I started typing up a draft of this post days earlier and couldn’t make it feel quite right. The draft was called “why we moved into an RV”, and it was intended to be a list of things that’d make any prospective RVer go “yup, yup, hey, I want that, too”. I found myself mentioning “mobility” as one of the reasons, because, you know, that’s why people get RVs and go full time, right? Because they want to travel? It sounded right, but it didn’t feel like us.
It wasn’t until weeks later that I realized we were a different kind of RV people than the ones we see on Instagram, and that our kind of RV life is worth sharing and talking about, too. And judging by the number of our friends who encouraged us to blog about our journey getting a fifth wheel camper and making it our home, I think there are a lot of people besides us who see living in a camper as an exciting prospect, too. Here’s what full-time RV life looks like for us right now.
on wheels but stationary.
Our life right now is a parked one. We don’t have a truck and we aren’t going to get one particularly soon. The camper, for us, is an alternative form of housing. It’s actually easy to forget that we’re living in a “vehicle.” It just feels like home. Someone recently asked me if it felt like we were camping every day. Not at all. Our home is small and in a huge field overlooking a lake, but it feels like a home.
the end of apartment rent.
Bret and I had spent what felt like far too long living in an apartment we didn’t love, funneling away an endless stream of rent. Long story short, we had paid $36,000 in rent for four years of apartment dwelling, and felt like we had nothing to show for it. We were so ready to cut ourselves out of that cycle. July 2016 was our last month as residents of an apartment. We’re glad to be out of that whole scene (unpredictable neighbors, no sense of community, never-ending rent hell) and into a down home, tree-encircled, lakefront RV park. Is it where we want to stay for a long time? No. But for now, it’s home, and we’re okay with that.
a transitionable home.
While we’re not currently mobile with our camper, a home on wheels gives us the flexibility to keep our options open when prospects open up elsewhere. We know we’ll be able to move our entire home if we wanted or needed to. Case in point: we’d love to build an Earthship someday. When we find a place we’d like to settle and land to build on, our camper will allow us to live onsite while we build our permanent home. Having all of our stuff already in one road-ready place will make whatever comes next that much simpler. It’s a good feeling for us.
reduced monthly expenses.
The monthly rent for our previous apartment was $750. I cringe just typing it. It was a pretty hefty payment for us and our income. On top of that, we had to pay for our own utilities, which, in this city, consistently ran over $100 per month. In the RV park where we live now, our rent is $375, and that includes utilities. We have a monthly RV and insurance payment totaling about $200. But even with both of those payments, we still spend significantly less on living expenses per month in a camper than in an apartment. The added costs of downsizing and settling into a new space are another matter, but I’ll tell you about those in another post. ?
After three-and-a-half years of life in the apartment where we’d signed a lease agreement that forbade pets, we knew we wanted to adopt kittens. As responsible adults who took great care of their surroundings and spaces, it felt ridiculous to be confined by the rules of a management company that couldn’t care less about our lives or even the space they managed. It felt even sillier trying to hide our cats like they were illegal contraband when we decided to adopt them anyway. ?? We don’t have those kinds of rules imposed on us in our own space. We have the autonomy to do what makes sense for us and our lives. It’s a big part of the simple experience of living that I was just accustomed to going without.
more responsibility over our surroundings.
Positives and minuses here. If something breaks or needs attention, we don’t have to tell anyone and hope they’ll get around to fixing it “soon”. If we want to repair or upgrade to our specifications, we can. We can invest in improving things in the camper because we know its ours and it’ll be ours until we decide to want to sell it. If and when we do sell our fifth wheel, all the love we put into it adds value. For the first time, it feels not only comforting, but advantageous to settle in and improve upon where we live.
Of course, if something breaks, we’re responsible for the expense of repairing it, whatever that entails. When we discovered rotted wood in the bedroom slide, it was on us to come up with a solution and employ it within our means. Luckily, Bret is a fearless wizard who’s confident with his hands, and I’m a devoted researcher who can track down a manual or a tutorial for anything. Our combined faculties allow us to DIY a fix for most things that crop up, repair-wise–that’s very much to our advantage, because we don’t have the funds to shell out for shop repairs.
more connection to our surroundings.
On the other side of that coin, knowing we’re responsible for every aspect of the maintenance and repair of our camper connects us with it in a way I’ve never experienced with an apartment. I enjoy learning about the appliances and systems that make our home work. I feel an unfamiliar joy completing projects and tasks here–even ones as simple as the laundry. When we exercise even just a bit of self-reliance in a place that is ours, I feel surprisingly satisfied.
RV life is fun, new, and good.
The RV, for us, is a space that is ours: we make rules that suit our lives (take off your shoes at the door, please), and we shape the space however we see fit. It’s satisfying in ways I didn’t expect. Living in a camper is good for us right now, and I think it’s going to help us accomplish the things we want to in the future, too. It’s an adventurous step up from our previous living arrangements, and a trusty stepping stone for whatever comes next.
I’m proud of our decision and our work to renovate and make a fifth wheel our home, and I’m excited to keep learning and sharing here on the blog. If you’re a new or prospective RVer, or you’re just curious, let us know you’re here. Leave a comment and say hi!