Today we’ll tackle the question: RV VS House? What’s better? Well, that depends…
After several years on the road, we have have met all sorts of other travelers. It’s easy for RVers to meet other like minded people. After all, campgrounds are likely to be full of people who love camping/RVing, right? Fulltime RVing is often portrayed as “living the dream” or all positives with no negatives. We’ve even been asked “What’s the downside?” There are definitely Pros and Cons to fulltime travel and it isn’t for everyone.
In a house you almost never have to think about your water supply. You turn on the faucet and the water runs. Unless there is a water main break, or your well stops working, you always have water. RV life is a bit different.
In an RV you can travel from full-hookup campground to full-hookup campground. However, there are a lot of amazing places you might want to visit where it isn’t possible to have full-hookups. In these cases, your water supply is limited to the size of your freshwater tank. Long showers become a real luxury. Water conservation goes into full effect with everything from brushing your teeth to doing the dishes. Because if you run out, that’s it until you go fill up again!
Hands down, living in a house wins here. There is no contest. The more space you want in an RV, the harder it is to move it around. With a larger RV you will likely spend much more in fuel. Smaller RVs can also fit into more campsites making it easier to be close to what you want to go see.
If you want the travel life, how much space is right for you? How much room do you need? How comfortable are you with driving a large vehicle? Often times finding the right floorplan is the first difficult decision full-time RVers have to make. Obviously we travel in a large 5th wheel, but we’ve seen families travelling full-time in a sprinter van and everything in between.
Again, there is no one size fits all answer here. Generally, those that travel in large RVs tend to move a bit slower and stay longer in each spot than those in smaller ones.
Hands down, RV life wins here! Smaller spaces are definitely faster to clean up. However, they also collect clutter much quicker. We find ourselves having to be really intentional about putting things away in their designated spot when not in use. Still, it is way easier to clean a 400 square foot space than a 3000 square foot house!
Yuck, why are we talking about this? Oh that’s right, because someone has to empty the infamous black tank. Not only that, but sometimes that grey water tank can be just as nasty. Unless there is something really wrong, you don’t have to worry about this in a house! On top of that, if you do have a problem, chances are you will need a plumber to take care of it. That means you probably aren’t getting hands-on with your wastewater.
Honestly though, 99 times out of 100 it isn’t bad. The only thing you have to actually handle is the sewer pipe itself. Gloves, hand sanitizer, and good ol’ soap and water are your friends. It’s also really helpful to have a plastic tote or other means of locking away that sewer pipe when it isn’t in use. Then it’s just a matter of dumping tanks in the right order so you don’t encounter anything gross. Black tank getting full? Make sure you collect some grey water so you can dump the black first, then the grey water to rinse out that sewer pipe!
Do you need an internet connection for work? Plan on spending more than you would in a house for a connection that isn’t nearly as good. Campground internet is almost universally terrible. Most likely you will be using some sort of cellular hot spot. You will probably need more than one on different carriers to ensure a reliable connection on the road. But wow, the views from your “office” can be pretty incredible!
Things To Do
Finally, we are getting to the good stuff! Because this is why we travel. The possibilities are endless! Want to visit a dozen national parks this year? How about visiting that friend or family member you haven’t seen in 3 years? You can do it all while sleeping in your own bed every night and never needing to pack a suitcase.
Of course we are a bit biased here. We love living the travel life and have no plans to stop any time soon. But it isn’t for everyone. If you love where you live, your home, community, the life you’ve created, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a beautiful thing. Do whatever brings you fulfillment!
In a house you always have an address for mail and other items to ship to. This can be a challenge on the road. Many campgrounds allow you to receive mail while you stay there. Many do not, or they will charge you a fee to do so. We use a mail forwarding service in Florida called St. Brenden’s Isle. It’s nice because it gives you a stable address for your mail. Although, it gets expensive fast if you have packages sent there and then forwarded on. There are a few other tricks that we’ve learned:
- General Delivery – You can have your mail shipped to a nearby post office via USPS. This works really well and it is free to pick up. However, make sure you get in touch with the actual post office because they don’t all accept General Delivery. Make sure you address it properly!
- UPS Store – Again, double check with each location you’d like to use. You can typically receive packages at a UPS store for $5 each. We were told they needed to be shipped either UPS or Fedex. We have picked up a number of kids’ birthday presents this way when no Amazon Locker was available in the area.
- Friends\Family’s Houses – The next best thing to being at a campground that accepts packages for free! We often find ourselves ordering A LOT of packages when we visit family/friends. Especially because it isn’t always easy to order stuff otherwise. Just double check that they are okay with being your receiving facility first!
- Amazon Locker – Perfect for small to medium sized items. When you happen to have one nearby of course.
There is a lot to be said for having your routine figured out. If you are living in a house you probably know exactly where to shop, who your friends are, and you have your favorite restaurants, parks, etc. Hitting the road is definitely a life change and it can take some time to figure out what works best for you.
In the RV/Travel life you are constantly experiencing new things. Your favorite grocery items aren’t always available. Travel planning can be both exciting and stressful. It takes time to make new friends, but you will meet other like minded people in your travels. In fact, it’s often easier to connect with other travelers because you already have things in common.
Whether or not this category is a pro or a con, only you can decide.
This is another wildly variable category for RV VS House. Many people are shocked to learn that living in an RV isn’t necessarily cheaper than in a house. You will very likely have much lower Rent/Mortgage/Campground costs. On the other hand, plan to spend MUCH more on fuel. The rest is up to you. Travel and experiences cost money and you can spend A LOT if you choose to.
We feel that the biggest difference between costs in an RV vs house life is that you have much more control over how much you spend. If the average housing cost is 30% of your income, you can easily spend much less on camping. You can choose to travel slower. You can save the extra for a couple of months and splurge elsewhere. The point is, when travelling, your housing costs are not fixed.
For us, repairs in our RV have cost significantly less than what we spent when we owned a house. Although, they’ve been more frequent in the RV. Every time you move, your home-on-wheels shakes and bounces around. It feels like we always have something minor in need of repair.
It isn’t uncommon to have dedicated guest quarters in a house. Even if you don’t, you undoubtedly have more room to accommodate guests. We have a pullout couch for adults and enough room elsewhere for visiting kids. However, your already limited space becomes even more limited. But isn’t that what the great outdoors is for? We’ve had guests stay with us on several occasions and it was always a good experience. If you don’t have room inside your rig, a tent is always an option!
In a house you might have a great outdoor space or you might not. We’ve lived in homes with wonderful backyards and we have lived in an apartment where we walked to a nearby park for our outdoor space. With an RV the size of your “yard” won’t always be the same. But, if you don’t like your surroundings you can move!
Just like with Things To Do, when most people think of full-time RVing, they think of being able to spend lots of time outside with unlimited space. We would say that this has mostly been true for us too. Feeling cramped indoors? Move outside!
RV VS House
So what do you think? Many people long for a life of travel. A lot of them will hit the road only to discover that it doesn’t meet their expectations. We love our travel life and have no plans to stop anytime soon. But that’s not to say that we won’t own a house again someday.
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If you’d like to read about our RV and other RV adventures, then check out some of our other posts :
- BEST Waterfalls in the West TETONS
- Soft Starters For Your RV Air Conditioner, Why?
- The BEST Overlooks – Grand Canyon North Rim
- RV Solar System Lessons Learned
- RV Tank Sensors Not Working? We Use An RV Water Flow Meter Instead!
- Portable RV Waste Tank, Freshwater Tank and Pumps
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