Full Time RV Living Tips – 10 Things That Suck About It.
Everyone you meet in the RV Lifestyle paints a rosy picture of life on the road but there MUST be some negatives right? We go over some of the most common downsides to RV Living so you can plan ahead for them.
My Wife and I have been living in our Fifth Wheel RV full time for almost 2 years now, and while the downsides of RV Life haven’t been enough to make us throw a for sale sign on our Montana and jump back into the mundane 9 to 5 world again, there have been a few times when it was REALLY close.
In all honesty it wasn’t even the Big days that did it to us, it was the cumulative effect of all the Little Things the few times that we were thinking of giving it up.
(Wish you could take a decent shower in your RV? Now you can, read here)
I’m a planner, it’s just what I do, 20 years of being a fire fighter will do that to ya. I had contingency plans for my contingency plans. Guess what, didn’t matter. When we moved into the RV we didn’t just jump right on the road and go, I know better. We lived in it for 6 months in a campground fairly close to our Home Network of friends, and supplies that can help us through any situation that may arise.
The thought was, after 6 months of living in it, we should have a really good idea of things that need to be upgraded, the things that are going to break should do so before we leave so we can repair them, and life on the road will be a cake walk because we have taken care of all of it already.
Let’s go over some of the things that we probably Should Have realized were going to be issues at some point, so that your plan for Selling Everything and Hitting The Road, can be a little more refined and prepared for than ours was.
Yeah I thought I was done with having Something to fix around the house everyday when I signed the paperwork on closing day too. The fact of the matter is, Something will need to be done everyday, that’s just how it’s going to go. Sure you don’t have to mow the lawn anymore (I can’t begin to tell you how much I DON’T miss that) but one of your tires will need some air, or the oil change is due, the lights just flickered weird for no reason, or the house batteries need to be replaced.
There are going to be days when ALL of that happens on the same day. There were days where if just ONE MORE thing happened, I was going to replace Michael Douglas in the sequel to Falling Down.
You are going to want to make sure you have some basic tools with you to handle the things that will pop up throughout the day. And for an added bonus, make sure the tools you have, are actually the right ones, like that your tire iron fits your lug nuts for when you get a flat in the middle of nowhere. Go ahead, ask me how I know to put that on the list…
RV Living BUDGET
Getting a weekly allowance in your 40’s sucks. Sticking to your weekly allowance sucks even more. I’m a grown up after all, I can buy tickets to go do whatever I want. Hell, the bank account says so too.
Sticking to your budget is SO vital to being able to live on the road long term that there should probably be a class on it at RV School. I always told my Son over the years that “I’ll know I’ve made it in life when I can just order a pizza without checking the bank account first”.
Those first couple months after we sold our house, we ordered pizza Every Friday night. Life was great. It felt like I was drinking champagne, smoking a cigar and throwing money around in the VIP section of the dance club in a music video.
Ok maybe not that great, but we were definitely looser with our budget than we should have been, and it has bitten us in the ass a time or two in the last few months. When your “tickets” budget has to last you for the whole year, and you throw half of it at Kentucky Derby tickets to check that off the bucket list, well guess what.
There are things on your budget that you also have zero control over, like the price of fuel.
When we set up our budget, we had planned for 2 years on the road before we were going to check back into reality again. Insurance, food, tickets, pizza, fuel, we budgeted for all of it. 4 years ago.
Now fuel prices have sky rocketed, and 6 months into life on the road, we were a year and a half through our fuel budget. Time to make some adjustments, but where do you cut from to fill the gap? You’ll figure it out, because you don’t have any other choice.
What a double edge sword. Ask any RV Owner, and they will tell you that one of the things that they bought their RV for, was the storage. 6 months later they wish they had gotten something else, us included.
There are SO many layouts in this industry, and so many variables, that it is almost impossible to find an RV with perfect storage today, that will still be perfect tomorrow. Both of the RV’s that we had in recent years, we purchased because they had a great amount of storage, and both of them did. The problem is they had cubic footage, NOT useful individual spaces.
We currently have the Montana 381TH, a mini toy hauler, so its got a decent amount of garage space under our bedroom, we can store all kinds of stuff! Go take a look at your own garage at home, take all of the stuff you’re keeping and cram it into a 6 foot by 8 foot storage unit, and let me know how easy it is to get something out of the back once it’s full.
After a few RV purchases and a 10 times as many conversations with other RV owners, on our next one we are looking for Storage Cabinets. Inside AND outside.
There are going to be times when your RV feels like a prison and your cell mate just wants to constantly poke at you. Now that’s not to say that my Wife and I decided we hate each other when we moved into the RV, but when you have the equivalent of a studio apartment to share with another person, and it has been down pouring for 3 days, all you want to do is go sit in an open field by yourself.
Even your neighbors are closer now than in your old house. People make jokes all the time about city life where you can borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor by each reaching out your kitchen window. Take a look at how far away the next RV is at the campground. And these things are not the most sound proofed homes in the world.
You can hear everything going on next door, from both sides. The kids screaming, the dog barking, the pot that dropped across the kitchen at 6am, or thrown at a spouse because its been raining for 3 days and they are getting on each others nerves. Nah, probably dropped. Once all that noise finally stops, and you fall back asleep, the guy with the big loud truck feels the need to start it and let it idle for an hour with the exhaust pipe facing your bedroom at 6:30.
Guess I’ll get up and go make some coffee. Son of a bitch… we’re out of creamer…
GETTING YOUR MAIL
Pffft. I don’t care about mail. It’s all junk mail anyway.
Yeah we thought the same thing. Until one of our credit cards expired in Montana, our “home address” is South Dakota, and our Mailing Address is in Texas. Now we need to find somewhere to stay for a week, that isn’t necessarily at one of our destinations, that will let us get a package delivered, or ask the local post office (if there is one) if we can have a package sent general delivery, then get ahold of our mail service and have it sent to us.
This is one that WAS on our list of things to do before we hit the road, that we just didn’t get too. We LOVED our local branch, of our Local Bank. Still Do.
We sold our kayaks to make room in the garage, our bank is currently 1,800 miles from us, and we want to deposit the money into our bill paying account. Still haven’t figured out how we are going to pull this one off.
Make sure you have a National Bank that you can access from most of the country, rather than what used to be your small corner of it.
LACK OF CONNECTION
Well that was the whole point of this wasn’t it? To get away from everything, out into the middle of nowhere and have a cup of coffee next to the river that the Moose is grabbing his morning sip from?
It is, and that’s is an amazing experience that we hope you get to have. But, mentally our brains have been trained our whole lives to be part of a pack. That can be friends, family, neighbors, whatever.
We both have times where we get really home sick. I miss my firehouse buddies, and the ribbing they would give you over the slightest misstep in your day. I miss my neighbor Dan and BS’ing over a beer in the driveway while we look at whatever he or I was working on in the driveway. I miss my Son and how much he drives me nuts making 20 year old decisions…
Most times it happens on one of those surprise maintenance days. The one where you find yourself saying, “if only we were back home, my buddy has the tools to fix this and we could have it done in an hour”.
This is a big one. People are creatures of habit. Cup of coffee, head to the office, stop at the gym on the way home, home chore for the day, lather, rinse, repeat.
The inconsistency of the day to day life can start to get to you after a while. This week you travel on a Monday, and stay for 2 weeks. Next week you travel on a Wednesday and only stay for 3 days. The following week its 3 single night stays on your way across the country to get to that thing you want to do. Hell I don’t even know what day it is half the time.
Before we hit the road we had pretty predictable schedules throughout the week, and we as much as we hated it, it was actually written into our DNA by the time we left, so changing the schedule daily added to the tension of the week.
Even the inconsistency of the Must Haves, and Must Do’s, and Must See’s gets to be tiresome. You may be heading into one of your stops with the the Ultimate List of stuff we are gonna do, then stop to grab a coffee and have a conversation with a local who asks “well you guys are doing this thing while you’re here right?”.
Well, no. We didn’t even know about that. Can we fit it in? Do we have the budget for it? If we cut this part short, we can squeeze that in, but then we will miss out on that…
The last 2 years has caused an influx of first time RV owners. Many of whom haven’t even camped before. The lack of basic etiquette from some of them is as astounding as the list of things they are willfully uneducated about.
EVERY single campground we have been too has a pick up your dog poop rule. ALL of them. So when your 3 mutts are running around the campground while you ignore them and your kids, and they drop a deuce on someone else’s campsite, your half assed giggling ‘Sorry‘ don’t cut it. Run your ignorant ass over there and pick it up before I step in it, and while you’re there close the storage cabinet on my RV and tell your kids to stay out of it.
Look up anyone on your preferred social media platform that is doing #VanLife or #RVLiving or #RoadLife and you will see all the amazing postcard worthy pictures of beautiful people in beautiful places that are surely what every single day looks like in this lifestyle.
If you want to see the reality of it, the next time you go camping, sit around your campsite all day long and just stare at the picnic table. Most days are just as, if not more than, boring as they are in your normal house. Sure you can go out and do stuff every day, but then you are readjusting your budget, again.
Sure there are free campsites and free stuff to do all around everywhere. Well most places. Ok, some places, near bigger cities. In reality most of America is that classic 1 horse town with a single traffic light without much going on. Yeah, you can do long drive days to go from one big area to the next, and eliminate the boredom, but then you are burning more fuel. Back to the budget.
And don’t you dare even hint at complaining about your daily life when you are on the phone with friends or family, ‘you live on vacation, you don’t know what it’s like anymore’.
Yep… Nothing but rainbows and puppy dogs with birds chirping in the background of the musical that is our life.
So why not stop and ‘go home’?
Like I said at the start, we have thought about it, but the pro’s definitely outweigh the cons. You do need to pay a lot more attention to your budget, and be pretty handy with the tools you decided not to get rid of at the endless yard sales you had before you left.
But, those mornings that you DO have the social media worthy picture out your front door, the budget is just some numbers to play with. The cabinet door that has a broken hinge for the third time is ‘just a few screws’. In the grand scheme of things all of it is just small stuff, and your whole life you’re told not to sweat the small stuff, so don’t.
Go and Live Life, just be a little more prepared, and put some wiggle room in your budget.