Pros and Cons of Living in an RV

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Raise your hand if you agree with this statement: “The best parts of the Tulsa State Fair are cheese-on-a-stick and RV displays.” I loved going through RVs as a kid. And the storage sheds. I had the same thought every time I walked into a new one: “I could live here!”

Having lived in a bumper-pull travel trailer over the past two years I cannot believe I didn’t buy one sooner. Of course growing up I would’ve had nightmares about living in a camper, because houses with wheels attached are known as ‘trailers’ and people who live in ‘trailers’ are known as ‘trailer trash’ and I had to fight hard enough not to be known as the ‘poor kid’. {I just remembered a poor story. I loved The Lion King when it came out. Like, loved it. I wore a Lion King shirt with matching leggings which I should’ve held onto because they’d be like, super dope now. A girl in my fifth grade class called me out in front of everyone “I saw that shirt at Walmart.” My fifth grade self was humiliated, of course, but my 34 yo self’s first thought was “[B****] So did I.”} I don’t care what people think about our housing now, because it’s a real privilege to be able to live the life we choose.

Now we don’t own one of those charming, remodeled campers that someone poured their heart, soul, and money into. We bought this as an intro to full-time RVing and paid just $6,000 for our used 2003 Keystone Sprinter 274RLS, and have put very little money into its upkeep and no money whatsoever into its unsightly appearance. Although I did remove all the “decorative” curtains and the matching bedset. It turns out we love living in a camper, and thanks to this inexpensive starter we’ve got a solid list of what we’d like in our next home (namely shiny aluminum siding and radiant heat). In the meantime we’ll keep this old broad until she no longer serves us, and then we won’t.

Of course there are cons about living in a camper full time, but there are cons for any kind of housing, like landlords, or yard work. The vast majority of the time we’re happy as larks with our lifestyle, and can’t imagine having a home to take care of or on which to pay a mortgage. Maybe someday that will change but for the present, we’ll keep our old gal, and would recommend RV living to anyone who thinks they might enjoy it. Come stay in ours if you want to take a little test run, but in the meantime enjoy this list of pros and cons Greg and I came up with in regards to our “little house”.

 

Cons:

*We don’t have a bathtub. Well we do, but it’s like, infant-sized. I love a good soak, and I like to shave in a tub. If I’m a guest in your home and you have one, I will ask to use it.

*Our bathroom is tiny. My knees touch the tub when I sit down to pee and my legs touch the toilet when I get out of the shower.

*We have a six gallon hot water heater and our shower uses it all in five minutes flat. We take ‘camper showers’ – get everything wet, then turn the water off and suds up, then turn the water back on to rinse. Typically RV parks have a shower house so we use those, or the local gym, or my in-laws house instead of subjecting ourselves to ours. This is also a strong pro because it’s made me think about electricity and propane and water consumption every time I bathe now, and I still take camper showers even when I “don’t have to”.

*Coloring my hair. I swear I pulled a groin the first time I tried it. Now I’m just going without. We’re living the dream, man, what do I care about a few grays? *Actively rips another one out of my scalp*

*Because we handle our own sewage disposal there’s no pooping allowed in the camper. So like Cousin Eddie, you gotta put on your coat to go to the bathroom. If you have a home with a flushing toilet I will ask to use it.

*We have to unhook then hook up to pull our house down the road where we unhook then hook up again. It takes about two hours on either end which is no big deal, but I cannot imagine doing it on a daily basis if we were truly full-time travelers. Give me a coach or a class B for that.

*We can’t just hook up and go. It takes time to batten down all hatches before moving, and pack away all our loose ends, just like if we were moving a brick and mortar house.

*They’re cold in winter and hot in summer. Without heat we’re typically within a few degrees of the outside temp, and without a/c we’re typically well above. Full disclosure: Our central heat went out in the fall of 2016 and we’ve been too frugal to fix it. We have one of those cute fireplace space heaters and we sleep in full pajamas and I have a small heat pad to put on my belly/hip when I go to bed.

*We are always in each others’ company. There’s no privacy and there’s no alone time unless one of us is at work. There’s only been one time I had to leave, where I couldn’t stand to be in the same trailer as Greg anymore and I took the truck to go cry and nap in the sunshine until I felt like I could go home again. We made up and it was fine. Not bad for 2+ years.

*Sometimes the smell of sewer fills the whole place. Those are the times we question our existence, but we remind ourselves that we chose this life, and we flush the toilet completely out, light a candle, close the drains, and/or throw an RV scent pack in there, and all that helps immensely.

*When you bake anything the inside temperature skyrockets. This is also a pro… in winter.

*Spotty wifi. We’ve lived in four parks, and at the in-law’s light pole, and we’ve never been able to get reliable internet. Tucson has been the worst by far; I can’t even get 4g on my phone for a hotspot here. #firstworldproblem

*The slide. We freaking hate the slide. I don’t trust anything mechanical because it’s inevitably going to wear out, and we worry every time we bring it in is going to be the last. Mama wants a 31 ft Airstream. No slides.

*Having a trailer means having a truck to pull it with. We love our truck setup, but we only get around 8 mpg when we’re pulling. Chase Freedom, Shell Fuel Rewards, and GasBuddy go a long way in the Warcken finances. 

*Greg hates pulling it. He’s got a Class A CDL so he’s definitely used to big rigs but he’s a ball of nerves dragging something behind him.

*The flies. Oh my God the flies. North Dakota in the summer and fall bring them in like a plague. They’re all super lethargic and easy to kill/vacuum, but it’s just the audacity, you know? This is our house.

*It’s not kid or klutz proof. We handle ours tenderly, like a lil’ baby, then our nieces and nephews come in and jump on the couch like it’s a trampoline. Beat it, brats.

 

Pros:

*Function over form, baby. We’re like turtles. Wherever we go, our home is with us. If we wanted to move to California tomorrow, we totally could. Try doing that with a foundation.

*They are so reasonable. We could buy a brand new Sprinter for less than $30k, and in the last 2+ years we’ve put maybe $1k into upkeep, not including lot rental.

*A five – minute shower means less water consumption and more time to dedicate to things you’re passionate about. Could personal hygiene ever be considered a passion? Not in my life.

*The most we’ve paid for rent is $495/month and that includes all utilities, plus cable and wifi, minus propane. We’re currently paying $395.50 + electric, but we’ve got a pool, so… who’s trailer trash now? People are always shocked by monthly RV park rent, but we think it a small price to pay to be able to take our home wherever we go.

*We can pay rent with a credit card, happily racking up miles and points for housing costs.

*It’s cheaper to insure than a home. It costs just $234/year for full coverage + renters insurance, which we also pay with a credit card. Cha ching. 

*If you don’t like your neighbors, you can hook up and go.

*I have never been scared in our camper, or in an RV park. But I’ve been creeped out in plenty of houses. Are there such things as Camper Ghosts? Anyone have any stories?

*It’s nearly impossible to lose things. Seriously, our cheese grater has got to be somewhere in this camper. Found it! It was on the floor behind the junk drawer.

*It’s as though you’re always camping! You can hear the birds and see the shadows of leaves moving across the ceiling. My favorite time of day is drinking my morning coffee at the dinette with the sun on my back. It doesn’t even feel like real life.

*You can hear every pitter patter of rain, every clap of thunder, every breeze blowing through the oaks or oleander. The rain alone is worth it. People pay good money for that kind of white noise.

*Limited space. The simpler our living spaces have become, the more we’ve realized how little we need to have a rich, meaningful life. For having so few things and so little space, we still feel we have too much and are always going through stuff to see what we can get rid of. And we talk often about selling the camper altogether and living out of the back of the truck. To us, a big house is a convenient excuse to acquire new, and keep old things you don’t want, need, or use. Our tiny space effectively keeps us out the consumer loop and inevitably saves us money. That said, please don’t buy gifts for people who live in RVs. There’s just no place to put them. Except food- that’s a great gift.

*Limited food space. We don’t stockpile and nothing gets wasted, which saves us a ton of money. Now please excuse me while I go on yet another rant here. This is my biggest pet peeve about big houses with big and/or multiple refrigerators, freezers, and pantries: SO MUCH FOOD GOES TO WASTE. If you don’t know the time, energy, money, resources, and lives that go into food production maybe you should go work on a farm or ranch. I mean, fruit and veggies are horrible things to waste, but nothing makes Old Lady Warcken lose her mind like seeing meat that’s gone bad. That chicken/cow/pig died for you and you repay it by letting it spoil in your fridge? OMG it makes my skin crawl. Explain to me how you deserve to live more than those animals. Think about it. p.s. We are not vegetarians. p.p.s. I’d like to start killing my own food. It’s important to know the consequences of our actions. p.p.p.s. I’m quite sure the day I kill something is the day I stop eating meat.

*It is so easy to clean. A big house makes it convenient to leave messes, and to let the clutter pile up because it’s easier to ignore, and you have the space to move around things instead of addressing them. Not so in a camper; you just don’t have the room for it. After our meals everything gets washed immediately, including the sink, stovetop, and microwave, and all dishes are dried and put away. And it takes about ten minutes to shake all the rugs and vacuum the floor. Bada bing! Clean house.

*Sure, there are camper days when I only get about 300 steps in, but I love knowing everything I could possibly need is nearly within reaching distance of the dinette where I spend most of my time.

*Spending so little on housing means we don’t have to work as much to support our lifestyle and therefore get to spend more free time doing what we truly love – hiking and travelling and birding and playing yard ball with the nieces and nephews.

 

 

*The number one most important pro of living in an RV is that we have absolutely zero emotional ties to it. We love the opportunity it’s provided us, but our memories lie in the areas we’ve lived and the different places we’ve been able to travel by not tying ourselves into a foundation and a mortgage and other ongoing bills. We rarely leave, even for the day, without our passports, the laptop, and our cameras, so aside from a fireproof safe there is nothing in here we are sentimental about, or that we couldn’t easily replace. If it burned to the ground tomorrow we’d file an insurance claim and move on. I mean, everything we really need to live (a bed, cooking equipment, our camping gear, and hiking boots) is already in the back of the truck. Living in an RV gives us the freedom and flexibility to do exactly what we want, when we want, and that is a real joy.

 

What do you think, you ready to move in? Or do you already live in an RV? What do you love about it?

 

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