Yes, we did the unthinkable. We bought a house. A big house no less. This is our thoughts on transitioning from full time RV living to part-time RVing.
But I Thought You Loved Full Time RV Living?
We did! But after three years of being completely nomadic full-timers, the need for a home base was growing stronger and stronger for us. Let us explain…
Our Class A motorhome and toad nets out around 55 feet in length, and the motorhome alone weighs 31,000 lbs. Plus, since we flat tow, we can’t reverse without unhooking the Jeep. Thus, this means our travel days had to be meticulously planned in order to avoid issues. Tommi would often spend a few hours planning each move. This included finding us a place to pull over every hour or so (by looking at satellite maps), locating gas stations with easy exits, programming the GPS, locating places to dump and fill tanks, planning fallback boondocking locations in case the first site is taken or too small, etc.
Now, since we mostly boondocked, that meant he was doing that every 10-12 days or so. And not to mention the time spent scouting for boondocking sites in the Jeep once we arrived at our general destination. It was time-consuming, sometimes challenging, and after three years, it just started to wear on him. We could have decided to stay in RV parks a month at a time, but that wasn’t the style of RVing we wanted to do. We wanted to be in nature, not in a cramped, glorified parking lot.
When we started our full-time RV life, Tommi and I were both freelancing limited hours. Over the past year, my hours increased, and I recently went full-time. My job requires me to be on a lot of phone calls, which I would often take in the RV bedroom with the door closed. It worked, but it wasn’t ideal. A home with two offices was sounding more and more like what we needed.
We’ve written about how difficult it can be to find healthcare as a freelancing RVer, back in 2017 and 2018. Healthcare plans aside, if you travel and seek treatment more than once a year, you’re often seeing new doctors and dentists at every visit.
Tommi seems to have great genes, but not me. I end up needing to see doctors and dentists more often than I’d like. I had tried bringing my previous records to the next doctor on our route, but they often wanted to try their own approach, which meant I was just starting over each time I moved. It was becoming evident that my issues weren’t going to get solved unless we stayed in one place and could work with one provider for a while.
So, How’s It Going?
At the time of writing (six weeks into being homeowners), we’ve made the following observations:
Things that we took for granted before are now luxuries.
Before RV life, we took for granted things like having large laundry machines at home, a dishwasher, a large fridge, a bathtub, etc. Not having those things for three years will really make you appreciate them again when you get them! It was a nice reset to remember to be appreciative of these things and understand they are, in fact, luxuries.
We are more aware of our consumption.
We’re noticing that all our good habits learned from conserving resources in the RV have stayed with us. We are always conserving water when washing dishes or brushing teeth. We turn off lights and conserve energy wherever possible. My only splurge is baths because that was the thing I missed the most while full time RV living!
We still have to dump our gray water.
Wait, what? Haha, yes. Our new home uses gray water for irrigation! At this time, emptying the cistern is a manual operation, but hopefully in the spring we can set it up to be more automated.
We’ve had more bugs and such in the house than the RV.
Spiders, bees, snakes, lizards, mice — we’ve had ’em all in six weeks. (Well, the snake was in the garage but still too close for comfort!) We had far less of these issues while RVing, which may be a surprise to some.
We’re enjoying having more space.
Our realtor laughed at us every time we toured a home because we would say things like, “WOW! Look at how big this pantry is!” He could have shown us a tiny house and we still would have been impressed with how spacious it was. Now that we’re in our home, we are really enjoying all the space. Tommi especially is enjoying having a garage and not having to unpack and pack tools when needing to use them.
We are more planned with our purchases.
After the arduous task of downsizing, neither of us wants to fill a house with “stuff” again. RV life was a great reset for me, the person who used to love buying random stuff and owned a ton of clothes. Yes, we just bought a giant house that needs filling, but we’re both okay with it being a bit bare and empty until we find exactly the right “things” to fill it with.
RVs are a lot of work, but so are houses!
We knew this going into it, but buying a house comes with a lot of work! And now Tommi doesn’t just get to winterize an RV, he also gets to winterize a house! Double the fun.
How are the dogs adjusting?
Because that’s really what you want to know, right?
Well, on day 1 we had to explain to Mushy (who didn’t have much house experience) that coffee tables weren’t for sitting on and ceiling fans aren’t murder-blades, but, aside from that, they’re doing great!
They seem to be enjoying all the space they have to play.
They are loving all their lounge stations.
And the coolest thing to see is how they’ve become even better friends!
In the RV, they got along well and loved each other’s company, but it’s been taken to the next level now that we’re in the house. They are always near each other, they are playing better together (Mushy is learning Lily’s play style and biting her legs less), and they really have upped their BFF game.
And this part may be hard to believe, but they’re getting more exercise than before! As RV dogs, they got to go on amazing adventures and hikes, but the average working day was a bit boring and if they were outside alone, they were tethered to the motorhome.
Now, they’ve got a huge house to patrol, a deck with off-leash access, and since our home borders on state land and BLM land, we go on long walks every single day. Their Whistle trackers have been alerting us that the dogs have been “more active than normal,” and I crack up when I’m working in my office and I hear the dogs chasing each other back and forth on the carpeted hallway above me. According to Whistle, they get at least 10 minutes of solid playtime a day, which never happened in the RV.
So, What Will Part-Time RV Life Look Like?
We are selling our Class A and once it sells, our plan is to downsize to a van (yes, we’re drinking the Kool-Aid!). We purchased our home in the Four Corners Region of the U.S., mostly because of all the amazing nature in this area. There is still so much left to see and we think that with a van, we will be able to go more places with less planning and explore this region in full.
Other things we’re looking forward to with #vanlife:
With the Class A, we followed the 2-2-2 rule (stay at least two days, drive max 200 miles, arrive by 2 p.m. at the latest). This rule kept us alert and well-rested. We are hoping that with a van that drives more like a car and by being on the road only part-time, we can drive further in a day. We also hope to worry less about finding a large-enough campsite. Even with fewer days on the road, we hope to go more places, especially places we couldn’t go before. At roughly 21 feet, a van would allow us to explore more national forests and mountain roads, which we are really excited about.
Being more spontaneous
We love the idea of just picking a direction and driving. We don’t have to worry about where we can safely pull over, fitting in a campsite, or needing to make reservations. And ALL THE ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS! I cannot tell you the number of times we’d happen across a random roadside attraction while driving the Class A, only for Tommi to tell me I can’t pull over because we won’t fit, the shoulder won’t hold our weight, we can’t easily turn around, yadda, yadda, yadda. I hope he’s prepared because once we get a van we’re stopping at all of them!
Looking Back on Full Time RV Living
You may be wondering, knowing what we know now, would we have chosen a different type of RV for full-time life? This may surprise you, but no. Our motorhome was perfect for what we needed: enough space for two humans and two dogs, plenty of space (and weight capacity) to allow us to travel with everything we owned, large tanks, solar and batteries for long boondocking stays, and a great way to explore the country.
It’s a weird thought for us that in our future travels, we will no longer be “home.” We’ll have smaller tanks and make shorter trips, but once on the road we’ll be actively traveling, and not just camped for two weeks at a time because you have to be somewhere.
Once we’ve had time to settle in the house and set up the new rig (whatever it will be), the road will be calling us again. This isn’t goodbye; this is see you down the road!
Meet the Family
Ane and Tommi, F462447, of The Dog Is Driving love how RV life allows them to go on adventures. And they bring along their rescue dogs: Mushy and Lily Goodgirl. Full-timers since 2016, they share their experiences and review campsites through a pet-friendly lens on Instagram and TheDogisDriving.com.