Full-time RV Living For Beginners: Start Here!
RV living for beginners can be overwhelming. Everyone is willing to offer unsolicited opinions and advice. While people have good intentions, their point of view is not usually helpful.
Robb and I have been full-time traveling nomads for over 7 years. Before we took the plunge of selling our home, we traveled extensively for 20 years. Our only regret, was we didn’t start to live the RV Life sooner.
Why? We listened to the naysayers.
Quite frankly, you owe it to yourself to make a quality decision based on your wants, needs, and desires. Full-time RV living for beginners can be easy and fulfilling when you take the time to cover the hard stuff prior to launching.
This article will take you through a list of questions and situations that RVers face. With the answers you provide, you will be able to easily decide “Is Full-time RVing For Me”?
Table of Contents
RV Living for Beginners: Be Realistic
Setting realistic expectations about your full-time RV life is crucial. More and more people are ditching conventional housing and opting for the RV and nomad life. With RVing being all the rage, it is easy to get caught up in the hype that today’s influencers have us believe.
While full-time RV Living continues to grow, for some, the dream of travel, unlimited sunsets, and a never-ending supply of s’mores is not their experience. For others, like us, living full-time in an RV and being a nomad, is the most fulfilling experience! Why do you think that is?
There are so many reasons that beginner RVers can become quickly dissatisfied with their new adventure. Surfacing some potential “hot spots” and challenges before jumping into the RV lifestyle will save you time, money, and a lot of stress.
Let’s get started by answering some questions and posing some potential challenges with RV living for Beginners so you can determine: Is Full-time RVing for me?
Full-time RV Living: What’s My Why?
The WHY question is always a favorite of mine. In simple terms, your WHY is YOUR motivation for doing anything and everything. Why am I doing this?
While most articles want to discuss “how to do this or that”, they only provide part of the information. Unfortunately, those articles miss the bigger picture when discussing RV living for beginners.
Your WHY is the only answer that will keep you going and doing when the road gets rough, and it will get rough.
There are no wrong answers!
Your answer can be financially motivated or fueled by adventure and wanderlust. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you know your WHY, and can articulate it. Every decision you make for living full-time in an RV from this point on will reflect your WHY.
Over and over we have seen RVers quit RVing prematurely because they were unprepared mentally for the journey ahead. In other words, their why was flimsy and not sound. Frustration, overspending, and missed opportunities will surface quickly when you make hasty decisions.
Living Full-time in an RV can be fulfilling or absolutely miserable, depending on the choices you make. We have found that evaluating our options in conjunction with our WHY statement, not only saved us money, it opened up other opportunities.
When your intentions are clear, you will purchase the best unit for your full-time RV living adventure, whether you choose to live a nomadic lifestyle or live full-time in an RV Park.
We want you to be successful! KNOW YOUR WHY!
What is a Nomadic Lifestyle vs. Stationary Living Full-time in an RV Park?
RVing full-time provides a lot of options and flexibility. Will you be stationary, nomadic, or possibly a little of both styles? There is no right or wrong answer to this question.
What is a Nomadic Lifestyle?
A nomadic lifestyle simply means that you carry your home with you.
Home can be a hotel room, a parking lot, or even a beachfront camping spot in the Keys. We travel, and we move often.
For some, the thought of open roads and traveling is exactly why they chose to go full-time RVing. Living a nomadic lifestyle is appealing to many of us.
Exploring National Parks, boondocking in remote areas, and witnessing ever-changing landscapes are what full-time travelers like ourselves desire. Most of us don’t mind long travel days, going without a shower for a few days, and spending the night in a Walmart parking lot.
Our wanderlust begs us to explore what’s around the next bend.
What is Stationary Living Full-time in an RV Park?
On the other hand, living full-time in an RV park means that you pay for a seasonal or permanent spot.
There are many perks to living full-time in an RV Park. Amenities such as a clubhouse, pool, or social events and a sense of community are appealing.
Sometimes, it is more financially affordable to live in an RV Park rather than rent an apartment or buy a house.
However, the rig you purchase should meet your living expectations. Some parks only allow Class A RVs, and some have a 10-year-old policy. That means they do not allow rigs older than 10 years old. Other parks may prohibit Skoolies or Vanlife.
In fact, we were denied a seasonal lot because they considered our 52-foot professional race car trailer “homemade”.
What Are My Expectations for RVing Full-time?
Becoming clear with your dreams and expectations for RVing full-time is crucial to your longevity. Taking the time now, before you set off on your RVing journey to define the aspects of RV life that resonate with you, will save you from unwanted anxiety, frustration, and disappointment.
While it can help to follow social media posts, they only give you a moment-in-time glimpse at RV Life. Of course, we want to put our best foot forward in the cyber world, so we share our Best experiences. Many of us don’t freely share the downside or negative experiences of RVing full-time.
You may see photos and reels of couples spending romantic nights in the forest, or waking up with the sunrise on a beautiful beach, but there is a lot more to consider.
Living quarters are small, even in a 45ft, 5th wheel, especially during inclement weather.
Truck stop showers might feel a little creepy at first, but to a boondocker, who has been in the desert for several weeks, it is a luxury to stand under that hot water.
And, what about all of that sand, mud, and dirty laundry? Those things will surely not wash themselves.
And sadly, at some point vehicles break down or get a flat tire. How prepared will you be?
Pros and Cons of Full-time RV Living
Understanding the pros and cons of full-time RV living is vital to anyone considering an RV lifestyle.
Living stationary in an RV park can be super active and fun. If you enjoy socializing with neighbors and making new friends, this might be a good fit for you. On the other hand, if you like to be alone away from people, an RV park is probably not a great fit.
Likewise, road life can be tiring. Living a nomadic lifestyle allows you access to some beautiful locations, far away from the hustle and bustle we become used to. You are bound to see some magnificent scenery, sunrises, and sunsets in locations that you thought only existed in your imagination.
Evaluate Your Options
RVing for beginners can be overwhelming, with choices, logistics, and everything else under the sun. As you become clear with your expectations the choices you make will become easier and reflect those decisions.
Take some time and write down your expectations. What does full-time RVing look like to you and those you will be traveling with? Is it realistic? The clarity in these answers is your friend.
Does size matter?
Only you can answer this question.
Downsizing from an apartment or house to a Sprinter Van can be challenging. Imagine, thinking the 3-bedroom you are in now is too small.
You may already think there’s no place to “get away” from your spouse or kids. You need some alone time. Now imagine living in a space that could be the size of only 1 room in your house or apartment that is combined with your living room, kitchen, and bedroom all in one.
That is where we started.
Size DOES Matter!
Then consider it’s been raining for days. You, your spouse, your kids, your pet, and all of your “stuff” in this space including your toilet and stove are ALL in this 11 feet.
On the other hand, what if your rig is too big? Can you tow it, can you manage it, and can you park it? The cliches “go big or go home” and “ bigger is better” don’t always apply to full-time RV Living. Sure there is plenty of room for the family and your prized possessions, but can you get to the places that you desire to see?
Size does matter in both cases. There is a happy medium when considering full-time RV living. As you develop your plan, and your expectations, you can easily answer the question “Does size Matter?”
Downsizing? Do I Really Need This?
If you are like us, you will agree this is a big question. We have spent a lifetime collecting our kid’s artwork, tchotchkes, family photos, and linens. Now, we want to move into an RV and can’t possibly take this stuff with us.
What are we going to do with all of our stuff?
Sure, the process can be overwhelming and even emotional as you start to pack. However, you can’t take all of it with you, as much as some of us try, when are traveling and full-time RVing. Space is at a premium in your new living quarters, plus you are also going to need to store your new RV Essentials as well.
Living full-time in an RV park also challenges us to downsize. Many places have restrictions on how much stuff you can store outside or in a storage shed. Realistically, you don’t want all of your prized possessions stacked up with a tarp thrown over them, do you?
Take some time, evaluate your belongings, and make a plan of action. What will you keep in the RV, store for a later time, donate or toss?
Cohabitating? In This Small Space?
Can I get along with my spouse, housemates, partner, companion, pets, and kids in this small space?
While many of us envision campfires, hiking, swimming, and playing board games with our loved ones, this picture is not always realistic.
Everybody needs space to think, work and be. Whether you work from home, have kids doing schoolwork, or simply want to watch tv, you will have to be considerate of each other’s personal space.
Is your family unit communal or do each of you find comfort in your own space?
It’s easy to think, ok, we can do this activity outside on the picnic table or in the clamshell tent. But seriously, what happens when you are in the middle of a 7-day monsoon, kids are bored, everything is wet and you are close to missing a deadline at work?
RVs have thin walls and not much privacy. In other words, every noise and each movement is easily observed.
Of course, these are extreme examples, yet, they give a good insight into real RV living. Take some time to imagine what daily RV life will really look like inside your unit in a variety of conditions.
Identifying potential challenges and developing a plan of action can help you determine if full-time RV living is for you!
Are We on the Same Page?
As we have discussed, Full-time RV living can have many different styles. While some like to travel slowly, others are ready to hit the road every few days.
How do you see travel days affecting you and your travel companions?
Are you going to live by the standard camper rule of 3-3-3? That is, travel no more than 300 miles in a day, be at your campsite by 3 pm, and stay at least 3 nights.
Or, are you more of a road warrior like us? We often drive for 8-10 hours pulling into a Walmart well after 8 pm only to roll out early the next morning so we can get to our destination.
Neither style is wrong, but you do have to be sure that you discuss your travel styles.
Take some time to discuss logistics and travel style. Realizing that you can travel any way you want is part of the freedom that full-time travel provides.
The key is to be aware of your style and discuss it openly with your travel mates and develop a plan that is agreeable to all.
How Will I Spend My Camping Time?
This question might seem a little silly at first. However, the amount of times I have seen posts about being bored makes this a common problem.
For some, the solitude of the desert or forest is super appealing. Sitting with nature, hiking, reading, and even working remotely while living as a recluse is our desire. For others, this scenario is a nightmare.
Likewise, we can understand getting bored, especially if your travel mate either works all day or doesn’t want to play in the great outdoors. Maybe you are the one that doesn’t want to go fishing every day.
How do your hobbies and interests align with your new RV lifestyle?
Take some time to list out the activities that you enjoy alone and together with your travel companions. This exercise will help you decide whether you are more compatible with living in an RV park full-time or living a nomadic lifestyle full-time or just sometimes.
RV living is fulfilling when you have realistic expectations and compatibility with your travel partners.
Black Tanks: Am I Ready to Deal with My Sh$t? Literally!
Face it, we all poop. It is a biological fact of life. People who live in an RV, are no different. Whether you are a full-time RVer, part-time pleasure seeker, van life, or car camper, you are going to have to deal with your sh$t.
Unfortunately, there will be smells, loose fittings, and perhaps even the dreaded poop pyramid. You might even experience some yucky spillage. It’s a cold hard fact of RV living.
Regardless of your unit type, size, or cost, if you poop in your toilet, you will have to learn how to properly dump your tanks. It is not always pleasant, but it is necessary.
Will I bend or Will I break?
RV Living Requires Flexibility. Will I bend or will I break?
Whether you choose a nomadic lifestyle or live full-time in an RV park, there will be situations that require flexibility. What will you do when you are faced with severe weather threats, natural disasters, health issues, or even new management and rules in your RV park?
How quickly can you pivot?
Some RVers make long-term plans, a year or two in advance, while others wing it. How disappointed will you be if you can’t get reservations inside or even close to your bucket list destination? What is the workaround?
Weather Patterns Can Be Unpredictable
Weather patterns and natural disasters are common.
A few years back, the wildfires in the west were horrible. The sky was a smoky grey and visibility was so low. Areas of several National Parks we planned to visit were closed because of the fires.
Like you, we don’t want to be in danger, so we adjusted our travel accordingly to stay safe.
We have seen campers reluctant to leave the campground even with the threat of hurricane winds on the radar. High winds and torrential downpours can lead to flooding and hazardous conditions. Many RVers have lost their units because they didn’t pay attention to the weather forecasts or yield to the evacuation order
Another time, a freak snowstorm in September shut down I-70 and interrupted our travel schedule. Robb and I are not fans of cold weather, especially when snow and ice are on the roadway. We had to detour around the storm, again changing our intended plans.
Rules Change & Reservations Get Cancelled
Lately, the news has been featuring stories about private campgrounds being bought up by corporate entities. Rules change, prices increase and stationary RVers are forced to comply or leave the RV park.
Sometimes campgrounds are forced to close due to unforeseen threats, like flooding or wildfires. Imagine Big Sur has been on your bucket list forever. You have your reservations only to find out, Highway 1 is closed due to landslides!
Situations like these happen all the time.
No Refund Policy
In 2020, we were headed to Key West when we got a fateful call that a family member’s health was quickly declining. We had to go “home”.
Thankfully, the RV park owners understood our situation and refunded our advanced payment.
Refunds are not common for many RVers. How do you feel about losing deposits on campsites? Have you read the fine print?
Situations like these can creep up at any time. None of us like it, but living a nomadic lifestyle requires adaptability.
For us, flexibility is what we enjoy most about our nomadic RV lifestyle. Several times we made a pivot because something more fun presents itself: a party in the desert or an unexpected weekend in Yosemite.
Be open to the possibilities ahead of you!
Will I Be Lonely Living in an RV?
Organizations such as Escapees & Xscapers are made up of RVers of every lifestyle and background. There are plenty of meet-ups, rallies, and community involvement to help keep you from feeling isolated or lonely.
Likewise, homeschoolers and road schoolers have a strong presence in RVing. Parents are taking responsibility for their children’s education to a whole new level. Traveling together in large family caravans helps provide comfort and creates a sense of community that is important for the kids and parents alike.
There are so many different types of rallies, parties, education, and people living as full-time RVers, that you can find a tribe. Travel a few weeks with them and then go your own way for a bit. The choice is yours.
RV Living for Beginners: Conclusion
There aren’t many rules to a nomadic lifestyle except maybe the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared”. It’s your life and your lifestyle.
By considering and answering these questions you can feel confident in making a decision on a full-time RVing, part-time, or even a nomadic lifestyle. Taking the time now to surface some potential challenges will save you time, money, and tears.
Robb and I have been living a full-time nomadic lifestyle since 2016 traveling around the country in our Renegade Verona Super C. People often ask us, is RV Life worth it? In our opinion, it is absolutely the life of our dreams. We certainly hope you can build the life you desire with no regrets like us.
Thanks for reading! Let us know if we’ve helped you with your decision or if you have other questions we can help with.
Travel Safe and Adventure Often!!!
Are you ready to take the next step and select the perfect RV for your lifestyle choices?
We developed a workbook, specifically targeting this subject. How to Select Your Perfect RV. The workbook lays out a comprehensive plan so that you can select the perfect RV for you, based on your needs, wants, desires, and financial obligations.
Buying the wrong unit for the experience you desire is common.
The RV industry LOVES unsure customers.
Why? Because they sell multiple units as you try to find the right one, and the more units they sell, the more money they make!
Whether you desire a park model, a teardrop, or a big beautiful Prevost, take time to decide if a nomadic lifestyle is for you, or if you are better suited for living in an RV park full-time.
Select the right RV for your living style.