Downsizing to an RV Full-Time: Pros and Cons

There comes a time in most people’s lives when they decide to downsize to a smaller home. Whether you’re an empty-nester needing less space, wanting to be closer to family, or transitioning to a single-level home, downsizing to an RV full-time might be right for you. In this blog, we’ll review the pros and cons of full-time RV living.

The Pros

1. Freedom to Move Anywhere, Anytime

If you’ve thought about downsizing, you’ve probably also thought about relocating to a new city or state. One of the top bonuses of living in an RV full-time is that you have the freedom to move anywhere, anytime. You can stay in one place as your temporary home between short road trips.

Moving at your convenience is especially beneficial to avoid poor seasonal weather conditions. For example, you can tour the south for the winter to avoid extreme cold and head northbound for the summer to avoid extreme heat.

2. Ability to Travel at a Moment’s Notice

Similar to having the freedom to move, you have the ability to travel at a moment’s notice. If you’ve ever caught yourself scrolling on social media travel pages or reading travel blogs, you can turn your daydreams into reality while living in an RV full-time. Since you’ll already have everything you need with you, there’s no need to pack or plan much at all. All you need to do is fill up the gas tank, determine your driving route, and go!

3. Spend Money and Time on Experiences, Not Things

If you choose to live in an RV full-time, you’ll save a significant amount of money compared to living in a home you own or lease. Instead of spending money on things like your mortgage or rent and utility bills, spend it on experiences, such as trying new foods, buying day passes to state or national parks, or seeing your favorite band perform live. As long as you’re living in an RV full-time, whatever you spend your money on will be much more enjoyable than what you previously spent it on.

Aside from saving money, you’ll also save time. Think of all your time spent caring for your home, from cleaning to yard work. While living in an RV, there’s minimal cleaning and no yard work to be done, leaving ample time for you to do as you please, not as you must. With this extra time on your hands, you can learn new hobbies, read new books, or simply bask in the peaceful view of nature from your bed.

4. Work From Anywhere

Although the concept of working from anywhere applies to many people since the new “work from home” model was adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, most people who have the option don’t take enough advantage of the flexibility that remote working offers. Maybe this is because spending time away from home takes time to plan, such as accounting for who will watch your pets, water your plants, fetch your mail, etc. Once you’re already on the road, there’s not much stopping you from working anywhere you desire.

If you’ve already retired, this perk of living in an RV full-time could still apply to you. If you don’t have a job, your hobbies can be considered your new job, which you can now work on from anywhere.

5. Meet New People

One of the luxuries of traveling is meeting new people. While living in an RV, you can make new friends at campsites, hikes, restaurants, or anywhere you’re feeling social. Additionally, the RV community is known to be a welcoming network of like-minded individuals. Consider joining online RV communities, such as Facebook groups, to find people near you throughout your journey across the country.

The Cons

1. RV Living Costs

Although RV living is cheaper than owning or leasing a home, there are still expenses to consider, such as a variety of alternative living costs like the downpayment of your RV, interest on monthly installments, gas, maintenance, and repairs. RVs require much more maintenance than cars because they involve more mechanical systems, meaning more parts that need frequent replacements.

Some routine RV maintenance and repair costs include water and sewage systems, oil changes, brake replacements, resealing the roof, tire replacements, dumping and cleaning the sewage tanks, and washing the exterior. Also, consider the cost of a hotel if you need to leave your RV at a repair shop for an extended period of time.

2. Difficult to Visit Larger Cities

While most people who live in an RV full-time choose to get away from the cities and into nature, there are reasons for traveling to larger cities, too. Whether traveling to a big city for work, to visit family, or just to be a tourist, you will need to plan ahead for parking and commuting. Most major cities don’t have many (if any) RV parks, and you’ll find it nearly impossible to find a lot or street spot where you can park your RV. On the off chance you can find an affordable RV park in the city you’re visiting, it will still be quite challenging maneuvering a vehicle as large as an RV in a busy city.

When visiting larger cities, plan to park at an RV lot or campground outside the city and commute via bus, train, or taxi, depending on the distance. If this sounds like too much of a hassle, consider visiting smaller cities, which are more likely to have RV parks nearby.

3. Limited Space

RV living takes downsizing to a whole new level. Your new home will be approximately the size of one to two small bedrooms, depending on which type of RV you buy. The limited space in RVs means you must downsize everything you own–from clothes to kitchen utensils–to live comfortably in your new home on wheels. Aside from a lack of personal space for privacy, RVs typically have tiny kitchens and minimal storage space. Prioritize which items you keep, sell, or put away in a storage unit. You will likely only have room for one pot or pan, so choose wisely. Some RV owners opt for an expandable exterior cooktop for more space, but this feature is a costly amenity.

4. Access to Resources

Another downfall to RV living is your lack of access to resources–such as groceries, healthcare, laundromats, and mail delivery–while on the road.

Although grocery stores aren’t often hard to find, stores that carry certain items may be difficult. Depending on your route, you may have to substitute convenience stores or gas stations for fully-stocked grocery stores.

If you have a medical condition, plan your driving routes around healthcare facilities in case you need immediate medical attention. As long as you plan ahead, access to healthcare shouldn’t be a huge concern.

Laundromats are another thing to account for while planning your next trip. Laundromats aren’t common in many places, especially nowadays, when in-unit laundry is common. Make sure to plan to stop along the way or in a town with a laundromat, and prepare to re-wear outfits between laundry stops.

The first step to solving how and where you receive mail deliveries is cutting down on your volume of mail, as there is no easy way to receive mail while living in an RV full-time. One way to receive your mail is to use your RV’s permanent address, known as a domicile. Mail forwarding providers like Escapees Mail Service use domiciles as your home base for mail pick-up options in Texas, Florida, and South Dakota, which are the top three hospitable states to full-time RVers. Another option for receiving mail while living in an RV full-time is to schedule deliveries at a pick-up location along your route through USPS, UPS, FedEx, or Amazon.

5. Feeling Homesick

Although meeting new people on the road can be extremely exciting, most full-time RVers will face a time when they miss their existing people, whether family, friends, or colleagues. However, getting homesick isn’t always a reason to give up and head home. Instead, plan a few times a year when some of your closest friends or family members can join you on a road trip to one or more locations. They can fly and meet you on the road, or you can take a pitstop home to pick them up before taking off again.

Downsizing to an RV full-time presents unique opportunities for freedom, travel, and new experiences. The ability to work from anywhere, save money on living expenses, and connect with like-minded individuals on the road are alluring aspects. However, it comes with ongoing maintenance costs, limited space, difficulties visiting larger cities, and occasional homesickness. Choosing this lifestyle requires careful consideration of both its perks and practicalities. If you can get past the cons, then you’ll have a wonderful time enjoying the pros of full-time RV living!

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