One year living in an RV with two toddlers

Full Time RV Family

Our whole family thought we were crazy. Our friends all said it was cool, but inside they probably thought we had lost our mind. What parent in their right mind would live in 250 square-feet of space with two toddlers? Our minds had been made up though, and nothing was going to change it.

Almost one year ago today my wife and I had just finished paying off our debt. We celebrated by visiting Dave Ramsey in Nashville Tennessee and did our “Debt Free Scream” on his nationally syndicated radio program. Just prior to making the trip I had sold my 2009 Subaru Outback and paid cash for a used RV.

The RV was our new home. In just a few short weeks our lease was going to be up on our apartment in South Austin. We would then kick off our new tiny home lifestyle with a trip to Colorado and Utah to promote Bearded Brothers (our family business) in a new region of Whole Foods. I was also going to use the time in the mountains to help train for the Wasatch 100, which I completed in September in a time of 36 hours and 20 minutes.

We spent several weeks leading up to the big move repairing our RV, that we affectionally named, Thistle, for reasons I can’t go into detail on. But we finished the repairs just in time, and actually managed to move out of our apartment, into our tiny home on wheels, three days early.

After one month of living in various RV parks around Austin, we hit the road for our Summer tour. Thankfully at that point our kids had pretty much already grown accustomed to living in the RV. They didn’t mind it one bit. There wasn’t a single dose of complaining about the tiny space. That’s the beautiful thing about toddlers, it’s easier to make big life changes like this because they just roll with the punches. To them it was just life…it was their normal.

Throughout the summer we rolled around from RV park to RV park, including some family vacation time in Estes Park. The entire time our kids, Abigail and Joshua, just rolled with the punches. To them it was just one huge adventure. They actually loved not having structured days, and loved having LOTS of time outside in nature.

Estes Park KOA RV Park

Estes Park KOA. We parked here for a week to enjoy a family vacation.

We were usually parked next to a river or right under the mountains. One of my favorite spots, and one of the most breathtaking was Leadville, although the wife despised it because of the altitude. The kids loved it too, and the RV park actually brought back fond memories of being in the mountains as a child, and it had turned out I had stayed in that exact same park when I was nine. We even recreated an old photo of my sister and I with my own kids in a play fort they had at the playground.

The trip wasn’t all fun and games though. Most of the days we lived a normal life. I worked most days, usually doing product demos at Whole Foods to promote our energy bars that had just landed on their shelves. But our kids never complained about being away from “home” because to them, “home is where you park it.”

The apex of the trip was late September in Utah when I ran the Wasatch 100. It was my dream race, and I conquered it — but by then my wife and I were missing Austin more than our kids were, and our journey wasn’t quite over. We still had to stop in Arkansas for the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell, a 24 Hour Climbing Competition that Bearded Brothers was sponsoring.

The journey of this part of the trip was pretty epic. It included tire blow outs, run-ins with the local rednecks, declined credit cards, and not having use of the RV bathroom for the last week of the trip. And who do you think struggled the most with this? Was it our kids? Nope…it was the adults.

We made it though, and we couldn’t have been happier to cross the state line into Texas. Even then we still had several hours before we arrived in Austin, which is where our tiny home on wheels remains parked.

Since the big summer expedition we have taken Thistle on two other journeys. One of them being to the Guadalupe Mountains to summit Texas’ highest mountain, Guadalupe Peak. We have the most fun when we travel, that is for sure, but for the next year or so Thistle will remain parked, as we are expecting our third child in September (we are not looking forward to the Texas summer in an RV)!

Guadalupe Mountains RV

Thistle, parked in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Of course our family and friends are now asking us, “Are you going to move back into an apartment now, or find a house?” And our answer is simply, NO. We love tiny living, and our kids do too. I’d venture to say that many people use their kids as cover up for their own fears. Our kids have never raised an objection to how life is, they just roll with the punches, and they have taught us to do the same.

4 Comments on “One year living in an RV with two toddlers

  1. This is great, my wife and I are planning on starting our full time RV life in about 12-months. We have 2 children (8 and 12), do you have any recommendations or comments about full timing with two children?

    • Joseph, they are kids….they are resilient and will probably actually think it’s pretty cool. Our kids have just rolled with the punches.
      My best recommendation is to get an RV with a rear bunkhouse with the kids, so you have some separation when you sleep. We also never worried about “being quiet” when they went to bed. We just did our thing, cleaned up after dinner, sat and read books, or watched DVD’s in our room. They have never been bugged by the ambient noise. They just got used to it.

  2. This is great! So we’re considering doing this in Phoenix Arizona. My biggest concern so far is finding a safe RV park for our almost 2 year old and 3 year old. Obviously, a lot of parks in this area are 55+ and the ones that aren’t look somewhat lackluster. What are your tips for finding a permanent parking space?

    • For full time spots you might have to have lower expectations. Parks are either a bit run down or have tons of amenities and are expensive compared to other parks (but still cheaper than rent on a house or apartment). Our full time spot is pretty lack luster but is close to downtown and grocery stores.

      We also check the sex offender database regularly. Since the residents are full time they have to register just like anybody else. So we are always aware of any obvious dangers that might be lurking.

      We also make an effort to get to know our neighbors as well and keep a close watch on the goings on in our park. We full much safer in our park than it looks.

      Our options in Austin are pretty limited too. Not sure what you have in Arizona but full time slots here in Austin go for around $500 per month plus electric, regardless of how nice the park is. Some nicer ones further out of town are actually cheaper.

      I remember one REALLY nice park we stayed in in Golden, CO had full time spots and I think monthly space rental was around $700, and that place had several nice amenities, like a small library, community room pool, and nice laundry facility.

      Best of luck, and my best advice is just do it. Figure things out as you go…that is exactly what we did 🙂

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