Almost nine months ago, my husband and I sold our car, home, nearly all our furniture, and bought a fifth wheel.
Contrary to the way most normal humans do things, this wasn’t part of some sort of grand plan. Nope, we are the fly by the seat of your pants sort, so we jumped right in. Experience level: beginner.
We’ve joked with our daughter for years that we were going to someday pull a cousin Eddie move (from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) and just show up on her curb with an RV, but clearly we weren’t serious. Owning an RV was something other people did…we admired the lifestyle, but never seriously considered it for ourselves.
Then the housing market went nuts. With the help of family and friends, we just about killed ourselves getting our house ready to put on the market. It was a fantastic time to sell, not so much to buy.
John retired in March, so one day I casually mentioned the idea of temporarily living full time in an RV…the rest, as they say, is history. THEN is when we came up with a bit of a plan: live the RV life for 6 months and re-evaluate.
As much as I’d love to tell you we’ve taken some sort of grand adventure, reality is, we stayed fairly close to home. Our first move was approximately 30 miles south, where we stayed near my dad and brother for two months. That wasn’t the plan, but neither was getting sideswiped by a semi. So we were thankful to have a spot to land while our truck was in the shop and enjoyed the extra time with family.
Next, we closed up the RV and headed to Alaska for a week with our daughter and my work family. When we came home, we headed further south, to the Carolinas, where we spent a month camping close to our daughter. Then we headed to Gulf Shores, AL for a month, back to the Carolinas for a month, back to VA for a month, and now back to the Carolinas.
Both my husband and I work remote, so that enables us the freedom to travel and continue working. Given that we were newbies at this lifestyle, we constantly get a lot of questions, so I figured I’d answer a few here. (please feel free to comment below with yours!)
Why did you choose a fifth wheel?
We explored all the different options available, and loved the class A – the type that looks like a bus. We even considered a smaller version of that – the class C. But in the end, a fifth wheel gave us the most space, and that’s why we went this route.
What do you use for wifi (assuming you need that for work)?
We use Starlink. That works beautifully as long as we aren’t parked under a bunch of trees. Some parks offer great wifi, but as a general rule, most do not.
What do you love most about the RV lifestyle?
We love the flexibility the RV lifestyle offers. It enables us to pick up and go where we want or where we’re needed. I’ve found the RV community as a whole to be incredibly welcoming – so we make new friends everywhere we go.
What’s your least favorite thing about the RV lifestyle?
We’re both writers, and value routine. We were warned when we began this adventure that we would feel like we’re on a perpetual vacation and that establishing a routine is a challenge. I think we both rolled our eyes at that at first, but it has proven to be 100% accurate. We love to explore new places, so being in a new spot every month does very much feel like a vacation.
We also miss our home church.
What about the RV lifestyle is easier than you expected?
The biggest negative everyone painted for us as we considered this was “oh, you’ll have to give up all your stuff – that’s going to be so hard!” And it wasn’t, aside from the massive undertaking of actually doing it. Neither of us has missed all the “stuff” – living this lifestyle continues to teach both of us that we can and should live with less.
What about the RV lifestyle is most annoying?
John would say dumping the sewage – something I fully admit I haven’t yet done. For me, it’s not having an oven. I have a lovely stainless steel oven – one of the nicest I’ve ever seen in an RV. However, when it was being installed, apparently something broke, and we’ve been waiting since we purchased our rig for the part to fix it. It came this week. Our stovetop works beautifully, but I’ve been unable to bake. We’ve been using a toaster oven, but it’s not the same.
How in the world are your dogs able to live in that tiny space?
We have two very large german shepherds who are VERY happy as long as they are with their people and get plenty of exercise. Rainy days are no fun for them, but they’ve otherwise done amazingly well.
Isn’t an RV bed SO uncomfortable?
No. In fact, John and I have joked that we’re not all that sure how we’re going to be able to sleep when we move back into a home! The RV came with a very basic, thin, pathetic looking Serta mattress. We didn’t have high hopes and were advised to replace it immediately. Instead, to save money, we decided to just purchase a Costco memory foam AND a MyPillow feather mattress topper. That combo is like sleeping on a cloud. Combined with the blackout shades, our bedroom is a bit like a cozy cave, and that’s probably our favorite part. Hardest thing? Getting out of bed in the morning!
How long does it take for you to set up and break things down on travel day?
We’re pretty quick at setting up, when there aren’t any hiccups. That usually takes us about an hour, and includes getting unhitched, plugged in, slides out, and unpacking all the things we stashed for travel. Packing up to move takes us a little longer – I think the last time we did it, it took a little under two hours, which is much too slow. The biggest obstacle: juggling two dogs who are VERY excited to be going for a ride.
Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve traveled so far?
That’s tough, because we lived in the Shenandoah Valley not far from Shenandoah National Park and the Appalachian Trail prior to selling, so our first camping spot was on a hill with a million dollar view. By far, that was the most beautiful. However, we loved the month we spent in Orange Beach, AL. The spot was the nicest we’ve rented – the beaches are beautiful, and the people are welcoming.
What about living the RV life has impacted your life the most?
We were told by a LOT of people that we’d be ready to kill each other in under a week living in such close quarters. I am happy to report that this most certainly is not the case. We’ve had a great time! We’re human, so of course we each have our moments, but living in a small space hasn’t hindered our relationship in the least. In fact, we’ve learned to work even better as a team.
Getting caught up in that vacation mentality I mentioned above and finding it so difficult to establish a daily routine has had an enormous negative impact. Neither of us spend much time fretting over it, but we both recognize the need for that to change.
Any learning curves?
To simply say “yes” would be an understatement. Any time we go through change, there’s a learning curve, but unfortunately when you’re pulling an RV, those can be costly. We’ve had a few mishaps – like going down too steep an incline and bumping the truck to the underside of the fifth wheel. Scratched the RV a bit, but no further damage.
The night we did too tight a u-turn on a dark, country road was a bit scarier, and we both later admitted, caused us both to wonder what in the world we’d gotten ourselves into. That mistake took out the back window of our truck and we had to travel a bit uncomfortably for a couple hours to reach our destination. Lesson learned. Thank God for insurance.
And there you have it! Those are just a few of the many questions we get. While we have loved this lifestyle and do plan to continue traveling, we have decided to purchase a home in 2023 to give us a spot to land when we need it. We plan to venture out west next summer, God willing, so stay tuned.
Additional questions? Comment below!