We live in an RV, not under a bridge!

Published December 12, 2016   Posted in Having some fun

One of the most common questions that we get asked after spilling the beans about living full-time in our Airstream goes something like this: “Oh, so you guys must eat out a lot then, right?” And our answer is always the same.

Umm…no. Why do you ask?

“You probably don’t have much of a kitchen, right?”

Why yes we do! But, that’s only because we live in an RV, not under a bridge somewhere.

It’s like…what the hell?

RVs have all the modern amenities

Modern amenities are wonderful things. The conveniences that microwaves and ranges bring are simply amazing. And even cooler yet? You don’t need to live in a traditional “sticks and bricks” home to enjoy them. Even we, in our little 200 square foot abode, have a fully functional kitchen.

You know, like a sink. And an oven. Even a refrigerator. To many people’s surprise, all these items fit in an RV as well. The only difference is they are just a bit smaller than the traditional residential versions of these very same items. Our kitchen probably has everything that your kitchen has.

First world conveniences in a traveling home. How nifty! And we probably go out to eat once or twice a month.  🙂

The kitchen in the Airstream

We have a toilet, too. In fact, we replaced the traditional flushing toilet with a composting toilet, so it’s much more eco-friendly and, quite frankly, it smells much, much better than the normal toilet that this Airstream came with. Check out the video we put together of the install process below.

Queen sized bed. A shower. A bathroom sink. And lots and lots of windows. Basically, we have it all – only on a slightly smaller scale. Our solar panels that we just had installed will give us the ability to camp out in the middle of nowhere without any connectivity to the real world.

A disconnection from reality? Yeah, that seems like something we’d enjoy.

These RVs are freaking amazing machines. In our campground, there are RVs as small as a $1500 mini travel trailer and as large as million-dollar condominiums on wheels (otherwise known as the “Prevost“). Many RVs have washers and dryers. Corian (or even Granite) countertops. King-sized beds. Slide-outs for additional space (extra points for opposing slide-outs). Automatic powered window shades.

But that’s not all. Many RVs have touch screen “command centers” for all the electronics. Cedar-lined walk-in closets and walnut cabinets. Elaborate entertainment systems. Tile floors. Marble tables.

Remember that just because someone lives in an RV doesn’t mean they are “roughing it” in any way.

RVers aren’t necessarily minimalists, either

Interior of a Prevost RV | Photo credit: OutlawCoach.com

Some of these RVs have seriously top of the line shit.  In fact, many of these huge motorhomes that I walk our dogs past everyday are easily nicer than any home that I’ve ever lived in. No comparison.

Glitsy finishes. Elaborate designs carved right into the ceiling. Textured walls and leather furniture.

I’ve seen 45-foot motorhomes towing another 20-foot trailer full of toys (motorcycles, ATVs, etc). That’s around 65-feet of complete non-minimalism. 70-inch TVs. Satellite television with access to hundreds of stations. Computers. Monitors. Almost anything that you can think of can fit into an RV – if it’s important enough to you. This is about prioritization, not necessarily sacrifice.

Just because someone lives in an RV doesn’t mean they are a minimalist.

RVers have simply chosen another way to live

Interior of a Prevost Liberty | Photo credit: PrevostSpotlight.com

It is natural to make assumptions when you hear about how some people live their lives. We all do it, including me. RVs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are ridiculously nice while others are literally falling apart at the seams. Both rich people as well as poor people live in these things. Some do it to minimize expenses while others do it for a more simple life, or to travel.

There are so many different ways to own an RV, much less actually live in one.

For us, it’s about a simpler and less expensive way of life. Instead of paying multiple utility companies, we only pay a single bill that goes straight to the campground – when we actually stay in one. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than the cost of propane to keep our fridge going and catalytic heater on during the winter.

Wait, we have heat, too?!?

Yup, we got heat in here. Like, real heat. We just bought a little 6000 BTU catalytic heater that heats up the entire place while using a fraction of the propane (and 12v power) that our furnace uses. We stay toasty warm at night – now that we have this stuff figured out.

That’s right, we have a furnace. Oh, and a heat pump if we’re connected to 120v shore power, too.

Almost 9 million households own an RV

That’s right, 9 million. The average age of the RV owner is just shy of 50, which definitely puts my wife and I on the younger end of RV ownership (yup, we are the “youngins”!). Interestingly, the average salary of an RV owner is $62,000 – higher than the average household income in the United States, which is just north of $55,000 (Wikipedia).

How many of you out there own an RV? Could you live in one full-time?

We track our net worth using Personal Capital


47 responses to “We live in an RV, not under a bridge!”

  1. I’m not sure I’ve come around to living in one full-time, but I would consider owning one for travel when we reach retirement. I’ve thought a lot about getting a pull-behind RV. It will basically last forever and we could get a truck to transport it. Then we’d also have the convenience of detaching it from the truck to travel around more easily at our destination. Maybe someday…

    The Provost though, now that looks luxurious! Who would of thought you could buy that high-end of an RV!

    • Steve says:

      Hey Green Swan! Yeah, living in an RV full-time is definitely not for everyone. But, owning one to travel around in for extended periods of time is a lot more approachable to people. And yup, you can buy some seriously nice (and expensive) RVs. I shutter when I think about the costs required to maintain those kinds of rigs, but hey, to each their own. We aren’t doing this to live in luxury. We’re doing this to live inexpensively and primarily off grid, retire early and enjoy nature. 🙂

  2. We’ve kicked around the idea of a travel trailer in retirement. I don’t currently own one today though. Frankly with two small kids I’d prolly go nuts in a smaller space.

    • Steve says:

      Hehe, I understand FTF. People do travel (sometimes full-time) with small kids, but I definitely do agree that it becomes tougher that way. Nothing wrong with waiting until they are out of the house and you have a little more time to…get away! 🙂

  3. Your kitchen is about the same size as mine in my house! I love the idea of simple living. That’s why we haven’t upgraded to a mega house like many of our friends. We could definitely afford it, but at the cost of sacrificing my other money goals. Those other RVs you show are pretty sweet. I don’t know that I could live in one full time, but having one at my disposal to travel the country would be pretty sweet!

    • Steve says:

      You can rent RVs to travel in if you wanted to test the waters. But yeah, this lifestyle definitely isn’t for everyone, and a big congratulations for choosing to prioritize your money goals over inflating your lifestyle. Your future self will definitely thank you for making that choice!

  4. Steve, we’ll also be living in a 5th Wheel for 6 months of the year after we retire early, it’s a great way to go. I see those “tiny home” shows and wonder why folks wouldn’t just buy a nice camper instead.

    They have all of the conveniences, and you can travel anywhere your heart desires.

    You can even park it under a bridge….(word play with your title, get it? Smiles).

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Thanks Fritz – that’s the best thing about this lifestyle. We can park our rigs almost anywhere, even if that means under a bridge (which might be a legitimate place in a hail storm!). Our hearts desire a lot…we just need to be careful not to go too fast. We don’t wanna burn out!

  5. Apathy Ends says:

    Holy shit those are some fancy RVs! 20x nicer than any house I have been in.

    The snap reactions to things people don’t understand continue to amaze me – people assume that we don’t have fun just because we save a ton of money……..

    • Steve says:

      Someone once accused me of “living in destitution” because I choose to save money instead of spend it. If this is what “destitution” looks like, I can only assume that person has lived a very, very sheltered life.

  6. ESI Money says:

    After seeing the headline, I just have to ask:

    “So, is the RV parked under a bridge?” 🙂

    My parents are coming for Christmas and we’re off to Camping World to look at RVs. They might sell their house and get one, but even if they don’t, looking should be fun. You’re right, some of those rigs are full of COOL STUFF!!!!

    BTW, do you have guests over frequently? 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Nope, we aren’t parked under a bridge at the moment…though we could certainly move to one if the mood happens to strike us. Very cool about your folks looking at a possible switch to an RV. It’s actually a very easy thing to get used to, believe it or not.

      And we do have people over. We’ve had 4 people and 4 dogs in our rig at once and it worked fine. I usually sit at the dinette when that happens, but it’s no biggie. I prefer a little more space anyway. 🙂

  7. When I worked at the campground I saw such a wide bevy of RVs. Obviously my favorites to check out were the 40 foot tri-axle Tetons and the huge Class A motorhomes. One of my favorites was a 40′ foot class A pulling a 20 foot trailer where the husband and wife pulled their Corvette. Of course the Corvette trailer had a matching custom paint job to match the motorhome!

    • Steve says:

      Phew! I bet that rig was super expensive! Very cool working experience I bet from the perspective of seeing what’s out there. You know as well as anyone that you aren’t necessarily roughing it if you live in an RV. 🙂

  8. Yes! I get some ridiculous questions as an RVer. The one I get the most is – “so you never get any mail?! I couldn’t do that because I need my mail in order to survive.” – or something else along those lines.

    Of course I get mail!

    • Steve says:

      Yup, we’ve gotten that question as well. There are plenty of services out there that will forward your mail for you, so it generally works out pretty easily. We are lucky enough to have my in-laws who are willing to do that for us, so they collect our mail and we’ve officially changed over everything to their address. Works great! 🙂

  9. Whenever you guys talk about your airstream and off grid living I’m reminded of that SNL skit about “living in a van down by the river”. Funny to see you actually play with the same joke!

    Well, with two kiddos, I doubt we could live in an RV. Kids need lots of space, and before you say “just send them outside”, please realize we live up in the Pacific Northwest. Three quarters of the year the weather here is too horrible to play outside.
    Social Services would be knocking at our door in no-time!

    Kids also need a lot of *stuff* too. Toys, games, clothes, books, etc. RV life would be tricky with kids.

    • Steve says:

      Ha! I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never thought about that SNL skit too. 🙂

      I definitely agree that living in an RV would be a little trickier with kids. People do it, but I’m sure they are a little more creative when catering to their space needs. I’m sure it would get a little more difficult as the kids get older – both from a “they are physically bigger” standpoint as well as the whole “I want to get away!” thing too.

  10. Justin says:

    I bet your RV provides nicer accommodations than the median house across the entire globe. Billion(s?) still live in basic shacks often without running water or electricity. To have all the necessities and luxuries of modern life (albeit in a smaller footprint) isn’t too much of a sacrifice in my opinion.

    That said, I get how the people looking down on you from the lofty heights of their 4,000 square foot McMansions can’t grasp how you can live well with less. It totally goes against everything they know and accept within their own lifestyle. And how can they have been doing it all wrong all this time? 😉

    • Steve says:

      Hey Justin! Good point regarding the number of people who still living in dwellings far, far worse than even the shittiest places here in the United States. In general, most of us have it pretty darn good in this country. And I’m okay being looked down upon because I know it’s all about priorities. Mine is waking up whenever I feel like it and doing whatever makes me truly happy – without any commute. 🙂

  11. TJ says:

    That’s funny that the average salary is higher for RV owners. Is it because RV owners are more fiscally responsible? I know some people would run with the narrative that most people can’t afford an RV and that msot fo the RV owners have it in addition to a house. Who knows for sure.

    Congrats on the toilet and the heater btw. I love that you continue to find ways to reduce your costs. I know so many who would be like “the RV is so much cheaper than a house, no more effort is needed”, but you guys keep finding ways to lower your ongoing costs and energy usage.

    • Steve says:

      Good question, TJ – not sure why, didn’t look into those numbers all that much. If I had to guess, it would be because most RVers who work also work remotely, and those jobs tend to be in IT…and IT pays very well. But again, that’s just a guess.

      Thanks for the comment!

  12. Mr. SSC says:

    My stepdad sold RV’s for a long while, so I am aware of how nice they can get, along with the hefty price tags of some of them. Whew!

    It’s amazing how other people still see them as akin to “trailers on wheels”. I think I’d go “boat” lifestyle before RV, but that’s just me. I would like to get a smaller RV or trailer at some point for traveling during the summers when the kids are out of school. It seems like glamping in an RV or similar would be easier than road tripping and camping, although both have pros and cons.

    • Steve says:

      Yeah, I think most people have the “trailer park” image in their head when they hear some body talk about how they “live in a trailer”. Even the acronym “RV” can give people a negative image. Not sure why…television, perhaps. 😉

  13. My wife and I are planning our transition to an RV soon! We’re going to pick up the planned “toad” (tow vehicle) and will be looking at RVs in January. Isn’t it great to experience financial freedom!

    • Steve says:

      Awesome, Coach Brad! Glad to hear that you are making the switch as well. Definitely let me know what you guys come up with, and as always, I love pictures! 😉

  14. Yes, we have an RV. We love it and we love the camping lifestyle! I know my husband and I could easily live in it full-time, but my teenagers could not (or, rather, would not). Though we aren’t using it as much as we used to (because of aforementioned teens), we plan to keep it and use it as much as possible after the kids are out of the house! 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Completely understandable! Truth be told that when I was a teenager, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the RV life all that much either, especially going from a larger house with lots of space into something as small as an RV, even if it was super glitzy. Good on you for keeping it, though, for later!

  15. Scott says:

    We full time in our class A RV which really does have all the comforts of home and a really great front yard we can change anytime.

    • Steve says:

      Exactly! Thanks Scott, you’ve hit on one of the primary motivators for us making this move. There are a lot of beautiful places out there, and we’d love for our front yard to be, well, overlooking all of them at some point in the future.

  16. Like with anything, I think it’s easy to go nuts outfitting multimillion dollar RVs. But the lure of RV living is its simplicity, so I always thought those super-duper decked out ones were strange.

    Phew, I don’t think I could live in an RV full time, at least right now. I like having roots and structure and coming to the same place every day. I think the small space combined with the travel wouldn’t be super fun to me. But I do bet it’s a great way to save money when you do it the right way. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      The RV lifestyle definitely isn’t for everyone, no doubt about that. The nice thing about a mobile home, those, is you *always* go back to the same place. It might be parked somewhere else, but you’re always home whether you’re in Washington State or Florida. It’s neat. 🙂

  17. Mr. PIE says:

    Some very interesting factoids here, especially the salary of an RV owner one.

    I think, based on those silly questions, you should change the R in RV to Reality. Sometimes folks could really benefit from opening their minds and seeing what is possible, what could be real. As you well know, it is not a play thing but a real way to live a lifestyle that is just different.

    You will be asked next “do you need sunshine to make the solar panels work?”……..

    Good luck with the last few weeks of work and making a professional and well earned exit from it all.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Mr. PIE! I’m so looking forward to my exit from full-time work. Even though it’s so close, it still can’t happen soon enough! And I agree, a lot of people out there could probably use a year traveling around the country and seeing everything that this country has to offer. There’s a TON out there that most people just don’t get to see.

  18. We live in a 320 SF hotel room. You might have seen it on Budgets Are Sexy: http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2016/10/we-bought-hotel-room-called-condotel-live-in-it/

    I got some comments also about how some people could never do that, or cook in that kitchen. It works great for us though and we are financially free and the city is our backyard.

    That’s great with the solar and composting. Not only are you off the resource grid, but the financial grid as well.

    • Steve says:

      Your living arrangement is super cool man. Having everything at your disposal is definitely a cool feature in any lifestyle. Very creative way to live! 🙂

  19. Joe says:

    Whoa, your kitchen looks awesome! I don’t know much about RVs so I thought it’d be smaller than than with a tiny stove.
    I’m up for RV living for a while, but the missus doesn’t like it. She doesn’t know much about RVs either. I’d better start working on it and bring her to some RV shows. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Joe. RV shows are super duper fun, actually. We love to go to them and walk through all the different types of RVs that they have there. We imagine ourselves living in each and every one that we walk into. Believe it or not, most of the larger ones might actually have TOO MUCH SPACE for us at the moment. We wouldn’t know what to do with it all.

  20. Mrs. BITA says:

    Those Prevosts! Holy fuck! I honestly had no idea RVs could be so…..glitzy.

    Ha! I find the questions and assumptions you talk about here so similar to the ignorant assumptions people make when they learn you are an immigrant. My favourite? “Did you have a pet elephant growing up?” WTF. “Yes, yes I did. And his name was Dumbo. And sometimes he flapped his f-ing wings and flew the f away.”

    • Steve says:

      Super glitzy. Some of them are just flat unbelievable.

      HA! Love your response to such a stupid question…sadly, I bet that was a serious question, too, not just a joke. Amazing the questions that some out there have the courage to ask!

  21. Okay, your RV is nicer than my house. Also, what’s the secret to taking cool photos like that? For some reason, whenever I take photos in my house, everything always seems to look like crap.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Financial Panther! Honestly, the secret to photography: lighting. The more light you have flooding virtually everything in your scene, the nicer that your photo will generally turn out. Running it through Photoshop can also help, but only to a degree. It can’t make a black photo into a magazine-quality image, but it CAN turn an okay photo into a great one.

  22. Those Prevost RV’s look nicer than my house! I find it funny that people think you can’t cook in an RV. If you can cook at a campsite with no electricity, then of course you can cook in an RV! I would definitely not mind living in one for some months

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the comment, Liz. Heck, you cook perfectly well in a tent! Okay, the sink part might be a little different, but nothing wrong with bringing your own water, either. Anything is possible, especially in a supportive structure like our RV

  23. Charity says:

    Love our RV and could totally live in it full time. Not sure the husband is ready to give up most of his possessions to do it! We bought ours at 37 (me) and everyone at the dealership felt the need to tell us, repeatedly, we were the youngest people on the lot all season. Currently we live overseas while the RV collects dust but it’s 100% paid for and I can’t wait to get back to it!

  24. […] investment should be worth more than your house. People achieve this in different ways. Steve from Think Save Retire lives in an RV and his investment is worth a lot more than his residence. We live in a small condo and invest in […]

Leave a Reply