Pros and Cons to RV Life
A popular reason people choose to live in RVs full-time is in effort to live more simply. The millennial generation is particularly interested in minimalism for financial reasons. RV life allows for a less cluttered, more intentional lifestyle. Retirees also fancy RV living because it’s an alternative downsizing option. Instead of moving into a retirement community, some opt to buy an RV and travel, all while conserving funds.
Depending on how you go about it, living in an RV can save you quite a bit of money. Some have been able to save $1400 or more on a monthly basis. That’s over $16,000 per year that would normally go to things like rent or mortgage and utilities. Of course, how much you can personally save is contingent on your expenses and spending habits.
Arguably the biggest expenses of RV living are purchasing the RV itself and potentially renovating it. However, those expenditures can be covered in a wide variety of ways. If you are a homeowner transitioning to RV life, you’re in luck. Not only can you use the money you earn from selling your home, but you can also tap into home equity long before you put your house on the market. If you don’t mind being temporarily homeless, you can simply sell your house and then use the money to purchase your RV and renovate it, if necessary. However, if you want your RV to be ready to move in by the time you sell your home, it might be a good idea to consider how a home equity loan might help you. Even if you are not planning to put your house on the market, home equity can still come in handy for making renovations before renting out your home. If you’re a renter, you can fund your RV and/or RV renovations by subletting your apartment at slightly higher rate and using the leftover money.
Living in an RV means that the whole world is your backyard. The opportunities for exploration and travel are endless. In addition to cutting costs, travel is another common reason that people join the full-time RV community. Sure, reaching your destination may take more time than hopping on a plane, but the journey along the way is well worth it. Many RVers appreciate the ability to explore the natural world more extensively. If nature isn’t your vibe, that’s okay. You can treat this lifestyle as a long-term road trip and simply visit all the cities on your bucket list.
Of course, in order to make the most of travel opportunities you need to choose the right kind of RV. Some RVs are more conducive to travel than others. There are drivable RVs, like class A, B and C motorhomes, and towables RVs, such as fifth wheels, toy haulers and travel trailers. Do you research on the different types of RVs and which one is best for your lifestyle and travel plans.
Unless you are a solo traveller, you will experience a lot of quality time with whoever you are traveling with. For couples, this additional time spent together can be great! Quality time can be valuable and satisfying, but only with the right person. Married or not, it’s important to consider who you will be travelling with. Amongst other things, you might ask yourself: How do things go when I travel with this person? How do each of us plan to accommodate for me-time? If you want to know for sure if you can handle RV life with your mate, relative or friend, try renting an RV to live in temporarily. Doing so should give you a good idea of how much quality you can handle with that person and if you enjoy it.
Empty nesters may especially benefit from being able to spend more time with one another. In fact, many parents find that after their children leave the home, they realize they no longer have anything in common with each other. Moms and dads are used to devoting most of their time to caring for the children, working and taking care of the house will appreciate the new found time and freedom to focus on themselves and enjoy life as a couple again. With the kids out of the house, not only does the to-do list shrink, the silence can be deafening and the realization that you and your spouse no longer know each other becomes very evident. Living in an RV practically forces you to reconnect with your mate in a unique and fun way. Everyday is an adventure and an opportunity to get to know your significant other better. You and your travel partner can enjoy the highlights and navigate the obstacles of mobile living. Depending on your attitude, overcoming the challenges associated with RV life will help to strengthen the relationship.
No Yard Work
A smaller advantage of RV living is that you no longer have to worry about mowing the lawn, weeding, or raking leaves in the fall. For those who are not fans of outdoor upkeep associated with homeownership, this is a major plus. According to a 2016 study, Americans spend 39,243,750 hours on yard work. Our greenthumb friends may jump with joy at the idea of spending so much time on yard upkeep. However, when you think about all of the things you could be doing instead, like traveling the country in your awesome RV, living in a motorhome sounds like a walk in the park.
Say goodbye to long days spent raking and bagging fallen leaves in September and October. Instead you can enjoy radiant foliage on beautiful fall days spent exploring, hiking or anything else you can think of. And who likes pulling weeds at the start of spring and throughout summer? While you won’t be able to have a garden living in an RV, you can enjoy natural gardens more often. This is your time to actually frolic through fields of flowers.
Another reason why motorhome living is so desirable is for the flexibility. Don’t like your “neighbors”? Park your home somewhere else. Not a fan of the current weather? Move to a sunnier climate without the hassle associated with traditional moving. You don’t have to pack. You don’t need movers. You can literally wake up and decide to move to Florida without any real obstacles.
Beyond annoying neighbors and gloomy weather, your needs may change over time in other ways. RV-ing will allow you to accommodate for those needs fairly easily. When you’re just starting out, you may enjoy constantly being on the go. However, after some time on the road, you and your travel companion(s) may need a break and want to stay put for a while. Fortunately, there are a number of places to park your RV, whether you need to settle for a few days or a few months.
Let’s say you need a break from RV life, you can do that, too. If you still own a home, you can park your RV on your property and move back into your house until you are ready to hit the road again. Even if you’re a renter, you can move back into your apartment if there’s still time left on your lease. If you decide that you need a permanent break from life on the road, you can sell your RV much easier than a house. You don’t have to deal with finding a realtor, open houses, and closing. It’s as simple as listing your motorhome online using RV Listings, Craigslist or even Facebook Marketplace.
Though there are many advantages to living in an RV full-time, there are also some disadvantages that you should consider. The most obvious one is the limited amount of space. After all, it’s a motorhome, not a mansion. Customizing your RV can help with this issue, but realistically space will still be limited. Unless you completely gut and remodel your house on wheels, you can say goodbye to ample counter space, multiple floors and spacious closets. If you don’t think you could live in a small ranch, it’s probably best to avoid RV living.
The lack of space does not have to be a deterrent, though. You can make your motorhome feel like a real home by renovating the inside. Do your research on compact living floor plans and space saving tricks. Seek out household items that have multiple functions. If you are inventive and/or handy, you can build multipurpose objects, too.
Another way to overcome the space issue is by carefully selecting the kind of RV you want to buy. Will you be a solo traveller? If so, you may opt for a small camper since you only need to account for yourself. However, if you’re big on space, have the ability to haul a large vehicle around by yourself, and don’t mind the extra gas expense, you can seek out a larger motorhome. Families and couples should take space into consideration even more than a solo traveller since more people are involved. Do your research on the best RVs for families or the best campers for couples. There’s nothing worse than being trapped in a cramped space…even with people you love.
Any full-time RVer will tell you that wifi can be spotty, especially on the road. Unless you plan to settle in one spot, you won’t be able to automatically connect to a home network like you do in a traditional home. In this era, wifi connection is everything. Few can go without it and so many of our daily tasks require its use. Think about how often you travel to a new location without using your GPS or how frequently you perform Google searches. In fact, wifi may become even more important if you work remotely like many in the full-time RV community.
Again, wifi reliability does not have to keep you from experiencing the full-time RV life. There are connectivity options out there for any budget. For instance, you can simply use your phone as a hotspot. If you do this, you may want to invest in an unlimited data plan through your wireless carrier. The downside of this wifi resource is that it is dependent on how strong your wireless connection is. If you’re traveling off the grid, likely there are little to no towers around, which will impact your hotspot efficiency.
Mobile hotspot routers are another option. Think of this as a modem without wires. You can purchase one through your wireless phone carrier. Similarly to a cell phone hotspot, “your [mobile] hotspot is only as good as the coverage of your carrier, according to The Dyrt.
Some RVers opt to connect to whatever networks are available at the time, including those belonging to coffee shops, campgrounds, and other public places. Unfortunately, these networks are not secure and require that you stay put. So, it’s important to research the wifi options available to you when you are on the move.
Although RV life comes with minimum upkeep and responsibilities, there are still chores that have to de done. One of those tasks is doing laundry. It may be difficult or costly to find an RV with a washer and dryer. They do exist, but the machines can be quite small, impacting how much laundry you can actually get done. Of course, you can build a laundry area into your RV, but that may take up space that you can use for something else.
The most obvious alternative to in-home laundry is a laundromat. However, most of us have experienced a laundromat trip; packing up all of your dirty clothes, loading them in the car, making sure you have enough quarters, and monitoring several machines to ensure that no one takes your things. The whole ordeal can take up an entire day.
While laundry days are definitely an inconvenience when living in an RV, don’t let it be a drawback to trying out this lifestyle. There are ways to overcome this obstacle. If you can’t find or afford an RV that comes equipped with a washer and dryer and you want to avoid the laundromat, look into portable washers and dryers. You’ll need to do some measuring and planning to see what works best for your space, but renters have found these compact laundry tools very useful. One of the benefits of portable washer and dryers is that you can hook them up outside of the RV and store them when you are done washing to save space.
Once you begin living in an RV you will realize some of the simple things we take for granted when living in traditional homes. One of the little luxuries is running water. In a home or apartment, you really don’t have to worry about water beyond making sure you pay the bill. There is more involved when it comes to living in a motorhome. Most RVs include a water system. You can use that system or a city water connection. The latter method is more similar to the water system of a traditional home, except that you are responsible for setting it up by using a nearby spigot and RV water hose, which isn’t always possible if you want to live off the grid or travel often.
Making use of the RV’s included water system (or one that you have installed) takes a bit more effort than using city water. The system has to be regularly maintained. This involves empting gray and black water, sanitizing the pumps to combat algae and fungus, and monitoring and replenishing your fresh water supply, among other duties. It may sound like a lot but with a guide on how to take care of these tasks, you can live your nomadic dreams to the fullest.
Unlike city water usage, there’s not an unlimited supply of water when using the RV’s water pump system. As mentioned, you will need to monitor and replenish freshwater to ensure that you don’t run out. Doing so requires locating freshwater sources. Thankfully, there are a number of locations to refill your water supply, such as rest stops, national parks and fuel stations. Although these are freshwater resources, you will still need to choose a water filtration system to ensure purity.
Another downside to full-time RV living is that most motorhomes are not accessible living spaces. For those who are not able bodied, life in an RV can be challenging. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but the lack of space alone can present issues. For those who utilize a walker or wheelchair simply navigating a motorhome can be daunting.
If you are adamant about living the nomadic life, transitioning to this lifestyle may require some practice. Consider a trial run in the most accessible rental you can find. Make note of your challenges along the way. Think about what adjustments would make it easier for you to live in an RV full-time. After trying it for a few months, if you want to make the transition to full-time RV life, use the list of accommodations you would need to help you renovate an RV that is just right for you.
Even after a trial period, there may be some modifications that you didn’t think of. If you have friends that experience disabilities different from yours, you may even consider incorporating some renovations that would benefit them when you visit them or they visit you.
As with any major life decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of RV life. Beyond this list, continue to carefully consider aspects of RV living that could be advantageous or challenging for you and your travel companion(s). With honest self reflection and efficient planning, you may be on your way to RV living in no time.