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Full-Time RV Living: An Inside Look at What It's Really Like

I've lived full-time in various RVs over the years and have loved every minute of "living the life." Learn if doing the same is for you.

Find out what really happens when people decide to sell everything and move into a recreational vehicle.

Find out what really happens when people decide to sell everything and move into a recreational vehicle.

There are increasing numbers of people who are choosing to sell their homes and belongings so that they can start living permanently in a Recreational Vehicle. Their reasons can be everything from simply wanting an easier way of life to feeling that making this kind of move is the only way they will be able to afford to keep a roof over their heads.

There has been a great deal of hype about RV living for the last several years, leading some to think that making the change is good just because so many are doing it. However, while it can be good for some, it does not work well for others.

For some people, year round RV living can be the best decision they ever made.  For others, not so much.

For some people, year round RV living can be the best decision they ever made. For others, not so much.

What People Assume About the RV Lifestyle

People who decide that they want to pursue this lifestyle assume that it will mean

  • having less work to do,
  • finding new and different social situations,
  • having more free time,
  • saving more money and
  • enjoying more travel opportunities than they did in the past.

Whether these assumptions turn out to be true depends a great deal on people's individual attitudes and situations. However, if they have never lived or traveled in a motorhome, trailer or camper, they are only seeing one side of the picture.

As with all things, nothing is ever what it seems. For example, people don't think about the fact that they will be living in very small areas, sharing one relatively small bathroom, and dealing with (very) reduced storage space.

Thus, before making such a big life change, people really should try to find out all they can so that they don't regret their decision.

Will You Have Less Work?

It's important to understand that although walking away from home ownership means no longer having lawns to water and mow, large areas to clean, walls to paint or garages to organize, there will be other responsibilities that may not be a great deal of fun, either. Here are just a few examples:

  • cleaning and sealing your RV roof every year,
  • dumping your tanks every day,
  • washing and waxing your coach twice each year (or more) and
  • constantly cleaning the dirt that gets tracked in daily.

Just as with houses, recreational vehicles need repairs and upkeep. It may be different than what people knew before, but it is still work, and it still needs to be done.

Year Round RV Living opens up all sorts of new opportunities for socializing.

Year Round RV Living opens up all sorts of new opportunities for socializing.

Will You Have a Better Social Life?

Many RV parks host regular social events such as

  • Monday morning coffees,
  • ice cream socials,
  • dinners,
  • live entertainment,
  • group pool exercises
  • and dances.
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However, just because campground owners offer them, it doesn't mean that the people who go always enjoy them. People who live in RV parks tend to form cliques. If you are not in one of them, attending socials can be uncomfortable and awkward.

While it is true that living in an RV park gives you more of a chance to meet new people, many are travelers who come and go. This creates temporary relationships that are hard to retain. Furthermore, not all parks are socially oriented. Therefore, it will be up to you to get to know new people and make friends.

Whether you do well socially is not based on living in an RV park. It is based on your personality and how well you get along with people. If you are introverted, shy or difficult, you could be mighty lonely living in a campground (or anyplace else, for that matter).

RV living gives you more time to enjoy the little things in life.

RV living gives you more time to enjoy the little things in life.

Will You Have More Free Time?

The truth is that most people who live in RVs do have more free time simply because their living area is small. A couple can thoroughly clean an average-sized travel unit in less than an hour. Furthermore, people can hire help to do the heavy jobs, such as detailing their coaches.

However, many who live this way work for part or all of each day. When this is the case, the equation changes and free time gets cut significantly. Whether you live in a Recreational Vehicle, house or condo, things cost money. It has to come from somewhere, and usually this means getting a job.

The good news is that those who work can come home at the end of the day knowing that they can just sit back and relax because there will be less to do than in a house. That is a big benefit for full-timers, especially as they get older.

Will You Pay Less to Live?

The cost of living will depend solely on one's individual circumstances and decision-making ability.

  • Those who plan well and buy carefully will find that they will have more money available than they did in the past.
  • Those who spend too much to buy a coach, have a ton of debts and are spendthrifts won't save a dime.

Far too many assume that a travel unit is the answer to all of their financial woes, but they should remember that it is nothing more than a form of housing that may or may not cost them as much as they were paying before.

Recently there has been a movement among young people who want to break free from the drudgery of working, to buy a cheap RV and work as they go to see the country and live the good life.

It's a bad decision because most of those kids won't be able to survive doing temporary or part-time minimum-wage work while living in substandard RVs. They have not learned that there is no magic bullet. It's a good lesson for older adults as well.

Living in a Recreational Vehicle can save you money, but you have to use some common sense in order to make that happen!

Will You Travel More?

Full-timers who enjoy traveling will find that they can use their home on wheels for this purpose and gain many benefits from doing so.

  • If you want to go, you do not have to pack anything. You simply detach your unit from its utilities, clear the counters and start driving.
  • If you are clever and make the right choices, your vacations will cost far less than they did when you were staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. In fact, the RV industry recently reported that it still is less expensive to travel by RV than any other way, and this includes the cost of the coach!
  • No matter where you go, you will be home and will not have to worry about what you have left behind, because you will have everything with you!

However, this can only happen if there is enough money available to fund vacations.

Prices have risen substantially in the past few years. A 4-month cross country vacation my husband and I could take just a few years ago for around $2,000 now costs twice that much, even though we use cost-cutting methods to lower our expenses.

So even though you pay less than you would to stay in hotels and dine in restaurants, you still pay plenty.

RV Living Does Not Work Out for Everbody

As you can see from what I have written here, the real truth about full-time RV living is that, for some people, it simply is not going to work out. For others, yes, it does mostly live up to the hype, but that is because their personalities, finances and decision-making abilities made it happen.

The choice is yours. Make the right one!

Questions & Answers

Question: How does the mail work if you are living on the road?

Answer: This article: will give you all the details. As you will see after reading it, dealing with mail while traveling depends on many situations and can be handled in a number of ways. It's not hard to arrange, but you do have to plan for it.

Question: How long have you been living in an RV and at what age did you start?

Answer: My husband and I lived in a fifth wheeler for three years when we were in our mid forties. Loved every minute of it.

© 2012 Sondra Rochelle

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