I was on the phone a couple days ago with my friend Hayden. After hearing about my plan to continue up to San Francisco, he predicted that within a year I would be living "somewhere posh". I doubt it. I really just love living in this RV, and can't imagine circumstances that would make me move out (famous last words). There are certainly upgrades I'd like to do (more solar, more batteries, more water capacity), but for now I have no inclination to move out.
Why do I love it so much? What makes me so willing to give up things like adequate floor space for a trash can? Here are six of my favorite things about living in an RV.
Moving becomes easy. As I skateboarded over to my favorite Ethiopian restaurant (Rahel on Fairfax), I realized that I am basically a Los Angeles resident. Not for tax purposes, of course, but I feel the same as when I lived here a few years ago. Visiting somewhere, complete with sightseeing, hotels, and rental cars, feels different than living somewhere. I may only plan on being here for a few weeks, but I feel like a resident.
To take it one step further, I moved to LA without really thinking about it. Normally moving is a huge, annoying, and expensive process. In fact, the main reason I became a minimalist was because I had to move twice in a year. In an RV it can happen on a whim. I had dinner at a friend's house in Austin, got in the RV, and two days later was hanging out with my LA friends. The whole thing cost me $249.75 in gas, including a stop in Vegas.
I plan on moving to San Francisco in a couple weeks. That will be another $60 in gas.
Stuff becomes a heavy anchor. May as well put it on wheels.
I always have my stuff with me. This is a bigger deal for me than most people, because a lot of my stuff is healthy food. It's great to be driving around, realize I'm hungry, and pull over and make dinner. On the way to Vegas I timed myself: from pulling in to a rest stop to leaving with a belly full of home made pasta took 27 minutes.
But even having all of my clothes (the few I have), my computer stuff, and my own private bathroom and shower everywhere is pretty great. In some ways moving into an RV is paring down, but in other ways it allows me to do more than I could with a normal house and car.
Forced minimalism. Minimalism is a great thing, but even for someone as hardcore about it as I am, it's easy to let down your guard and want to buy more stuff. When you're in an RV, that temptation is easier to resist. There's just not room for anything.
I have one pot and a tea kettle. Four shirts. One pair of pants. One towel. When I see something I like but don't need, the decision not to buy it is an easy one.
Besides that, it's easy to keep the place clean. My old house used to always be a wreck because I had so much junk and so much floor space to strew it across. Now it takes me ten minutes to wash my one pot, tidy everything up, and go over the carpet with my amazing carpet sweeper (the Rotaro). I spend more time actually living life, and less time dealing with hassles.
It's fun. I don't know how else to put this, but living in an RV is really fun. Do you remember being in summer camp? Real life that doesn't quite feel real? That's what it feels like living in an RV. You become removed from the grind of rent, bills, home repairs, annoying neighbors, and cleaning. It feels like pure freedom because it is pure freedom. It's this weird loophole in the system that lets me live anywhere I want and pay nothing for the privilege.
The RV is cozy, like a tree fort. It's so small that I can set it up just how I like it. Even cooking in it is inexplicably fun.
I have no living expenses. I haven't paid rent or a mortgage for two years, other than for a month here and there while traveling. I haven't paid a utility bill in just as long. My water and sewage costs me $5-10 every 7-10 days. I get electricity for lights, computer, and even my electric skateboard, from the sun for free.
This means that I can spend my money on stuff I actually care about, rather than pseudo-obligations. Instead of begrudgingly forking over a thousand bucks for rent (the absolute lowest you could pay for a studio where I'm currently parked), I happily spend money on quality food and gas to bring me to my next location.
If I was in a financial crunch, as is pretty common these days, I could eat cheaply in the RV, stay in one spot, and spend almost no money at all, while still retaining all of my time to enjoy or work.
are you still writing? I just found your blog...I'm a 41 y.o. Veterinary technician and minimalist and seriously considering moving into an rv. You have been very helpful in my research. Plus I'm just enjoying the read!
Tynan, I just wanted to say you are way ahead of your years!! I just "happened" upon your spot over my morning coffee while looking at Class B Motorhomes. I am an laided-off, empty-nester mom with a house that I am really getting tired of maintaining. For years I've toyed with the idea of living in a motorhome and seeing the country. Your website answered a lot of the questions I didn't have answers for. However, I do have a question; what type of jobs would you suggest that could be done out of an RV? I am a CAD drafter by trade.
@Tom You can get brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta. My favorite is a brand called Racconto.
In your post, you mentioned that you ate home made pasta. I recall that you don't eat foods made of flour, so what is this pasta of yours like? How is it made, and can it also be bought? I like your ideas, but really love some spaghetti with pesto, and am looking for some alternatives to the unhealthy white flour pasta.
Enjoyed this article a great deal. I am a big fan of this style of living. I would be extremely interested to see a "Six things I hate about living in an RV" post, or "Six things I least like..." if you prefer that vocabulary for whatever reason.
Thought I would also mention that since the change to the new domain name, I feel the overall general quality of your posts has improved. (Even if all are not to my taste/interest, they do certainly seem to be of a high quality). Keep it up!
When I first bought an RV to live in last year a lot of people thought that it was a phase I would quickly snap out of. Part of me thought the same thing. Would a move from a 2000 square foot condo to a 100 square foot RV be bearable?
As it turned out, it was more than bearable. I loved it. When I left the country to travel, I sold everything including the RV I loved so much. Seven months later, back in Austin and faced with the proposition of finding somewhere to live, the decision was simple.
I wanted another RV, and it had to be even smaller.
Sometimes it feels like its all a struggle...some days I feel like I went down the wrong path and life and am fighting to correct it. I had a great job that I really liked, it was certainly a challenge but it was fun and I loved it. Then the economy took a downturn along with my income and the kids were not getting a good education in school (another story in itself) so things got pretty stressful. I had a friend closer to home that had been running an IT services startup, and had been trying to recruit me for two years to be his first official employee. The pay seemed more stable than my other tech consulting/sales job in the music industry. So after much thought I moved my family and took the job. Very quickly however I realized this was a mistake, but it was too late...there was no going back. The startup was not even remotely in a financial position to make my wages and within three months I was out. WOW...also since I was considered a contract employee I was not eligible for unemployment, nothing, zero, zip...so here I was stuck up a creek without a paddle.
I spent the next few days going on lots of walks, thinking about what to do. The plan was to some day start my own business but I certainly was not ready now. Here I was stuck in a city I had lived only three months, with no savings, no funding, no income and no network to even meet customers. Needless to say I was stressed. So I decided, right then and there, I don’t need to chase anyone for a paycheck. I will generate my own income one way or another. So I started taking contract work from sites like onforce and started a production/design company with no knowledge of how to run one or how to get customers or anything. It was TOUGH, a massive struggle, especially when we were falling behind on our bills anyway. Every morning I would wake up and apply for jobs, then try and find customers and then contract tech work.
Several times we had our power shut off, and were constantly behind on rent. My wife found a few temp jobs, then got a nice full time one. But the job market was not kind on either one of us. I thought for sure I would be kicked out of my house and my family would have to move in with my parents. It was devastating. I remember seeing work orders come through on onforce to fix TV’s, and I thought “I have no idea how to fix a TV, im a tech guy with a audio engineer/IT background” Then when things got bad I figured “Well if I am losing my house anyway, who cares if I break a TV its not like they can sue me, I don’t have any money” So I starting fixing TV’s, and you know what, it was EASY work. Then I started working on servers, and doing vonage installs and I could do them. I could do them all, once in a while I had a contract job that would really stump me, but I would struggle through it. Customers started coming in and I started making websites for local businesses. I made some money from composing music and video production as well. I had applied for about two hundred jobs at this point, and gotten a few interviews but none of them offered enough money for me to be interested. By now I was almost making 40k from design and contract work, but the income was all over the map. I remember making $5000 one month and $500 the next.
We bought groceries every few days in small amounts as we had money. Now 40k was not NEAR the kind of money I was accustomed to making and is certainly not enough to raise a family, but I am still proud of that number. Just imagine being dropped in a city where you know no one and have ZERO resources and go make a living. Try it, I dare you. Do it with a rent payment and a family to feed. It took years off my life, but it really changed my perspective about life and the system in general.