When people find out how I live, they always want to know the RV story behind it. It’s one I tell at least once a week and I realized it hasn’t been fully explained here on the blog. Get comfy, kids. This is the Wilcox’s RV story.

Hey Liz, we should live in a camper!



The look when hubby starts a convo with “You know what we should do”

My husband is always coming up with these outrageous purchasing ideas. He’s the kind of guy that sees something online and immediately starts envisioning the product in his life. Well, one of those things must have been an RV because when we first got married he mentioned this living arrangement to me. Being the level-headed woman I am, I immediately shot him down as a ridiculous person and we moved into a townhouse.

Fast forward 2 years and you’ve got yourself an RV story

Our RV Story: How We Ended Up Full-Time Living in a 5th Wheel. Ever wondered how a family with kids chooses camper life? Click to read the tale of the Wilcox family. Humor guaranteed. | www.TheVirtualCampground.com #camperlife #fulltime #fulltimeRV #RVlivingwithkids #RVlife #travel #RVliving #hittheroad #fulltimetravel #camperlifehumor #humor #funnystories

A lot can happen in 2 years to change your mind about living in an RV (click here for that story) but to sum it up, I was feeling very overwhelmed by all my responsibilities and wanted a home as small as can be.

Ed went house hunting and found something that was about 1000 square feet. I thought it was perfect! We were so excited about the purchase and LITERALLY 2 DAYS BEFORE our move from upstate NY to Alabama, we got a call from our realtor with a problem.

We had to come up with $6k or pull out of the deal. We spent the next 24 hours trying to pull money out of each other’s butts, but to no avail. Our only option would be to take the money as a cash advance on our credit cards. We did not want to do that, so we pulled out and the humble beginnings of an RV story begin…

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Hey Liz, remember that camper idea?

Ed joked as we were packing up our house that we should just buy an RV and live in that. This time, I didn’t dismiss it completely.

“Liz, seriously. Think about it. You’re always complaining about how much you have to clean.”

“Ed, I just don’t know how you’re going to like it. I can live in anything, but you’re way picky and way tall.”

“Don’t worry about me, baby. I’ll start researching.”

Researching. That’s what Ed calls it when he spends hours on Craigslist looking at things to buy.

A little research of my own

Secretly, I was totally down to start our RV story. To be honest, I have no idea why I was against the idea in the first place. When we met, I lived in a hotel room and it was the most “at home” I had ever felt in my life. When we moved into the townhouse, I was insanely overwhelmed and really didn’t care much to “nest”. I never bought one piece of art for the place and Ed’s step mother came to visit once and asked why it looked like a bachelor’s pad.

The point? I really like to keep things simple.

Simple. An RV could be simple, right? Fully furnished already. Small and easy to manage. But how much were they? And was this a practical idea?

As I was scrolling airbnb for places to stay on the way down to Alabama during our move, fate put me in front of an ad for a travel trailer on Lake Erie. Now this was right up my alley. A super cheap place to stay for a night on the water. Right on. Ed wouldn’t be with us that night so there would be plenty of room for Chelsea, Haley, and I to live the trailer life for a night and see how it was.

Love at first sight

I pulled up to the camper and was immediately in love. It just looked so…welcoming. Sure, it was a pretty old place but it was parked next to the owner’s kayak rental and there was a giant open field for the dog and baby to play.

I went inside and boy was it small. For some reason though, I absolutely loved it! I kept thinking in my head, “Oh yeah, this is totally doable. TOTALLY.”

We played outside in the big field and ate dinner at the picnic table. It was one of the loveliest evenings since I had my child. I felt so happy and at peace. I was pretty much convinced I needed an RV in my life, even just for weekend camping trips.

Chelsea getting acquainted with the trailer life

It wasn’t until we went back inside for the night and turned on the TV that I knew I was going to be moving into an RV once I got to Alabama. The next part of this story cannot be made up, people.

Get ready for the AHA moment

When I hit power to the TV, it was set to the travel channel or something like it and there was a show on called Going RV. There was a young couple on there talking about how their RV story traveling the country full-time. They were shopping for a newer, bigger model and ended up with a Winnebago. The couple looked familiar so I looked them up. It turns out they are the very RV-famous couple Heath and Alyssa Padgett! (If you don’t know of them, omg check out their site hereI watched the whole episode and a couple more before bed time.

Ed called and I told him how I was liking the camper. I said living in one would be totally fine. He sounded shocked and claimed I was being sarcastic. I told him no way! If we found the right one, we should do it. Pretty sure in a million years, Ed didn’t think we’d ever have a story about living in an RV.

I went to bed that night with butterflies in my stomach. I was going to do this. Ed and I were going to buy an RV, no doubt about it. It was so hard to sleep that night! I couldn’t wait to start shopping for our new RV home! It was a feeling I never had when I was searching online for homes, looking at them in person, or even when signing the documents for our (almost) home.

Another you-can’t-make-this-up moment of this RV story

The last stop before Alabama was Kentucky and Ed wanted to go to the Corvette Museum. He loves all things cars and he had obliged me the night before by letting us stay in downtown Cincinnati, so we headed to Bowling Green.

We had no plans on where to stay but saw a hotel right across the street from the museum and decided to check in. As we were walking to the museum, what did we see? I kid you not, an RV dealership RIGHT NEXT to the hotel.

We laughed like school children and went to check them out after dinner.

I’m pretty sure it was my first time inside an RV not sitting out on someone’s farm for the last decade so I was definitely impressed. I had no idea they were so modern and comfortable, and affordable (if you don’t have a mortgage or rent). If there was any doubt, it was gone.

Finally, we find the one

So we made it to Alabama and had to stay in a hotel while we found the right RV to start our story. There was a lot of back and forth.

Travel trailer, fifth wheel, Class A, C, new, used… We could not stop talking about it. We told everyone of our plans and most people thought it was a little crazy, but also very smart. Alabama has a great climate for full-time, stationary RVing and a quick drive down a state road will show you we aren’t the first ones with this idea.

After days spent at Camping World and other local dealers, we were going for a toddler-needs-a-nap drive and saw two rather large 5th wheels on the side of the road, parked outside a horse trailer dealership.

I went in one and Ed looked in the other. In just a minute, Ed came barging in the door. “Liz, I found the one!” I told him to wait and check this one out and he dismissed it and dragged me out the door. He hoisted me into the RV and…


See Ya! (inside ’cause this one’s mine baby!)

I instantly knew. Ed started laughing and showing me the rig like he was the one selling it. I said “Yeah, yeah, I love it! This is my favorite of all I’ve seen so far!” Again, we were giggling like kids as we scurried around looking at every nook and cranny.

“Wow I love this giant bed! Look at the double door fridge! Holy cow, these chairs are comfortable.” We were in heaven. We got down on our knees and prayed right there in the fifth wheel. We knew this was going to be our new home.

rv story
She’s big and beautiful.

Buying Dixie

It was a holiday, so it took a couple extra days to get the fifth wheel, but finally we got the paperwork going and were immediately accepted for a loan. We were stoked. We drove to the town we’d be living in and looked at the RV parks available. We ended up choosing the one closest to Ed’s work (less than 5 minute drive!) and with lots of shade and a huge laundry facility. Dixie was delivered just two days after picking out our spot and we could not have been happier!

Putting the license plate on our rv story
We’re legal!

We named our fifth wheel Dixie because we are living stationary in the Heart of Dixie, Alabama. It only seemed fitting.

Hope you enjoyed reading our RV story  and if it inspires you, let me know in the comments and then check out what Dixie looks like inside here. 

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33 thoughts on “Our RV Story: How We Ended up in a 5th Wheel Full-Time

  1. Love this blog, it’s exactly what I needed today! I’m 46 and over paying for a high price rental condo on the water and I’m over it. I, like you, always feel overwhelmed so I decided it was time to do something about it and for the past week I have been out shopping for an RV. I can’t get out of here fast enough!!!
    Buying seems to me to be the worst part of all. I have narrowed it down to a travel trailer, for my needs but there’s so many, how does one choose?
    I honestly wish I would have looked into doing this 10 to 20 years ago, I could have saved a fortune and still traveled…. Anyways, I put in my notice at my condo today and I’m taking the plunge and I’m so excited about it all!

    1. Kimber, you are my new hero! So glad you found my site. I got your email as well and woohoo! I can’t believe you took the plunge so quickly. Such an inspiration. I hope we can meet up and I can see your 5th wheel soon!

  2. I’ve been renting a stationary RV since July. It is perfectly sized and priced for myself and my two tiny dogs. But I don’t know enough about RVs. I try to read the manuals, joined some groups on social media, try to research… But stationary RV living is unique and I get overwhelmed in groups and confused.
    My biggest problem is a propane leak. Before having the park that I live in try to fix it again, I need some basic information and I want to understand what is connected to propane and why.
    Any suggestions for a book or YouTube channel or… any easy to understand guide to how my 5th wheel basically works?
    Thank you for publishing your experience online ??

  3. That’s so cool how you guys worked together so well and we’re basically both secretly wanting one for the longest time. Seems like it all happened for the right reason! Very cool story!

  4. What a great story! I have friends who are currently living aboard a sailboat–talk about small spaces! I envy people who can make this work.

  5. I loved reading about your peaceful AirBnB camper evening. So funny about turning on the TV to Heath and Alyssa Padgett and Going RV! That’s a little “woo-woo” there 😀

    1. Yeah it was crazy! I had heard of them before from googling RVs whenever my husband would mention it but when I saw them I was like “Oh yes! I am doing it!”

  6. Great story! It is amazing when you look back on how it all happened. It was kind of a crazy how it all just happened for us too. I love the way things just fit together and when the time is right, it just all works out. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. It seems like you were destined to live in an RV. As you got closer to finding Dixie, there were so many signs (coincidences) that made it so obvious. Congrats! I could feel your excitement while I was reading along! #blogginggenius

  8. I giggled so much reading this- I love how you told the story! It has me thinking (of course tons of questions, like, what do you do in tornado weather cuz I’m in the south too and uh, it is upon us!) but it seriously seems feasible and reasonable for a small family.

    1. Thank you for the compliment.
      As far as tornadoes go, it is interesting you brought that up… We have had several warnings the last couple weeks. We just track the weather carefully and if things start to get scary, move to the clubhouse. We live very close and it’s a strong building that is much safer. Last weekend (I think) we were in town and saw a warning right where we lived so we just pulled over and hung out in the car until it blew over.

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