RV

One Year of Living in a RV – Pros & Cons

 

The end of August marks the one year anniversary of living full time in our RV. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year! When we went into this, I had two little girls, was pregnant with our son, and we had no idea what we were doing! Now, our girls are 4 and 2, our son is 10 months, and we’ve learned quite a bit about this fun lifestyle. We love living this way and we’ve even managed to inspire other families to live in a RV. 

However, it’s all not rainbow and roses. There have been some snags along the way and some learning curves. So in celebrating our one year anniversary, here are the pros and cons for living full time in a RV.

PROS

1. Change of scenery!

I get restless constantly, no matter where I live. I was getting tired of being forced to live in a place for a year minimum. Life was too unpredictable and I didn’t like not having the option of moving. In a RV, our home stays the same, but we’re constantly moving. I love being able to move around whenever we want to. 

2. Less cleaning

I was tired of constantly cleaning our last place, even though it was only 800 sq. Ft. While this place does get dirtier sooner, it also takes way less time to clean. It leaves me more time to actually live life and enjoy time with my family.

3. Cheap traveling

We didn’t travel often in the past, because hotels were just too expensive for us. However, with a RV, we take our home with us and we can find places that are 1/3 to 1/2 cheaper than most hotel rooms (and that’s the cheaper hotel rooms we’re talking about.) It saves us tons of money when we travel that can be used for way more useful or fun things. 

4. Less spending

I used to love to window shop many stores. Now, I no longer do it as much, because where on earth would I store it in this trailer? With 5 people living in 350 sq. Ft., there isn’t much room for decorations. Looking at furniture is out too. Almost all the furniture is already provided, so there’s no point in even looking. Besides, that money needs to go to way more important things, like everyday basics! 

5. Cheaper living

Notice I said cheaper, not cheap.  There are definitely ways to save money while living in a RV. Our rent right now is about $850 a month, which is amazing for this area! So it can be done!

CONS

1. Rent can be expensive.

So how is this category be in both pros and cons? If we were paying full price in the Pacific Northwest area, our total “rent” would come out to between $1300-$1700 a month. For that price, I could easily rent a small two or three bedroom apartment or house. However, if you can find the right place, you can get that number lowered significantly (as our $850 a month proves.)

2. Heating costs are ridiculously expensive

Well, for an RV. In the winter time, this RV can get freezing cold. We figured out our average propane cost for the winter months is about $200. In the summer, our propane costs are about $25.

3. No washer and dryer.

There is no washer and dryer in this RV, so this can make the laundry complicated. There’s pretty much two options, hand washing or a laundromat. Hand washing is hard work and I would be doing it constantly for 5 people. The laundromat isn’t cheap. Whatever is your preference works. Doesn’t make is any easier though.

4. The black tank

Having to deal with your own waste is a little gross, but part of the RV lifestyle. Thankfully, the whole system is simple and easy. I’m just glad my husband does it for me! 

5. Plastic sinks

Seriously, this is a no go. The sinks stain like crazy, collect a grimy, dirty layer of scum and require this soft scrub to even clean it. One of the main things I have on my list is switching the sinks (especially the bathroom one) to a much easier material to clean, probably metal for it’s lightness. 

6. Not enough room for my books.

Seriously, not enough room. When we moved, I managed to downsize just about everything. Except books. I could never get rid of my books. However, I do have a majority of them in storage until we find a way to stash more books in this place. Surprisingly, my books aren’t the ones causing trouble. It’s the kid’s books that are overflowing and honestly, its getting really annoying. It’s at the top of our to do list to get this problem fixed! (Mostly so I can raid my books in storage and bring a bunch into the RV. I’ve missed them!)

NEUTRAL

1. No dishwasher

I’ve found out I actually don’t mind washing dishes by hand. I find it much more efficient for a RV, since unless the dishes are washed consistently (several times a day), we tend to run out of dishes very quickly. 

2. Packing up the whole RV to move

While sometimes this can get annoying, we’ve managed to streamline this process and really, it is necessary to move the RV. So I don’t pay much attention and it has the added bonus of forcing me to keep the place clean and picked up.

So here are the pros, cons and even neutrals about living in a RV for me. However, I’m loving this life and am so grateful that we’ve had this opportunity. I’m looking forward to the next year and seeing what it brings!

Would you live in a RV full time?

RV

8 Tips for Preparing Three Meals a Day in a RV

Living in a RV means your kitchen space is tiny. While I do have a bigger than average kitchen than most RV’s, it’s still really small compared to most kitchens in a house. So how do I cook for a family of five in a tiny RV kitchen? I’ll tell you how!

1.The fridge is bigger than you think!

I was worried about our fridge at first. It seemed so small compared to our previous full-sized fridge. By the end of the first month, I was pleasantly surprised! While space was tight, by careful arranging of the fridge, I was able to store a week’s worth of groceries, which included 2+ gallons of milk, a gallon of water and a gallon of juice.

2. Clean as you go!

With space so limited, there’s just not a lot of room to spread while you’re cooking. Putting away ingredients that have been used and placing the dirty dishes in the sink really helps keep the counter free.

3. Size your meals correctly.

Most meals we had would give us only one container of leftovers. However, we had some meals that drowned us in leftovers. I had to learn how to cut some recipes down, so we weren’t overwhelmed with food. 

4. Take advantage of the nice weather.

During the summer, lots of meals were cooked on our outdoor grill or stove-top in the outdoor kitchen. This gave us extra room to cook and keep the heat out of the RV. Another fun idea (especially with children) is to make a campfire and make hot dogs over the fire and s’mores for dessert!

5. Keep meals simple.

While possible, cooking a five course meal in a RV is not very practical. Why, you’d drown in dishes alone! So keep it simple. One or two dishes is all you need for a good meal.

6. Keep up on your dishes.

There’s not many dishes you can pile in the sink before they overflow. Plus, every meal you make adds more dishes. Getting the dishes cleaned consistently is one of the best tips I can offer. There are many times I haven’t wanted to make dinner because it would just add more dishes to an already huge dirty dish pile. 

7. Buy only what you need.

Buying something “just because” will fill up your pantry/refrigerator space faster than anything else. It can make it difficult to keep your kitchen organized and may keep you out of the kitchen because of how hard everything is to access.

8. Make simple meals from scratch.

One of the biggest space wasters in any kitchen is prepackaged goods, like bread, crackers, chips, etc. I’m not saying get rid of them all together, but try to narrow them down into the ones most used. I’m trying to narrow down my pantry to two types of bread, tortilla chips and crackers for my kids. Everything else is just an ingredient. 

So here are some tips to prepare multiple meals a day in a small RV kitchen. While the space might be tiny, it is definitely possible and even just as enjoyable as a regular kitchen. I hope this has helped you!

What are some tips that you’ve used to cook in a small kitchen?

RV

How to Hand Wash Laundry in a RV

A lot of the fancier RVs these day have a washer/dryer combo installed on them. This makes it fantastically easy to do your laundry while on a trip or living in a RV as long as you have full hookups. However, the travel trailer we live in doesn’t have one of those handy gadgets. So that leaves two options to getting your laundry done: laundromat or hand washing. Neither are my favorite, to be honest. However, we are blessed to live close to my parent’s for now, so when we go to church on Sunday, we bring all our laundry from the week and wash it. If we don’t finish our laundry before we head home, my mom will finish washing and drying the clothes and then put them in garbage bags for us to transfer home. I do all the folding at home before putting them away. 

There are those times when we’re sick and can’t make it on Sunday or we need something washed that day. Packing up three young children to go to the laundromat is a bit excessive in my opinion, especially since I would be there for hours. Even the RV parks that have a coin operated laundry on site do not appeal to me. In the 9+ months that we’ve been living full time in our RV, we’ve only been to a laundromat once and that was a couple weeks ago! (Our son peed all over our bed, so we needed the sheets washed before bed that night). 

So that leaves us with hand washing. The best way to do it is with a bathtub; unfortunately our RV only comes with a shower. So the next best thing is a 5 gallon bucket. I also have a mobile washer (it’s like a plastic toilet plunger with holes in it) that I bought years ago. That’s really all you need besides your dirty laundry and laundry soap.

Washing clothes by hand really isn’t that hard and is easily achieved in just a few steps. The only part that I find difficult is wringing out jeans or pants. You can buy a wringer for that, but they tend to be over $100 for a good quality one that won’t fall apart, so we haven’t gotten one yet. Anyways, here are the basic steps to do your laundry at home.

Step 1: Gather the clothes you need washed. How many pieces you can wash at a time is dependent on your container size. For a five gallon bucket, I usually can fit in a couple pairs of underwear, a couple shirts and a few pieces of my kids clothing. These go about halfway up my bucket. Any more than that and there wont be enough room to fully wash the clothes. Add clothes to your container.

Step 2: Fill bucket 3/4 full with water (I wash with cold water), making sure clothes get fully soaked. (I do all of this in shower, making spills easily go down the drain and easy to drain/fill the bucket.)

Step 3: Add a tiny amount of laundry soap. I use Trader Joe’s laundry soap which is highly concentrated and only put in a tablespoon of soap at the most. 

Step 4: Using mobile plunger, plunge clothes for 5 minutes (or 10 minutes if using bathtub or bigger container). Drain.

Step 5: Fill with water again.

Step 6: Plunge clothing again for 2 minutes. Drain.

Step 7: Pull out each item and wring out as much water as possible. Hang clothes to dry.

I hang the clothes in my bathroom, draped over the shower and cabinet doors. Our shower is a corner shower, so I can’t add a shower bar inside to hang our clothes on that. If your shower doesn’t have that problem, place a spring loaded shower/curtain rod high up in the shower and use hangers to hang the clothes for drying.

The picture above shows when we were living on private property and had permission to hang up a clothesline (really just rope tied around a few trees). All the campgrounds I have looked into and stayed at since then have not allowed this. So using the shower/bath is the perfect solution (also great for wintertime no matter where you live!).

So this is what we do for our clothes. While I haven’t done all our laundry by this method, it’s so useful for when we miss a week of laundry or need something washed right away. My aim is to be able to hand wash everything except our bedding, rather than relying on someone else or the laundromat for our laundry. In our setup, bedding is almost impossible, so while traveling, we will be using a laundromat for those items. 

How do you do your laundry in your RV?

 

RV

10 Items to Make Full Time RV Living Easier

 

In this recent post, 10 Necessities for the First Time RV Owner, we covered the basics needed for RV living.

In this one, we will cover the extra things you can buy to make life easier while living in a RV (especially if you full-time). While none of these items are absolutely needed for a good time in a RV, they are definitely helpful. Here are the 10 items we have found helpful for the RV lifestyle

1.Water Splitter

Good for when you want higher water pressure than an outdoor (or indoor!) shower can provide. (Don’t install while someone is trying to use the water in the RV; ends in unhappiness!) 

2. Shower Faucet

Stock shower faucets aren’t great. Up your water pressure and extend your hot water with an upgrade.

3. Cover for Roof Vents

To keep water out so you can have airflow even if it rains.

4. Aftermarket Towel Hanger

Great for when you need to hang more than two towels.

5. Racks for Kitchen Cupboards

Doubles your cabinet space.

6. Storage Containers

We have deep storage areas under our benches in the bunkhouse (we have a dinette that can be converted into a bunk bed). It was not really practical to store anything under them. Two plastic storage bins that fit the space and we’re good to go! Easy access to all we need (we store toys under one and extra kid linens and dress-up clothes in the other).

7. Hangers with Wire Hooks

We originally started with cheap plastic hangers. I was surprised to discover that the hook part was so thick that they barely went over the bars in our little closet. We have since upgraded to coated wire hangers from Ikea. The wire hangers are about twice as thin as the plastic ones were and have made accessing our clothes much easier.

8. Command Velcro Picture Hangers

These have been invaluable for hanging our pictures and artwork around the RV. Nothing has ever shifted in our moves, yet I can still access our picture frames to change our family pictures. Plus, If I ever decide to change something, I can remove the hangings from the wall with no damage.

9. Dehumidifier

During the winter time, water condensation collects like crazy throughout the house. We learned this the hard way. With showers being taken, dishes washed, water boiled, food cooked and no ventilation, we had water collecting everywhere. I was wiping down exterior walls constantly and cleaning up mold and mildew on the underside of the couch, the kitchen cabinets and the window sills. If you’re going to live in a RV during the winter, a dehumidifier is so helpful! We bought this one and we love it!

10. Compact Cleaning Supplies

With no place to store full sized brooms, mops and vacuums, how were we going to keep things clean? This was solved slowly, with lots of research and looking. Most RV supply stores have compact brooms, so that was easy. Next was a vacuum. We finally found a hand vac that also had a head and arm extension to make a tiny vacuum cleaner that you could stand up straight and use. Last was a mop. My goal was to find one with a re-usable cleaning head, as we were mopping often!

In the end, these 10 items are very helpful to living full time in the RV. Each and every things is being used constantly and I’m glad to have them!

What items do you feel are useful to make full time RV living easier?

 

RV

10 Necessities for the First Time RV Owner

 

When I first got into this RV adventure, I had no idea what to expect. My thoughts were that I would buy a fully equipped house and that was that. While I did buy a full “house”, it wasn’t fully equipped. There are numerous things we’ve had to buy and more is on our list. Starting on a full-time RV lifestyle is NOT cheap! Even so, I do not regret our decision. I’m loving this lifestyle!

So the question remains, “What do you need to buy?” (This is also assuming that your RV came with some basics, like a sewer hose, water hose and water pressure regulator.) Also answered is why on earth is there firewood in the picture! Here are the 10 RV necessities for the new owner:

1. RV/Marine Toilet Paper

Necessary for the restroom. Do NOT try to use regular toilet paper. All you’ll do is clog the black tank and it’s not fun dealing with that! We use this brand.

2. Chemical Toilet Treatment

Helps keep down the odor and breaks down waste – helpful if you don’t want your bathroom to smell like a porta-potty. This is what has worked for us so far.

3. Leveling Blocks

Not every site you park at will be perfectly level. You’ll need leveling blocks to level out the trailer. Your slides won’t work unless the RV is level, plus you can damage your fridge if it’s running and not level. We use these ones.

4. Tire Chocks

Helpful as insurance, so your RV doesn’t roll away on you. However, as new owners, we just use some split wood. Actual tire chocks are far down on our list.

5. Stick on Levels

Once your RV is fully level (for first time leveling, you can get a level that you put in the bottom of your freezer), use stick on levels on the front and side of your RV (near the hitch jack). Now that they are accurate, you have an easy reference next time you move your RV, plus you won’t have to deal with trying to level the RV with a level in a freezer that is probably full! These white ones will blend in great with most trailers.

6. Hitch Lock

We have a travel trailer, which is pulled by a regular hitch on a pickup truck. We bought a universal hitch lock with a cam lock. The lock is so thick that most won’t even be tempted to try to cut it and a cam lock is near impossible to pick. Perfect for stopping people who might try to hitch to our trailer and haul it away.

7. Surge Protector

One of the worst things that could happen is to plug in somewhere, have a power surge happen and all your electronics get fried. That would end up being a very expensive fix (thousands of dollars). Instead, buy a surge protector to prevent that from ever happening.

8. Power Adapters

We have a trailer that runs on 50 amps. While most campgrounds have 50 amps, some only have 30 amp hookups. Then, there are times when only 15 amps (regular house power) are available. What do you do then? Well, you buy power adapters. We have a 50-30 amp adapter and a 30-15 amp adapter. This allows us to hook-up anywhere we need. In fact, we are currently running off of 15 amp power and are using both adapters.

9. External Water Filter

At first, I was convinced we wouldn’t need one of these. We were planning on buying a gravity-fed filter for drinking and cooking, so why did we need one? However, at our first site, the water available was coming through a hose that was buried underground, was rarely maintained and barely used. Water quality was a concern, especially with the landlords. For everyone’s peace of mind, we bought this one. We attached it to our water pressure regulator and then attached our drinking water hose to it. That hose was then attached to the RV. Just don’t forget the flush the filter first! Otherwise, your water will have a bit of charcoal in it.

10. Mirrors for your Tow Vehicle

If your RV happens to be a fifth wheel or a travel trailer, you’ll be towing your RV with a pickup truck. Stock mirrors just don’t cut it. You have two basic options – attachable towing mirrors that attach to your existing mirrors or replacing (upgrading) your existing mirrors for ones designed for towing. The first option is much cheaper and has the added benefit of being transferred easily between vehicles. The second option looks nicer, are not easily lost or stolen, and are great for the trucks that you know is going to be the permanent tow vehicle. When we got our trailer, we were towing with our truck that we knew we wouldn’t use for long. The attachable mirrors made more sense for us.

So there are the 10 things we as new owners needed for our RV. We bought all these as soon as we could when their need came up. We made many trips (often for only one thing) that we could have avoided if we had a list like this to begin with.

 

RV

6 Things to Consider When Buying a RV for Full Time Living

So this is a picture when we first bought our new home in August! When we first started looking into buying a RV, we always knew it would be our new home. We would be living in our new RV full-time. So from the beginning, I had a pretty specific list of things I was looking for, to make full-time living in a RV easier. Most of this was based on extensive research that I had done. While some of my requirements may be a bit unconventional, I was happy to have had this list when we started our hunt. Here is my list of things to consider when buying a RV for full time living.

          1.Future Family Plans – We had been planning on buying a RV since we were expecting our first child. However, we always knew that we wanted more children. I decided early on that the minimum bed space we would accept would be the master bedroom (queen size minimum) and a quad bunkhouse. That way, I can comfortably sleep my husband and I, plus 4-6 children without having to pull out the couch every night. This has served us well, as we have three children and plan on more in the future. As of right now, only one bunk is occupied in the bunkhouse (our two girls are still small enough to share a bed).

          2. Bathroom Placement – Most bathrooms in travel trailers are placed next to the bunkhouse, not the main bedroom. While that would work for vacationing, that was not okay with me. When we bought our trailer, I was seven months pregnant with our third child, meaning I was constantly using the bathroom in the middle of the night. I did not want to be walking to the other end of the RV in the middle of the night, just to use the bathroom. It would have also made showering more complicated. Our bathroom is right next to our bedroom and even has an extra door that leads into the bedroom. Though as a seven month pregnant woman, it was easier to go out the bedroom door and use the main bathroom door. Squeezing between the wall and the bed to access the bathroom was almost impossible those last few months!

         3. Interior Doors – Yes, I just said doors. Most RVs only have pocket doors or curtains that separate rooms. Living with young children, I wanted actual doors that could close and even lock if necessary! In our RV, the main bathroom door, bedroom door and bunkhouse door all have regular house doors (though a bit smaller). The bathroom even has a lock!

         4. Outdoor Living Space – While not a necessity, an outdoor extension of your living space is a wonderful things during the summertime. Our RV has an outdoor kitchen, complete with a mini fridge, gas burners and a sink. On the nice days you can’t imagine being inside, an outdoor kitchen is amazing. As an added bonus, during the winter it double as extra storage. Can’t beat that!

         5. Kitchen Space – When I was looking into the different RVs, I noticed that most RV kitchens are TINY. I couldn’t imagine all my kitchen items fitting in them. Kitchen space was important to me, as I’m home all day and have a family of five to feed. So we found a model that has an island, adding valuable work space, as well as cabinet space, and has a pantry, perfect for all the basic baking supplies and bulk foods I had. We have more than double the space of most RVs. I was even able to fit the majority of my kitchen items!

         6. Storage Space – Last, but definitely not least, the all important storage space. Most RVs these days have an amazing amount of storage space. This was especially important to us, as we live in our RV full time, have multiple young children and are planning on homeschooling our children. Everyone’s needs are different, but storage space is essential.

This was our list of things we considered for living full-time in a RV. In the end, we were able to meet these six goals admirably in our RV. However, your list may look different than mine and that’s awesome!

What are some things you would have to have for full-time RV living?