What You Need to Know About Your First Week Living in an RV
Your first week living in an RV can either be a pleasant learning experience, as it was for us, or an unmitigated disaster. We hope that by sharing a few of the things we learned you’ll avoid disaster and be more prepared than we were. One of the most helpful things we did was working our way up, or should I say down, to living in such a tiny space.
Our Life Before
Before we picked this lifestyle of living in a 33 foot travel trailer (274ish square feet), we owned a 1,400 square foot house for 2 1/2 years. It wasn’t huge. It had three bedrooms (one of which we turned into a dining room), a small sitting area in the master bedroom, and a small entryway at the front of the house. The kitchen was a galley style kitchen and the back entrance was a really tiny room where you could drop your shoes off.
But we also had a basement that was almost the exact same size as the main level. So we had tons of room to store that stuff we swore we needed to keep but never actually looked at. You know that stuff? You probably have lots of it, too.
Let’s Live in an RV
I distinctly remember eating dinner at our way-too-big-for-two-people dining table one night and brining up the idea of leaving Massachusetts. My parents had been talking about buying a fifth wheel to travel with when they retired and like a stereotypical millenial I decided that was a great idea… to do NOW.
Justin wasn’t 100% on board at first but a few months later he said the words every girl dreams of hearing, “let’s live in an RV.”
Time to Sell or Donate
We eased our way into it and we prepared a lot. We went from a 1,400 square foot house to a 645 square foot apartment. We sold all of our furniture except for a couch, ottoman, bed, dresser, 3 chairs, and a desk. I cut the amount of clothes I owned in more than half and donated 2/3 of my shoes.
After a years lease, we cut back even more. We sold the rest of our furniture (with the exception of the dresser that I couldn’t part with and our mattress) and donated half of the clothes and shoes we had left.
We didn’t go from 1,400 square feet and a ton of material belongings to being minimalists living in 274ish square feet. That would have been a shock! And we probably would have hated it.
Lessons We Learned, That You Need to Know
Even with the preparing, there are some things you don’t learn until you actually start your first week living in an RV…
Dirt is a Friend That Will Always Be With Us
We can sweep every day (and I pretty much have been) and there are ways to reduce the amount of dirt that comes into the RV. But when it comes down to it, we have a dog that loves the outdoors… she loves laying in the dirt… and is always looking for dead worms to roll on, in the dirt… so our feet will always be stepping in dirt and I’ll always be picking littles pieces out from under our sheets.
When we first moved in we bought a cute rug that said “Welcome” on it but it was terrible for controlling the dirt. At some point it ripped so I took that as a win, tossed it in the trash, and bought a new one at World Market. Let me tell you, it’s cute AND functional! It keeps the dirt on the rug for the most part so we can just shake it off outside.
I’ve also learned to wipe my feet every night before I get into bed to avoid sleeping with the dirt. Maggie (our dog) still brings some into bed with her but usually it stays on top of the sheets instead of inside the sheets.
6 Gallons of Hot Water Doesn’t Go Far
I’m one of those people who are guilty of taking 30 minute long hot showers. I also have terrible skin allergies which hot water agitates. So you would think I would have learned to take shorter, colder showers. I didn’t… until our first week living in an RV.
After 2 showers ending in me really quickly rinsing the soap off my body, I’ve accepted the fact that my old habit of standing under scalding hot water for 5 – 10 minutes doing absolutely nothing other than enjoying it are over.
We have a 6 gallon hot water tank in our tiny house on wheels and while it sounds like a lot… it goes QUICK! When I started getting freezing cold water during my first shower, I played it off like it was broken. I didn’t want to admit I took too long of showers. (Keep in mind, at the time it was May in Maine and it was still pretty cold outside so the water wasn’t warming itself up in the ground.) Then when it happened the second time, I realized I needed to quickly change my ways or get goosebumps and blue toes every time.
(My skin thanks the 6 gallon tank).
Dinner Might Not Be for Another Hour
At any time the propane can run out. Which means the stove that was supposed to be preheating for the last 15 minutes is actually stone cold.
We have two propane tanks in our trailer and we only use one at a time. When one runs out, Justin gets it filled and we use the second one until it runs out. So technically, we should never be without propane. Except you don’t actually know that the first propane tank is running low until the stove or oven stop working or you pull the propane tank out of it’s compartment to feel how heavy it is.
The stove is easy to see. If the flames stop, the tank is empty and the switch needs to be flipped to the second tank. But you can’t see through the glass to the inside of the oven so you physically have to open the door (let out the heat) and check to see if the flames are still on.
We haven’t really found a workaround to this one except for frequently saying, “do you think we’re going to run out of gas today?” and hoping for the best.
RV Life is Pretty Cool
We learned a lot in our first week living in an RV and we are sure you will too. All in all, neither of us would go back to living in 1,400 square feet.
I’ve spent so much time outside already… working, relaxing, eating, doing yoga… we’re living the good life.