As we approach our second anniversary on the road we thought it would be fun to take a moment and reflect on our journey as well as what we left behind. This exercise might also be beneficial to those folks considering taking a similar path by giving them some things to think about before taking the leap into RV living. Make no mistake, life on the road is great and it can be so much fun in the best of times. However, it’s not all roses and at times it will definitely keep you on your toes or have you scrambling to find a solution to problems that arise.
We will preface this by saying that we have absolutely zero regrets about our decision to sell nearly everything we owned in order to enjoy life on the road. But, there are some things that we do miss about living in a regular ol’ sticks n’ bricks home and having a plain life in the suburbs. On the flip side, there are many things that have made those sacrifices well worth it and life more fulfilling too. This is why we recommend people considering this lifestyle sit down and put together a serious list of pros and cons relating to their lifestyle and living situation before taking on this type of adventure.
Let’s take a look and reflect on the good and the bad, welcome to RV life hits and misses!
Freedom – This is the number one reason we even decided to go on this journey and there is no better way to live life than with no strings attached in our opinion. Other than the few exceptions where we needed to be in a certain area of the country at a certain time we are free to roam however and wherever we please. And even when we do need to be somewhere, we decide the best place for us to stay and make sure we enjoy what the area has to offer. It could be 5 minutes or 50 miles away from our obligation. Doesn’t matter, it’s our choice.
Flexibility – Life doesn’t always go as planned. There are times when things we signed up for or campgrounds we booked turn out to be less than desirable. We are actually in one of those situations at this very moment. The nice part about this lifestyle is that our home is on wheels and we can make our exit at any moment. We don’t have to stay and endure the nonsense that comes with working at some campgrounds, nor do we need to stay at a campground that looks nothing like it was portrayed online when we booked it. If we are over it or don’t like it we are free to move on at any time!
Lower Cost of Living – This lifestyle is what you make of it. It can range from super cheap to super expensive depending on a number of factors. Check out our latest budget here if you’re interested. When we compare it to our old lifestyle the cost of living is much lower and scaled down. This is because we eliminated things like house payments, property taxes, homeowners insurance, HOA fees etc. etc. etc. once we hit the road. We also sold a second vehicle further driving down down maintenance and fuel expenses along with all of the other costs associated with vehicle ownership.
And the best part, we left California and the high taxes for everything and anything mentality in the rear view mirror. No more, “it’s not a tax, it’s a fee” scams for us thank you! Speaking of fees, the cost of vehicle registrations in South Dakota are 75% less than they are in California AND there is no state income tax on top of that either! That alone was worth the drive!
Long Term Financial Stability – Not to keep beating a bloated crime and filth ridden dead horse, but leaving California was probably the best financial move we made. First, we got an instant pay raise on any income just for leaving the state as South Dakota doesn’t have income tax and other states we might work-camp in aren’t nearly as bad. Additionally, there aren’t many states that have a higher sales tax rate than California either. And most importantly, the state will not get a penny of the money we saved in our retirement accounts! Regardless of how hard they are now trying to find a way to impose taxes people who are leaving the state in a pathetic attempt to try and shore up their eroding tax base they will get nothing from us!
I’m pretty sure an important war was fought over the whole “taxation without representation” concept, but California doesn’t seem to be up to speed on U.S. History other than ignoring it or rewriting it, so good luck with that!
Sorry, had to get one last kick in.
New Friends – This has been such a wonderful part of our experience so far. Everywhere we have gone we have made some great friends and met such awesome people. This has become an important part of the experience and it helps keep life fresh and fulfilling. If you are work-camping there is nothing better than having good friends with you as they will make the whole experience much more fun. And if the job is a complete bust, like our current situation, we lean on each-other for support and make sure we get together outside of work for food, drinks and a lot of laughs to make the days better and help pass time until our next adventure.
Less Upkeep – An underrated part of going full-time is the fact that the regular upkeep for our home is quick and easy when compared to the houses we have owned. Those houses ranged from 1500 sq. ft. to almost 4000 sq. ft. and they could take an entire day just to clean the inside alone. Then tack on the outdoor maintenance too! A couple of our houses had huge backyards, massive flower beds and a pool. Those things took time and/or a hefty expense to maintain or keep everything in working order!
By contrast our RV is only a couple of hundred square feet and when we have an interior cleaning day it usually takes a little over an hour for us to do a complete scrub down. An exterior wash and wax could take a few hours, but there is usually a game on the outside tv and beer involved so it’s not like we are suffering or anything. Our backyard is nature, or whatever setting the campground is in, so no maintenance required on our part. And if the campground has a pool all we do is enjoy it because maintaining it is not our problem. Pretty big mark in the plus column if you ask us!
Old Friends – This is an easy one as our top miss. We have a great group of friends that still live behind the iron curtain in California and we miss them dearly. Sometimes it can be difficult when we see parties or get togethers happening on social media and we wish we could beam ourselves there and enjoy the good times with them. It was one of the most difficult sacrifices we had to make going on this adventure, but they were all so supportive of our choice which really helped at the time. Miss you guys!!
Family Gatherings – This is something we miss, but probably for different reasons than most folks. Both Mrs. RVF and I have relatively small families and on top of that we are all very spread out across a couple of states. As such, most of our gatherings centered around the holidays as opposed to birthday parties, reunions or just seeing each other for some weekend fun. Once our son grew up and then went off to college, on the other side of the country, there were even fewer reasons to get together as he was the only child in the entire family. We miss getting together and seeing family for holidays like we used to, but we try to make up for that in different ways and plan to see them when we get in the vicinity of where they live. Just something to keep in mind if you have a close knit family that gets together often.
Regular Size Everything – One of things you have to get used to in a hurry when living the RV life is that everything is scaled down. Small closets, small storage, small oven, small bathroom, small shower, a king size bed that’s not really a king size bed and so on. It’s even more difficult if you’re a taller person, such as myself, as I have a lot more problems than little Mrs. RVF who pretty much lives in the perfect setting for her size. Aside from closet space at least.
Additionally, once you start living this lifestyle there is a period of adjustment and getting used to the size of the appliances and furnishings. Don’t even get me started on the small showers that are in RV’s!! If you are tall, learn to tuck those elbows or it might be a painful and expensive journey! You also might think you have downsized enough because you got your belongings into the RV, but there will probably be another stage of downsizing after that once realize how much stuff you brought along, don’t use and it all just gets in the way now.
Regular Service Providers – When living in a town or city everyone has their go to barber, hairstylist, nail person, veterinarian, doctor or dentist. We all have a special person for these and other services that are needed. These relationships have typically been built over years of experiences and there is a lot of trust that comes along with that foundation. Now take all of that trust and experience and throw it away because you are going to be in a different state every month or two and have to figure it all out as you go! This is something that has been quite the challenge for us and at times it has also become quite the adventure. Let’s just say not all hair stylists and barbers are equally talented or have the same taste!
Even more difficult is when we need to get routine medical care taken care of. In our prior lives we would just schedule appoints and go get it done when our regular doctor, that we had gone to for decades, had availability. Not anymore! Due to insurance purposes we have to return to South Dakota in order to get routine exams taken care of. But before we can even do that we have to find a doctor that fits our needs, and that we are comfortable with, while we are on the road thousands of miles away from them. Then once we settle on a doctor we will then need to route ourselves in that direction to insure that we are in the area in time for our appointment date.
It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s definitely more of a hassle than our prior arrangement and something people really need to take into consideration before establishing a domicile state and before hitting the road. Especially if you have medical conditions that require special attention.
As you can see there are many pros and cons when it comes to RV life and it will vary for everyone who decides to take on this adventure. While this lifestyle certainly has its challenges we feel the positives far outweigh the negatives in our situation. In just two years we have been through some very heavy stuff that we hope we never have to experience again. While those things happened they also passed soon enough and life went on as did our adventures. We have had some of the best times of our lives the last two years as we have traveled from the west coast to the east coast and back again. And we are really just getting started as this year promises to be a blast with the plans we already have in place. As we get closer to the departure date from our current location the excitement continues to build and build!
That’s really what it’s all about. This lifestyle is an adventure, and in an adventure you have to take the good with the bad and the highs with the lows. But in the end, when you reflect back, you realize it was a hell of a ride and you can’t wait to go and do it again somewhere else.
Thank you as always for reading our blog. For those of you looking to take the leap we hope you find this blog useful that it sparks some thought about your decision to full-time RV. Please feel free to ask us any questions in the comments below as we would be happy to share our experience with you.
See you on the road!!
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