Why People Stop Living Full Time in RVs

Updated on January 30, 2019
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.

Living year round in an RV has become popular with many people, but these same folks would be surprised to know that a good number of those who decide to move into a coach on a full time basis eventually stop living the life and go back to their homes, apartments and condos.

There are a number of reasons why this happens, and I think it’s a good idea to let readers who are considering this type of lifestyle change know what some of them are so that they can have the opportunity to rethink their plans before following through with them.

Knowing that this type of alternative lifestyle may well be temporary rather than permanent can help individuals adjust their thinking "just in case" they find that things are not as they had imagined them to be.

Why people give up on living full time in their recreational vehicles.
Why people give up on living full time in their recreational vehicles. | Source

Living the RV Dream

Millions of people in the US now live in motor homes, campers and travel trailers. For many, doing this is the result of following a dream they felt would free them from the shackles that tied them to a life they felt was becoming too stressful or expensive.

  • If you have worked all of your life and finally get to the point where you can retire and have enough money to allow yourself to get out there and see all of those things you’ve only read about or seen on TV, why wouldn’t you want to do it?
  • Wouldn’t it be great to never again have to mow the lawn, pay property taxes or have to put up with annoying neighbors?

These are some of the things people think about when they enter that dealership or go to that RV show where beautifully appointed “freedom wagons” await. All they need to do is sign some papers, and suddenly, they have brand new living quarters that can carry them to parts unknown and let them know that “finally,” they have made it!

This is the vision that most people see when they are looking at recreational vehicles, but what they see and what they get often are two different things. This is often the reality that eventually makes them come out of the mist, and give all of it up.

Below are some of the reasons why people leave RV living for good.

Miscommunication Regarding True Attitudes

Believe it or not, one of the main reasons why people stop living in their coaches is that the partners who have chosen to do so never actually agreed at the outset that this was something they both wanted.

  • Usually, one partner pushes the other into it, thinking that he or she will adapt or
  • one partner acquiesces even though they don’t want to go through with it because they think it will make their partner happy.

At first, all seems well, but after awhile, the person who was pushed into making this choice regrets it and begins to resent the fact that he or she was manipulated into it. These individuals miss all of the comforts they had before, their friends and families and even the roots they had spent years building.

When you have someone living in close proximity to you who feels this way, tensions rise, arguments ensue and in the end, the whole plan falls apart. Sometimes, with married couples, the situation leads to divorce! This is why it is extremely important for people who discuss becoming full timers to fully agree, after doing a lot of research, that this is something both want to do.

Financial Miscalculation

How Much Can You Afford to Pay for an RV? provides an overview of some of the real costs of owning a motor home or camper.

When people think about moving into recreational vehicles, they tend to think about how much money they will be saving by being able to avoid taxes, mortgage payments and the like. However, they often forget to consider the expenses they can incur by living year round in a coach.

What people may not realize is that this type of lifestyle can actually cost as much, if not more, than they way they lived in the past. Recreational vehicles are called luxury items for a reason: even the least costly of them are expensive to own.

People who are not careful about their finances and who don’t do enough research before buying, often find that they simply cannot afford to live in RVs, especially if they plan to do a great deal of traveling and are not able to do a good number of their own repairs. The result is that they are forced to sell out so that they can return to more affordable living.

If you miscalculate costs, lack of money can make you sell your RV.
If you miscalculate costs, lack of money can make you sell your RV. | Source

Inability to Adapt

Some people love living this way, but others never really take to it. When this happens, they simply stop doing it.

Some things that make the difference between the two include but are not limited to issues such as

  • personality type,
  • comfort issues and
  • having the desire to live an alternative lifestyle.

Those who do not have friendly, outgoing personalities are not going to have much fun on the road because they won’t meet new people and thus be introduced to new and different activities.

  • People who like their comforts, such as having plenty of space, larger refrigerators and places for their tools, hobby materials and the like, will feel stifled.
  • Individuals who are not adventurous and/or like to see what’s around the next curve of the road will hate the many long hours of driving they must endure in order to get from one spot to another.

It takes a special mindset for people to be able to live in a travel unit. Those who do not have it will fell isolated from the world, uncomfortable and stressed.

Since you never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next when you live this way, if you are not able to adapt to the flexibility involved, you won’t want to be part of the life because you’ll be miserable.

This is why it’s always a good idea to rent a coach and take a few trips to get an idea of what full timing might be like before you actually decide to do it.

Poor Health or Disability

Full timing can be strenuous and difficult. Even if you are well when you start living this way, your body can betray you at any time. When this happens, people find that they get little pleasure from their travels, and in the end, must give them up. Those who choose simply to stop vacationing but continue to live in their coaches often find it difficult to do due to space limitations.

Being sick in an RV can become very uncomfortable, so people finally just sell and move into a home, condo or apartment. Far too many people try to live the life after they already are suffering from serious conditions because they want to grab onto a life they feel is slipping away from them.

This is always a mistake.

The lesson here is to begin living this way when you are young and healthy enough to enjoy it, but to plan financially for the day when this may no longer be the case.

Consider All of the Options Before You Sign On

After researching this issue, I have come to the conclusion that while most people are enthusiastic and excited about becoming full timers, few actually realize what they are getting into when they decide to follow through with their plans. This is because they let their emotions and dreams overtake their common sense and don’t take the time to learn what they need to know.

The reasons I noted here for why people stop RVing are fairly common and should serve as a red flag for those who consider trying to live this type of alternative lifestyle. There are some who love it and thrive on it, but many simply do not. For this reason, I would advise people to consider full timing a temporary activity from which they plan a way to exit if things don’t work out. Then, if the plan fails, they still have the option to return home

Do you think you could live in an RV for the rest of your life?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • Is heating an RV a problem in northern New Jersey?

    It can be. It depends on how much insulation your coach has, and how solidly it is built. Usually, most RVs aren't comfortable in extremely cold climates unless they are built to handle that type of weather. Just as important is the fact that protecting your pipes and water hoses can be a problem. I don't suggest cold weather RV living for these reasons.

© 2016 Sondra Rochelle


Submit a Comment
  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    3 years ago from USA

    Marie Burgundy: Your situation is completely understandable. Health problems do take the glamour out of RVing for sure and are probably the main reason people stop full-timing. Thanks for stopping by and commenting and best of luck to you.

  • profile image

    Marie Burgundy 

    3 years ago

    It's an adventurous life, but it's not for me. I used to drive an 18-wheeler cross country and I also lived in a van for 6 months. Those 2 experiences taught me that I love my roots. I also need my creature comforts.

    Currently, I own a manufactured home. At times I do feel trapped by my monthly expenses, but I'm also older and chronically ill. When I don't feel well, which is at least part of every day, I'm thrilled to have my little home and my roots.

    Good luck to everyone out there. Stay safe and enjoy your RV-ing!

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    3 years ago from USA

    Blond Logic: Yes, Yes and Yes. Big decisions like this do have consequences, so it's important to look at all the angles before jumping in. Nice to see you again!

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    3 years ago from USA

    Karen Hellier: You probably are thinking straight about this issue. Full timing requires many sacrifices that, at first, may seem like no big deal, but after you've been doing it awhile, you may find that a plan like yours works best. Been there, done that. Now that I'm older, a condo and a nice, smaller motor home are the perfect combo!

  • Blond Logic profile image

    Mary Wickison 

    3 years ago from Brazil

    I think this applies to many things, not just RV's. Also moving to another country or living aboard a boat. I think most have the dream and that is all they see.

    Excellent advice about what to consider before one makes the big decision to leave it all behind and hit the road.

  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 

    4 years ago from Georgia

    I like the IDEA of living full time in an RV but am not sure I could actually handle it for the rest of my life. I might like to have a small home on a permanent basis, and a small RV for the summer months to travel. I hate the heat so would definitely like to get out of the south in an RV in the summer month. Not in a position to buy one yet, but hope to someday. Thanks for this hub. Nice work!


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