RVs are just for camping, right? Wrong. In fact, there are countless people around the United States living in an RV as their full-time home. Some reports even claim that the number of people living in RVs is on the rise. But if you're used to a sprawling suburban home, this way of life might seem like a claustrophobic nightmare.
Many people have this initial reaction when they hear about someone they know living in an RV. For some people, this way of life isn't enjoyable one bit. But there are actually several benefits to living on the road. And these benefits often outweigh the downsides of living in an RV.
What Is Full-Time RV Living?
Full-time RV living is precisely what it sounds like. Instead of living in a permanent home, apartment, or even trailer, your home is an RV or camper. This way of life isn't just for eccentric retirees. As home prices rise and debts levels increase, millennials are joining the RV living movement. For some, this way of life is just a temporary break from the reality of renting or owning a traditional home. But others are in it for the long haul.
Some people living in an RV choose to stay in one place, but many travel the country. Often, this traveling coincides with the seasons. In the winter, those living in an RV head south. And in the summer, they head back up North. Regardless of how mobile your RV home actually is, most people living in RVs choose to stay in RV campgrounds. These parks and campgrounds offer hookups and other resources that make living in an RV bearable. But when you're ready to venture out and hit the road again, all you have to do is put your RV in "drive."
Is Living in an RV Legal?
Unfortunately, whether or not it's legal to live full-time in an RV or camper is not a simple question. Different states, and even different counties and cities, have varying laws regarding RV living. And, while we don't condone this, some people living in RVs full-time are not always doing so legally. However, in many places living in an RV is legal, as long as you park it in the right place. The safest places to legally park your RV include land you own, a friend's or relative's land, or at an RV campground or park.
Even if you're able to legally park and live in your RV full-time, you might run into some other legal obstacles. For instance, living in an RV typically means not having a permanent address. This makes it extremely difficult to vote, apply for insurance, or perform other responsibilities. You might also run into trouble with taxes, employment, and other social institutions that assume everyone lives in a permanent home.
What are the Benefits of Living in an RV?
Even with the legal obstacles mentioned above, living in an RV is a great option for many people. If you consider yourself nomadic, or not tied to a certain place in life, RV living could serve as a way to explore parts of the country and nature you otherwise wouldn't see. And if you struggle with debt, or are trying to avoid ever being in debt, minimalist living in an RV is often much cheaper than owning or renting property.
While living in an RV certainly isn't for everyone, you can't deny its many benefits. Even if we aren't able to talk you into living in an RV yourself, hopefully we can show you why others enjoy it. For the rest of us, we'll continue to use our RVs and campers for weekends in the woods or road trips.
RVs are mobile
For many people, the idea of settling down in one place for the rest of their lives, or at least a few years, is daunting. This is where the mobility of an RV becomes a huge benefit. By living in an RV, you can pick and go pretty much anywhere you please. And since an RV is by definition meant to be semi-permanent, you have every reason to go to as many places as possible.
Of course, to successfully live in an RV you need to have some level of financial freedom. While the ability to travel is in many ways a benefit, it also limits employment opportunities. If you don't have substantial savings or are in retirement, you'll need to be creative with how you manage your money. If you have reliable Internet access, you might be able to find remote work that lets you work from practically anywhere. Or if you're a crafter or handyman, you can create and sell your work at various fairs and markets, or even online. But with a little work, it's entirely possible to make a living on the road.
Living in an RV is cheaper than a mortgage
Is living in an RV cheap? Not necessarily, but it's definitely cheaper than renting an apartment or buying a house. While high-end RVs can be expensive (sometimes as much as a small house), low-tech travel trailers can cost as little as a few thousand dollars. You're also not paying for the same utilities as you would be in a permanent home or apartment. If you're smart about how you invest your money into living in an RV, it's a surprisingly affordable way of life.
Of course, there are other costs associated with RV living that you need to budget for. If you're staying in an RV park or campground, you will need to pay a nightly, weekly, or monthly space rental fee. While these fees can be as low as $20 a night, this adds up over the course of a month or longer. And while state parks usually are cheaper, they're still not free. You'll also need to account for fuel costs and vehicle maintenance. So while living in an RV can be much more affordable than a traditional home, the cost can quickly get out of hand if you're not careful.
You can enjoy nature up close
Buying land, especially land with the same beauty as many state parks, is completely out of most peoples' budgets. But RV living lets you park your home alongside all kinds of natural beauty, from waterfalls to giant Redwoods. You're able to wake up next to this stunning scenery every morning. And you can change it up whenever you please. One week you could live next to a mountain, and the next you could be parked along the ocean coast.
As a permanent RV resident, especially if you stay in one place for a while, you're also likely to encounter unique wildlife. While you'll want to protect yourself against potentially dangerous visitors, most of the animals you encounter will be harmless. And if you're careful not to startle them, local wildlife will probably get surprisingly close to your RV or camper.
Travel without truly leaving home
If you love the idea of traveling but aren't keen on leaving your home, RV living might be perfect for you. Traveling, even for a short time, requires packing up your belongings -- and leaving behind the comfort of your home and pets. But by living in an RV, you're able to bring everything, including your pets, along with you.
Granted, not all pets will adapt to RV life. It's best to ensure your furry, feathered, or finned loved ones are comfortable in your RV for long periods of time before committing to this life. But if your pets don't adapt to your new RVing lifestyle, you'll need to make a difficult choice.
Is Living in an RV Right for Everyone?
While there are many benefits to living in an RV, it isn't for everyone. Even if you love taking your RV for long road trips, living in it full time can be overwhelming for many. But the beauty of RVs and the culture that surrounds them is in the flexibility. You can spend a day in an RV, or a lifetime. You can park your RV in one place for a year, or drive it every day. How you use your RV is entirely up to you.
For those who are ready to jump into full-time RV living, take note of these benefits. Hopefully, they'll give you a little more confidence in your decision. The RV community is supportive and resourceful. So if you have any questions about living in your RV, don't fret. You can easily find the answers online or through a local connection. Plus you're sure to learn plenty more throughout your RV living journey.