The Darker Side Of FullTime RVing? 5 Thoughts To Ponder Before Making The Leap..
Yesterday Wish Upon An RV Star wrote a rather thought-provoking post Days Of Wine And Roses? and it got me thinking, so much so that I just had to write about it. Now I fully admit I don’t typically write about the downsides of fulltime RVing. I’m a natural optimist (a state reached by life-long deliberate training) and prefer to handle the difficult passages in life with humor. My posts reflect that side of my nature and so they’re mostly positive…and mostly humorous. But I admit that some folks might read too much into it and think my life is one long-lived utopia. Given the ups and downs I’ve had over the years (including depression, eating disorders, personal challenges) and even the issues I’ve been through during our 3 RVing years I have to chuckle at that assessment, but sometimes…just sometimes…it helps to hear the darker bits (some say it makes us more human?). So, for those looking at this lifestyle for the first time here’s my short straight-forward take on the other side of fulltime RVing:
1/ Life Doesn’t Stop For Travel
I’ve travelled my whole life, so maybe travelling is much more ingrained in me than others. I expect (and know) that life happens no matter where you are. You will endure unexpected heartache, make clumpsy & painful mistakes, break things by your own hand, have medical issues , lose things, get deflated and sit for days waiting for stuff to get fixed…and none of it will come “at the right time”. This is life and it doesn’t stop just ‘coz you move into an RV. We’ve experienced ALL of these in our 3 years of RVing and expect to keep doing so. The important question is not what happens, but how you deal with those life challenges. That’s true in an RV, in an apartment or in a $50 million dollar home.
2/ RVs Are Not As Big As Apartments
I know this may sound bleedin’ obvious, but I always find it endlessly funny how some people move into an RV and then seem surprised by how small it is. Yes, it’s small. Yes, your kitchen is minute and your refrigerator is about half what you had at home. Yes, your shower-stall is not the double walk-in rainfall you had before. Yes (I’m sorry to say) your sh*t likely still stinks (and as a bonus you get to carry it around in an RV!)…but honestly that’s to be expected. Paul and I lived in a teeeeny apartment with no living room windows in Hong Kong for 4 years before we decided to go RVing. In that time we learnt to live comfortably in a small space with very little natural light, a barbie-sized kitchen (we only had 2 burners and no oven), a child-size washer, iffy electricity and a refrigerator the size of a gnat. So moving into an RV was EASY! I have never felt the RV to be small. In fact I consider it very luxurious & spacious, especially compared to our HK days (which I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way). Sometimes I miss some of my “stuff” and Paul certainly misses his 400+ investment books, but this is part of the sacrifice we make to be mobile. If we were spending our time in city-squeezed RV parks I might feel differently, but given we choose to camp in natural environments with lots of trails and green around us that just adds to the space.
3/ You’re Not In A Fixed Place
Part of moving into an RV is embracing the mobile lifestyle. That means you no longer live around the corner from your favorite joint and actually need to think about where to go, eat, shop and stay. It’s actually one of the things I love about RVing, but you risk fizzling out and collaping if you go at it too hard. We made the mistake, as many new RVers do, of racing around waaay too much in our first year. Not only that but we managed to hit the midwest in August (how dumb are we?) and were practically eaten alive by both mosquitoes, fleas and ticks (believe it or not we even contracted Lyme Disease)….oh, it wasn’t pretty it was not. But we managed to see the beauty despite the beast, learned from our idiocies and have slowed down, spent more time getting to know the “local” scene and followed much better weather ever since. We’re still going to hit periods of weather that suck, and will still end up doing some drives we don’t enjoy, but now we know how to chose our pace & our place so that the experience is enjoyable. Our “improved” approach made RVing 100 times better, and I can see us slowing down and being even more picky about our spots in the years to come.
4/ Budget & Money Still Matters
No mater how much you might wish it you are never going to get away from needing the green stuff. Money matters…from the day you’re born ’till the day you meet the never-after. We make our income 100% from investing and have done so for the past 3 years. This means we have a non-steady income stream, which is true for many “younger” RVers. We’ve also had unexpected expenses come up (a particularly large and personal one earlier this year) which put an extra painful wrench in the socket. What this means is that we have to watch our budget and adjust accordingly -> no differently from what I would do if we lived in a fixed home. This year we cut down massively on travel (= less gas), ligthhouse hosted for 2 months (= free camping) and are planning on boondocking much of winter. Would you call that sacrificing? Maybe…but I love the fact that RVing allows you that exact kind of flexibility. You can drive less, workamp, chose cheaper camping options…I’ve never had a lifestyle that was so adaptable (money-wise) and sure appreciate the freedom of it.
5/ You WILL Be Close To Your Partner
The sheer size of an RV means that if you didn’t know your other half before starting this endeavor, you bet-your-behind-you-will now. Paul and I were together (and by together I mean we commuted together, worked in the same job in the same company in the same group in next-door cubicles and lived together!) for 14 years before we went RVing, so spending 24-hours a day in each others space was completely natural. Zero adjustment here, baby. But some people DO have a process to go through when they move into a tin-can rig and if they’re not prepared for this it could literally shatter their fulltime dreams. My advice is be mentally ready for this adjustment, develop separate hobbies, go on few separate sight-seeing trips and take solo-walks with the dog when you need a break. It may take some time, but if you’re open-minded about it, it’ll work out in the end.
So is fulltime RVing for everyone? Hell no! If you’re not adaptable, flexible, relaxed about travel & weather, love being around your other half, comfortable in a small space and have a decent sense of humor this lifestyle might well fail you. That’s not to say you can’t be all those things in a stix & brix house, but space and plans are even more likey to be “jello” in an RV, so you gotta be prepared for the unexpected. And the positives? Freedom, adventure and memories to last a lifetime. For me, those three little things totally outdo the negatives. For you? Well, you’ll have to make that decision for yourself.
P.S. For those itching to read more my old “10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Fulltime RVing” and Paul’s quite excellent “Revisiting A Recipe For A Happy Retirement” post from yesterday meshes in quite nicely to this topic.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
The Lowe's RV Adventures says
Great points and you nailed them on the head. Point 1 we experienced endless waiting for things to be fixed right on the first day of full timing. Point 3, yes as newbies we seem to be moving too fast. Point 5, oh yeah the first few months was like newly weds, an adjustment period since during our working days we see each other only on weekends. And now we are closer as ever! We experienced that positives outweighs the minor inconveniences hurled at us as we journey on this RV lifestyle.
Another excellent post. Thanks Nina.
I think everyone goes through a “transition period”. I’ve found that every single major move in my life (of which I’ve made many) it’s taken me ~6 months to get through the initial period and ~1 year to feel really comfortable. I think I can adapt to just about anything, but it always takes time.
Thank you Nina, we continue to learn from your experience sharing, and so by now your current post was common sense to us. I hope we get to visit with you & Paul once we break loose from the farm… L – 14 months!
Looking forward to when you guys get on the road!
Heh, your optimism comes through in this list. By our reckoning, 2, 3 and 5 are all positives (although we understand not everyone would agree).
More space means more junk that you have to maintain both physically and financially. Most folks would be better off, and happier too, if they downsized – a lot.
And while fulltime travelers sacrifice their favorite coffee shop, they gain the world – a pretty good trade, I’d say. It’s also so much fun to return to those favorite places; something fulltimers can do as often as they please.
Numbers 1 and 4 are really just “life.” In the “fantasy world” of fulltime travel these things probably don’t exist, so it’s worthwhile mentioning them. But there is only one way to escape these difficulties in the real world and most of us wouldn’t perfer that as a solution. LOL.
The one thing I do miss having lived in an RV for 2.5 years is residential insulation. If we don’t turn on the heat and A/C we’ll have days where the inside temp of the RV will go from the 30-40’s in the morning to the 90’s in the afternoon. I could live without that. But it is still a small price to pay.
Happy travels and blogging,
Great points, Brian and cheers for sharing. And I know what you mean about insulation. Sometimes it would be nice to have a warmly insulated rig….we’ve gotten ALOT better at travelling to the “right” places (with moderate temps), and insulation tricks like reflectix have really helped, but sometimes we get still either much colder or warmer than we’d like. All part of the trade-off….
We know life definitely doesn’t stop. Paul had major back surgery less than a year after we began our adventure.
I love the “newness” of moving to a different part of the country every so often. Gives me a much greater appreciation of how grand this country is.
Paul and I are closer now than we have ever been. Given the girls are grown up and out of the house, but we still were never this close until we began to travel. It such a “one” journey that a couple can’t help by connect more closely.
You guys went thro’ alot with that surgery, and I’ve met soooooo many RVers who have a similar story. In fact I can’t think of a single fulltimer who didn’t have some kind of major obstacle to overcome during their travels. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your blogs from all your travels. Hope we get to meet-up as you transition to snowbirders 🙂
Anne Swatfigure says
I just retired and I am tired of having to decide to travel or to pay $1500 a month for a one bedroom apt in southern California. I do have a medical condition or two that needs some regular maintenance. I would be RV’ing on my own in a Class A 30 ft or less and spending most of my time in the West. I have two problems, getting anything sent to me without a permanent address, and having a doctor. If I can get that worked out I’ll see you somewhere.
Well I hope you are able to get the details worked out. For doctor care I’ve met several RVers who work with docs that are online friendly and are able to renew prescriptions remotely or after blood tests. Then they’ll use a nationwide pharmacy such as CVS to get prescriptions wherever they happen to be. It’s definitely a little tricky, but hopefully you can find a doc willing to work the same way. Good luck with everything.
Nancy Rothrock says
I recently traveled to Houston from Carlsbad, CA and it was a breeze to transfer my prescriptions from Walmart to Walmart. Just be sure to change the location for renewing on-line! The Pharmacists are VERY accommodating..in my experience.
Marsha be. We’re you on the road when the need for surgery arose? How did you find a good doctor, hospital, etc? Reason I ask is that I have had major spine surgeries, need 1 more, but we hope to full time RV starting in 5-7 years. I fear having to find a spine surgeon and pain Mgmt doctor while on the road.
Karen Blaine says
Thanks for the awesome post…. I don’t see the things you pointed out as the ‘Dark Side’ but rather the new circumstances. No matter what choices you make in life there are trade offs, pluses and minuses and lessons to be learned. And yes, life marches on…….. with new circumstances, choices, etc. I am currently dealing with living completely solo for the first time in 40 plus years of adult life. It is a huge adjustment no matter if the home is on a foundation or wheels.. I am just starting the rolling lifestyle and appreciate the candor of the whole picture as it helps me to be realistic in my expectations. Funny, I wrote a blog along similar lines yesterday. http://avintagerollingstone.blogspot.com/2012/10/we-can-do-it.html I look forward to the ensuing discussions.
So very sorry for your recent loss! Life is a mass of transitions, and some of them are alot tougher than others. LOVE your post and positive, determined attitude. Thanks so much for sharing it.
Thank you for sharing some of the realities as we prepare to go full-time. I’m still not sure we have the right rig set up for full-timing but I guess we just need to jump in and figure it out. Thanks for another great post 🙂
Glad it was helpful. And yes, sometimes you just need to jump in and give it a try. I do that alot in my life! What’s the worst that can happen? You hate it and decide to go another route, but you learned something and had an experience along the way. That’s the kind of attitude I take to most things. Good luck on your travels!
Mark Gehring says
Funny, the two of us ( no pets even ) sort of had the opposite happen to us after we got home from 3.5 months on the road. Our 2500 sq ft house seemed embarrassingly large. Running water seemed very wasteful. Why do we have so many dishes and clothes? Don’t know if we’ll ever be full timers, but doesn’t sound out of the question for us.
Heheh…house transition problems….I can totally see that, especially after a longer bout on the road. I think this lifestyle calls to some people, and for others it will never make sense. Thank goodness too…can’t have EVERYONE RVing 🙂
Dave here who sort of started the discussion which Wishing On RV star piggybacked well off of…just reflecting on our original blog post, we have drawn several conclusions: 1) Guilty of way too much travel (26 states/6 mos/9K miles) 2) The struggle of “taking ” vs. “giving” is an adjustment–while many struggle, we are out here chilling away. Gets resolved by accepting we have been blessed to be able to do this and it is only a season of our life, we still look for ways to give back to the RV community 3) Biggest take away–DO NOT over commit to friends and family on where/when to meet up, it really bogged us down having to speed up/reduce pace and resulted in us unable to escape miserable weather for long periods of time awaiting for our date commitment to pass….
Thanks for chiming in! For those reading your comment & curious about your post I’ll link to it here:
Loving It? Leaving It? 6 Months On The Road
26 states/6 months/9K miles NO WONDER you’re burnt out!! We did a total of ~8K miles in our first year and that almost did us in. I’d definitely recommend slowing down, finding some good weather and just enjoying the journey. As I said this lifestyle definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re already on the road it’s worth slowing down to see if that changes your experience. Hoping you get some good days ahead, no matter what you decide.
Luke Alexander says
Cherie @Technomadia says
I can only but chuckle with complete understanding at each point in this post. 🙂 Cheers!
Hehe…figured “old hands” like you would enjoy the post.
George & Suzie says
Excellent posting. We are in our 7th year fulltiming and would not trade it for anything. The itinerary is written in jello and we just go with the flow. Like you said smaller house less space, less work more fun. More places to see and lots of people to meet. Such a versatile lifestyle, glad its not for everyone it would get crowded out here.
7 years is fabulous! We initially planned for a year, then decided another year, and now are in our 3rd year with no real plans to stop. I think if the lifestyle speaks to you it’s hard to get away from it!
Lynda & Howard says
Tremendous! I got side-tracked on every single link, each filled with humor, inspiration, and good advice; that said after 17 years of full-time RVing “bliss”, and having experienced much of which you write! Also, really like Paul’s investment blog. Thanks…Lynda & Howard
Glad I managed to get the humor thro’ even when writing about the “dark” side. I had alot of fun with the post. And 17 years full-timing is QUITE the record…I can see alot of amazing memories made in that time. Not sure we’ll end up quite that long on the road, but you never know. Nothing in life is certain…
P.S. Paul’s really happy you like his blog. He doesn’t blog as often as me, but when it does it’s pretty good stuff 🙂
Mara A. says
“So is fulltime RVing for everyone? Hell no! ”
May you be blessed by your favorite deity for saying that! How refreshing to hear (*goes to click the ‘subscribe to RSS feed’ button*). I’m so sick of FT RVer blogs by people who act like they get a $1,000 bonus for each convert they sign up.
It’s a lifestyle choice, and for some of us, it’s a great choice. For some of us, it’s the only right choice. But no, it’s *not* for everyone…and anyone who claims otherwise is a self-centered bore who’s probably trying to justify their own choices.
Totally agree with everything you said! Nina
It’s always a pleasure to read your views…you bring everything into perspective for us! We can finally say “LESS than year!”. Your posts have made our planning for the upcoming journey so much easier. I really think we are there in so many ways…while there will be adjustments, its going to be so nice to take the ride with my soul mate and we love tiny places O:)! I hope I can give back in many ways as you have to everyone who is fortunate to read your posts!
Sure wish you all the best luck with your upcoming travels. We thoroughly enjoy this lifestyle, as I’m sure you can tell, but it’s not for everyone. I’m happy I can give you a somewhat balanced view!
jil mohr says
Very well put…..and from our own personal experiences totally agree… we have grown from each and every experience we have had…the good ones, the bad ones, the ugly ones and the great ones…wouldn’t have it any other way….I think the only point we never experienced is the racing around to see it all in the first year…we are on out 10th year and still haven’t seen it all!
Yup, I think alot of “newbie” RVers make that racing around mistake. You guys are old hands at this and have definitely found your grove. So happy we met you early in our travels!
john aka Heyduke says
The only one that affects any is number 4 with the cost parks and fuel higher (especially here in California) but the biggest downside to RV’ing to us is getting quality medical care… difficult when traveling and not stationary…
Medical care is most definitely more difficult on the road, especially if you’re paying out of pocket (as we do, for alot of stuff). Sometime this winter I hope to sit down and write a more detailed post on medical care & managing those costs on the road.
That’s what worries me most. . I have excellent insurance and can add hubby when he stops working. BUT it’s finding the right care (I’ve had 25 surgeries since age 15 and I’m 46! Hubby hopes to retire in 5 years when he’s around 58. He has fewer heath issues to worry about.
Sharon Wallace says
We’re about to the end of year #11 on the road… in a 27′ motorhome… no slideouts… and no TV (by choice). The only difference I can see is that we were nearly 60 years old when we started out and already had our financial ducks in a row, so while not wealthy, we did have an income (limited though it was). But we found we truly enjoyed volunteering at NWRs and the trade-off of labor for a “free” hook-up allowed us to “pay back” a bit for the wonderful life we have. Very thoughtful blog… thanks!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I have to admit our first volunteering job this summer has already got us hooked. I think volunteering or workamping can be really fulfilling and a great addition to the RV lifestyle.
Your photo captions are hilarious!!
Thanks, Sam. I had a alot of fun coming up w/ those pics & captions 🙂
Really great post and amazingly well done with so many links. Must have taken you forever. But thanks, I know it will help a lot of people just starting out. #1 is the biggest in my mind…..it’s still life with problems and inconveniences both big and small. Maybe different ones, but still there. Like Heyduke, I think the medical/dental part is the most difficult while traveling. Everything else can be worked around as you have so clearly show. Very very nice job.
Yup, totally agree that medical care can be more complicated. We’ve had quite alot done on the road in that department the last 3 years so hoping to write it all up at some point. It’s a complicated mess!
Hi we are trying to work through all concerns before retiring at 60 and 61 and buying a Newmar class A. Our biggest concern is health care, what do full times do for health care?
Pre-Medicare the best option is to sign up for a health plan either through the ACA or with a company not on the ACA. I have lots of posts about health care in my “Health Care” tab so I suggest starting there:
I’ll be writing a blog about our 2017 choices soon after open enrollment in November.
The Good Luck Duck says
Well done. Still, you managed to make the dark side seem pretty okay. Which it is.
Thanks, ducks! You guys make the dark side seem pretty good too 🙂
We are sitting in the driveway of what ‘was’ our house, in our new ‘home’, a 1987 Winnebago 27′ long.
Yep, we are another couple diving into the RV “lifestyle” with both feet. It’s not sink or swim, more like “everybody has to be somewhere” & this life is worth an honest look.
The way life worked out the last few years left us with options, an RV was one of them. We took it.
Well, congrats on the rig and the new lifestyle. Everything we do in life is a challenge, and everything we try has positives and negatives. Here’s hoping you enjoy this lifestyle as much as we do. TAKE your time, smell the roses, and good travels to ya!
Nina, I love all your posts but this one is just excellent, perhaps because it is more personal and causes one to think and there certainly is a lot to think about and talk through before embarking on this lifestyle. As I might have mentioned in an earlier post of mine, this was probably more Terry’s dream initially than mine to full-time but in the past 6-months especially, I have fallen more in love with it than I had even dreamed. We have seen some of the most amazing countryside and met some of the most interesting people.
I am still so thankful for the day that I sent you an email when I realized you and Paul were going to be in SD at the same time as us and asked if you would like to meet. It has been wonderful getting to know the two of you and we have learned a tremendous amount from both of you in the process. We will be eternally grateful for all you have shared; your generosity is overwhelming.
Now you have introduced the two of us to boondocking and life will never be the same, as in never again as dull! We are loving this lifestyle and agree that you need to be patient and adaptable because stuff is going to happen, that is a big FOR SURE. Once you can move beyond any frustrating experience, whether RV’ing or otherwise, you have some pretty awesome stories and memories to last a lifetime.
Again, amazing post Nina. 🙂
Thanks for the lovely words Lu. I’ve LOVED meeting you guys and am totally enjoying our time together. And I’ve also enjoyed introducing you to dry-camping & boondocking. If you’re nature-lovers like we are, once you see the possibilities of this kind of camping it’s tough to go back.
An RV has all the same potential problems of a house, plus more because it gets bumped down the highways of life. I’ve both shared and not shared my limited living space, sometimes that worked better than others. Yet when I have too much space in my RV home I feel more lost than outside in the middle of nowhere.
Yeah, the knocking around definitely makes for more repairs. We’ve had screws come lose, things fall off the walls, even the TV came off it’s frame at one point. It’s like taking a regular house and putting it in a small earthquake everyday…definitely makes life interesting.
Jerry and Suzy says
Amen to all of that! We’ve been through every bit of it, and fortunately have lived through it. Now we have a wonderful past 10 years to look back on, and (we hope) some more wonderful years ahead of us, once we get through the period we are in. Yes, we did the first year hot trots also, hit too many places for too short a time, and even burned ourselves out with three major rallies. Now we don’t like big rallies any more!
So true, Suzy. I think even for those who RV long-term there are transitions and changes. What you like when you first start out travelling might not be what you like after 3 or 5 or 10 years of travels. I know you guys have been thro’ it all, medical challenges included, but you’ve built up some fabulous memories too.
Mark and Lauree Land Yacht Ahoy says
I read your blog more than anyones. And this post is the main reason why. With our 5 month trip last year and this Saturday ends our 2 month trip this year. Your post makes us want to do more next year.
While on this 2 month trip we met 2 very wonderful Fulltime couples. and was incredible listening to their stories. Of course I was full of questions and they loved talking about their experience.
So to us wannabee’s, your blog is just the right fix.
Glad I can give ya some inspiration! Thanks for the comment!
Box Canyon Blogger says
I’ve written about “the dark side” several times and taken flack for it. But these things need to be said and read by future “Utopians.” :))
Attitude is everything. If you are rich… have a nice soft govie pension or Corporate retirement check coming in… then road woes are mostly just a time inconvenience. But if you are doing it on a “shoestring,” especially if you are younger and have no S S or IRA money coming in, then it is scary. We have never met our modest budget… never. We always exceed best laid estimations of how much it will cost to full time. Stuff happens. If you sold your house to live and fund the RV life, ask yourself this question: “Do I want to live out my old age years in what will be a run down, broken down, wore out wreck of an RV twenty years from now?” It’s sobering. “Showstringers” like us couldn’t sustain full timing into the “sunset” and had to stop and go back to work several times to refund the dwindling bank accounts. Good post… and thanks.
Box Canyon Mark
Excellent comment and thoughts! Not everyone sees the future of their actions. Thanks for sharing!
jil mohr says
PS I also wanted to add that I don’t really think any of the points are the dark side (implying negative) but the “other” side implying like any kind of living etc there are two sides and one will always experience both…..who we are will determine how we handle them…..and from what I have been reading these past few years on your blogs, you both are handling both sides well….
Very true…there are two sides to EVERYTHING in life!
Bear Tracks Blog says
Nina, I agree with everything you list! Mike and I began our retirement sailing the world for 7 years. Everything you mention is the exact same for full-time liveaboard sailors. We met many that didn’t make it through that first year for exactly the reasons you list. But just like RV’ers, the ones that make the adjustments are richer for it! We have always loved the changing view of our backyard. I chuckled at #2 .. moving from a sailboat into our motorhome feels so BIG and luxurious! I guess it’s all relative.
Yup, all these things are definitely relative. My brother is a big sailer and lived on a chinese wooden junk in Hong Kong for many years…talk about not alot of space! But he loves the water and always felt it was more than big enough. If I didn’t get sea-sick at the drop of a bucket I would try fulltime sailing too.
I loved your link to breaking things. Our first RV was a travel trailer, while closing a slide I did not realize the bathroom door was open, and the slide took it clean off the frame. Closing the slides is not my job anymore. We’ve been out for 4 years, still looking for the “final resting place” to buy a house someday, haven’t found it yet. We love your blog. Can you please do a post about grey water management when boon docking?
Ouch! Those kinds of accidents are a bum!
As for grey water, the one post I’ve written which addresses this is more from the other side (water conservation), but maybe it’ll give you some ideas:
Going “Water Green” = Conserving Water On The Road
Nina, this was a very educational and entertaining post. I appreciate your honesty in talking about things that are not all ‘lollipops and roses.’ I’m in the planning stages of buying an RV or trailer and starting a new phase of my life, so I want to learn as much as I can, the bad as well as the good. Like others have said, it sounds not such much like the ‘dark’ side, but the side that many fulltimers don’t talk about. I enjoy reading about all your adventures and hope to join you on the road in about a year (or sooner, depends on how I feel LOL)
Well I’m glad the post was helpful and certainly wish you the best of luck with all your RVing plans! See ya down the road!
How did you decide on The Beast? We’ve talked about going from a 5th wheel to a motorhome when we full-time in a few years. We talk about floor plan vs amenities/storage. I’m willing to give a little on the floor plan if we get awesome storage in return (we’ll be keeping stome stuff in storage for when we exit the full time lifestyle and re-settle down. Not a lot, but the family stuff you can’t replace.)
There were several reasons we decided on a Class A versus a 5th wheel, the biggest one being the pets! I think there are advantages & disadvantages to each, but here’s my (very quick) take on it:
Class A Pro’s
1/ Super-easy to set-up and pull-down. Can do it one person w/ no trouble
2/ Pets can travel with you in the RV in comfort
3/ Easy access to everything while travelling
4/ Can pull a fuel-efficient car behind the rig (great for sight-seeing)
5/ Lots of storage space
Class A Con’s
1/ More expensive to maintain (than a 5th wheel)
2/ Not good at “sitting around” (Class A’s really need to be driven)
3/ Interiors tend to be more “bus-like”
4/ Heavier & generally closer to the ground than 5th wheels
5th Wheel Pro’s
1/ Cheaper to maintain (than a Class A) -> only one engine
2/ Great for longer-term stays (just set-up and leave it)
3/ Nice interior layouts (often more “homely” than a Class A)
4/ Often have higher clearance & are lighter than Class A’s (positive for boondocking)
5th Wheel Con’s
1/ Pets have to be confined & travel in truck when on the move
2/ More hassle to set-up, take-down
3/ No access to “the house” while travelling
4/ Heavy, fuel-hungry truck for sight-seeing while in camp
So…just depends on what you want. We’ve been very happy w/ our Class A decision and would go w/ the same again.
Thank you SO much for the information. We’re within a few years, maybe 3-5, so we are asking anyone and everyone! I worry about the Class A being in the shop and having to take pets to a hotel. But I guess first we have to figure out if we want to travel a lot or stay put a lot…so maybe we start out in a class A and later change to a 5th wheel when we slow down.
If it helps any we’ve never had any issues w/ the pets while the RV has been in the shop. Most RV shops are “fulltimer friendly” and will allow you to bring the dog and cats into the waiting area…or if needed leave the cats closed off in the back of the RV. That’s what we’ve done everytime we’ve needed service and it’s worked fine. If we ever slow down we’d probably look at a 5th wheel too, but for now the Class A is perfect.
I would love to be a full time RV’er. After reading your post, it reenforces my concerns that my wife would not be able to do it. Thanks.
Well, I’m certainly sorry you have differing opinions but perhaps you can reach a happy medium? Longer part-time travel? Half-year travel? There are lots of different ways to RV and one way is not universal for everyone.
Curt and Marie says
Thank you so much for your wit and honesty. Marie and I are getting ready to take the leap.
sitting In our driveway is a 1999 34D Fleetwood Flair. I am spending every day off work remodeling the interior living space and underneath checking every mechanical component of the coach and our planned “Toad” (2000 Durango). Marie reads full time blogs and gives me shopping lists and hand drawn plans on what I need to build to make the most of our little space.
Along with her oversight of my efforts outside she is working on getting rid of all the stuff (or junk) from inside our house. I feel the transition to the full time lifestyle will be easier for us then some. I am retired from 26 years in the Army and we averaged a move just about every 3 years our entire married life (30 years now) I retired in 2008 and have been teaching high school since then. This is my last year in the classroom and we hit the road June 13!! We are blessed with the custody of and raising our 4 year old granddaughter, Taylor. Our first stop after we leave Michigan will be to re-register the coach and toad in a lower or no tax state then stop while Taylor attends kindergarten. After that I will home school her until I reach social security age then jump back into a stick and brick home. We are not fooling ourselves, these years will have challenges but that’s why we are going. Hey folks come to the Huge one family garage sale June 1-13 Saint Clair Shores Michigan. Its at the house with the big RV in the driveway!
How exciting! The best of luck with all your plans! You’re going into it well prepared, so I have no doubt you’ll get a fine adventure out of it.
Hi I enjoyed reading your article.
I just retired from the fire department and I’m ready to get to some peace and quiet so full-time RVing is going to be a blessing.
I enjoy reading articles like yours it is with a good attitude and humor while still pointing out positive and negatives.
Take care and enjoy the road.
Dave & April says
I have been reading your posts for a while now and have enjoyed and plan to heed you advice. We are about to make to transition to the RV world. We are both a little nervous but also excited. I have been a gypsy most of my life, born in the south grew up the far east (Japan) and middle east (Turkey and Pakistan) and all points in the US. I can work from anywhere as long as I have an internet connection and plan to do so (last year I worked from a hotel in Bangalore India). Because of work our traveling will be mostly on the weekends so it will be slow and easy (one of your suggestions) and follow the weather (another of your suggestions).
Any suggestions for a good mobile internet provider would be appreciated. I have been looking and there are some available but if anyone has any real world experience I would like to hear it.
The RV we selected as our new home is not small but it’s also not the biggest but it does have the amenities to make life somewhat easier. Hopefully I will meet some of you on the road.
For RV travel you really want good nationwide coverage, and the best providers for that are Verizon and ATT. We actually have both and that covers us 99% of the places we go. You can read about our current internet and phone setup here:
If you have an existing phone plan with either Verizon or ATT you should be able to add a data plan to it and hotspot as needed for your computers, pads and other devices.If you need more data plan on either upping the plan or getting a separate MiFi.
Hope that helps!
Cheryl K says
I love following your blog and you always have such insightful advice. We finally sold our house and are in the process of packing up to RV until we dont want to anymore. We still have not found the right RV that says ‘home’ and feeling a bit stressed at being homeless in 10 days. Everyone says to go as big as possible and I keep repeating ‘Nina says dont go too big’! Its a frightening purchase and I worry I will be intimidated to handle it alone. I did read your post and figure I can do it, I just need to try.
As I pack the kitchen I thought I would ask which appliances do you use if any? Its amazing how many I have acquired over the years. I have so many more questions but will look for the answers in your past post. Good luck this summer and I hope our paths cross one day.
Hi! I’ve actually decided to get an RV to go to college. After spending a semester in a dorm, and finding that it cost the same as buying an RV outright, I’ve decided that i’d much rather have a home on wheels, than pay the university! Love stories like this. 🙂
As long as there’s somewhere within reasonable distance of your school to park and the weather is not too extreme, I think it’s do-able. If the rig is going through to sit still and not drive for a few years I’d recommend getting a 5th-wheel/trailer over a Class A (no point having an engine sit around idle for several years).
Mel n Don says
You people are awesome! I am currently brushing up on my last-minute RV homework before an early bedtime as my husband and I are saying ‘Good Bye’ to the brick-n-mortar house and jumping into our Class A 1992 Fleetwood Bounder!!!! This is something we have been planning for the last TEN years!! And it’s all happening FINALLY this weekend!!!! Keep up the blogging and I’ll keep following!!!!
Can someone help me with this? I have already lived in a RV for 8 months with a small child many years ago. I didn’t like it and my husband was never around to help and he choose this life for us. Now in our 60’s he wants to move into a small RV again. He is not planning either. I have major health issues, am a cancer survivor on a insulin pen and a few other things. We are not rich. He wants to travel around the country and just stop places to stay in parking lots etc. Help me understand how I am supposed to visit the Dr like I ‘m supposed to etc. Help We spent most of our very long marriage traveling all over the country and for the first time in my life I have lived somewhere for over 10 yrs. He also has a major illnesses. I don’t feel goo a lot and can’t see myself arranging all this about my health. If we have to pay for our meds that is not saving us any money period Any suggestions
Unless you are *both* bought into and excited about living the fulltime lifestyle, then this is not the lifestyle for you.
There are ways to handle healthcare on the road by taking shorter trips, arranging regular visits back to your “home” doctor and getting longer-term prescriptions. We’ve met couples who’ve managed and handled serious health issues this way, but you both have to be willing to arrange your travels around these doctor visits and change your plans (often with little notice) based on whatever unexpected issues might come up along the way. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
Another idea is to look at part-time travel. For example stay home for half the year, and travel the other half. That may be another compromise that could work, depending on whether it’s financially viable and how open you both are to the option. Lastly solo travel part of the year (for your husband) may also be an option, if that’s something that works for both of you. We’ve met couples who do both of these options and enjoy the mix.
But bottom line is that this has to be a joint decision that both of you agree to. Otherwise it simply cannot work.
I wish you all the best.
“Paul certainly misses his 400+ investment books,”
That is why I put all my books on computer….and I have thousands!
We do have a bunch of books in electronic format, but unfortunately many of Paul’s specialized investment books were not available in that format when we bought them (and even today). Otherwise I love Kindle for reading.
Great post and we’ve already experienced a few of the things on your list in our 3+ months of full-timing. I fully expect to experience the others travelling with my wife and 2 boys under 5 (not to mention our 35# boxer). We were probably not as prepared knowledge-wise to begin full time travel but we made a commitment to each other to maintain positive attitudes and take the good with the bad. Thanks for the insight on what to expect and have a great time travelling. Keep Smiling!!
A positive attitude is so key, and goes a long way towards overcoming much of the tough stuff. You’ve got a full house traveling with you! I have no doubt you’re creating experiences that you’ll all cherish for the rest of your lives. Wish you the very best of travels!
wendell j taylor says
been thanking about going out full time never had an rv had a trailer 1 time mostly used a tent but now the kids are gone both ou us are in the 70s collecting ssi would like to live cheap but not poor any advice haven’t bought one yet still looking