Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Living in a Small RV - Parked for The First Month

We're at San Carlos RV Park in Fort Myers Beach and have just about completed the first month of stay put living in our small RV.  Its the longest we've ever stayed parked in one place.  In a nut shell, so far so good.  We're still married, still mostly sane, still talking, nobody's been hurt, and we're having a pretty good time.  It took a little time to find our groove, but we've settled in and developed our routines.  I think it's working out.  Here's some observations.

  • We are joined by all types of rigs in our RV park - big class A's, class C's, trailers, 5-th wheels, and a couple small class B's.  All nice rigs parked like us for the winter.  We're all packed in tight and the park is now mostly full.  The people are pretty quiet but you can hear your neighbors sneeze and smell what they're cooking.
  • Most everyone is a retired snowbird (like us) from somewhere north.  All are super nice folks.  I've found this to be a fairly common trait among retired snow birds.  They're all happy to be retired, happy to have made it this far in life, and happy to be living their dreams. 
  • So far, not having a car is working out ok.  We're situated close (1-2 miles) to the beach, restaurants, and stores. I'm biking to most places.  I'm usually on the bike a couple times a day.  While I haven't done a lot of biking in the past 2-3 years, it all came back easy for this former long distance road biker who used to ride a 100 miles a week.  I'm a little unique in this regard. Someone who is out of shape or who can't bike would probably need a vehicle for mobility.  When we need to run errands or go sightseeing, we just unhook the RV.  It takes 5 mins to unhook and our Winnebago View is small enough to go anywhere.  
  • "Runaround Annie" is also making do.  She's walking more than biking.  She's also linked up with some new friends from a local congregation and is getting rides to her regular meetings.
  • Stay put RVing is a lot different than RV traveling.  After the first 10 days, the vacation feel was mostly gone.  There's no itinerary or places we have to get to.  We do some exploring each week when we unhook the RV, but mostly the RV stays parked for several days at a time.  Stay put RVing is not camping.  There's no sitting around the campfire singing Cumbaya.  There's not the daily adventures and constant new experiences that comes with traditional RV travel.  Its RV living and its more like living at home - just on a much smaller simpler scale and the view is different.
  • We're far from bored.  There's still plenty to do and see in the area.  The summer like weather makes us want to be outside and venture out.  When we unhook the RV, we do some exploring like visiting a state park, going to Sanibel Island for the day, visiting a new town, or taking in a movie. 
  • "Runaround Annie" had some adjustments to make.  She's a self proclaimed socialite and was missing face time with her girl friends.  A brief period of loneliness set in.  But, once she started connecting with some other females she quickly got her groove back. Texting, email, and Facebook are keeping her connected with friends. She also had friends send her selfies so she could have some pictures.
  • With a small RV, there's not much opportunity for puttering and dubbing around.  These are critical guy activities.  Dubbing around and puttering fills a good part of some days back home.  In the RV park, there's no grass to mow, no yard to clean, no weeds to wack, no pool to clean, no cars to maintain, and no machines to fix. Also, nothings broke that I've had to fix.  Its good that's nothing's broke but bad for a Mr. Fixit who likes doing fixit tasks.  So, I've had to find things to fill the void left by the lack of dubbing and puttering.  I've been doing a lot of writing and photography, shooting video clips, and building a new web site.  I guess I'm still dubbing around and puttering, just doing it on the computer and with the cameras. 
  • Living in the RV is much more simple than living at home.  Like I said above, there's a lot less work to do and you have a lot less stuff.  Cleaning up is much quicker in the RV.  Its really small so there's not much that can get dirty or cluttered.  Also, there's no travel itinerary or travel plans to execute.  The simple living has allowed me to pursue more creative pursuits.  This has been an unexpected finding and its been a good thing.
  • I've sort of got used to living in the small space.  We've got all the creature comforts.  The slide out gives us a nice comfortable seating / eating area.  The ducted AC has kept the RV nice and evenly cool on hot days and nights.  The on- air TV reception has been very good.  I love having my satellite radio which gives me all the news, music, and sports that I want.  So, its been livable.  And when the four small walls get to me, I just go outside for a walk or bike ride.
  • The biggest downside has been the limited cooking space.  Breakfast and lunches are easy to do.  But, without good counter space, its difficult to cook a full meal (something I normally don't do when traveling). I like to cook from scratch (vs using processed food), so this has been a challenge.  I also wish I had a bigger bathroom and a bed with a real mattress.  These are things I "make do with" when traveling but have become a desire while staying put.  It sort of makes me long for a little larger RV or to buy a good sized travel trailer that I would leave in FL.  More on this in the next post.
  • The fairly constant togetherness with my wife has been good.  We get along well and like each others company.  The small space fosters a stronger bond and I think it amplifies the strengths of our relationship.  It could just as easily work the other way for someone who has some bad habits or may have issues with their partner.  
That's it for now. Before we leave, I'll post some final thoughts on living in a small RV.  I'd like to hear from others who have done this to see what you may have learned.

"Runaround" Annie living outside


  1. Great post J.Dawg. Glad you two are enjoying it there. Riding a bike instead of doing yardwork or shoveling snow sounds real good to me! Thank-you for this post in particular. This kind of real life experience and insight is invaluable to us as we continue our research. The View and the LTV Unity are currently at the top of our shopping list. You really have me thinking now though. We are already planning several 2016 trips like the one you are on - to be in place for 4 to 6 weeks at a time. You mentioned you'd like to have a real mattress. Have the View's foam block mattresses proven uncomfortable after extended use? The bathroom size on these is also a big concern for me. Is there something in particular you don't care for (shower, sink, counter, etc), or is it just the overall size/elbow room? I've been seriously looking at slightly larger options, but above 25 feet, you very quickly get to the point where a toad is no longer optional. The LTV Unity MB (Murphy Bed) provides an amazing bath and near Queen sized bed ((68"x74") on a Sprinter chassis, but you lose the separate living and sleeping areas of the twin bed model. I will definitely be looking forward to reading more from you as you work through this puzzle. Good luck and all the best to you! Roger

    1. Thanks for reading. The View's form block mattress is very comfortable for us. It's very firm and I sleep well on it. We have added a memory foam mattress topper to eliminate the cushion seams and to keep the cushions from separating. The topper really helped. We make it up as a king so we have to crawl in from the end. It would be nice to have something we could walk around but we like having the permanent separate bed room and we make up the bed into the twins each day. I also like having the twins as an option. On the bath, I have colitis and spend a fair amount of time on the toilet. With the door closed my knees are up against the door. But I really like having the porcelain toilet and the lavatory sink. Also, we rarely use the shower and instead use it as a closet for hanging clothes. Would like a larger shower and a closet, but more a nice to have vs a need. I use the shower when I boondock on my own or when I'm at music festivals. But, you're right, to address these would mean getting a rig closer to 30 ft and then you loose some mobility with a larger rig. Good luck with you purchase decision. J. Dawg

  2. Glad to hear things are working out so well. As for the dubbing around, I am sure the grounds keeper wouldn't mind your help mowing, you could be their Forrest Gump. Or you could just start crawling under neighbors rigs and point out problems. I am a bit concerned about the "we don't use the shower" comment. I think that might need some elaboration.

    1. Not much grass to mow down here and the maintenance crew has everything under control. Many RVer's are "experts" on something and many times we collaborate when one of us have a problem. Our RV only has a small closet and we use it for storing supplies. The shower does function and I use it when boondocking, but for this trip we ended up using the shower as a closet. My partner brought a few coats and dresses. Luckily we're parked 20 steps away from a bath house that has nice hot showers.