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My how time flies, we're already approaching 3 years of living in our RV full-time in south Texas! Looking back I'm glad we were able to overcome our hesitations about all the uncertainties, risk and just the shear fact that we would be considered house-less. There aren't a lot of people our age in their late 20s that are willing to take on this sort of lifestyle, it's definitely not for everyone (get some insight into what it takes to RV as a couple here). If you can embrace what it takes, you'll experience more of the coastal lifestyle mindset I take to heart and is the foundation of how Todd and I are continuing to grow in our relationship together.
There have been many learnings along the way, some of them funny, others absolutely annoying as heck and because we live in the great state of Texas where fire ants rule and the sun never cools... keep these 11 realities about full-time RVing in Texas in mind if you end up pulling your RV down or become a newbie to RVing.
1. You will become a weather tracker expert.
We got the apps, alerts, portable radios, can estimate the mph wind gusts blowing on your RV just by the sound and know where the strongest building closest to the pad site is. It's a never ending game with Texas' weather, sometimes it just can't decide what mood it wants to be in. In the spring and summer you'll do just about anything to prevent your electric bill from going over $150 (covering your bathroom skylight with foil, blackout curtains, taming the A/C), will most likely lose sleep during rain down pours because at times you think it's actually hailing and you hope there's not holes in your roof, you prep your hurricane emergency plan, then catch a break in late fall... but winter stirs the electric fireplace almost every night and you bring out everything fleece. So basically prepare for anything including out running tornadoes and hurricanes.
2. Bugs everywhere all the time... especially ants.
I didn't like bugs before we started RVing, but after having to deal with many episodes of flying ant, ghost ant, sugar ant and who knows what other kind of ant invasions, I am at a point were I'm used to them being little conspirators always trying to find their way into the RV. Let me tell you, getting rid of ants in your RV can be absolutely down right exhausting and frustrating! We were at a point last spring where we ended up moving pad sites because we were so fed up. We'll spare you the hours of research, buy Terro bait traps + stakes and put them outside and inside your RV the moment you see ants more frequently. It'll get rid of those pesky things quicker than anything else. Of course, you still have to keep up with quarterly routine bug spray outside for spiders, roaches, beetles, etc. However, at our new RV pad site we've had multiple run-ins with black widow families. That is a whole different kind of battle y'all. They tend to not build their homes that far off the ground, so having a clear pad is so important if you start having problems. We've found black widows and brown widows under our outdoor chairs, picnic table corners, underneath the non-slip mats on our entry stairs and near the slideout bottom. We spray routinely but they still show up. The fact that these small uglies can be anywhere outside always keeps us on alert and mindful of checking things before picking them up or sitting outside.
3. Your green thumb may not last.
I love me some flowers and plants, but I won't be planting anything new this season. Between the heat, the heat reflecting off our concrete pad, ants taking over pots, figuring out a way to hold them when traveling and not enough shade throughout the day, I've had every plant and flower either die or have to be adopted by a friend or family member. It's frustrating when the only thing that can last are marigolds and dusty miller outside in hanging pots. Inside I'm lucky to have had my golden pothos thrive though; I keep a small vase on our dining table, living area wall and bathroom counter. Unless you own a cactus or palm tree, maybe consider foregoing keeping plants on your RV pad, it's not worth it in my opinion.
4. Keep up with regular and preventable maintenance or you'll have more problems.
Lubricate slides to prevent screeching, extend the awning to dry, open all the windows to air out the seals, vacuum/dust twice a week, don't leave the awning out all day unless you're home and/or it's tied down, replace water and air filters, keep a black tank you can brag about, no dishes left undone overnight for sake of preventing bugs, air out your RV every few months to prevent stale air, get your RV washed and waxed... there's a decent about of work inside and out. That's why it's important to look at the work to be done as a family or couple effort and tackle to-dos together if possible. Keep up with what needs to be done and you'll spare yourself the pain of having any major repairs to worry about down the road.
5. Laundry is less stressful.
Before we started full-time RVing, laundry would stack up over weeks and a mound would be starring us in the eye. We downsized and have no where near as much clothing as we used to, but you have no choice but to get laundry done within at least two weeks or else: you might not be able to carry your laundry bins to and from the rec center's laundry facilities, it'll cost more of your time and money, you'll probably realize when you wake up in the morning you've ran out of underwear and folding a huge pile of towels and clothes is never fun. All great motivators and helps you get into a good routine.
6. Backing up the RV is an art.
Have I ever backed in our RV? Nope, and I don't plan on it unless absolutely necessary. Why? Because it's an art, and like art not everyone is good at it or should attempt to try and appear to know what they're doing. :) Todd is a master at backing in our RV to the pad site. It's taken some practice to know the exact angles to go for, but he's got it down good. I'm just the occasional critic.
7. Watch out for that... !
You think you'll never do it, but then it happens... you run into the slideout corner, you bang your head on the closet door frame, you hit your head on the tongue of the RV, you slip on the stairs, you cut open your finger and you run too fast and sprain your leg. We've been there and done all of that. We're not accident prone, just happens to the best of us when we forget we have to make adjustments being around the RV. Have a good first aid kit on hand in your truck and bathroom.
8. No dishwasher, no garbage disposal, no quality oven, no washer/drier and life goes on.
One of the first things a previous co-worker asked me when she found out I'd be living in an RV was if we'd have garbage disposal for our sink. Nope! I scoop up the food pieces and throw away in the trash. It's funny how some of the traditional home features we've come to know as standards we've lived without in our RV. I haven't used an oven in almost three years y'all, while I'm super sad about it, our Traeger grill has been an amazing alternative, highly recommend. Things like washing the dishes by hand, driving down the road to do laundry, not having a bathtub to soak in, having to use a storage building for our non-essential belongings... we've survived almost three years of this and we're doing just fine. You can do it.
9. Reusable and non-breakable items will help you save money.
It's not just about saving money. Sustainability efforts have helped us do our part in protecting the planet. Instead of opting to buy paper plates or napkins, we love our solid white Corelle plate sets and use washable napkins by Norwex. Recently we've also been reducing the amount of plastic sandwich bags by using silicone Stasher bags for packing up lunch or leftovers, storing seashells or pre-making smoothies for the morning. For at least the past 4 years, I've also handmade our own eco-friendly bath soap made of goat's milk melt-n-pour ingredients, essential oils and crushed herbs. One of my favorite things about it is that a batch can last up to 6 months! Next on the list to work towards: reusable stainless steel straws and carpet cleaner.
10. Walls are thin, you hear and smell evvvverything.
Do you have a snorer in the family, but you're a light sleeper? Then you understand what I mean when I say you will try everything possible in order to get quality sleep. Luckily for us sleep has improved over the years by having a california king Sleep Number bed, cooling memory foam pillows, using a diffuser at night, eating better and using MUTE nose inserts. In my opinion, it is worth having another sleeping arrangement option on the other side of the RV just in case things get too loud. I love having our window bench topped with a memory foam mattress as an alternative.
Right next to the bedroom is the bathroom. You will smell and hear everything even when the fan is on sometimes; just comes with living in an RV. You get used it it.
11. If you don't pay attention to your pup's needs, they'll let you'll know it.
Our golden retriever is a bundle full of emotions. In the morning when you wake her up too early she'll grunt, when you don't get to bed until late she stands at the stairs giving you the look, when she hasn't played in a long time she'll ignore you in spite and of course when you come home from work she's so happy she'll dig her head into you as a show of affection. Dogs were meant to roam and run, so when they're confined to a space as small as an RV you have to be more aware of their needs as they age, comforts and what comes with having no yard. Pick up poo with a bag, adjust the thermostat before leaving, get out the truck ramp or lift her in, SoggyDog mat to catch her messy eating, fleece bed for the winter months, go for a walk or be outside a couple times during the week, putting her favorite blanket on the leather couch in the morning... it's a routine that takes time but we'll never get tired of because we love her to pieces. :)
What reality of RVing do you feel more people need to know about? Leave a comment below so we can all help each other navigate through our adventures!
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