Living in an RV : Day 10

I’ve lived in my RV for 10 days now. I have only gone back to the condo to get clothes, and to sleep one night (basically I picked a loud parking spot that was 10 feet from the condo and it was 5am so I just went inside instead of driving to a quiet spot). A lot of things have panned out as expected, but there have also been some big surprises.

  • Overnight parking is SIMPLE to find if you know the city. I expected this to be WAY harder than it is. I can park in any one place for 72 hours without problems. I’ve parked in front of my favorite restaurant (the only place I used to drive to), and I’m almost always there. It’s fantastic to just be able to walk out my front (actually it’s on the back of the RV) door and eat my lunch and dinner every day. On weekends I’m thinking about parking right on 5th street (which is the center of downtown, right where the condo is) for the weekend. Metered spots are free on the weekend.
  • Regular parking is also simple! With the bus we had to really consider where we parked (although it was actually easier than expected). With my little guy I park anywhere. I even parked in a compact spot a couple times. One of those times I had to argue with a security guard, assistant manager, and manager. None of them could point out a good reason why I couldn’t park there, so they let me.
  • Gas mileage is awful. I get 11mpg if I’m lucky. There are some really cool RVs that are slightly thinner but get 22mpg, so I may upgrade if I keep living in an RV.
  • You don’t really need more space than this. Everything in the RV is laid out so cleverly that I never wish I had more room. I’ve had friends come over and hang out for hours – it’s totally comfortable. I was even thinking I could make due without the couch. I was idly considering getting a bigger one with a bedroom in back, and then I realized that I actually prefer not having a bedroom. This way my bed gets made (put away) every morning, so I start off with a nice clean RV. Speaking of which…
  • This thing is REALLY easy to clean. It might take 10 minutes at most. I used to agonize about cleaning – now it’s a reflex to tidy everything up because it takes so little time.
  • Power is an issue. Air conditioning will be. Right now I don’t have a good way to power my laptop all day. This is a problem (and part of the reason I haven’t posted this past week). I’m probably going to get a solar solution, but these are pretty expensive. So far I’ve been sleeping without air conditioning, but in the summer I won’t be able to do this anymore. Doug has volunteered to let me buy some power from him to run the AC at night, and he lives close to downtown, so that will be pretty cool.
  • I don’t use a lot of resources. When you’re filling and dumping your own tanks, you get to find out how much you use. In a week I go through about 42 gallons of water (I think I can cut that down now that I understand how my hot water heater works), and I fill up about 60 gallons of waste (most of that is shower water – I’m not that… prolific). I actually like my short efficient showers now. I washed my hands at the condo when I was over there getting some stuff and it seemed crazy to have the faucet on full blast. Disclaimer : I don’t really care about the environment. I just like being efficient.
  • This is a REALLY cheap way to live WELL Austin has some crazy price fixing scheme or something because dumping waste here runs $15. Usually it’s $0-5, so I don’t know what’s going on. I have to do that 4 times a month. Wireless internet is running me about $40. Gas to run the generator once in a while might be $50-100 a month. Propane seriously NEVER runs out so I have no idea how much I’m using. I’ve been using it full tilt for a week and it still says full. Let’s say $20/mo just to have a number. Insurance is $95 a month (but that’s also my auto insurance, so it’s not really fair to count it). That’s under $300 a month for ALL living expenses besides food. In my opinion, the RV is WAY cooler than any crappy apartment. I really can’t understand why more people don’t do this. Students especially.
  • When I buy something for my car, I have it in my house too. Want satellite radio? Get one and have it in your house and car. I can use one charger for my phone. Insurance covers my house and my car since they’re the same thing. Cleaning my car cleans my house.
  • I could go on and on, but you probably get the idea. I totally love living in this RV. It’s a great feeling to drive over to my mom’s house and have her say “Oh, you didn’t happen to bring those tickets, did you?” and to just be able to walk into my house and get them.

    My parents are really into the RV thing, which is funny. They’re always a bit skeptical about my schemes. My dad helped me take out the CRT TV and the Microwave which I replaced with a flat panel and a flash bake oven. My mom made me nice curtains. I’m trying hard to resist the urge to totally trick out the RV. The carpet smells a bit musty so I might put in granite tile or bamboo floors. I think that would be neat.

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  1. Granite Tile is gonna do bad stuff to your mileage, but hey. I think you should pimp it out.

    Also, if you take in 42 gallons of water, and dump 60 gallons of waste… where is the extra 18 gallons coming from?

  2. Sorry to be a debbie downer but I’m really curious about the fact that you “don’t really care about the environment”. Was that just in the context of the article or in general?

  3. Magnus: My numbers aren’t totally accurate because I don’t know the exact capacity of the tanks and they’re probably not full to the brim, actually. The excess is human waste. Mmmmm….

    Cooper: I mean that any actions I take to “save the earth” would be so inconsequential that I don’t consider that motivation when making decisions.


  4. The environment can look after itself. If we’re lucky, it won’t destroy us completely when it does so.

  5. I’m not really an environmentalist myself, but if 200 million people did some “inconsequential” things for the environment- that might be kind of consequential. As a dude who’s always looking to improve your life, seems like something you might get into at some point? I like the RV thing though, let us know how it keeps workin out..

    Much Love,

  6. But we’re not talking about 200 million people. We’re talking about me. If I were working on inventing some power source that makes power out of air, then my contribution can affect those 200mil, and that’s different.

    It’s like voting. I don’t vote because my vote doesn’t matter. No election would have EVER been changed if I voted in every single one. There will always be people who will vote and people who won’t… me not voting doesn’t affect anyone else.


  7. Thanks for letting us know how it’s going.

    The power situation sounds the hardest to overcome. Do you store fresh food in a fridge that runs 24/7? Or is that beyond RV technology? I really have no idea.

    And you do plan to actually go somewhere in the vehicle eventually though, right?

  8. The fridge runs off propane, which is really cool… it never turns off and barely uses any propane.

    I’ll go places with it, but even if I wasn’t going to, I would still live in it!


  9. That’s a cool fridge. I swear I didn’t mean that as a pun, I swear. Fridge tip: keep it as full as possible, because chilling empty space (air) requires more energy than if there’s an object there.

    It’s too bad other devices weren’t propane powered. Or are they? A propane generator, if there’s such a thing, could give you emergency power. The solar paneling is a good long term solution though.

  10. I have all the photos! We keep forgetting to put them in Tynan’s computer though. You’ll see ’em sooner or later…

  11. I have finally finished reading your entire blog including all the comments and I am very impressed, I haven’t had a blog change my life since I joined the Tucker Max book club and read The Game. Ever since I started reading I have decided to become a more disciplined person (by using a to do list), become more confident (through PU), become more optimistic, read all six of the books you’ve recommended and start a blog on lucid dreaming, inspired by watching Waking Life which I rented after reading about it here. I will get started after finals, which I finish up tomorrow. Keep up the blog it is truly great.

  12. The theory that CO2 produced by human activity is creating global warming, is complete drivel and easily refuted. Failing to vote however…

  13. Since many people read your web site you actually have a bigger effect and influence on the environment than most people.

  14. So maybe Tynan has just influenced 100 people NOT to vote. Wasn’t that pretty much to gap in the last Presidential election? 🙂

  15. The downsides are that running air conditioner requires running the generator ($1.50 – 2 / hour in gas) and that I don’t have a good system for power yet.

    I just bought a 115w solar panel system and a new roof vent that has a built in rain sensing fan, so I’m hoping that the temperature issue and power issue will be solved very soon.

    I have a 17″ Dell LCD TV I got a few years ago, but I haven’t hooked it up to anything. When I have friends over I hook it up to my computer to watch downloaded shows.

    Oh, and I still need to get a good stereo setup, but that’s about it!


  16. I am going to college and I just had the same idea, to live in an RV and save on rent. Have you had any problems with people waking you up by knocking on the RV or someone trying to write graffiti on your RV? That’s what would worry me most.

  17. Eddie,

    Definitely give it a try. You’ll love it. No problems like that at all. I think people assume that someone’s in there usually so they don’t want to mess with it.


  18. I thought you were going to post some pics of your two friends going on diets may 1st. What happened?

  19. Ty, I am DYING here. This article was incredibly funny. “What was that, mum? You wanted to know if I brought those keys? Weeelll… let me just step into my house and see!” I realized that this was your old (pre-Rialta) RV. I’m obsessing about living in an RV now; it just makes so much sense!

  20. Ty, I am DYING here. This article is incredibly funny. “What was that, mum? You wanted to know if I brought those keys? Weeelll… let me just step into my house and see!”

    You, sir, are responsible for rekindling my “live out of an RV” obsession. One thing, though: have you thought about / experienced any situations where your engine died, say, and the RV needed to be in the shop for a week? Where would you live while the RV was being repaired?

  21. In the process of purchasing a small rv. Would like suggestions on what kind of utensils or appliances to get for a family of two, a puppy, and a cat. Any suggestions that would make living comfortable, small, and frugal?

  22. @Asa: I’m about to deal with that… the Rialta is going into the shop for engine repairs. I’m going to stay with my family or friends. If I wasn’t in Austin I would probably buy a plane ticket and go on a little trip somewhere.

    @Valerie: Get as little as possible and add to it slowly only as you need it. I use plastic forks and knives and paper plates and bowls so that I don’t have to do dishes and waste water.


  23. I work overseas in nonprofit right now – and probably will for a few more years, but I’m already planning on taking this course of action once I return home for good. I’m sure I’ll take a year or two off to just travel and see the sights, but eventually, I’ll return to work. I can’t imagine holding down a 9-5 while living in a RV, but it would be kind of cool. I’m so fascinated by the blog you have and the fact that you are doing this, if you’re still doing it. For now I’m saving money up to use on this epic trip. What kind of budget do you have for repairs? Thanks again for writing such a fun blog!

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