So often we get asked by people we meet, why we chose full-time RV living over our old traditional life. Every time our answer is different because there are SO MANY great reasons for traveling the country in an RV, finding new roads to new adventures. The Washington Post states that over 1 million Americans now live in their RV’s.(1) A million people can’t be wrong, so we sat down and started to enumerate them.
Then we asked a few friends who RV travel to share their thoughts as well. I am sure if we waited long enough and asked more people, we could continue to build this list into infinity. The truth is there are many reasons and they are different for everyone. But 31 seemed like a good place to stop!
31 Reasons Why RVers Love Full-Time RV Living
1) “Dump The Tanks” and Other Cool Lingo
RV living is the only lifestyle I know of in which it is completely legit to end a conversation by saying “I’ve gotta go dump the tanks.” It is also quite acceptable to say “It felt like my dinghy was dragging a bit.” Other acceptable phrases are “Is she a pusher or a puller?” “I blew my reefer” or “Keep an eye on my tail swing.” RV lingo is FUN!
2) Oh The Places You Visit
Without a doubt, our favorite part of full-time RV living is the places we visit. Our country is filled with some pretty astounding places. The National Parks system is packed with wonders beyond imagination. When we decided to hit the road in 2015, we never imagined the spectacular sights we would see or the adventures that we would have.
Three years later, we cannot believe the stack of awesome experiences we have accumulated over these years. We’ve visited Yellowstone twice for a total of 3 months! We spent 4 amazing months in Utah, and explored the wonderful Grand Canyon.
3) Slowing Down
With all of the adventure and excitement I have described above, the best part of being a full-timer is… there is no rush. When we are asked what our best piece of advice is for new travelers, we usually say “Spend more time in fewer places.” Instead of rushing around and trying to see everything as quickly as possible, we can relax and take it all in.
If we really like a place, there is no rush to move on, and conversely, if we do not enjoy a place, there is no need to stay. We usually average about a month in a given location. It is usually enough time to get to know a place and see pretty much everything there is to see.
Paying monthly rates at RV parks saves money BIG TIME! We are constantly meeting people who only have a week or a few days and are stressed out about what to see and do. They end up running from place to place trying to do it all.
We often joke that we feel as if we are in slow motion compared to others in the places we visit. Full-time RVing allows you to slow things down and take the time to truly enjoy the magnificence of our world.
4) Million Dollar Views- For FREE
Some people we talk to about our life on the road, say that they just wouldn’t like so much “travel.” This thought is always a little funny to me, because what we do, while it IS full-time travel, doesn’t feel like that at all. We stay at least a month at a time, so there really isn’t that much “travel” in it for us.
In fact, we average only about 20,000 miles a year on our truck. I always explain it to them like this: Imagine living in your own house, only the view outside changes. That seems truer to me. Our home is always there. We just move it from one awesome location to another. We sleep in our own beds, cook in our own kitchen, etc. It doesn’t feel like travel at all in the traditional sense.
5) The Freedom To Go Where You Want
Living in a camper allows you the freedom to be where you want to be – to put yourself wherever your heart desires. If you feel like fishing for crab, just head to a coast. If you want to go mountain hiking, there are great campgrounds in Colorado.
Many full-time RVers follow the seasons, or trade shows, or work. A home on wheels allow you to choose your destination, and not just wait until vacation time.
6) The Costs Can Be Kept So Low
Living in an RV full time can be really economical if you want it to be. Over our time on the road we have kept our monthly costs to between $2000 and $3000 per month pretty regularly. By choosing parks that are just a bit farther from our destinations, staying a month at a time, and utilizing all of the free recreation that surrounds us, we really just have our normal payments- truck, fuel, camping fees, and food to round us out.
We save a lot of our food budget by making monthly runs to Sams and Walmart.
The state in which you live can also have a big impact. CampingWorld states that the three of the most popular domicile states for full-time RVers are South Dakota, Texas and Florida.(2) This is mainly because of favorable tax laws that allow you to keep much more of what you earn.
7) Traveling With Kiddos is Fantastic
When you have kids and you decide to live full time in an RV the first thing you think about is homeschooling. It’s a scary thing to consider for most people. Our advice to you is don’t let your fear stop you. The resources are out there for you and the educational “perks” are absolutely astounding.
We love to tell a true story about when we visited the Colonial Williamsburg/ Yorktown/ Jamestown area. We were quite taken by the battlefield at Yorktown and our children got their lessons about that most important battle from actual Park Rangers who took us around parts of the field and explained how Washington cleverly outfoxed Cornwallis to end the Revolution. For our family, it was a Revolution revelation! (sorry I couldn’t resist).
A month or so later we were hiking in VA and hooked up with a foursome of other (adult) hikers who were very interested in RV living. As we walked along we suddenly realized that our son- all of 8 years old at the time – was giving these folks a blow by blow accounting of the Battle of Yorktown.
He remembered it all – Washington’s moves, the French fleet coming in just in time, the cannonball marks that still exist in some of the town’s buildings. As if that wasn’t enough, his 7 year old sister joined in. Needless to say it was a very proud parenting moment.
The point is, there are TONS of opportunities living on the road to give your kids a very rich education. The 3 “R’s” are there as well, but there is SO MUCH MORE!
8) Location Independence- Even If You Don’t Move
When most people hear about or consider living in an RV, they think of travel. We love living in such a way that we can pick up and go whenever or where ever we want. It is really cool to be able to change locations on a whim.
All of that being said, not all who live in an RV – travel!. We are meeting more and more people who live in their RV but are more stationary. Often these folks move with their work and stay in one place while they are working on a given project.
Ashley & Josiah Mann are one such couple. Ashley’s blog RV Inspiration is all about making your house on wheels more homey. It is PACKED with awesome ideas and examples of ways to renovate/ decorate/ rejuvenate your RV living space:
9) Experiences VS Stuff
I never thought we would watch a grizzly bear 50 feet away digging for grubs in Glacier National Park, or walk on the beach every morning in Pensacola for months. We have caught and eaten our own crab dinners on BOTH coasts.
We observed the 2017 Eclipse from within the totality. When we stop to look back and consider the mounting list of absolutely amazing adventures and experiences we have accumulated over just 3 years, we wonder why we ever lived any other way.
This is simply something you cannot do working 9-5 and staying situated except for a couple of weeks a year. RV living enables us to put ourselves out there and take an active part in how our lives are progressing. All in all that’s pretty remarkable.
10) RV Living Pushes You To Be Healthier
This is a very healthy way to live without a doubt. Our daily lives get us more exercise than we used to get going to a gym before. We walk long distances just exploring our surroundings, hike all the time at the parks we visit, go for runs several times a week, and are constantly playing with our kids……outdoors!
Anywhere we go, one of the first things we do is look for local farmers markets where we can get fresh produce right from the farm as well as fresh baked goods etc. Living on the road has made us healthier, happier and less stressed out.
11) You Can Try It Out Before You Buy
Renting an RV is easier than ever with services like Outdoorsy. You can rent an RV directly from the owner and even have it set up at a local park if you don’t want to drive. It is so easy and gives you some real insights into the great world of RV living.
12) Learn About New People/ Cultures
Anyone who thinks that the USA is one culture has never been to New Orleans! It is truly awesome to travel this country and meet people from different places. Whether they are locals to the area or other travelers who are experiencing the same new place as you, it is always interesting to meet and get to know new folks.
And then there is the food…we LOVE to eat. We love to try local foods. We also look for the small, local museums and historical spots to learn about the area and how it became what it is today.
RV living allows our children to grow up realizing that there are all kinds of people out there who have their own thoughts and traditions. They learn to appreciate differences and also realize that deep down, we all share commonalities that can be the basis for friendships and respect.
13) RV Living Makes Cleaning Easy
Small space = small chores. Cleaning in the RV is simple – made so by the fact that it is just not that possible to make a big mess. Only 3 things fit on the floor, so the 4th one tips the scales and it is time to “Pick up that MESS!” Living in the RV forces you to be more organized every day, so the chore of cleaning day gets that much smaller.
Plus it takes maybe 15 minutes to vacuum and mop if everyone helps out. I’ll take that any day of the week.
14) You Can Visit Your Family Any time You Want
When you take part in the full time RV life, you can make certain choices that are not always available to you otherwise. For instance, Frank’s mother is 92 years old. As time passes she is requiring more and more care and assistance on a daily basis. Frank’s 2 sisters live nearby and provide that care. But it is a large burden as they both have businesses to run and lives to live.
So this fall we decided to head up to Michigan for a few months so that we can help them out and allow the kiddos to spend some quality time with Grandma and their awesome aunts. This is not something we would have been able to do had we not made the decision to travel full time.
Our travels in the west have also allowed us to spend time with Franks brother and his wife who live in Phoenix, AZ. They are 2 of our absolute favorite people and we love to see them. We spent 5 months hanging in Arizona with them, we would not have been able to do if we weren’t living this lifestyle!
Our friend Danielle Leonard (The Frugal Navy Wife) says that their wish to be with family was a large part of their decision to travel once her husband got out of the military. Her travel blog, Our Roaming Hearts chronicles their adventures with their 5 children as well as giving blogging advice AND ways to save money on the road.
15) We Don’t Even OWN a Lawnmower
We love to think about the amount of crap that we no longer own. Some of it is even stuff we have had in the RV. The fact is that storage is tight in an RV so you clear out the clutter quite often. In order to get new things we need, we must get rid of that which we don’t. Keeps life simple!
All of the stuff that used to fill our house and garage is just gone with the wind. I guess we really didn’t need it at all. It’s sad to think of all the money we used to spend on stuff!
16) RV Living Makes Cooking Simple
There is an old story about a young mother who cut the ends off her Christmas ham before baking it in the oven. When her daughter asked “Mommy, why do you cut the ends off the ham?” She replied “It’s what my mother did. It makes the ham taste better!”
The little girl thought about that and went to her grandmother and asked the same question. Her grandmother replied “It’s what my mother always did. It makes the ham taste better!” The little girl was not convinced. She moved on to her Great Grandmother. “Nana, why have you always cut the ends off the ham?” The old woman replied, “Why dear, my oven was so small, the whole ham wouldn’t fit!”
I feel this story living in an RV. The oven is small, the stovetop is small, the grill is small. You can’t do BIG meals. Combine that with the fact that we have no interest in spending all of our time creating meals and you find ways to simplify. I love the fact that cooking has become so simple when you live in a tiny house.
When it comes to cooking in the RV, we find simple one-pot type recipes that we really like and use those as a basis for our meals. We also do a lot of slow cooker meals and easy RV meals in the stove. We can get creative as we want, but we always try to keep it simple. Our RV and Camp Cooking area is loaded with recipes and ideas for the RV kitchen.
17) How Else Can You Say “I Love To Boondock.”
There is no other lifestyle which allows you to utter the words “I love to boondock!” Boondocking or dry camping is a dividing line for RVers. If you boondock, you are just a little bit cooler, more out there, livin’ on the edge than the rest. Boondocking gets you right into nature, up close and personal. Plus it’s free. BOOYAH
One of the really nice things about RV living is that you can unschedule your life just as much as you like. It is nice to let the wind blow us a bit and see where it leads. Nice weather- get outside. Lousy weather – more school/ work. New places offer different opportunities so to take full advantage – just keep the schedule loose.
19) Lighten Your Load
I was amazed at how much stuff we had accumulated when we were living in a 2600 square foot house. Once we started selling everything in order to downsize, we were shocked at just how many things we actually had!
We don’t spend money on stuff anymore because you don’t have an extra storage space when you live the RV lifestyle. Therefore you are saving money by not spending it on useless junk. Selling off all of that stuff was one of the most freeing events in our life. You feel lighter every day. Now we spend money on experiences with our kids instead of stuff!
20) Stop Nick-Naming The Days of The Week
Monday is no longer “Suckday.” There is no need for a “hump-day’ and the weekend really has no special meaning except that we stay out of National Parks in the summer. Sunday is no longer “Ohcraptomorrowissuckday” anymore. Sunday is now Church and football! (Twice the awesome!)
21) You’ll Know More Than You ever Wished About Trucks
If you tow a travel trailer or fifth wheel you will get an education on trucks you never thought you would have. Matching a truck to a trailer is akin I think, to putting a man on the moon. Heavy math is involved. And many an underpowered truck owner has called out “Houston, we have a problem” when his truck went into limp mode!
You will learn terms like “exhaust brake” “Gross Vehicle Weight Rating” and “bulletproofing.” (That last one is what Ford owners do. It loosely means “replace all the crap that is going to break anyway, and then act like your truck doesn’t suck.”) LOL- see if I get some comments on THAT one!
22) “I’ve Been There”
It is interesting to watch as your local knowledge of many places grows over time. When you first start traveling, you just listen (and take mental notes) as other people you meet talk about interesting places they’ve been. Soon you realize that “I’ve been there” becomes a more frequent part of your vocab.
A few years of living on the road, and you will be right there in the thick of it- spewing your own stories of the road and sharing local knowledge with the next newbies.
23) You’ll Learn To Watch Your Gigs
For most people, RV living requires an advanced education in staying online. You will soon learn all about Hot Spots, streaming, and gigabyte usage more than you ever wanted to. Finding a data plan that fits your needs is important to manage costs and stay connected.
Every carrier claims to have the best wifi networks so you will certainly need to do your homework. Most parks offer free RV wifi but it is very rarely reliable and often very slow. Boondockers sometimes require a signal booster if they are in remote areas. Personally, I send the kids up to the roof with some tin foil.
24) Enjoy New Experiences With Your Family
The ScaryMommy says: Lots of families are craving closeness, and that desire has given birth to a new way of living — RV style. Parents all over the country are selling their belongings, closing up their houses, and hitting the road in a motorhome to experience all that the world has to offer.(3)
Full time living in an RV forces you to live in the moment with your family. You are truly in this life together and very little gets missed. It is one of the big reasons we chose RV life. We wanted to share our kids’ lives while they still like us– these years go by so fast. It forces us as a couple to be engaged in a very meaningful way, both in our own relationship as well as with our kids.
I love the way Jessica Meinhofer captures this sentiment in her quote below. She and her husband Robert travel full time with their 2 kiddos and cat. Their blog: Exploring The Local Life covers all facets of RV living from RV park reviews to homeschooling. It is an awesome read!
25) Everything In Its Place
In an RV there is not a lot of space. This results in only keeping things you need and everything having a place. There is no room to leave things lying around so you tend to stay much more organized than you would in a house. It is nice to always be able to grab a flashlight, or the cayenne pepper and know right where to look. I love that everything has a place, it means I can actually find it again. See our guide to Finding Storage Space In Your RV here.
26) Following The Weather
Florida in the winter? Michigan in the summer? Why not? Following the weather is almost ingrained at a DNA level for RVers. No matter what your preference, you can go there. Feel like skiing? You get it… Of course Phoenix in January…better book early! Snowbirds follow the weather too!
Jill and Tony of Lets Travel Family are following the sun with their 4 kids. Their blog and vlog offer tips to traveling with kids, travel destination ideas, and inspiration to travel more together as a family.
27) Ditching Bad Neighbors
28) Enjoy The Seasons and Holidays
31) What a Community!
Downfalls of Camper Living
Even though there are so many great reasons to go RVing, we would be remis not to mention some of the common difficulties that are to be expected.
Short Showers/Small Water Heater
This is probably one of the gripes that you will hear most frequently when speaking to people that have recently committed to full-time RV living. There is no getting away from it, no matter how fancy your rig may be, the shower facilities it offers are likely to be less than those that you were accustomed to in your brick-and-mortar home. What’s more, water heating capacity means that the showers you do take will, by necessity, need to be reasonably brief.
This factor is governed not only by the capacity of your water heater but also by the amount of water you are carrying in your freshwater storage tanks.
Getting Places is Expensive
The most obvious attraction of RV life is the freedom that owning a mobile home offers you. Part of that freedom involves travelling between your choice of RV parks, state parks, or the wild camping sites you choose to stay at. That brings with it certain expenses that you must learn to budget for. Not only will you have fuel and wear and tear to take into consideration, but upon arriving at the RV Park there will generally be site rental to pay.
Another often overlooked expense is medical insurance which doesn’t go away simply because you have chosen to hit the road.
As with that RV shower, your RV camper is likely to have kitchen facilities that are minute compared to what you were used to in your previous home. You need to consider whether you are prepared to adapt to working within such a confined space and to accept that producing culinary delights will, by necessity, be slightly more complicated. There will be fewer storage facilities and in the early days, you are bound to bump elbows and knees as you adapt to life in your tiny house.
Heat From the Gas Stove
In a regular house, the heat generated by the gas stove dissipates easily in the larger space of the home kitchen. In an RV camper that heat quickly becomes trapped and can raise internal temperatures quite dramatically. Camping in winter conditions, that extra little bit of heat might seem like free a luxury. If you are living in an RV in warmer climates, internal heat becomes much more of a problem and can quickly make your rig feel like a sauna.
Tiny Fridge Means Frequent Shopping
In almost all cases, your RV refrigerator will be much smaller than the one you’re probably accustomed to. The result is that you need to pay more attention to your regular grocery shop. You will probably need to opt for far fewer items that need to be kept cool, and you may need to adapt to different products such as long-life milk.
Grocery shopping almost always becomes a much more regular occurrence for people living on the road. As a result, you will also probably find that the quality of the food that you are able to produce in that tiny kitchen doesn’t quite match that which you were accustomed to enjoying back home.
No Privacy Inside or Outside
Whether you are camping in a national park or splashing out at a private RV park, chances are you’re going to be living far closer to your neighbors than you have ever done elsewhere. Noise travels easily through the thin sides of your vehicle, as it does through the walls of the other RV vehicles around you. Not only that but if you’re sharing your tiny house with other family members, finding somewhere for privacy and respite is going to be tricky.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you are now in the great outdoors you will simply be able to step outside to find that solitude you are so desperate for. You will quickly learn that your neighbors are so close that the outdoor space around your vehicle seems almost communal.
Where’s the Wi-Fi?
Not too many years ago, having instant access to a Wi-Fi signal wasn’t something that one had to consider when taking to the full-time RV lifestyle. How the world has moved on since then. Today we can barely function without instant access to social media and, in many national parks and remote areas, that instant signal just isn’t there. If there are any people under the age of twenty among your travelling companions, a lack of Wi-Fi signal may bring about a full-on rebellion.
For those adopting the RV lifestyle who intend to become digital nomads and work remotely, securing a reliable internet connection is one expense that must not be overlooked.
Both private RV parks and state parks almost always offer excellent laundry facilities at a modest fee. While they tend not to be exorbitantly expensive, having to use shared facilities is not quite the same thing as having a washer and dryer in your utility room. For one thing, you will need to work around other campers and their laundry facility requirements. Machines won’t always be available and, when they are, you will need to use them and empty them as quickly as possible.
Don’t count too heavily on doing the drying by simply stringing out a wash line between a couple of trees and allowing nature to do the work for you. Bear in mind that many RV parks have strict rules about hanging up your laundry.
Shower facilities can now be expected at virtually all RV parks. These are wonderful facilities to have access to, and they make a great alternative to that tiny shower room in your rig with its limited water resources. Campground showers are generally designed to accommodate as many facilities as possible in the smallest amount of space. This means that the bathrooms are going to be cozy, to say the least.
Taking a shower in a tiny space without dropping your clothes, towel, or wash bag onto the wet floor is an art that takes time to master. This can be even more fun if there is a queue of other campers desperate to take over your bathroom space when you are finished with it.
Not Easy to Get in or Out
Now we get to the really interesting part. Of all of the skills you will need to acquire for your full-time RV lifestyle, maneuvering your rig can be one of the most daunting. If you’re in a vast national park site, the chances are good that you will have plenty of room to place your RV camper. Life is easy.
On busy sites, and particularly in private RV parks, this operation tends to be far more complicated. In a sprawling site, who cares if you park your rig a few feet to the left or to the right of where you intended to land up? When all you have is a few inches between yourself and the next vehicle, the degree of tolerance becomes far more exact.
Wear and Tear on Your Tow Vehicle
Even if you have only a tiny rig, it is easy to overlook the amount of wear and tear that will be placed on the tow vehicle when hauling a trailer for long periods. Dragging a mobile home not only adds considerable weight to the payload, but it also places stress on joints, couplings, and suspension systems.
You may suddenly discover that you’re having to replace your tires far more frequently than you had anticipated, and that general maintenance suddenly becomes a more prominent issue in your life.
Repairs are Tough and Expensive
This can be a game changer if you haven’t already included it in your calculation of expenses. With both smaller vehicles and larger rigs, repairs can really put a dent in your budget. You will need to always have money set aside for unexpected breakdowns.
The people who specialize in maintaining and repairing RV campers have a small and fairly niche market. This often means that they can charge a premium for their services. Don’t forget to include in your budget the possibility that you may have to pay for alternative accommodation if the repairs to your rig or to your tow vehicle are going to take longer than just a day.
(1) Heather Long,1 million Americans live in RVs. Meet the ‘modern nomads.’https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/11/12/million-americans-live-rvs-meet-modern-nomads/
(2) Camping World, 10 Things You SHould Know Before Becomming A Full Time RV’er, https://blog.campingworld.com/the-rv-life/fulltiming/10-things-you-should-know-before-becoming-a-full-time-rver/
(3) Brandi Jeter Riley,These 9 Families Living In RVs Will Make You Want To Hit The Roadhttps://www.scarymommy.com/9-traveling-rv-families/
7 thoughts on “31 Reasons Why A Million Americans Love RV Living (The Experts Speak)”
This is a wonderful overview of some of the drawbacks as well as the many benefits to RV life! I think #15 might be one of my favorites, ha!
I know it’s my husbands lol. Thanks so much for contributing to it 🙂
My husband and I, along with our three goldens, traveled the country for about a year. While we did stay 2-3 weeks in some locations, we mostly fast traveled because we took a year off and wanted to see as much as we could. Several months after resettling (yes, buy everything again) we realized how liberating traveling full time was. We are not tech savvy so we couldn’t work virtually. If we had had a steady source of income I have no doubt we would’ve kept traveling. At a more relaxed pace. We miss it.
It is really a wonderful way to live. Try looking for travel applications of you and your husbands careers. You may be surprised to find a niche just for you. Glad you had the year you did!
Sorry, I meant the above email for you! Any insight into the reality of limited RV sites in the US, or difficulty in booking a place to stay is greatly appreciated. It seems that a huge number of people have purchased RVs since COVID-19 and I’m concerned that if we make this investment we will have difficulty in finding RV sites to stay that are in more popular locations. I don’t want to be forced to stay in a place/state that has no real attraction because, it’s the only place available.
I’d appreciate any thoughts you have with this!
HI Kathleen, I understand your concern. We took a break from full time travel last year partly because of the COVID crisis so we have not been making bookings. We have heard a lot about difficulties booking sites as you mentioned. My thinking about that is that the increase may die down just as quickly as COVID dissipates later this year so that pressure will probably let up as many people return to their traditionally forms of travel. We have ALWAYS had a tough time booking for 2 reasons. First, the size of our rig (38ft) and second our length of stay. We have usually tried to book a month at our locations so that we could relax and explore. Finding 30 days in a site in busy campgrounds is tough. We usually have found that looking 30-60 minutes away from the attraction would get much better results. We also found some great campgrounds and good value by doing this. If you have not joined RV’ers Facebook groups I highly recommend doing that- you can get a lot of great info from folks about specific areas. Maybe do some calling around to campgrounds in the areas you want to visit and ask them directly how far forward you need to book. I ALWAYS strongly recommend speaking to campgrounds in person- you will get MUCH better information.
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