Today’s blog post is written and brought to you by Derek Cobia, the Frugal RVer. If you’ve been keeping up, I met up with Derek a couple weeks ago and discussed how to build up the RV community. Click here for that post.
Full-time RVing is more than living small with the option to travel. It’s a lifestyle that has forced us to live outside our boundaries on almost every level. And living outside our boundaries, we see the world in a completely different light. We’re part of the full-time RVing community raising a family on the road. It’s an amazing lifestyle worth considering.
The thought of downsizing to a “tiny home” was nerve-wracking, to say the least. And raising a daughter in a home on wheels was even more frightening. However, after a lot of research and prayer, we felt full-time RVing would provide a balance of boundaries and opportunities most conducive to the values we wanted to teach our daughter.
In February, my wife and I decided to sell everything. Our daughter was 10 months old when we decided to make the switch. The transition was stressful but we adapted to the small space quickly. Additionally, we noticed it made keeping up with our daughter a fairly simple task.
The full-time RVing lifestyle has some clear disadvantages. However, my wife and I were pleasantly surprised to learn a few things parenting in an RV we hadn’t previously thought of. First of all, RV manufacturers spend a considerable amount of time developing a product designed to withstand turbulance. That said, our home was almost baby proof directly from the plant (with a few minor exceptions). On top of that, living without all the “stuff” means our curious toddler can’t get into much without us knowing.
As parents, we want our daughter to realize there’s a world filled with opportunities she can access. And we want to teach her how to navigate and make “outside of the box” decisions safely. We think curiosity is a good thing. And we’ve found that RV living is a safe lifestyle that encourages her to explore and develop a creative imagination.
Our biggest concern with full-time RVing was that our daughter wouldn’t live in the same type of neighborhood we grew up in. There are certainly advantages to best friends who grow up together. They’re often more confident, secure, and generally happier. However, it seems as though the “traditional” neighborhoods, in terms of stability, are dwindling.
In generations past, neighborhood turnover was rare. Growing up with the same group of friends was typical for the baby boomer and preceding generations. But stagnant wages and decreasing job loyalty has resulted in higher housing turnover. Consequently, consistently stable neighborhoods are becoming harder to find. And at the end of the day, as parents, we’re ultimately responsible for providing a secure community for our children. Now that we’re full-time RVing, we’re realizing a “neighborhood” doesn’t have to be stationary.
Full-time RVers have taken a leap of faith to live an uncharted lifestyle because they value experiences over stuff. They gave up everything for a lifestyle that lead to the unknown. That level of passion has created a community made up of the most active and helpful strangers I’ve ever met.
The further I drift from society’s norms, the more I question how they became “norms” in the first place. Full-time RVing has opened my eyes to possibilities I never dreamed of. Wayne Dyer said it perfectly when he stated “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Looking at things differently means trying new things and being ok with failure. Since I’ve started this lifestyle, “failure” has changed from something to avoid at all costs, to something embraced due to the valuable learning opportunity it presents.
I’ve always been a risk taker but now that I have a daughter, I’m constantly worrying about whether we’ll be able to give her the basic needs she’ll require in order for her to grow into a confident and independent woman. This is probably a universal concern among parents regardless of lifestyle but so far, I’ve come up with two basic things we need to constantly be aware of: she needs loving parents and to be part of an interactive community where she can learn and socialize.
“If you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at change.”
– Wayne Dyer
The full-time RV community is different. It’s a neighborhood where property lines don’t exist; it’s dynamic. The community is both virtual and reality. We share stories, advice, and strategies sitting by the campfire and online thousands of miles apart. We learn from each other, help each other, and grow together. And it’s made up of some of the most caring people I’ve ever met.
Yesterday, my wife and I took our daughter on a walk through the campground and we stopped and knocked on our neighbor’s door to see if he and his wife wanted to join us. Later that night, my wife and I were comparing our current “neighborhood” to the neighborhoods (houses) we previously lived in and we couldn’t think of a single time we knocked on a neighbor’s door just to see if they wanted to “hang out”.
As we continue to make new friends and become more involved in the community, we’re realizing that there will likely be other full-time RV families in the same area regardless of the town we’re living in that particular week. Since I started writing this, my wife noticed a familiar RV that was pulling into the campground; they were a family we met a few months back. Turns out, they are finishing a 15,000 mile trip around the country and they’ve circled back for a cooking festival here in the park…I guess the festival is this weekend! This is a perfect example of the RV neighborhood. Mobility means your friends and neighbors are always just around the corner.
The social side of full-time RVing is evolving. As the community grows, so will the demand to a more structured environment to accommodate needs of more full-time RV families. Because it’s only recently started gaining mainstream attention, the possibilities are endless.
Since we started this journey, I’ve had countless families reach out to me seriously considering the full-time RVer lifestyle. It’s an interesting social experiment to be part of and I’ve overwhelmed by the quality of life and the quality of people we’ve been embraced by so far. To say that I’m excited to see where this journey will take us is an understatement. One thing is for sure, it’s the best neighborhood we’ve ever been part of and for those of you considering the lifestyle, they’ll welcome you and your family with open arms!
Cheers, The Cobia Family