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RV Living 101: What You Need to Know About Life on the Road

Considering living in an RV part-time or full-time? RV living comes with tons of advantages (as well as some disadvantages), so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you hit the road. Below, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to RV living with everything you need to know about RV life!

What Is RV Living?

RV living is exactly what you think it is—you live in a recreational vehicle (or RV) that allows you to move around and live in different places. It’s the perfect living situation for anyone who wants to travel, gain new experiences, and not be tied down by a permanent residence. The RV lifestyle is suitable for all kinds of people, including nomads, remote workers, retirees, snowbirds, couples without kids, and small families. In addition, some RV dwellers choose to live in their motorhomes year-round, while others may only live in their RVs for a few weeks or months during certain times of the year.

Why Choose RV Life?

Trading in the stability of a permanent home may seem like a difficult thing to do, but there are tons of reasons why RV dwellers love living on the road. Here are just a few RV living benefits to consider!

Wake Up in New Places

One of the biggest upsides to living on the road is having the ability to travel across the country whenever you want—and for any reason! You could visit the most romantic cities in America, check out the country’s best national parks, cruise along some of the best RV road trip routes, or even find the top lakes in the U.S. for fishing. Whether you’re driving up and down the coast, spending a few weeks in the desert, or camping up in the mountains, the RV lifestyle allows you to go wherever you want!

Get Out of the Office

Laptop and work bag showing that you can work from your RV. Photo by Instagram User @togo_rv

Photo via @togo_rv

A 9-to-5 in an office isn’t for everyone, and more and more people are ditching the conventional office for remote work. If you can work remotely, why not travel and see new places while you’re at it? Working from your RV can even open doors to new employment opportunities, such as working as a travel journalist or traveling sales rep. If you want more “life” in your work-life balance, RV living could be a great place to start!

Experience RV Culture

Nomad culture is something you can’t really find anywhere else but on the road—but that doesn’t mean you’re always alone! Traveling to different places and staying at campsites or in RV parks is a great way to meet new people. In fact, if you’re a people person, the nomad life might be a good option for you! Artists, writers, and travel influencers frequently meet up and swap stories with the nomads they meet on the road.

Take Your Home with You

Cozy design of an RV interior that feels like a home. Photo by Instagram User @emilyfeely

Photo via @emilyfeely

Traveling with your home means you don’t have to worry about getting homesick or worrying about your belongings when you travel. (Not to mention, you can bring furry friends along when you live in an RV!) As for your address, many nomads set up a domicile address to legally establish that their permanent address is on the road or set up a PO Box in a town they frequently visit.

Embrace the Affordability

Living in a motorhome or RV full-time means there’s no worrying about property tax, rent, or mortgage payments. While traveling across the country may seem costly, there are clever ways to save money on the road that you can’t get with a traditional home. For example, you can get seasonal passes to parks you like to frequent, or you can try boondocking!

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Challenges of RV Living

Living on the road can be rough sometimes. There are unique challenges that you just don’t have when living in a house or apartment. Here are some things to be aware of before you choose RV life!

Downsizing Can Be Hard

Charming Airstream RV parked in the desert. Photo by Instagram User @stywyld

Photo via @stywyld

It’s not easy to get rid of belongings, but the truth is that you’re going to have to downsize to live in an RV. Part of RV living means being more in the moment and enjoying the experiences of life on the road. It’s hard to do that if you’re trying to lug every possession along with you or trying to hold onto a permanent residence.

It Can Be Tricky to Budget

RV living among the beautiful green Colorado mountains during summer. Photo by Instagram User @rvday_life

Photo via @rvday_life

While saving money is definitely a positive to RV living, it can be tough to balance your budget on the road. Most of your big expenses like gas and food will happen upfront, but there are a lot of small recurring expenses you have to look out for, including routine maintenance, campsite fees, and more. You might also run into larger issues like emergency breakdowns, replacing water heaters, and fixing plumbing.

Rules of the Road Will Vary

RV driving across scenic Bixby Bridge in California. Photo by Instagram User @adventureness

Photo via @adventureness

Driving an RV is vastly different than driving a car. Not only will you have more blind spots than you would with a normal vehicle, but you’ll have to practice reversing, parking, and turning before hitting the road full time. As you travel, you’ll also find that there are additional rules for RVs in certain places. For example, some states require all passengers to wear a seatbelt, while others allow passengers to roam around the living quarters. Overnight parking laws can vary as well. Some states allow you to park for free, while others require that you pay an overnight parking fee.

Maintenance Issues Will Come Up

If you plan to drive a vehicle across the country, vehicle maintenance issues are going to spring up. Not only will you have regular upkeep to anticipate, but you may also need to prepare for unexpected issues. Some things you may be able to fix on your own, while others may require the assistance of a professional. Keep in mind that if a big enough issue comes up, you may have to get RV parts shipped to wherever you are, as well as figure out a place where you can stay while your RV is getting fixed.

You’ll Have to Clean Regularly

Woman washing her RV with powerful hose. Photo by Instagram User @so.wickesited

Photo via @so.wickesited

When traveling, its natural to pick up some dirt and grime along the way. However, leaving your RV dirty can do some significant damage to the design and structure of your vehicle. You’ll have to regularly clean—and pressure wash—your RV to prevent long-term damage. And don’t forget that you’ll also have to clean the inside of your RV to ensure that dust, dirt, and other health hazards don’t build up in your living space!

Types of RVs to Live In

Nowadays, there’s an RV for just about every need, from small sleeping stations to mobile homes and even portable garages! Motorhomes come in various shapes and sizes, so you can bring just the right amount of home with you wherever you go. Here are a few of the most common types of RVs!

Class A RVs

As the biggest class of RVs, Class A recreational vehicles have everything you could want from a motorhome. They’re ideal if you plan on living in your RV year-round, as they don’t require towing and are often fitted with essential appliances like an oven, stove, refrigerator, and toilet. Class A RVs are so big that they can even include a washer and dryer. These are great for traveling across the country, as they generally have pretty large gas tanks and heavy-duty frames that make for smooth, quiet rides.

Class B Motorhome

The smallest of the drivable motorhomes, Class B RVs are often referred to as camper vans. These smaller RVs trade square footage for access to more adventurous spots, as these compact homes can fit in more parks and on more roads than their larger counterparts. Although Class Bs will rarely be fit with everything you need, they often have include foldaway sinks, wet baths, and swiveling toilets. If you plan on living in an RV year-round, they may not be the best first choice.

Class C Motorhome

The second biggest type of drivable motor home is the Class C motorhome. These are built similarly to a truck and have a lot of the same characteristics of a Class A RV, but with a little less space. A lot of these motorhomes still have all of the amenities and are pretty large, but generally not as big as a Class A. Some parks don’t allow (and can’t fit) Class A motorhomes, so slightly smaller Class C RVs are a great option for anyone who wants to have access to places like state parks where bigger campers can’t fit, while still having enough space to live in full-time.

Towable RVs

Campers that can be towed come in all shapes and sizes. These livable trailers can range from RVs with just enough room to sleep—like teardrop and pop-up campers—to garage-sized trailers that can hold other vehicles, like toy haulers. Large, towable vehicles like Airstream trailers are another trendy RV option. There is a variety of towable motorhomes, so be sure to find the right fit for you!

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Need a secure place to store an RV when you’re not traveling? Extra Space Storage has self storage facilities all over the U.S. that provide indoor, covered, and outdoor RV storage options. Find a storage unit near you!

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