Being on the road will always have its perks. But, like most things, it does not come without costs. Because I was blinded by allure of adventure, I didn't even think about the sacrifices I would be making. So, if you're considering this lifestyle, take into account that many of your modern-day luxuries will most likely be forfeited.
1. Major Appliances
A dishwasher, washer & dryer, and full-sized oven are luxuries that are definitely missed in my home. Some RVs are equipped with all of these beautiful machines. We even toured a few, but they are often much more expensive. At the end of the day, it is one more thing to worry about when it comes to maintenance. After all, you will be rolling down the highway at 65 miles an hour. Things rattle and move.
Even luxury appliances like a washer and dryer on board could maybe do a half standard-sized load at the same amount of time it would take to do a standard load elsewhere, and this would require full hook-ups.
2. Kitchen Space
I have a tiny kitchen, and I'm proud to say I make it work. But I've had to make sacrifices regarding deciding what kitchen gear to keep. I've narrowed it down to 3 pots with lids, 2 pans, 3 baking sheets, 1 medium-sized slow cooker, 1 mini food processor, and 1 Pyrex baking dish. Even the skinniest Keurig took up too much countertop space, but I've become accustomed to pour over coffee. Needless to say, in 36 square feet of space, I don't have room for an air fryer, toaster, rice cooker, or stand mixer. It doesn't mean that you can't create delicious meals though. It just takes a bit more elbow grease and creativity.
3. Central Air Conditioning and Heating
Although our RV does come with 2 air conditioners and a propane heat exchange, it does not compare to a standard HVAC system. In the middle of winter, we'd fire up the propane heater, but once it reached the desired temperature, the heat would dissipate quickly because there is no insulation in an RV. This is also true for the incredibly loud AC units as well. To adapt, we use personal heaters and fans. So far, we've been able to comfortably manage.
This doesn't come without the constant knowledge that RVs are incredibly flammable, so leaving a heater on while you sleep would be irresponsible. Quite frankly, when the temperatures aren't ideal, the most difficult decision we have to make is leaving our cat Dooty on the RV. We made this lifestyle decision to enrich all of our lives. To think we might leave him in uncomfortable conditions is something that weighs heavily on our conscience. Sometimes it's just better to stay home and wait out the weather together.
I personally grew up with my mom saying, "No mail is good mail." To her, this meant, "No bills, no worry." Being on the road, a lack of mail can be really inconvenient. We do have a box that all of our mail gets sent to, and when we plan on staying somewhere longer term, we have it forwarded. But things like registration stickers, reissued debit and credit cards, and even packages from loved ones must be held on hold until we have a forwarding address. Also, other considerations like Amazon deliveries are few and far in between. I guess this can be a good thing, but it'll make you question whether a Prime membership is still worth it.
5. Baths and Hot Showers
I'm not sure any RV right now comes with a bathtub, but if it did, I'm sure it's expensive. So, if you're a bathtub kind of person, just know that you'll most likely be giving up that method of self-care. Unless you leave your grey tank valve open, your shower can only last so long or you'll run the risk of creating a leak. In reality, your showers should take no longer than 5-7 minutes.
All RV showers are heated by propane. We are blessed to have a tankless heater; most modern RVs are now, although it's not the standard. If you don't have enough water pressure, it will be difficult for it to kick on, which means you'll be taking a cold shower. Luckily, my better half and I are both military veterans, so a short cold shower is never really an issue.
6. Access to Consistent Health Care
To reveal a little about myself, I live with a chronic condition (RA). Even though its manageable for now, every once in a while, I worry about what will happen if I need some kind of medical care or treatment. Having stayed in some pretty rural towns where the closest emergency room is about an hour or so away, I am so grateful we haven't run into any situations where we need emergency services.
Even having a pet is a consideration. Access to consistent veterinarian care can be difficult.
All in all, the process for both humans and pets are very similar:
1. Find a reputable provider.
2. See if they are accepting new patients.
3. Make an appointment that fits your timeframe (because you're most likely not staying long).
4. You'll usually have to pay a new patient fee.
5. Provide all your past patient information.
All these pieces can fall into place, yet you still might not like your provider. Or worse, extended care and appointments are needed.
7. Regular Access to the Gym
I know being able to go to a gym is luxury to some, but as a person who was an avid gym goer, it was a difficult adjustment for me to enter the non-gym lifestyle. Even with the pandemic, I struggled with not being in a fitness atmosphere. Some might say, "Well, just get a country-wide membership." To this I will reply, "Do you know how consistently I've been a reasonable distance from any gym franchise? Not enough to justify the price." I do manage to make do, but there's just something about being able to go to a gym, your gym, that feels like home.
8. Local Connections and Community
I know not everyone is as friendly and open as me, but I think there's something to be said about the familiarity of having consistent connections with people, like your local grocer, mechanic, or mailman. Even if you practice a religion, a local church or temple is something that brings comfort. Needless to say, when you're on the road, you usually have to start over every single time you pull into a new spot.
9. Unknown Grooming Services
I don't necessarily see myself as high maintenance, but one thing I do need in order to feel good about myself is having my brows done. For some, it's a haircut, waxing, lashes, nails, or even a monthly massage. In any of these cases, you're going to find yourself having to take a gamble on someplace unknown or sucking it up and embracing your wild brows, hair, lashes, or nails.
10. Cell Phone Signal and Wi-Fi
A part of living on the road is sometimes having to live off the grid. There, you'll find that sometimes the luxuries of cell phone signal and Wi-Fi are non-existent. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself, sometimes unplugging is so good for the soul. But I do worry what may happen in an event of an emergency, especially while exploring and hiking. I've come to tell my family members and friends our exact location, along with the length of our stay, before we enter new territory.
Is it Worth it?
I do, in fact, believe that all these sacrifices are worth it. Although we are full timing it, this is not a lifelong lifestyle we wish to pursue. I love the fact that we can experience different environments and collect unique stories along the way. I try to keep in mind that all of our circumstances are temporary, and it's important to absorb them all. Even the not-so-great stuff. So, in the grand scheme of things, when we do find that perfect plot of land to call home with a community I can trust enough to call family, a million times, yes. It will be worth it.