Posted on May 8, 2018
What we have learned after living in an RV full time for three years
If you are stumbling across this blog for the first time, you should know we are a family of five, and live in a 35’ fifth wheel RV. Our children are ages 6 and under, and we started the journey with just two kids. They were ages three and one when we first started. I remember family telling us before we dove into this crazy journey, “it will ruin your marriage,” and all sorts of other fear tactics to steer us clear of the full time RV life.
It should be stated also, that the whole thing was Kristy’s idea. I was hesitant at first. I wanted to be able to have “space” if need be, and the idea of close quarters kind of scared me, but now I see it as the best thing we have ever done.
Our journey into full time RV life began shortly after we drove to Tennessee to do our Debt Free Scream on the Dave Ramsey Show. Becoming debt free was the catalyst to jumping into this crazy journey. After paying off our debt, we sold everything we owned, including my 6 year old Subaru Outback, my carbon fiber road bike, and pretty much everything we owned. We used the money we made from that to purchase our 2006 Four Winds trailer, and a 2001 Ford F-250 7.3L diesel truck to tow it with.
You don’t need so much space: smaller spaces are less stressful and easier to clean
The smaller space was probably what I feared most, aside from learning how to tow a trailer, but I’ve learned that large amounts of space are not necessary, and I now prefer smaller spaces. It’s nice on occasion to visit family and be able to spread out in their home, but overall large spaces overwhelm now. Having a small space is easier to clean. It takes us about 10 minutes to pick up the entire RV, and about 30 minutes to do a more thorough clean. Smaller spaces are easier to manage, and honestly feel quite cozy.
You spend more time outdoors when you live in a tiny home
One of our main goals in transitioning to the full-time RV life was to spend more time outdoors, and indeed we do. Living in a small space is great, but there is something magical about it I think. It forces you outdoors when you don’t have a reason to be inside. If we aren’t making dinner, or working on our computers, we usually find ourselves outside (we do occasionally work outdoors though). Our children are almost always outside, which is absolutely wonderful.
Plus, our home is on wheels! So we can literally have our entire life with us wherever we go, and having weekend adventures is so much easier. I still recall one weekend within the first year of living in the RV full time. We had planned on actually camping at one of my trail races, and then it dawned on us, we can just take our entire home. So we did. Outdoor adventures are so much easier, when you don’t have to pack
Downsizing and purging is addicting
When we first started this journey I had a really hard time with getting rid of things. Such as my road bike, and my really nice food dehydrator (which I hadn’t used in a year). Now, things are different. I’m always thinking of things we can purge and get rid of. Often times it’s kids toys. We have found that the life cycle of a kid toy is about one week before they move on and forget about it. Our kids never miss a toy we give away or donate. We now do a purge about twice a year, where we go through our things and get rid of any excess. Living tiny definitely helps you keep your possessions to a minimum and only buy things you really need.
The tight quarters create closeness
No matter what we are doing, we are close. If the kids are playing or watching a movie, we are an arm’s reach away. If Kristy and I are doing work things, we are right next to each other, working on our passions. It creates more opportunities for conversation and interactions as well. We can easily talk to one another while getting ready to leave for the day, as we are in the same room, vs. being on the other side of a house.
Being mobile creates spontaneity
Last summer we thought we were going to stay in Texas. We didn’t think the budget could handle traveling to Colorado and staying in expensive RV parks, but once the Texas heat kicked in, and our tin can of a home heated up, we began dreaming of heading to the mountains. We started researching RV parks in New Mexico, that were closer to Austin, and had an affordable rate. We found an RV park with low monthly rates in the town of Red River. The average high temp was 70 degrees.
So we called and made a reservation for 6 weeks, but during our last week Texas was getting hit by a hurricane and even Austin was experiencing massive rains and high wind, so we extended our stay for another week. Being mobile just gives you so much freedom, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Experiences over possessions
Experiences bring much more joy than a new gadget or fancy car. When we spend less money on things, we have more financial freedom to travel and experience things as a family. Our own family mission is: “to glorify God and share his love through hospitality and generosity, by valuing people and experiences over possessions; while living a life of freedom which allows us to enjoy the outdoors, respect the environment and lead a healthy active lifestyle.”
And let me tell you, this journey has lead us to meet and show hospitality to lots of people. I value those experiences over any new device I have purchased, and living minimal like this allows us to spend more time outdoors and live the healthy active lifestyle we desire.
Not everything goes as planned and you have to learn to accept that
Break downs will happen when traveling, especially when you are doing it full-time. It’s not a matter of if you will break down, it’s a matter of WHEN. So far we have had one major break down with the truck, and several tire related issues that didn’t set us back more than an hour or three. The first time we ever had a major issue I was just furious and angry. But since then we have learned to just roll with the punches. I talk about our most recent break down in this post. It also helps that we have excellent roadside assistance through Good Sam.
I’m not going to say that everybody should give tiny living a try, because it might not be for everybody. But if you are considering it, chances are this IS for you, and any doubts you have in your head will quickly go away once you jump into it. I know I had my doubts when we first started, but our first week on the road traveling all those fears went away, my stress levels decreased, and life took on a whole new meaning.