Should You Live in an RV Full-Time?

Updated on March 13, 2020
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I have lived in my travel-trailer for nearly four years. It's cheaper for us, it's fun and it's easy to pack up and move.

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Our Situation

My husband was having a difficult time finding work that wasn't Seasonal in Utah and the surrounding states. We decided to purchase a travel trailer to live in so we were able to travel anywhere the work was, no matter the length of time. From 2011 until 2019, we moved around a lot. We didn't actually have any intention of living in it full-time, and definitely not for nearly four years.

We received a call for a job in Washington and decided to take it. It turns out the location was in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Washington. The job was seasonal to begin with, and there was a manufactured home available for us to rent on the job site for the U.S. Government.

Upon arriving with our travel trailer that we had filled with various things to live in a house, we walked into the home we were supposed to live in. The house was majorly (and still is) infested with mice. It wasn't safe to live in at all. We stayed that night in the parking lot in our travel trailer. Hantavirus is no joke!

That was the beginning of living in our RV.

On the road again...

The day after the seasonal job closed in 2017, we took a detour and decided to drive down the Oregon coast on our way back to Utah. Another perk of RV living, but you don't need to live in one full-time to do that.
The day after the seasonal job closed in 2017, we took a detour and decided to drive down the Oregon coast on our way back to Utah. Another perk of RV living, but you don't need to live in one full-time to do that. | Source

We Made it Work

The new seasonal job was at a campground and reservoir. We made a deal to live in the camp host site in exchange for doing camp host duties on top of regular job duties. Fast forward 3 years later of traveling between Washington and Utah and the job is permanent.

We ended up leaving the campground and moved to an RV park 9 miles away. We've been at the RV park since October of 2019 and it's been really nice. We couldn't stay in the campground during the Winter because we had to shut the water off.

RV Add-ons to Make Life Easier

Camco Hot Water Hybrid Heat Kit - Easily Converts Any 6-Gallon RV LP Gas Water Heater to 120V Electricity to Conserve Propane (11673)
Camco Hot Water Hybrid Heat Kit - Easily Converts Any 6-Gallon RV LP Gas Water Heater to 120V Electricity to Conserve Propane (11673)
The Camco Hot Water Hybrid Heat Kit. Do you like all 6 gallons of your water heater in your RV to be hot and not have the pilot light blow out every time the wind pops up only to find out your shower is cold? Then you need to convert it to electric. If you live at an RV Park and electricity is included, why not? That was the best thing we could have done by far. We don't have to purchase propane nearly as often. Maybe once every couple of months instead of once a month or more often. It's easy as pie to install. We did it, so that means you can. The instructions are pretty helpful.
 

Cost of Living

If you purchase a one to two year old RV, you could save $30,000-$40,000. You still need to pay monthly insurance on it as well, which actually isn't bad.

Let's say that you purchased your Fifth Wheel. Let's also say that you don't own a truck to pull it. Guess what you're going to need? A diesel truck with the appropriate axle/dually tires (not always necessary, depending). Guess what that's going to cost per month if you don't want a super old truck? Probably another $300-$500 payment.

In this situation, let's say you get the truck and fifth wheel (brand new) and your total monthly payments are $900-$1200 (insurance, remember?). Now, where in the world are you going to park it? Is this less expensive than the cost of owning and maintaining your home so far?

Our RV Park charges $450 a month. It includes 7 showers, a laundromat, the RV site, sewer, water, power, wireless internet, cable TV and trash. They also ran background checks on everyone here, including us.

What do we pay for our 2009 Travel Trailer? $105.18/month. We purchased our RV for $8400 from Camping World in Kaysville, Utah. We do not have a truck payment.

So, if our RV Park costs $450, our travel trailer payment is $105.18 and our insurance on the trailer is $25/month, that's definitely cheaper than a house. That's $580.18.

Usually you can find an RV park that will need a camp or park host and they let you live there for free in exchange of the (not full time) duties and some even include Propane.

The day we brought our new trailer home.
The day we brought our new trailer home. | Source

What style should I buy?

What you should get depends on how many people will be living in it. You definitely do not want to live in something smaller than 18 feet unless you know you'd be fine with it. Put everyone that will be living with you in the rig you're considering to purchase and see how you can all move around at the same time, including animals.

Safety Add-on: Weight Distribution Hitch - Trunnion

Fastway 92-00-1000 Trunnion Weight Distribution Hitch
Fastway 92-00-1000 Trunnion Weight Distribution Hitch
If you're pulling a travel trailer at all -- no matter what truck you have -- you need this. We did a lot of research and this is the one we purchased. It's made a big difference in how the trailer tows and it's made the road safer for us and everyone around us. It's expensive, but it's worth every penny. It works with lifted trucks as well, provided you purchase the drop down hitch.
 

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Cheaper than a house.
  • If you hate your neighbors, drive away.
  • If you get sick of the current view, drive away.
  • No closing costs, much faster than purchasing a house.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • No yard work.
  • Live a (somewhat) minimalist lifestyle.
  • It's fun, isn't that what life is all about?
  • You're always camping, but with your Xbox, TV, internet, A/C and heat.
  • You don't need great credit to purchase.
  • Cheap insurance, cheap to register yearly.
  • A/C and heaters typically work great.
  • Everything is usually pretty cheap to fix.
  • You have an awning -- don't leave it out in the wind.
  • You don't feel like you're camping.
  • No large annual property tax like on a house.

Cons:

  • They are very cheaply built, even the new ones.
  • You can't own as much unless you have a storage unit as well.
  • They tend to lose their value faster than anything else you could live in.
  • The floor. Sweep and vacuum everyday or you'll have dirt/rocks in your bed.
  • The bathrooms are small.
  • The bed, unless you make sure it's a good size and mattress.
  • Like decorating every holiday? Get a storage unit.
  • If your "house" needs fixed or serviced, you might need a Hotel.
  • Single-pane windows. Get a unit with double-pane windows.
  • If you get in an accident with your house, you just totaled your house. Hope you paid your insurance. Get a Hotel.
  • Have an upset stomach and need some privacy in the bathroom? Everyone will hear.
  • You need to use special toilet paper.

Must Have!

Oxygenics 26481 Brushed Nickel Body Spa RV Shower Kit
Oxygenics 26481 Brushed Nickel Body Spa RV Shower Kit
Did your RV come with the cheapest, worst shower head ever? This is the one we replaced ours with. It has actual water pressure, the button never gets stuck to turn the water off and back on, and it doesn't take a long time to get all of my hair wet like the last one did. Leave the cheap one for the outside shower to hose off your feet.
 

Final Thoughts

I think the biggest appeal about living in an RV is that it's very convenient, cost-effective and fun.

My tip for you is if you're not a tidy person, become one. You don't have the room to be messy. You have to put things away when you're done with them.

I've included a few items we have purchased on Amazon throughout the article. I wouldn't recommend something unless I know it's worth it. We're all about saving money here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Happy trails!

Filter your water on the hose!

Culligan RV-800 Exterior Pre-Tank Recreational Vehicle Water Filter with Hose
Culligan RV-800 Exterior Pre-Tank Recreational Vehicle Water Filter with Hose
If you plan on living on your own land or in an RV Park, chances are you'll be using Well water. While Well water typically doesn't taste bad, it's definitely not bottled water and can turn bad in a moments notice. You need to replace it once every month or two -- or three? Depends on how often you feel like it.
 

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Stefanie Groves

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