Can a Family Live in an RV Full-Time?

About the Author

Tom Davidock

Tom has been working in the outdoor recreation and environmental fields for over 25 years and writing about for the past 15. Whether it's camping, or RVing, Tom provides first-hand kneowldge of the information outdoor enthusiests need to enjoy adventures on the road. Tom has had his content featured in industry-leading news publications including RV Business, RV News, and RV.com. Tom is also the author of "Used RV: The Complete Guide for Buying a Used RV."

If you are wondering if you can live in an RV with a family, you don’t need to look much further than your local campground. Many families are doing just that, and over the past several years, the number has been steadily increasing. As an avid RV enthusiast and a parent myself, I have met countless families traveling the country and exploring the RV lifestyle. So, can you live full-time in an RV?

Absolutely, a family can live in an RV full-time! However, there are several factors to consider in order to make this transition smooth and enjoyable for everyone. Living in an RV with children can be an incredible experience, but it’s essential to be prepared for the challenges that may come along the way. By considering the following, you can significantly improve your chances of having a successful, long-term RV living experience:

  • Choosing the right RV: Before embarking on this exciting journey, it’s crucial to select an RV that will comfortably accommodate your entire family. Consider the sleeping arrangements, storage space, and overall layout to ensure everyone has enough room to live, work, and play. While larger may always seem better, consider the layout first and size later. A larger towable RV will require a bigger (and more expensive) truck to tow it.
  • Establishing routines: Like any home, having routines in place will help your family function more effectively in an RV. This includes everything from daily chores to meal planning, homeschooling, and leisure activities. A healthy balance between work and play is essential for a balanced life on the road.
  • Education: For families with school-age children, ensuring their educational needs are met is crucial. You’ll need to research homeschooling or online school options, which can provide a flexible schedule and enable your kids to continue their education while on the road. Many families belong to homeschool co-ops and even meet frequently with other traveling families for learning activities.
  • Social interactions: One potential downside to full-time RV living is the lack of regular social interactions, especially for children. To combat this, look for opportunities to engage with other families, either through RV communities or local events at each travel destination. This will help your kids build vital social skills and create lasting memories with new friends.
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: Staying active and eating well is just as important on the road as it is in a traditional home. Utilize campground facilities, local parks, and your RV’s kitchen to maintain a balanced diet and exercise regimen for the entire family. Try to cook and eat as you would at home. Eating out can get expensive and hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill will get old fast.
  • Financial considerations: Living in an RV can be more affordable than residing in a house, but it’s essential to understand the costs involved, such as fuel, insurance, maintenance, and camping fees. Create a budget and stick to it in order to ensure financial stability as you travel. Here’s a great guide to saving money when traveling.

To sum up, a family can absolutely live in an RV full time, and with proper planning and preparation, it can be an amazing, life-changing experience. By considering the tips above, you’re setting yourself up for a successful and exhilarating journey in your home on wheels.

Pros and Cons of Full-Time RV Living with Family

The idea of living in an RV full-time with your family might sound glamorous, but it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons before embarking on such an adventure.

Pros:

  • Travel and exploration: One of the primary reasons families choose to live in an RV full-time is the opportunity to travel and explore new places together. This can create lifelong memories and provide a unique learning experience for everyone.
  • Minimalism and simplicity: Living in an RV necessitates downsizing your possessions, which can lead to a simpler, more minimalist lifestyle. This often translates to less stress and a stronger focus on what truly matters.
  • Financial benefits: Depending on your situation, living in an RV can save you money on mortgages, property taxes, and home repairs, allowing you to allocate those funds elsewhere. However, you will need to manage your budget closely or it can actually be much more expensive.

Cons:

  • Space limitations: Living in an RV means living in close quarters with your family, which can lead to a lack of privacy and potential tension. If you’re new to RVing, I suggest taking a long trip in an RV before jumping right into the lifestyle.
  • Unpredictability: The nomadic lifestyle of full-time RV living involves dealing with unexpected situations, such as mechanical problems, poor weather, or difficulty finding suitable parking. Make sure you have a rainy day fund available.
  • Access to healthcare and other amenities: While on the road, it can be challenging to consistently have access to healthcare providers, shopping, and other essential services that may be more readily available when living in a traditional home.

Choosing the Right RV for a Family

Purchasing the right RV is a critical decision when planning to live in it full-time with your family. Some key factors to consider include:

Size and Layout: Selecting an RV with enough space and a functional layout is vital to accommodate everyone’s needs. Consider the number of sleeping spaces, as well as areas for relaxation, meal preparation, and storage.

Tow Vehicle: If you’re planning to live in a towable RV, you want to ensure you have a large enough truck to tow it. Since you’ll be spending many hours on the road, make sure your truck also has enough space for everyone to ride comfortably. Also, it’s important to have a well-running vehicle, as breakdowns in the middle of nowhere USA can be an added challenge.

Durability and Maintenance: Full-time RV living involves putting a lot of wear and tear on your RV, so it’s essential to choose an RV known for durability and easy maintenance. Research the make and model you’re considering, and consult forums or groups with others who have experience with that specific type of RV.

Cost: Set a budget for your RV purchase and consider not only the initial cost but also the cost of upkeep, insurance, and any potential modifications.

Creating a Comfortable Living Space in an RV

Once you have chosen the right RV for your family, you must make the interior as comfortable and functional as possible.

Organization and Storage: Maximize storage in your RV by utilizing every available space, including overhead compartments and under-bed storage. Implement organizational tools such as hooks, shelves, and bins to ensure everything has a place. Take a couple of dry runs to find out how best to organize your RV.

Personalization: Make your RV feel like home by adding personal touches, such as family photos, artwork, and decorations that reflect the unique interests and personalities of each family member. Most RVs are pretty sterile, so some personal touches will go a long way to make it feel like home.

Comfort: Invest in quality bedding, seating, and climate control to ensure your family stays comfortable, no matter what the weather outside. You may want to pick up some space heaters, buy a new mattress, and pick up some outdoor camping furniture.

Educating Your Children on the Road

When it comes to educating your children while living in an RV full-time, there are several options to consider.

Girl on laptop for online school

Homeschooling: This is the most flexible option, as it allows you to create a curriculum tailored to your children’s needs and schedule. There are numerous resources and curriculums available for homeschooling families, both online and in print.

Roadschooling: This approach involves incorporating your travels into your children’s education, using the places you visit as real-life learning opportunities. Whether it’s learning about history by exploring historic sites or studying science at a national park, roadschooling makes education a hands-on experience.

Remote Public or Private Schooling: As more schools adopt online learning platforms, families can consider enrolling their children in public or private schools that offer remote education options.

Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance in an RV

One of the challenges of living in full-timing with your family is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Here are some tips to help:

Create a Dedicated Workspace: Designate a specific area in your RV for working, separate from living and sleeping areas. This will help you establish boundaries between work and personal time. This should be a consideration when you’re shopping for an RV, not an afterthought.

Set Work Hours: Establish a consistent daily schedule that includes set work hours. This will help you avoid work bleeding into family time and reduce the likelihood of burnout.

Prioritize Self-Care: Set aside time for regular exercise, healthy meals, and hobbies, and prioritize spending quality time with your family, even when the work is demanding.

Kids sitting in circle outside playing a game

Staying Connected with Family and Friends

Though living in an RV can result in isolation from family and friends, you can stay connected by utilizing technology and creativity.

Technology: Utilize social media, video-chat platforms, and email to keep in touch with loved ones. Share your adventures, ask for advice, and maintain relationships through these digital tools. One of my favorite pieces of tech is the Aura Picture Frame. It’s a great way for you to share your travel memories with Grandma back home.

Visits and Gatherings: Plan visits to family and friends along your travels, or even invite them to join you for part of your journey. Schedule these trips after long stretches of being away.

Special Occasions: Celebrate holidays, birthdays, and other significant milestones with virtual gatherings or by sending cards and gifts through the mail.

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05/23/2024 03:51 pm GMT

Preventing Burnout and Overwhelm on Long-term RV Trips

Living in an RV can sometimes lead to burnout and cause you to feel overwhelmed. Here are some ways to help prevent it:

Plan Downtime: Schedule regular breaks from traveling, parking your RV, and taking time to explore the area without the stresses of constant travel. Travel is one of the more stressful parts of living in an RV, so try to build longer stays at campgrounds into your itinerary.

Set Realistic Expectations: Understand there will be challenges along the way, and don’t let minor setbacks overshadow the overall experience. The first few weeks will be the hardest as you adjust to the lifestyle. Holidays and special events will also be difficult. It’s important to prepare yourself for this before they hit.

Seek Support: Reach out to online RV communities, where you can connect with others facing similar challenges and share your experiences, both positive and negative. This can help you feel less overwhelmed and provide valuable insights from others who have been there before. You’ll like to meet other traveling families that will become friends that you’ll see from time to time.

By considering these factors and making thoughtful decisions, it is possible to create a fulfilling and enjoyable full-time RV living experience with your family.

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