While YouTube often makes full-time RV living look like the easy life, there are a few truths you must know. Without a doubt, the RV lifestyle does have advantages over sticks and bricks, but there are unexpected challenges. Be prepared to not only embrace new places on the road of life, but also a new mindset.
Resources are Limited
If you yearn to boondock, go RVing off-grid, you must understand that your resources will be limited. If you’re still living in a house or an apartment, it’s hard to visualize having limits on things like water and electricity. But boondocking on solar, that becomes a way of life.
Your resources include water, electricity, propane, sewer, and data.
The fact is, unless you’re plugged in at an RV park, you won’t be taking hot showers every day. If you do, you might be moving more than you planned to refill your fresh and dump your gray tank.
If you’re on solar, you won’t be cooking all of your meals in the microwave or an Instapot. Or, blow-drying your hair or running the air conditioner. Not unless you have a very expensive solar system. High wattage appliances need a generator.
Your mobile internet data will likely be limited too. That means, no endlessly streaming videos or playing video games, unless you want to pay for extra GB’s. And, your signal can be unstable, intermittent or nonexistent, making it simply unusable; that’s especially true up in remote areas.
You May Need to Embrace Propane
Going back to boondocking on solar, unless you have lots of panels, lithium batteries, and a big inverter, your microwave won’t work. And your Instapot probably won’t work either. That means, you’ll need to cook the old fashioned way, on top of your propane stove.
A propane refrigerator can be a blessing on the road too. It will draw very little electric power, while keeping your food cold and fresh. Also, some feel that propane refrigerators are more reliable on the road; they’re built for RVs, and can withstand the literal bumps in the road better than a residential frig.
It’s Not Always Cheaper Than a Real House
While you can definitely save money living in an RV, when things go wrong, it can cost you. If you’ve been renting, all the repairs are on you, not the landlord.
From oil changes, new tires, water leaks, dump valve leaks, propane leaks, it’s always something. Be prepared to put aside some money every month, for the unexpected repairs that inevitably happen.
In addition to repairs, gas will cost you too, especially if you are traveling a lot. If you’re used to gassing up a passenger car, you might be shocked the first time you fill up a motorhome or a pickup.
This shouldn’t discourage you, it’s just a reminder that while you won’t be paying rent, there are still costs.
Millions of Acres of Land, and Nowhere to Park
While West of the Rockies has millions of acres of public lands, you may have nowhere to park. This can be especially true in very popular tourist areas, or, in the mountains and forests.
Unless you’re in a van or a truck camper, some areas are simply not accessible, even if they are free. Narrow, twisty, dirt roads through the mountains are forests can be unsuitable for many rigs. And, the camping spots you do find can be too tight for anything bigger than a truck camper or van to access.
The fact is, summer can be a tough time for full-timers. Unlike the wide-open desert that are popular in the winter, cool, summer landscapes are not as RV friendly. Also, in the summer, you’ll be competing for space with families who have. kids out of school.
Be aware, summer can take more planning for a full-timer; from making reservations months in advance, to thoroughly researching boondocking spots, summer takes preparation.
Embrace the Primitive
While solar panels, mobile internet data, and GPS technology are cutting edge technology, RV living can be primitive when boondocking.
The fact is, by living closer to nature, you may need to change some of your big city habits.
For example, rather than running the air conditioner, you might just have to sweat it out. And, rather than running the furnace all night, you’ll need to pile on the blankets. Finally, forget about showering every day.
Also, consider that the pace of living on solar revolves around the sun; you might find you’re waking up earlier, and also, going to bed earlier as your panel voltage goes down.
You’ll also begin to pay closer attention to the weather; you won’t want to drive in high winds, and high winds can rock your rig when parked. And the rain will be VERY noisy.
Finally, you might notice, it really does get coldest before the dawn.
This is not to discourage your RV dreams, but just some things to consider before you make the commitment, and hit the road.