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Pros and Cons of Living in an RV

We’ve been living in an RV for 8 years now and we are still huge fans of all the pros of living in an RV, but we’ve also discovered some cons to living in an RV, especially with all the changes in the world since 2020.

Updated 2023.

Eight years in and I still love living in an RV with my five kids. I realize living in an RV and traveling with kids is not on most people’s bucket list and for good reason.  It’s challenging and requires a great deal of perspective.  

Most days I do have to stop and remind myself why this is a conscious choice made with intention and purpose. There are many pros and cons to living in an RV but let’s start with the 5 great things I love this RV living.

Push Pin Travel Maps: Best Gift for Travelers
We love getting to track our travels with our Push Pin Travel Map!

#1 Pro of Living In An RV: Freedom

When things got weird in 2020, I loved that I wasn’t tied down to any one state.

Initially, San Diego served as our winter surfing home base while we jet-setted globally. Home wasn’t crucial as we weren’t there often.

Come 2020, our international plans shifted. Our RV living made establishing residency in South Dakota and traveling through freedom-valuing states easier.

Even pre-2020, I cherished having my essentials always with me, ready to move within an hour. Changing scenery or seeking new adventures required minimal effort.

Tip for RV living: Ponder where you’d want to spend most time. We opt for an ever-changing backyard, so we pack light. While some downsize for cost-saving, others prefer settling in RV parks and retaining more belongings.

living in an RV with 5 kids
What you see here is pretty much the entirety of our living space

Related Blog: Things To Consider Before Buying An RV

It’s very important to know what your intention is when you decide to live in an RV and travel with kids. Our kids love the outdoors and living in an RV allows them to spend a lot of time playing outside.  If you decide to live in an RV with kids, include them in the decision making especially when it come to where to go.  

Pro Tip: Have your kids keep a dream board of places & adventures that they’d like to do on your travels. By involving my kids in our travel plans, they are more motivated to behave and pitch in to help make travel a reality for us. (Follow us on Pinterest for ideas to add to your dream board!)

#2 Pro of Living in an RV: It’s Cheaper

Besides the obvious freedom to move, the cost of living is so much less. We were spending $10,000 just for our business rent, house rent, and food and by switching to an RV, we only had to pay for food.

Of course, we did pay for campgrounds and gas for road trips, but we always had the option to sit still and free camp if we wanted or needed to. Having the option made me feel calmer & be able to breathe a little deeper.

Free Camping in Idaho

# 3 Pro of Living In An RV: We Became Time Rich

What do you want to do today?” became the common question each day (and still is).

Since we had freedom to move and less expenses, we could decide day by day what we felt like doing.

Gone were the days of “I have to.”

With our pace of life slowed down and not having to rush to be anywhere, we were able to take the time to cook great food, read books, lie in a hammock, and appreciate the important things in life.

Alice Lake: Epic Day Hikes in the Sawtooth Range, Idaho
Chilling at Alice Lake in our favorite hammock

I spend a lot of time curled up on my bed reading and writing (I actually wrote 2 books the first year of RV living!) or staring out the window at the amazing scenery I’m surrounded by. 

My friends tell me how each of their kids goes to their own rooms and watch their own show on their own iPad and I can’t relate.  My kids all cuddle up wherever they can fit in our “living room” to watch a movie. 

The closeness our family gets from living in such tight quarters is wonderful. 

Small spaces, Why RV Living with Kids is Awesome
Movie night looks a little different in an RV
Small spaces, Why RV Living with Kids is Awesome
Daniel watching a movie with little siblings all cuddled up in the tiny back room

# 4 Pro of Living in an RV: More Adventure

This was the real reason we still chose to live full time in an RV. We get to chase adventure!

Yes, the flexibility and freedom to pack up and just go, plus the lower cost of living, is a big pro of living full time in an RV, but for us, it’s always been about the adventures.

Family hike in Jasper National Park, RV Living with Kids
Family hike in Jasper National Park

Over the past 8 years we’ve…

Family backpacking, RV Living with Kids
Backpacking the Abel Tasman coast all together as a family
Rotorua, RV Living with Kids
Mountain biking smooth single track in Rotorua

# 5 Pro of Living in an RV: Simplicity

I know all this travel and road trip planning sounds like it could be a logistic nighmare, but it’s not. I love travel planning and find a lot of joy in the fact that I have multiple itineraries ready at any one moment. I enjoy being on a non-stop road trip but you don’t have to travel this way just because you live in an RV.

rv living, small spaces, vagabonding, travel with kids
Enjoying our simple life curled up with a good book

In fact, many people who live in an RV travel slow and take their time enjoying one destination fully before moving on.

But even with all these adventures, life is simple. We have so little to worry about. We get to take road trips and go on adventures, and don’t feel the pressure, obligation, and stress that most people live with.

Simplicity, RV Living with Kids

We don’t have a lot of space, but the space we do have feels inviting and comfy. We have eliminated the nonessentials and have only kept what is of value to us. 

I used to spend hours cleaning my house, picking up after my kids, organizing and reorganizing all the stuff we had accumulated, now I don’t. 

#6 Pro of Living in an RV: Mindfulness & Health

Living in an RV has made all the kids more mindful and crave being out in nature over using electronic devices.

Camping Hawaii Malaekahana Oahu, Ultimate Guide to Visiting Hawaii on a Budget
Another epic sunrise from the secluded shores of Oahu’s best campground

We have time to sit and watch the sunrise and sunset. In fact, now that my oldest lives in his own RV, he often texts me pictures of the sunset. I love that living in an RV made him mindful to appreciate simple things like this.

Like I mentioned, we have time to prepare healthy food, workout, do yoga, meditate. Maybe my one IPA or glass of wine a night isn’t the healthiest, but my stress is so low that I can’t help but think that the benefit of sipping it, while connecting with my husband, and watching the sunset isn’t offsetting the small splurge.

With all these pros of RV living, why should you think twice about living in an RV. Well, three big reasons:

#1 Con of Living in an RV: I Still Have Too Much Crap

I love the simplicity of only having my sports gear but we have a lot of sports gear!! In fact, I’ve always had to keep an extra vehicle or extra RV filled up with off-season gear.

Pro Tip: Eliminate as much stuff as possible.  It’s amazing when you live in an RV how little stuff your kids really need.  We end up spending so much more time on experiences that we really don’t miss our stuff.

#2 Con of Living in an RV: Luxury Tax

Dumping the poo is still annoying. I’m embarrassed to say how many times crap has sprayed us (think Robin Williams and tube spreaders in the movie RV). In all seriousness, it isn’t that bad, but I can see how for some it would make this lifestyle not worth it.

Managing black and gray water tanks is a pain in the butt when you are boon-docking. And sometimes you manage it wrong and you have to leave a great site that you end up not wanting to go back to after you dump. C’est la vie.

#3 Con of Living in an RV: Covid Complicated Travel

Yes, there’s freedom but there’s also some headaches too. A lot of people have moved into their RV just to save money. A lot of them are choosing to live in RV parks full time and so the demand for long term RV guests is so high that many RV parks don’t even offer short term stays.

This is great for full time RVers if you can get a spot, which is becoming increasingly difficult. Getting reservation to get into National Park and general restrictions have increased since covid. It has added a level of concern with an otherwise amazing lifestyle.

At one point during covid, the RV park was telling us our kids couldn’t leave our site or we started having issue with tattle tales saying, “Those kids are playing with other kids in the RV park.”

#4 Con of Living in an RV: Fewer Friends

Which leads to the last con. It is hard for the kids to not have friends some day. Overall, it’s worth the sacrifice because I feel that I’m giving them something that will be more valuable for their future happiness, but there have definitely been tear shed over this problem.

When we sit still in RV parks, especially like Thousand Trails, we can often find other kids, but we don’t do this often and it too has its own issues.

It helps that our family is so large and that Victor and I act like kids still. We play with our kids daily so they get to have a lot of fun.

But if you have an only child or aren’t physically able to bring the fun, then the best way to work around this is to find homeschooling meet ups or check with fulltime families for yearly events where you can meet other people living this lifestyle.

Overall Do The Pros Outweigh Cons of Living in an RV?

Living in an RV for 8 years, we’ve found more pros than cons, but it might not suit everyone long-term. It’s perfect for us due to our love for adventure, coaching, and new experiences daily. This lifestyle demanded self-discovery, embracing values, and confronting fears.

Wanting traditional aspects like competitive sports for kids or a stable routine isn’t shallow. Simplifying life in an RV brings a lighter, slower pace. Our journey taught invaluable lessons, though it’s not for everyone—worth exploring for self-discovery.

Ready to launch into RV Living but haven’t pulled the trigger yet? Watch This Video

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Do you think RV living is for you? Got some questions about RV living with kids? Let us know in the comments or contact us directly with any questions about transitioning to RV Living! WE’re kind of experts on this 😉

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Jong Lee

Saturday 27th of January 2024

It was a calm essay that gave good advice to me who was planning to buy my first RV at the age of 70. Thank you.

Robyn Robledo

Wednesday 14th of February 2024

Way to keep living life to the fullest!

Laura

Monday 11th of March 2019

your lifestyle sounds wonderful...your children are very lucky. we are planning on getting rv for our family...not for full time but part time travel. we have 5 children but they are younger. my question is when did you start traveling full time with your kids? and if they were younger how did you get from a to b with the kids...with car seats seat belts etc.

Robyn

Tuesday 2nd of April 2019

when they were younger we had carseats for them in our motorhome (or truck when we had a trailer). When we traveled to Europe, we brought our 5 year old's booster seat, but everyone else was older by then

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