The Brutally Awful Truth About Living In An RV For A Year

No amount of preparation truly prepares you.

rv van Greg and Jan Ritchie / Shutterstock

When my husband and I first started talking about buying an RV years ago, the plan was to use it to travel and see parts of the country on the cheap.

We figured we could meander across the country at our own pace, parking on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land either free or inexpensively, boondock more often than not, all the while allowing us to continue to freelance from the road and make money.


Sounds perfect, right? Ha.

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To be fair, neither of us was so naïve to think RV life would be idyllic and easy — we knew there would be work involved.

After the experience of selling our home and living in an RV for a year, I know for sure now, tiny living isn’t for me.

And it's not my stuff that I miss. It’s space.

And it’s not even so much space to store things, I mean floor space, air space, space to move.

You know the old adage, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone? I miss you, space.


I never truly appreciated you. I filled you with knick-knacks and stuff. I promise I won’t take you for granted again.

Do you know how wide a box fan is? I do. It’s the exact width of my walking space throughout my entire RV. From the front where the drive space is, to the bedroom — other than the little dip into the kitchen or into the bathroom — it's no wider than a standard box fan. Our kitchen? It's as wide as a box fan and a half — the whole kitchen!

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Y'all, that’s the entirety of my counter space, where the grill is. Cabinets? That little bit above the sink. Above the stove is where the microwave is supposed to be, but I replaced that with a toaster oven/air fryer combo because the oven burns everything.


I've also learned: forget using quality toilet paper ever again — even the recommended marine/RV toilet paper does not dissolve worth a damn. We were dumping our waste tank every three days (which is a lot) and our sensor was still reading full or 3/4 full. We invested in this thing I call a swivel stick, which you attach to a hose, and shove down the toilet.

Essentially, it power washes the black tank from the inside, shoots water down in it, and forces everything out through your sewer hose.

However, It also shoots water all over your bathroom, no matter how careful you are. In a very tiny space, you can imagine what a disaster that is and I don’t recommend doing it any more than you have to. (I will say, though, after he used it the first time, our sensor read ‘empty’ for the first time ever.)

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I often wonder if I would feel differently about living in the RV full-time if we were able to see through our original plans of traveling, instead of being permanently parked somewhere.

The more I read about those who took on the RV life or nomad life, the more I think I’m not alone in the way I’m experiencing things.

It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Even though it’s just me and the pup in here, the lack of space is maddening, and not being able to soak in a tub when I want or need to sucks/

I can’t do yoga for my health or mental well-being because I don’t have the space (yes, I could do it outside if the weather permits, and I plan to), and it’s often difficult to even prepare certain meals due to the kitchen issues (i.e. the oven literally burns everything).


One of the things I’ve been working on is finding the positive in RV life, so let me leave you with this: I'm thankful I have a home because not everyone does.

My oldest and his family have technically been homeless for over a year now. I’ve been homeless before. Though I live paycheck to paycheck, I do own my RV outright, so as long as I have a place to park her, I will always have somewhere to lay my head.

Living in an RV may not be optimal and it definitely isn’t what I want or need long-term, but it allows me to continue to work towards my goals, and for that, I am grateful.


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Demeter Delune is an educator who writes on sexuality, relationships, and love.