Happy Camper :: Five Things to Know About Living in an RV Full Time

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re considering moving into an RV for longer than a week-long vacation. Many have done it, including myself!

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Why We RV’d

In 2019, my husband and I finally came to the conclusion that it was time to leave our old neighborhood. We didn’t have another house to move into, but we knew the area where we wanted to live next. So, we put our entire house in storage, and lived in an RV until we found the perfect spot to call home.

Well, we all know what happened next — COVID. We spent the pandemic in an RV park where we welcomed home our second child.

After all those major life events in a tiny living space, I thought I’d share five things that I learned from living full-time in an RV. 

Little shoes set outside the door of an RV.RVs Are Not Built for Long Term

The term RV stands for recreational vehicle. RVs are not homes and have never been intended for living. They are not built to withstand continual use. You will experience lots of items breaking. You need to know this up front so you can be prepared to fix the items yourself, or find an RV repair man that is willing to come and fix items on-site. When living in an RV, you cannot simply take it to a dealership and drop it off for repairs/maintenance. Where would you stay while it was in the shop?

For context, here are some of the items I had to learn to fix on my own: Clogged plastic toilets, a busted water connection from high water pressure at the campsite, the heater, fridge, and finally, the vinyl couch that could not withstand daily sitting and peeled apart.

I share this not to scare you, but to manage your expectations. My husband traveled a lot for work, so it was just me and my six year old most of the time before the pandemic hit. We were fine, but every day consisted of a new item to address. 

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During a cold snap, we ran out of propane in the motor home. I called multiple propane companies to come and refill the tank, but they would not. The gas companies would not refill it because the propane tank was connected inside the entire motor home. Instead, I had to drive the motor home to a place that sells propane and fill it myself, like a Love’s truck stop, for example.

The propane issue is easily resolved when you don’t live in an RV. If you’re in a travel trailer, you can remove the tanks and refill them. You can also rent a large propane tank from the propane companies that they will service because it is not inside the travel trailer. All of this information would have been helpful before that cold snap.

Mom sets a camping table outside RV with two small kids.

Water Cheater

This is a tip for ladies mostly. If you use a hair dryer or straightener, the breaker will flip if you have the water heater on at the same time. You must always remember to turn off the water heater when you try to blow dry your hair. Then, don’t forget to turn it back on when you’re done, so the next person will be able to have a hot shower. 

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World Wide Web of Trees

Find out about internet service before moving to a remote location. This was a huge issue to overcome as someone who works remotely.

In our RV park, we had a pond and trees. It was beautiful. However, because of the trees, I had trouble getting reliable internet service.

Out in the country, most areas need line of sight to connect to towers in order to provide internet service. So, even though the trees provide shade and help keep your camper cool, they will block internet service. 

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Insurance Assurance

Don’t forget to purchase insurance! If you’re making payments on the RV, you’re likely required to show proof of insurance. However, if you own it outright, make sure you have total coverage insurance to replace it and your belongings inside of it in the event of bad weather. This is Texas — bad weather happens. 

RVs Are for Recreation, Not Emergencies

RV lit up under a starry night sky.

My last pro-tip is to know where to go when the weather turns. You cannot stay inside a hallway of an RV when there is a tornado warning. You have to get out, and go to a safe place to shelter. Make sure you have an emergency plan for bad weather when living in an RV. 

In conclusion, RVs are great for temporary housing solutions, but they are not built for long-term living. Preparedness is the name of the game. Here is a summary of my tips for RV life:

  • When something breaks, be prepared to fix it or have a mobile repair person on speed dial.
  • When you run out of propane, be sure you can easily remove the tank yourself, or rent a tank from a propane company that can be refilled.
  • The water heater will flip the breaker if you try to dry your hair while it’s on. Don’t forget the flip the switch, and remember to turn it back on for the next person in the shower.
  • Look into internet service before you pick a spot to set-up camp.
  • And finally, bad weather happens. Make sure you have insurance and a place to shelter that is NOT inside the trailer. 

I hope you find this article helpful as you plan to move to the country or just downsize. If you’ve already done it, be sure to comment your tips and tricks for others. 

Jennifer was raised in Louisiana and moved to DFW right after college. She's been in Texas for 16 years. She and her husband have two beautiful daughters who are as different as night and day. That second born keeps everyone on their toes! Jennifer is a full-time stylist for a subscription company while her husband’s career takes him all over the world. While they’re never sure when and where he will be, Jennifer has become quite adept at balancing work from home while also being a stay-at-home mom with the two year old constantly by her side. When not at home, Jennifer is running the girls to all their extracurricular activities or squeezing in family road trips. Her goal is to take her girls to all 50 states.


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