Top 5 Worst Things About Full-Time RV Living

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Every day the Internet sprouts countless blogs, YouTube videos, and Instagram posts touting the magnificence of RV living. You’ll read common captions like:

“We sold everything to live in an RV and travel the world!” 

“We’re living in an RV and road schooling our kids!” 

“This gorgeous vista is the view from my van this morning!” 

And my personal favorite “so… we did a thing!”

Indeed, there are many benefits to living in an RV, but what about the downsides? You have to dig a little deeper into these social media profiles to find the downsides of the RV lifestyle. Today, we’re going to spill the beans on the dark side of RV living.

What Is RV Living Really Like? 

Most RVers experience many emotions on their travels, from reveling in stunning ocean views to worrying about the smell coming from their tank storage. 

RV living is full of adventure, and most of them are incredible! But they’re not always fun. When you drive your home from place to place and must find a place to park at night, you’re vulnerable to challenging experiences as well as excitement. 

Your “house” could blow a tire, you could run out of water, or your roof could spring a leak that’s difficult to find. 

While some days are Instagram-worthy, others are challenging at best and just plain discouraging at times.

Benefits of Living in an RV

The joys of RV living are many. There’s a sense of freedom in moving from place to place at a moment’s notice. Like a turtle carrying his life on his back, a full-time RVer carries the necessities of life at all times, opening a world of opportunities. No packing necessary, no flight arrangements, no long-term planning. This level of freedom is phenomenal in itself.

Every day there’s an opportunity for more adventure and experience, all while embracing a minimalist’s existence. RV living removes the tethers of “stuff,” exchanging a life of attachment to things for one full of experiences. You can replace your rigid schedules with the spirit of the moment, and a whim can move you from the beach to the mountains within hours. 

While most of us live a relatively traditional lifestyle in the same spot from day to day, there’s an allure to being on the move. It can offer a release from monotony and the expectation of following daily routines.

This is precisely why full-time RVers’ blogs, YouTube channels, and Instagram accounts are so popular. We long for adventure to some degree, along with freedom starting in childhood and extending through the elder years. 

Those who can not or choose not to take to the open road live vicariously through the blogs and channels of full-time RVers. The adventure is entertaining, and for many, it satisfies the longing for existential freedom in the souls of the static ones.

Woman reading a book in an RV. There are good and bad things about RV living.

Top 5 Worst Things About Living in an RV

But are those committed to RV living wishing they were static at times? Do they long for a sticks-and-bricks home with a washing machine, a large refrigerator, and plenty of hot water at the touch of a tap? Let’s look at some of the things RVers dread most about being on the road.

Two Words: Laundry Day

We all have laundry. Every day there’s more laundry. If we toss in a load, there’s less laundry. But when you live on the road, “tossing in a load” is not so simple! 

While there are Class A motorhomes with washers and dryers, most RV living takes place in rigs without such a luxury. So, how does a family routinely deal with laundry when living on the road? 

There are pretty much two options. One is a bucket of soapy water (that becomes dirty quickly) and a bucket of fresh rinsing water (that becomes soapy quickly) followed by a clothesline of some sort. 

The second is a laundromat. Neither is enticing. No one wants to talk about it, so let’s get it out of the way upfront: laundromats are gross. 

Laundromats are also fabulous. What would we do without laundromats? When your washer breaks and your six-year-old throws up in bed, who ya gonna call? Vomitbusters? No. You’re bound for the local laundromat. 

Thank goodness for laundromats then, right? But therein also lies the issue. Laundromats are full of other people’s “stuff.” And exposure to other people’s “stuff,” even when soap is involved, can be gross.

The other issue is time. What do you do while you wait for the laundry and drying cycles to complete? Worse yet, what do you do with your children while you wait for the laundry and drying cycles to complete? 

“Laundry day” truly becomes laundry DAY. Today we’ll spend the day engaged in the process of doing laundry. For the rest of the day, you’ll be sorting clothes, counting quarters, and moving laundry from one machine to another. 

So yeah. Laundry is among the worst things about living in an RV.

Public laundry machine with quarters stacked on top ready for the next load. RV living involves a lot of laundry days.

Constant Maintenance 

When you drive your house over hill and dale, across bumpy roads, hauling the total weight of all the people and elements of your daily life, things happen. Vehicle parts wear out faster, house parts come loose or fall apart, and there’s always a maintenance issue to tend. It’s annoying, it’s expensive, it’s interruptive, and it’s always inconvenient.

If you live in a sticks-and-bricks house and your vehicle needs repair, you can wait comfortably at home until the repairs are complete. 

But what if your vehicle is also your home? Suppose your rig needs to be on a lift for hours or even days! Do you continue to live in the rig up on the hoist? No! You have to find a place to stay, and if the repair won’t be complete for several days or longer, you can find yourself in a real jam. 

But even when your rig requires maintenance you’re capable of completing yourself, there can be great inconveniences involved. Where will you park while you tend to the maintenance issues? Suppose no local shop has a necessary part in stock, and you have to order it? Suppose your “black tank” (wastewater tank) is leaking and needs repair? 

Your house/vehicle’s maintenance issues are an RV headache, and it can hit when you least expect it.

Tiny RV Showers and Scary Campground Bathrooms

Oh, the joys of a nice, hot shower. Many of us take this luxury for granted daily. While it seems simple to enjoy a long, cleansing experience, RV living doesn’t always provide such pleasures.

When you’re boondocking, tank capacity and power storage limit your shower time. But even with full hook-ups, RV showers are still small! Some Class B RVs and many other campers don’t have an indoor shower. If they do, it might extend into the central aisle of the RV! 

For these reasons, many RVers use public campground showers. Sometimes, these showers are well cleaned and perfectly acceptable. But other times, not so much! 

Let’s face it: Showering in a stall where scores of strangers have showered before doesn’t hold the allure of a private home shower!

Empty public bathroom, a common occurance in RV living

Loneliness and Lack of Community 

Humans are social beings, and community is an integral part of thriving. Living on the road poses challenges on that front, especially for lone travelers. But it can also apply to couples and even families. 

Many RVers travel in caravans or attend rallies and other gatherings with like-minded individuals to find some form of community. 

It can be lonely on the road, even for introverts. If you’re having a rough time or are just plain tired emotionally and physically, you might long for companionship. 

Trouble Maintaining Consistent Internet Connectivity

Internet connectivity has become a fundamental requirement for living. It keeps us connected, educated, and updated on news, weather, and other essential information. For people who embrace RV living, a reliable wireless connection is imperative not only for personal reasons but also to make a living. 

Non-retired, full-time RVers must often work to keep up the lifestyle. With all the advanced and ever-developing technology available in 2021, reliable Internet service can still evade you when you’re on the road. 

You might have to schedule days in coffee shops or libraries to upload videos, download documents, and maintain reliable call and meeting connections. It’s even more difficult during the pandemic. 

Many travelers pay for more than one cellular service to increase their connection. And even this is not a cure-all, so they rely on boosters, WiFi extenders, and other expensive connectivity solutions. It’s a repeated headache for RVers. 

Man with head in hands in front of a laptop. Poor internet comes with RV living.

Is Living in an RV Really Worth It? 

If you’ve read our list and can’t imagine living with those downsides, RV living might not feel worth it for you. But for many people, RV living is a path to freedom and personal fulfillment. The benefits outweigh the downsides, and they can’t get enough. Personally, we fall into the latter. How about you?

  1. We are full-time for more than 6 years. We live in a 38 foot class A. Not a million dollar bus. But we have a washer/dryer, air conditioning, unlimited ( but often really slow or non existent internet.) I do most of my own maintenance on a very rigid schedule and have budgeted for repairs without delay. This week getting foggy Windows replaced. I am not lonely because I am always willing to walk to my neighbor and compliment his/her rv,no matter of a pop-up or prevost. Or see a neighbor fixing something and offer to help. Life is good.

  2. Great article! We are looking forward to the lifestyle but we have a firm list of things we want, this article totally reminded me of why. Hint #1

  3. We full timed for 5 years and 5 years summers. Wouldn’t have missed those magical years. Both of us were 65, in good health, and purchased a maintenance contract with a new rv. Each day was a new adventure. We bought a Thousand Trails membership from a retiring couple with health problems. The contract included many advantages, so we could camp for 2 weeks in Panama City Beach when move to the Navy Famcamp for a week/2 and back to the secondary site. We spent the summers mostly on the Oregon Coast and winters in Panama Ciry Beach. My ONLY regret was the need to do laundry in rarely great facilities. DON’T MISS THE MEMORIES. GO!

  4. If you’re rv runs an you k now how to drive it and are not disabled it might be great but after almost two years it’s hell on wheels

  5. We have been full time for 18 months now. 28 foot 2006 travel trailer we bought for almost nothing and remodeled from new subflooring up. Tore out all the original furniture and reconfigured the floor plan to suit us. Took 3 months of experienced DIY work and total investment was under $7000 cash. Wish we had done this YEARS ago!

    My number one thing that has made it this comfortable and fun… Installing a real apartment size washing machine. It’s 36 inches tall and 2 feet by feet in the floor top loader. Connects to our sink when in use and weighs 65lbs. No laundromats EVER. Clothes hang out to dry on our portable dog fence in the sun. You don’t need a $100,000 motorhome to live in a civilized manner….just creative planning and a willingness to sacrifice some floor space.

    As for internet connection.. we have an unlimited wifi hotspot and second backup cell service for cell equipped tablets and phones. Never had a spot without some service even in Big Bend National Park. Costs a pretty penny, but reliable, private, fast connection is the result.

  6. We have been living in our RV for a year. Mainly staying in one RV resort, but have taken many week to 2 week trips. We don’t boondock at all. Always stay in a RV park, be it thousand trails or a small mom and pop park. For laundry issues, first thing my wife does when we pull into a new area, she searches for a laundry service. Some place we can just drop our laundry off, they wash and fold. We pick it up and put it away. We average about $30.00 a week for laundry service.

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