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RV Life: Expectations Versus Reality

rv live expectations versus reality

I drank the Kool-Aid on-the-whole, “I’m selling everything I have and living in an RV.” For years I was obsessed with watching tiny house tours and fascinated by #vanlife. The appeal is location freedom, endless site-seeing opportunities, and no massive mortgage.  I took the plunge and started my RV life journey. What’s it really like to live in an RV, you ask!?

For me, it’s been three months of rockin’ the RV life. Were my expectations of living large while living small in line with reality? If you’re fascinated by the movement to get rid of stuff and downsize, here’s six of my expectations versus reality of RV life. Or in a nutshell this is what life’s really like with ONLY FOUR PAIRS OF SHOES!

RV Life: Expectations Versus Reality

Expectation #1. YAAS. I Can Travel to Any City, Anytime!

I’m a serial traveler and love hitting the road to see new places, experience new cultures, and meet new people. To have a home on wheels ought to mean endless freedom to travel wherever and whenever, right? WRONG!

Reality #1. Campgrounds Are Booked Months in Advance

One city that I really wanted to visit from the get-go (three months ago) has been booked this entire time and will continue to be booked through the end of the year, with an opening maybe in the new year. Maybe?! UGH!

Carly-Rae-Jepson-style the campgrounds be like, “So here’s my number. Book me maybe.”

Current occupants with monthly sites don’t need to give any notice when they leave, so the campgrounds don’t know if there will be an opening or not! It’s so dang frustrating!

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Expectation #2: I’m Gonna be a DIY Mastermind and Have a Pinterest Perfect RV Renovation!

I don’t own a TV, but man almighty I’ve spent hours, HOURS watching tours of tiny homes and RV tours on YouTube (like this one!). I dreamed of concocting my own version of shiplap, barn doors, and open shelving in my small space. And then… I started painting.  

Reality #2: I Suck at Painting and Have No Freakin’ Idea What I’m Doing

A couple of weeks ago I started my RV renovation by demolishing the built-in bunk beds and then painted the walls and my kitchen cabinet. You can see some pics from my RV demo day here! WTF was I thinking, painting WHILE living in an RV is a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE idea?!

I can write an entire post on adulting and what NOT to do when painting for the first time. I’m getting a ton of joy out of tackling this project, but everything takes a million times longer than I anticipated and it isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a ton of work to remodel an RV even though the space is so tiny!  

Expectation #3: I’ll Learn all the ‘RV Stuff’ as I Go

Historically RV life was reserved for non-tech savvy retirees. If they could figure out the propane, electricity, water connections, etc. so could I! How hard can it be to figure out the ins and outs of living in an RV and maintaining an RV?

Reality #3: I Wound Up Taking Cold Showers in the Dark for a Week

When I tore down the bunk beds, I had to get rid of a light, so I disconnected the power to that light. Easy peasy! Fast-forward to shower-time and the light in my bathroom did. not. turn. on. Apparently, the light I disconnected was connected to the power for the shower light. GRREAT. I had no other option, but to take a shower in the dark (mind you with paint ALLLLL over myself because I SUCK AT PAINTING!).

Simultaneously the hot water wasn’t doing it’s thang.

“Hmmm… I was wondering how I’d know when to replace the propane tank?”

A cold shower is a darn good way of figuring it out.

I ended up replacing my propane tank and the water was STILL cold. GRR. I figured I must have reconnected it wrong. After about of week of trail and error, I finally asked the RV property manager to help. The diagnosis for why I had to take cold showers: my replacement tank that I paid for, was indeed an empty tank.

Then I got a propane tank that actually had propane in it and fixed up the wiring for the light. Whew, if you’re feeling down and out if it seems like your life or finances sucks right now, remember one thing: you’re #blessed if you took a hot shower.

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Expectation #4: I’m a People Person, I’ll Make Friends Easily!

I envisioned myself chatting it up with new friends by the campfire and instantly hitting it off with others like myself who crave travel and adventure. I have gone on multiple solo international trips (heck I’ve traveled to over 20 countries!) and met amazing people that I’m still in contact with today (years later). Plus, all the groups that I’m a part of back home, I figured that I’d just join em’ and get plugged in on the road!

Reality #5: It Can Be Isolating in a New City in an RV!

The bottom-line is that we’re all human and we need interaction, support, and community. Being on a three-week trip in SE Asia with a tour group that has a built-in group for constant social interaction has been quite different that living in a RV full-time.

I’ve scheduled many many “phone-dates” with my trusted friends back home to maintain the relationships and have more social interaction!

Expectation #6. I’ll Sell Everything and Be Completely Free from Consumerism

I’m ALL about frugal livin’ and rejecting massive consumerism. Steve Job wore the same thing all the time: jeans, sneakers, and a black shirt. I downsized to owning only four pairs of shoes. Yes, selling most everything that I had is liberating, but…

Reality #6. I’m Still Human and Need Stuff!

There’s no escaping consumerism completely! By our very nature as a human we need to consume. Eating, drinking, clothing, etc. are all vital to our survival.

I wear those four pairs of shoes constantly and worn them to a pulp. Living in an RV is a simplified life, but I am not Wilma from the Flintstones! I need shoes😊. Recently, I bought two more pairs of shoes! My quality of life has boosted tremendously from having more shoes to throw in the rotation. If you’ve thought about selling what you own for cash, here’s four lessons I learned from selling everything I own to travel.

As everything goes in life, there are pluses and minuses.  That’s my update on three months of RV life and my expectations versus the reality.

There’s a learning curve with everything!

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