We live in a camper year round and travel the U.S.
Our home is on wheels and we live in an RV full time. Traveling in our rig and finding gorgeous spots is how we started shooting wild elopements and meeting incredible couples. After shooting our first elopement together, we knew that this was exactly where we wanted to be. Documenting these precious moments for amazing humans is a huge responsibility that we feel honored to have. Living in an RV full time has changed our lives and we’d love to share the story of our home with you.
This month, we’re closing in on three years in the first home that we purchased together, a roughly 225 Sq. Ft, 2006 fifth-wheel travel trailer.
If you would have told us when we were living in our tiny apartment in the middle of DFW, that we would end up living in a trailer, splitting up our time between our favorite places, we would have never believed it…we’d be psyched, but very skeptical.
Can You Live in an RV Full Time?
Yup! You absolutely can live in an RV Full time. If rving full time is something you’re interested in doing, you’ll want to start researching
- Types of RVs or vehicles
- Towing logistics
- Tow vehicles
- Rig weight and tow capacity
The biggest thing to consider is your budget. There are a ton of renovated RVs that can make you feel like yours has to look a certain way, but after living and traveling for 3 years, we have just gotten to the point that our home looks the way we want. These topics aren’t the most “fun”, but they’re super important to figure out first. After getting a good idea of what your budget is, the type of rig you’re looking at, and what type of tow vehicle you’ll need, you’ll be able to start looking at floor plans, design ideas, and campsites that will suit your needs.
How We Started to Live in an RV Full Time and Travel
I was working as a high school theatre teacher and Kyle was doing freelance photography when we decided to take a month-long road trip in our itty bitty Prius C. Our first stop was Rocky Mountain National Park and from the moment we rolled in, it was game over for our little born, raised, lived in Texas our entire lives brains. We didn’t know how we were going to do it, but we knew from that moment on that our mission was to travel.
Neither of us knew anything about living in an RV full time or van life, we just knew that all we wanted to do was travel and take photos that made us remember exactly how we felt in those insanely beautiful spaces.
That year we researched different floor plans, manufacturers, how to detect water damage, a long with the huge list of logistics that came with having your home on wheels.
This research also opened us up to recognizing how immensely privileged we were to be choosing a home based on travel. There is definitely a really glamorized picture painted of van life and “nomad” life that left us with a really uncomfortable feeling that we’re honestly still working through today. We chose to live in a trailer that we were able to make into a home we loved, we were able to make our finances work us to make it happen, we had an incredible support system and family unit that did whatever they could to support us. We still firmly believe that even without all of those things we would have eventually done this, but it wouldn’t have happened as quickly or as comfortably as it did.
What RV is Best to Live in Full Time
Finding the right RV to live in full-time was a lot more research than we thought it would be. We found our rig after searching for well over a year. We had a tight budget to work with and knew we had to buy something that was older, but still in great shape. We found our 2006 Keystone Larado Fifth Wheel right after the new year and knew we had to jump on it. We drove to Oklahoma and back to DFW on the same day with our new home in tow. It feels important to share that this was the first time we had ever towed an RV. Needless to say, we were GRIPPED. We got her home and got to work stripping her down to the bones.
She was old, she wasn’t pretty, but she was ours.
We researched a ton of forums and Facebook groups to learn about what types of RVs to consider to live in year-round. After settling on a fifth wheel we got on buy/sell groups and RVTrader to find a camper that fit into our budget. We had some other budget factors to consider when looking for the right rig for us, such as:
- Trailer hitch
- Leveling pads
- Wheel chocks
- Tank hoses
- Water hoses
- Water filters
How to Renovate an RV
We spent the next 3 months peeling up carpet, painting, and dealing with a gnarly ladybug infestation. Renovating an RV isn’t for the faint of heart, but it was so satisfying to create something together that was entirely ours. Our budget was really tight, so we did everything ourselves and spent the next 3 years making changes and repairs as we could afford them.
Knocking out some clothing storage in order to make room for a king-size mattress, was by far our greatest choice and while we’re truly terrible at keeping plants alive, we still try to keep them around in the little corners of our home. We spent way more time, effort, and money on paint, but painting our walls white and finding the right color for our cabinets made the biggest difference in our space.
We also found cheap furniture from thrifting and scoring some sales at IKEA that fit our floor plan. Eventually, we built a super cute kennel for our pup, Chewie. Our cat, Godwin has free reign in our home and has a ton of high places to hide out if he needs some alone time. We got really crafty and found a way to keep his litter box in the undercarriage. We did this by creating a tunnel for him to use from under the bed to his box.
The biggest pain point was figuring out the flooring and swapping the original countertops after we scored an insane deal on some butcher block. We both love to cook and actually have ended up with more counter space in our rig than we ever had in any of our old apartments.
We have two separate, designated workspaces that we use in our home. We have our standing desk in the typical entertainment area and a more traditional desk space extended from the kitchen counters.
We opted for a composting toilet for our RV a few reasons:
- We wouldn’t have to deal with a black tank
- No worries about full tanks while camping without sewer
- Better for the environment
While this really stretched our budget initially, being able to camp without worrying about sewer hookups has allowed it to pay for itself multiple times over. In all honesty, dealing with a composting toilet was a pain in the beginning, but now it’s super easy to manage. We got ours here.
When we started remodeling our camper, we had a few objectives:
- Cutting weight
- Painting the walls/cabinets
- Updating the floors
One regret we have and that we’ll eventually update is our flooring choice. We went with dark bamboo flooring because it is super lightweight, really pretty, and was mega cheap. When we update, we’ll look for laminate flooring because it’s significantly more durable and scratch-resistant.
One of my favorite things about our home are the doors that Kyle used to create some really gorgeous fluid paintings and the custom chalkboard we have mounted by our standing desk.
Wanna see if we’re in your area?
How Much Does it Cost to Live in a Camper Year Round?
Our cost of living is fairly low and was before we moved into our rig. Our biggest costs are usually centered around the times that we’re traveling. We started moving at a slower pace with COVID-19 and have found that we’re able to cut some costs when we stay in places longer. We are always looking for super cheap or free campsites that we can stay in for a couple of to keep our costs down and find killer spots. Our favorite resources are:
If we’re staying in a spot for a month or longer, we’ll often look for mega cheap RV parks that aren’t far from places we want to explore. We also look for places that we’re able to let our pets explore with us. National parks are awesome, but not super dog-friendly (totally understandable), so we tend to avoid camping there and stick to day visits. This also gives us an opportunity to explore some lesser-known, but equally stunning places.
Some other personal budget considerations for us and most folks that live in an RV are:
- Internet and cellphones (we use both ATT and Verizon)
- Electricity (if you don’t have solar)
- Laundry (unless your camper has a washer/dryer)
- Park passes
Living in an RV Full Time During COVID-19
At the beginning of 2020, we spent the holidays in East Texas with our families. We were getting ready to head to the Pacific Northwest when the news about the insane spread of COVID-19 hit. Everything shut down and we ended up staying in our parents’ driveway for way longer than we expected. We were lucky. We were lucky to have family members that could let us stay. We were lucky that we were able to pause our travel plans and reschedule with our couples. 2020 changed how we travel and now we move at a much slower pace, focusing on places that we love the most and want to stay in longer. Traveling in our RV allowed us to travel in a way that was self-contained so that we were minimizing risk when traveling was allowed. This type of travel meant exploring a lot less between point A and point B but kept us and others safe, which is well worth it for peace of mind and the safety of others.
Is Living in an RV Worth it?
We get asked this a lot. There’s a lot of problem-solving and planning that comes with living in an RV. There’s also always something that is in need of repair or some hitch in plans, but for us, it’s 100% worth it.
- Explore places we dreamed about living in Texas
- Get way out of our comfort zones
- Become excellent problem solvers and planners
- Gained super valuable and super handy skills
We don’t know what the future looks like for us in terms of permanence. We know that as much as we love having our home travel with us, we’d love to create a home base that feels stable, somewhere that we can always come back to, even if it just means to park. What we do know is that this homestyle has changed us for the better and taught us so much about what a home truly is, the importance of community, and perhaps most importantly, taught us what we value: connecting with beautiful spaces and people.