limited Living Space
As beautiful as recreational vehicles are, even with numerous slide rooms, they simply cannot compare space-wise to the living area people have when they reside in homes, apartments and condominiums.
When you move into a recreational vehicle, you generally lose two thirds or more of the living area in which you normally navigate. If you live in a 1500 square foot condo, for example, you likely will be losing 1000 or more square feet when you transfer to an RV. Only the cleverest and most creative people can comfortably deal with living in a confined space and understand the sacrifices that are involved in doing so.
Until you actually do it on a long term basis, you can’t know what it will be like, but for many, trying to live a normal life in an overly small area can be extremely uncomfortable. The attached video will give you an idea about some of the sacrifices you will have to make in order to live a life on wheels.
#6 Limited Storage
All recreational vehicles are constructed such that they use every available inch for storage. However, even with that, full-timers soon realize that what they have, for the most part, is not enough.
Some people assume that they can buy sheds and place them next to their coaches, while others think that the way to resolve this problem is to rent a mini garage in a storage facility. The problem is that
- many RV parks don’t allow sheds,
- keeping items in facilities is expensive,
- accessing them is inconvenient, and
- possessions that are stored for too long a time can deteriorate.
On the other hand, full-timers who overload their coaches with their belongings can create claustrophobic surroundings for themselves and create problems that are both serious and expensive, such as floor joists giving out due to excess weight. All of these issues lead to personal discomfort issues that can ruin the year round RV living experience.
#7 Difficulties Connecting to Internet and Phone
Although many camping facilities offer free WIFI it is not safe to use these services for private business because they are on a public network.
Furthermore, most of the ones I’ve seen rarely work well.
This makes staying connected frustrating, even if you pay for a “hot spot” you can use, because not all of them work in every situation. The same is true for cell phone service.
You can’t always count on it.
#8 Problems With Mail
When you live in an RV Park your mail generally is delivered in bulk to the office where the staffers sort and place it into little boxes for you. Sometimes those boxes are nothing more than open spaces that allow anybody to access your mail, which can be a real problem if you have important papers or checks sent to you. Since most parks will not hold or forward mail people turn to mail forwarding services in order to protect their privacy and make receiving mail convenient. How to Access Your Snail Mail When Traveling explains more about this topic.
The problem with using a mail forwarding service is that most of them require you to use PO Box numbers instead of standard addresses, which means that Amazon and other retailers will not mail items to you. Thus, you give up the ability to access some great bargains!
#9 Noise, Pets, and Neighbor's Bad Habits
Living in close proximity to other people means living with some of their habits.For example:
- if your unit is parked beside one owned by a smoker, you’ll find yourself breathing their cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke or
- if you end up living next to people who have dogs, you can expect to be bothered by barking or finding undesirable “presents” on your campsite.
RV walls are quite thin and do not protect you in the same way as those of houses.
The Bottom Line
Things rarely are what they appear to be. This is why every person who thinks he wants to become a full time RVer needs to do plenty of research about the things I’ve mentioned here as well as others. You want be happy living in your recreational vehicle, but the only way to achieve this goal is to make sure that you do everything possible to avoid discomfort and also be realistic about what to expect.
Full time RVing is not for everybody, but for people who research and plan well and who also have the right mind set, it can be heaven!
Questions & Answers
Question: Are you an RV person?
Answer: Yes. I"ve been RVing for more than 50 years.
© 2017 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on March 29, 2017:
Janda Raker: One thing is certain: When you are free of the chains that bind you, you will be happier. Happy people tend to attract friends. It's pretty simple, really!
Janda Raker from Amarillo, Texas on March 29, 2017:
I haven't been on the forums much for a few days, just really busy. But I'm thinking the happiest people seem not to be those with many possessions but those with many friends. So let's get rid of more stuff! And when we are free to travel, we can make more friends!
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on March 19, 2017:
Janda Raker: I think we're all guilty of fantasizing about our possessions and our relationships. It pays to be realistic because doing so saves a lot of heartache.
Janda Raker from Amarillo, Texas on March 19, 2017:
Thanks, TimeTraveler2, I'll check out the article you mentioned. You're right about "things become chains." And you're also right about the kids! Those are both important points well-made, even before I read your article!
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on March 19, 2017:
Janda Raker: You might also want to read the article I wrote about how to become a full timer as there's some additional info there that will help you to sort things out. It is obvious to me that the larger your living area, the more things you accrue and the more you think you need them...but the truth is that you really do not need nearly as much as you think you do. After awhile, things become chains, and while many people hang on to them because they want their kids to have them eventually, the truth is that most kids could care less and rarely do want them because they are outdated, take up space, etc. Glad this article helped you.
Janda Raker from Amarillo, Texas on March 18, 2017:
Thanks for posting this, TimeTraveler2. We decided several years ago that we didn't want to go full-timing, partly because we didn't want to give up our "stuff." So we travel part of the year in our pickup camper, and we stay at home part of the year. But this article was helpful to me as I consider the possibility of moving from home to a retirement community. Do we really need ALL this STUFF? You presented logical ways to deal with it! :-)