You decided to purchase a recreational vehicle for any number of reasons: You want to simplify or downsize your life. You want to travel more and work less. You want to save money. Whatever the reason, you are fully on board with living the stationary life of a full-time resident of an RV park and are excited about the possibilities that lie before you.
But, what if you aren’t sure about making the switch from a more traditional home to the RV life? If you are just thinking about living full-time in an RV park, treat that decision as you would if you were looking for an apartment or traditional home. After all, your RV will become you home, and there are plenty of positives and negatives to consider when moving into a RV park full-time.
Before you decide to move into a RV park, be selective when you purchase your RV. Be sure it has enough space as possible and that you are completely comfortable in it. If you will be doing a lot of traveling, consider buying an RV that weighs less and that you can easily drive.
No matter what type of RV you select, you will be forced to organize, limit your possessions and plan well due to the space restrictions of the vehicle. The upside is, you won’t have to mow your lawn, edge flower beds or even paint when you call an RV home.
After you’ve gotten the keys to your RV, now you are ready for life at an RV park. Here are a few general observations about living in an RV park full-time:
1. Warmer is better.
Locations with more temperate climates offer RV dwellers more opportunities for both personal comfort and for making friends. Of course you can take your RV to colder climates, but having to constantly keep the interior of the vehicle warm does place a strain on its mechanics. And, having to stay cooped up inside such a tight place for prolonged periods when the weather is bad during the winter can grate on anyone’s nerves after a while.
2. Rover may not be welcome.
Many RV parks either don’t allow pets ore require RVers with a dog to set up in specific areas away from campers who do not have a furry family member.
3. Kids and neighbors.
You might find that if you have young children that living full-time in an RV park is not as idyllic as it sounds. Most facilities do not have amenities that are geared to the needs of young kids, who can become easily bored. You will also find that neighbors are a mix of people. While some are living in the park because they want to, others have been forced there by their financial situation or other reasons. They may not be the type of people you would want your youngsters around.
Showering may not be the first thing you think about when living in an RV, but it should rank up there. Water pressure (and keeping the water hot) can be a challenge. You can also choose to use the park’s shower or join a nearby gym to meet your showering needs.
Just like in a traditional home, spiders and other creepy-crawlies can and will bet into your RV. After all, most RV parks are located in the woods, and where do bugs like to hang out? In the woods. An easy way to prevent them from getting inside and making your home their home is to winterize your vehicle by sealing up the cracks.
If you are getting the impression that living in an RV park is just like living in a traditional neighborhood, you are correct, with a couple of exceptions. You will find that you will have more interactions with your neighbors in an RV park while you have much less space between you. (But, keep in mind that if you find you don’t like your neighbor, all you have to do is relocate to an empty spot when you live in an RV park. You can’t move a traditional home that easily).
Like in any neighborhood, there are a few etiquette rules you should follow when living in an RV park full-time:
- Do not walk across your neighbor’s site.
- Observe the park’s quiet times.
- Don’t allow your awnings or outdoor tables to infringe on your neighbor’s space.
- Make sure your guests don’t disturb your neighbors.
Just like in a traditional neighborhood, amenities differ from RV park to RV park. You may find that you’ll have access to cable television, laundry rooms, a clubhouse, pool and sewer in some parks while in others you won’t. You will also find that you will pay extra for some amenities while others are included in your camping fees, so be sure you know what you are paying for and what you aren’t.
Getting your mail at an RV park can also pose a bit of a problem. It will more than likely be delivered to the park office, meaning you will have to make a daily trek to pick it up.
Don’t think that just because you live in an RV park that you’ve left the challenges of home maintenance behind. Since you are dealing with a smaller space, the amount of dirt and debris that you track inside your RV can be magnified when compared to what you could track into a traditional home. You can generally expect to have to sweep your our vacuum your RV at least once, sometimes twice a day, in order to keep it both clean and livable. Another key piece of maintenance that you will have to do every few days is to empty your septic tanks into the park’s sewage system.
Many things inside your RV — such as fans, showers and toilets are not necessarily designed to be used 24/7 when you live in the vehicle full-time. So, you can expect to make repairs to the vehicle, whether it is stationary or you are driving from park to park.
There are other lifestyle changes you might not consider when you opt to live in an RV full-time. There is no room for exercise equipment inside one of the vehicles, and not of space to entertain. There is also not a lot of equipment for a ton of computer equipment, so think laptops and other smaller and easily portable devices.
You will also find that every space inside your RV will be used for multiple things. For example, a table may be home to your groceries, cup of coffee and laptop all at the same time. A couch may convert into a bed. There is also minimal cabinet space in the kitchen and your cooktop will be smaller than in a traditional home. But the upside to all of that is there are plenty of recipes for one pot meals out there that are healthy and easy to make.
Since RV’s are small, it naturally follows that the windows in the vehicle are small as well. That means that there will be less natural light inside, so adequate indoor lighting can be a challenge.
Unlike a home, RV’s are not equipped with basements, garages or other spaces where you can stash such items as tools. but a way around that can be renting a storage space where you can stow out-of-season clothing and other items you do not need or use on a daily basis. Some RV parks will also allow you to put up a storage shed or other outbuilding, so check with your park’s management team about that possibility.
A potential downside to living in an RV full-time can come at night. If you or your partner can’t sleep or are restless, there is really no place you can go inside an RV so you don’t disturb the person who is sleeping. Bathroom space is also limited and that can also mean very little privacy when nature occurs.
So, how much does it cost to live in an RV park full-time? The answer to that question varies from park to park and depends largely upon its amenities and the amenities you want to have. Before selecting a park to be your home, do your homework. Tour the site and talk to other residents about both the park’s pros and cons. While RV’s are designed to be moved, if you are considering making your vehicle stationary you are sure to want to select the perfect site the first time in order to avoid unnecessary travel and the expense that is associated with it.
Be sure to fully understand what the monthly rate you are paying includes and excludes. Ask about electricity and full hook-up options for cable and internet service.
You will find that if you do your homework, plan adequately and make wise decisions, living in an RV can save you money and give you the lifestyle you want.
I am a well traveled Marine Corps veteran that enjoys the outdoor and nomadic lifestyle that RV living provides. I am also a member of the National RV Inspectors Association (NRVIA.org). As the founder of Camperguide.org my goal is to provide you with well researched information so that you can enjoy the best of the RV lifestyle.