For full-time living…
So you decided you want to start living the hashtag van life dream! Welcome! For some, it’s a dream and for others, it’s a nightmare. I’m not going to lie to you it’s not easy it’s not all waterfront parking with birds chirping and your dog gently snoring. It’s like life when it’s good it’s amazing but when it’s bad it’s horrible.
I moved into my first RV in 2009. It wasn’t an easy decision, what would I do with all my stuff? Where would I park it and live in it? I knew I would be stationary because I owned a small business and I wasn’t doing much traveling at that stage in my life. I had one tiny dog and figured the two of us could move into an RV and try that life out for a while. The housing rental market at that time was terrible for folks who have a dog even a little 3-pound chihuahua like mine.
There are many things to consider when choosing your rig. Considerations need to be made for being on or off grid, full hook ups or Boondocking. Maybe a combination of both. Check out my Everything You Need to KNow about RV Toilets it might help you decide on what kind of lifestyle you want based on bathroom conveniences.
And so began the hunt, I decided I wanted a 5th wheel for a couple of reasons, they felt the most like a home to me, and the ‘basement’ storage area seemed important for staying warm in the winter and for putting all my stuff I didn’t think I could live without. It took me a few months to find the perfect rig for me. I absolutely had to have my Splendide washer-dryer combo that I had been using already for a few years no clue how perfect it was for my new lifestyle! I ended up with a 35’ 2002 Keystone Everest 5th wheel. It never leaked, not even once! It was comfortable spacious and perfect for my stationary lifestyle.
Here are some stock pictures. Sorry they are blurry, it’s not my fault!
I never changed a thing on this rig, my dad helped me skirt it in Thanks DAD! I had a nice lifestyle in the RV park I settled into in Victoria BC, I had the most amazing neighbors an easy commute to work cheap rent and I was allowed to get another dog, life was good. Then silly me decided to get married and buy a house, when that all fell apart I moved back into my tiny house on wheels and relocated to Nanaimo. Shortly thereafter I traded in my 5th wheel for something I could drive to my new job in Alberta. Here are the very few photos I have of my first THOW that I called “Paris” because of the sliding doors to the living room I considered to be French sliding doors.
I didn’t feel comfortable driving a big truck towing my big 5th wheel, it just wasn’t something I ever wanted to do, I decided on an AClass because again I needed to be able to have my washing machine! Check out my post on Washing machines for RV living. Clearly, doing laundry at home is a priority for me! Most of the other drivable rigs didn’t have space or hookups. I had to get a gas-powered unit as you need a special license to drive a diesel pusher. In retrospect, it seems a bit silly that anyone can hop into a 35’ motorhome and just drive, but whatever, it was pretty easy for me. The added safety of traveling in an enclosed unit as a solo female is never having to get out of the vehicle if I ever felt unsafe. If you’re sleeping on a roadside in a 5th wheel and you suddenly feel the urgent need to hit the road you have to get out. Also, in most motorhomes you can still use everything when the slides are in… you can access the bathroom, and use the kitchen, so you don’t have to level and put the slides out every time you pull over for the night or a sandwich.
I found the ‘perfect for me’ AClass RV in my 34.5’ Triple E commander. The only thing it truly lacks is counter space! I eventually tore out all the other built-in furnishing from the living area and added a kitchen island for more counter space and storage. I have been calling this big rig home for almost 10 years she still starts every time! She’s a great old beast that I didn’t hesitate to redecorate because I have zero intention of reselling her.
Here are some random pictures of the inside mostly before I tore everything out and replaced the awful light colored carpet, I’ll never understand why RV makers do that!! Check out my blog post about swapping out my oven and putting in a dishwasher.
She’s been all the way down to Baja Mexico and back. She’s wintered in Alberta at -40 degrees Celsius. She’s a beast in the best possible way. She’s even been to a music festival and I can honestly attest to the fact that taking your home to an event is next-level amazing!!! Why do we call vehicles ‘she’ anyway? The thing about the big beast though is that I like to leave her stationary, I’ve had issues with my stabilizing jacks for a few years now, and dragging up camp is a super source of anxiety for me. It’s a lot of setup and take down for one person (particularly now that I’m nearing 50!) and so I began the search for my first camper van. A guest cottage to go on little excursions in and now that I’m in the film industry the potential to use it for work in other towns was a huge draw.
My first “wee beastie” aka Camper Van was a 1989 Chevy Van20. It had a washroom but no shower and that became an issue for me when I was full-time in it and working my labour-intensive job. The nice thing about these little RVs is that they really hold their value, I was able to sell it for more than I paid for it! Win win.
The search was on for my next camper van but this one had to have a shower, I ended up with a little beauty of a rig a 2003 Leisure Travel. I was full-time in this one for almost 6 months but it just wasn’t quite right the placement of the shower and the fact I had no onboard generator made full-time just a bit challenging.
I was on the lookout for the perfect rig, and when I found it, even though I couldn’t really afford it, I had to get it, and she is perfect, the layout is absolutely exactly what I want, it has a contained bathroom with cupboard space, it has counter space and the bed is in the back. It has an onboard generator and AC. The only thing it is missing is solar panels but I have them now just need to install them! I live and work in this BClass RV in the lower mainland and I spend the weekends in my big beast in Nanaimo.
Here’s my list of things that I consider important when choosing an RV to live in full-time.
- You must be able to stand up in it
- It has to have a shower
- It has to have heat and an AC – I have pets and their comfort is super important, more important than mine
- Counter space, I don’t cook all that often but I need to be able to when I do.
- Fridge and stove. Don’t need an oven I have a Ninja Speedi read my review of it here.
- Must be able to be completely off-grid for several days and still be comfortable
- Full time year round should really get a rig with a winter package My A class does, but my Bclass doesn’t
I really love so many of the van conversions people are building these days. It really is the absolute best time to get into this lifestyle, but the prices are off the charts high because it’s so popular. The rigs are expensive RV parks are over-the-top expensive it’s not the cheap easy life it used to be. But it can be cheaper than what we call ‘sticks and bricks’ aka a conventional home. Some RV parks are more than 1200 a month so if you add that to a loan payment you are almost at a mortgage payment. There is the added bonus of being able to travel around in your home.
I hope I have at least helped show a few of the perks of these three different styles of RVs. It’s not easy to choose everyone has a different lifestyle and needs, maybe you have kids, maybe you need office space, maybe you want to be stationary, maybe you want to travel around a lot, or maybe you pack around some outdoor toys. There are so many different types of RVs you can for sure find the exact rig you want. I highly recommend counter space and a bed you can walk around if you’re going for a bigger rig we RVers joke about how many calories you burn just making the bed in our campers. I also really didn’t like having my shower in my bedroom in my 5th wheel. Just felt a bit weird if I had company over.
My plan is to drag the big beast down south somewhere and leave her there I will use the wee beastie to travel back and forth between work here in BC and my snowbird abode down south somewhere. I haven’t chosen my birds’ nest location yet but I’m leaving in 8 months to look at a few spots. Love to hear some suggestions from you on where you would spend your winters? Comment below.
Another thing to consider if wanting to live the full time RV/Tiny home life is that many RV parks don’t allow rigs that are over 10 years old and many don’t allow Tiny Homes. It’s often due to park rules or the bylaws of the community the RV park is located in. Thankfully as tiny homes become more popular it’s getting easier to find places to park and live in them. Check out my post about place to park and live here in my home town Nanaimo BC, Canada.