Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Can You Full Time in a Small RV?

Ron and Patty have been full time RVing together for a year and a half. Here they just finished picking up trash around the campgroud - Thank you Ron and Patty! Ron has been full-timing for 15 years and Patty has 20 years of RV experience. What makes this couple unique is that they full time in a 24 foot travel trailer. You might think that two people living full time in a 24 foot RV would be next to impossible. Yes there is more room on the space shuttle, but hey, this isn’t rocket science! Here are the advantages of a small unit like this:

It is within most everyone’s budget range.
It will fit in any campsite listed in the free campgrounds book and will fit in any federal and state campground.
There are few height restrictions (You can park under tree limbs and pass under low clearance bridges that other rigs can’t).
Smaller travel trailers are lighter and highly maneuverable, easy to park and pull.
Travel trailer overhead cabinets are easy to reach and once inside there are no more stairs to navigate.

There are also disadvantages compared to the larger rigs, such as less storage space, less battery storage and smaller tank capacity but these things are very manageable when you learn the secrets of resource conservation.

Ron & Patty own a Kodiak 24 RBSL ultra/lite by Skamper a Thor company. Ron says they engineered this unit well because they put the heater under the oven instead of the refrigerator. He especially likes the pass-through storage compartment in the front of the rig. The bathroom can accommodate two people and it has a walk-around queen size bed. What Patty likes most are the windows that light up the interior. Even during an overcast day, there is a light and airy feeling inside this rig. Since many RVers enjoy being outside much of the day a smaller unit is more than adequate. When you’re asleep it doesn’t matter if you’re in a mansion or a cardboard box – as long as you sleep good what does it matter? The bottom line is that your mattress is more important than how big your RV is!

Rick and Beckey Schramm have been full time RVers for a year now. They started out in a KZ travel trailer, but switched to a BIGFOOT travel trailer because it was a higher quality unit and since it is made in Canada is a true four season travel trailer. Beckey loves this 21 foot trailer because it has excellent window placement for great views. Beckey says it’s just the right size for two people, not too much upkeep and has double the storage of their last trailer. She’s right; the storage inside this trailer is amazing! Hat tip to the engineers of this BIGFOOT. They engineered this rig very well and you can take a virtual tour of BIGFOOT trailers here: http://www.bigfootrv.com/bigfootrv_travel_trailers_2500.html
If you are thinking about RVing full time or part time in a travel trailer, Rick says research it thoroughly and then do it. I agree! We had a travel trailer and loved it and a travel trailer may be just right for you.

Sometimes it rains and you have to stay indoors most of the day, and sure, things can seem a little claustrophobic at times, but all the essentials are there, a stove and oven, microwave, TV, refrigerator/freezer, couch, dinette, full bathroom, coffee pot, furnace, toaster, and all the creature comforts you will ever need. So get yourself an RV and get out here and enjoy the great outdoors!

My grandparents were full time RVers using a travel trailer back in the days when full time RVing was unheard of. Here is my grandfather, Sheldon Rockholt hooking-up his Wilderness travel trailer.
Finally, consider this about travel trailers, most are pulled by a pick-up truck with a topper. This means that you have the entire bed of your truck as storage. Think about it, a 5th wheel has a large basement storage area but the 5th wheel uses up most of the storage area in the back of the truck because of the hitch. You will have more storage capacity in the bed of the pick-up with a topper than you will with most 5th wheels. Keep this in mind when researching whether to purchase a travel trailer or a 5th wheel.


Anonymous said...

If I were in my 20's, instead of paying $800 a month for an apartment (average outside of large cities) plus utitilies, I would live at least a few years in one of the comfortable, compact travel trailers. Now in my mid 50's, I think traveling with less weight with a smart looking, compact trailer looks very appealing. Instead of $120,000 for a rig, $20,000 looks really nice. The $100,000 can stay and work in the bank so that I don't have to work in campgrounds!
Great article for thought -- Thanks.

Calvin & Loretta said...

Thank you!! My wife and I have been studying and preparing to go full-time for about five years. We have always wanted to use a travel trailer, a smaller rig than most of those we read about, but didn't realize that others already do so. We also appreciate the model number and the link to virtual tours of specific travel trailers. We also agree about pickup-bed storage; in addition, it's more versatile than 5th wheel basement storage and has more height.

I think we can probably figure it out, but could you say what type of tow vehicle the folks you profiled use to pull their trailers? We want to go as small as practical.

Calvin of Calvin and Loretta

Michael Shaw said...

As a musician, having a truck with a canopy for my band equipment that can be locked and transported to gigs at the destination is the only possible way to go. I have a big 30'travel trailer that didn't break the bank to buy but is quite roomy w/slideouts etc. There is no other possible RV configuration that would work any better than this...unless I became a flute player :-)(I play keyboards&sing)
Michael Shaw

Keith Harrison said...

We have been full timing now for 3 years. We started out with a 24 foot 1994 Prowler travel trailer, and a 1994 GMC Suburban. The trailer had no slides. We went from Nova Scotia to California and with 2 cats we had ample room inside, but most of time was spent outside.

Last March we 'splurged' and bought a new 28 ' Terry with a large slide, it is 'the extreme version' which means better insulation and a few other goodies. In September '06 we again splurged and bought an '01 Chev. Suburban. This combination suits us because when we travel we can let the cats have the freedom of the Suburban, and we can also keep lots of stuff in the rear of the truck, out of the weather.

The slideout certainly makes a huge difference to indoor living, and we are very comfy in our new rig. Currently we have been away from 'home' , Halifax, Nova Scotia since October '06 and are in northern Louisiana, starting to think about heading north.

As the article says, you do not need to break the bank to enjoy full time in a smaller rig, and you quickly learn how much you can store, and what you shouldn't buy, 'cause you don't have space'.

I have pulled travel trailers since 1975, and have never had a sway problem on the highway as some 5th wheel owners indicate. I can tow with an SUV (of the proper size) or a pick up truck, so in my mind I have the best of both worlds.

Safe travels and good camping to all.

Mike Whitmire said...

Small travel trailers do not always mean small capacity. My fleetwood pioneer with an 18 foot living area, 23 feet total length,has a 50 gallon fresh water tank, 40 gal grey and 40 gal black water tank. Double bed, couch, microwave, stove, and plenty of storage. It has a place for two t-105 6volt batteries and two 30 pound propane tanks. I can boondock for days if need be. Just be sure and ask about tank sizes before buying. I have seen huge 5th wheels with 26 gallon black water tank. What a pain that would be.
Mike Whitmire

Anonymous said...

It still amazes me that my husband and I (we're both retired) have been fulltiming for three years now in our 23 1/2 ft class C Lazy Daze motorhome. I never would have thought it was possible before starting out on this new adventure. We spend most of our time volunteering at state parks or for the forest service . We've been all across the country and tow a small Honda car. The motorhome has all the usual comforts of home, just in a smaller space. We love the mobility, and are usually parked in wonderful areas. It sure has made being retired enjoyable. By the way, I do most of the driving while my husband navigates.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I are going on the road starting June 1, 2007 until July 30, 2008. This will be our first real adventure, for that long, in our 29 foot, class C. We have had some concerns about the space but now feel that we will have a very funfilled trip. Thanks for the article and thanks to the RVers who wrote and set our mind at ease.

Peter & Connie Ritchie said...

My husband & I have been full timing in a 1990 24 foot Salem travel trailer pulled by our 1982 Suburban, since April 2005. We found the floor plan that works well for us and gives us the feeling of ample living space. We also have lots of good sized windows to feel open and airy. The Suburban gives us the extra storage for tools, bikes, etc. So far we have not found another unit (smaller or larger) that would suit our purposes any better than this one. In our opinion the size does not matter if the floor plan fits your lifestyle. We have no problem on rainy days and we have not felt cramped in this unit. It is also very easy to pull and the price fit our budget - we love it!

shagaia said...

My wife and I lived in a 13 foot Casita full time for 3 and a half years while traveling the country doing workshops - it was a ball. If they make a pickup topper with some side entries that would sure make it easier.

Anonymous said...

Have a 30' class c which we love, and live in 7 months each year while workkamping. would not want anything larger, can go just about anywhere we want. smaller is definitly better!!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I just spent 14 months in a 17 foot Casita SD. It worked, but I think 21 foot is a good size. Yeah, that would be big.

Joe and Melanie

Katrina said...

I have been full-timing alone for 4 months now in a 26 ft. Kit Companion travel trailer with 1 slideout and absolutely love it! I'm not the least bit cramped and it is easy to tow. A floor plan that fits your lifestyle is what makes any trailer work. I searched a long time for this one. Totally agree about truck bed space and Suburbans are terrific if you travel with a pet.

Anonymous said...

I have been fulltiming in my 28 ft Wilderness for almost a year. I was able to find this 13 yr old trailer in excellent condition for only $2,000 and now stay in a park for only $200 a month. Makes for great living on a Social Security budget. This trailer has a great floorplan, but in the future I am hoping to move up to a rig with a slide. Slides DO make a difference. But, I am quite happy with what I have right now.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have been full-timers for the past three years in a 25ft Komfort with one slide for the sofa and a dining table that folds into the wall when we want more room in the living area. We tow with a 3/4 ton standard cab Dodge pickup with canopy. We find we have more than adequate room for ourselves and the cat. When we are parked for weeks or months we put up our Patio-Room under the awning which adds a 7 x 18 foot room to our living area. Even in cold areas I am able to keep the room comfortabe with a propane heater.

I think that this just goes to show that retirement on a budget and full-timing without spending a fortune is available for everyone.

Happy trails to all!

Rick Elder said...

My wife and I spent 97 days during the Summer of '06 in a Bayside Elite "pop up" camper and had a wonderful time. We traveled 9700 miles that summer. We have spent several entire summers traveling with the "pop up" from Michigan to Alaska, the Southwest, Florida and the East Coast. If we can live in a "pop up" for 97 days and enjoy it we can certainly do it in a travel trailer. We just traded up to a 27 foot Coachmen trailer with a slide out.

drumsong said...

First, thank God I found this site...

I was really interested in Rick and beckey shramm's comments esp. those concerning their grandparents who lived in a Wilderness. I am very much considering living full time in a travel trailer.

I'm a sixty year old carpenter trying to figure out what to do in what I feel are going to be trying years.

I am currently looking at a Prowler ('73) or a Wildernes ('72) in the 20 ft. range. Both in excellent condition...and very affordable. (I'd love an Airstream--but whatever year, in half way decent condition, they're pricey).

I really need some feedback on which is preferrable (and feedback in general.
It seems like these two (esp. prowlers) are everywhere.

And feedback in general.

drumsong said...

First, thank God I found this site...

I was really interested in Rick and beckey shramm's comments esp. those concerning their grandparents who lived in a Wilderness. I am very much considering living full time in a travel trailer.

I'm a sixty year old carpenter trying to figure out what to do in what I feel are going to be trying years.

I am currently looking at a Prowler ('73) or a Wildernes ('72) in the 20 ft. range. Both in excellent condition...and very affordable. (I'd love an Airstream--but whatever year, in half way decent condition they're pricey).

I really need some feedback on which is preferrable (and feedback in general.
It seems like these two (esp. prowlers) are everywhere.

And feedback in general.

RoadScribe said...

What truck specks are you pulling that
21ft Bigfoot with?
I have a 96 GMC Sierra 1500 modified pulling a 25ft Jazz 5'er and would love to
get a true four season, even if it's a TT that my truck could pull, and yes get a camper shell for extra storage. I like that Bigfoot has the solar an generator options. Their more pricey buy if it is a true four season you can full time in it is worth it. I am also looking for no slides in my next upgrade. If you do get an RV with slides make sure that when the slides are in, your rig is livable.

Anonymous said...

We aren't full-timers...yet...but we have a 24 ft. Komfort (Thor) and pull it with a GMC truck with a shell camper on it. Everything you said is true....we have lots of windows and skylights, all the amenities and can fit into just about any campground AND we have all the storage area in the truck. It's the perfect set-up for us. And when we aren't on the road there isn't an engine deteriorating out there and it makes a great guestroom!

C3 said...

I've been living full-time in my 19' Gulfstream, which I've added solar to, enabling me to boondock if necessary. I find this just enough for me where everything is within an arm's length as I write, my full-time avocation. This sometimes has to take a back seat to workcamping when necessary. I feel a passenger couldn't exist with me in here for more than a week. Therefore I implore anyone who is contemplating fulltiming with a spouse or girlfriend to have some more room and each must have a hobby or interest that keeps them separate most of the time and not under each others feet and within each others arm's length. I suppose the circumstances would have been different with my wife (RIP)along. I'd probably have a bigger rig, or maybe I'd not be a full-timer at all!

Joe Castine said...

My wife and i and two cats full-time in a 17 ft Casita!!! First time we were out for 14 months then had to take care of Dad. Now we are at 15 months on our second outing and counting. No house to go home to so home is really where we park it.

Joe and Melanie
2people (dot) 2cats castine (dot) net

Anonymous said...

I think there are different definitions of full-timing. My husband and I part-time full-time in a Arctic Fox camper w/slide on a Chevrolet Diesel truck. We travel for approx. 9 months of the year. The longest we may stop in the 48 states is three weeks. We stop at our home in Alaska off and on in the summer. We started in a 32 foot Southwind pulling a Honda CRV. I talked my husband into trying a truck/camper.... The Southwind is for sale....

Kate said...

We have fulltimed in a 30 foot Lazy Daze for 5 years. No slides, so essentially around 175 square feet.

I think it's the perfect set up, if you're considering this lifestyle, floorplan is essential!


alicia.huston03 said...

My husband, 5 year old son, and I just purchased a 1993 Dutchman 35ft travel trailer. No pop outs, but the layout works great for us. My husband has been out of work for over a year, and even though I'm working two jobs, we still aren't getting anywhere financially. My folks kindly offered us a small portion of their 11 acre ranch to park it on, rent free, to help us get back on our feet. We are very nervous about giving up our home and downsizing so drastically, but reading your article and everyone's posts really give me some hope that this will work out for us! We will be settling into our trailer full-time by fall!

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