This is the second in a series of RV Questions that we’ve received via contact form or from our Youtube channel, along with our answers. If you have a question about RVing or our life in general, please use our contact form here.
RV Question #1 from Notae
Hello! I stumbled upon you and your husband’s youtube channel and I’m super thankful that I may not have to go through this alone. Essentially, I am a college student currently 18, second year in, hoping to reduce living and educational expenses by moving into an RV. I was able to get one for a steal, but now all I am trying to secure is a place to stay. I don’t drive so this is really important that I can find a permanent like area for me to dwell in that’s inexpensive. Any suggestions? Oh, and some additional details that may be important, I currently live in Fairfax, Va in a student apartment at my university. Thank You
Rich Answers: I’m not very familiar with Virginia, however my process for finding a long-term RV park is the same pretty much everywhere.
I go to Google Maps, center it on my area, and then search for ‘RV Parks’ or ‘Campgrounds’. I discount RV Parks that have bad reviews – although it’s important to read the reviews as some people have surprisingly unrealistic expectations of what an RV Park should be. I’ve seen everything from people that expect a resort experience for $40/night to people that got angry because they were asked to turn down their music after 10pm!
At any rate, I focus on RV parks that have a website as nearly all of them list their monthly rates publicly. Many parks offer additional discounts if you plan to stay 3 or more months, so ask them about that as well. Depending on where you are monthly rates can be as low as $250 (in the south) to well over $1000 (along the coast) so it may or may not be cheaper than renting a room or small apartment. Keep in mind that almost all RV parks charge full-time residents for electricity usage, and make sure to check their rate, as some parks mark it up.
Your biggest challenge is that many parks in Virginia close for the winter. You’ll also want to check your RV to see if it’s winter worthy. It should have decent insulation (R-value, heated holding tanks, and preferably double-pane windows. If it doesn’t you’ll freeze – or your tanks will freeze and crack, or you’ll spend a small fortune on electricity/propane. You can add tank heaters and insulation if necessary and I’d recommend searching around on line for more information about that. We go south for the winter (like most full-timers) to avoid the cold. Good luck Notae!
Question #2 from Stephanie
Hi, love your site and your RV. I am single and don’t need much. I am considering living full time in an RV to save money to buy a better RV at retirement. However, I live in Oregon where it is rainy and this year snowy.
How difficult will it be to live in an RV full time in a rainy and sometimes snowy (every other year) location? Your answer means a lot, Thanks!
Rich Answers: Thanks for getting in touch. The challenge with snow/cold is that your holding tanks and water hose can freeze. In general it’s not difficult to keep the RV itself warm assuming you’re on full hookups (power/water/sewer) in a place that has a relatively mild winter like Oregon.
Our RV is really a 3 season model. We don’t have double pane windows and our holding tanks don’t have heaters, however they do make 4 season RVs with better insulation, heated holding tanks, etc… Of course those models are heavier and more expensive.
That said, we’ve been in weather in the 20s and have been fine. Camping World sells rolls of bubble Multi purpose foil that they advertise to protect you from heat/sun, but it’s also perfect for insulating your windows at night. I use velcro to hold them up.
They also have vent cushions to insulate your vents (all RVs have 14″ vents).
Finally you’ll want an electric space heater to keep you warm. My wife swears by her heating blanket and that’s a good option too. Most RVs have propane furnaces, but in my experience they’re not very efficient and use a lot of propane. You can experiment and see if you’re spending more on propane or electricity (space heater). Some parks don’t charge for power, so then a space heater is the way to go.
Back to your hose and tanks. The easiest way to insulate your hose is using pipe insulation from a hardware store like this stuff from Home Depot. It’s inexpensive and they come in 6ft lengths, so you’ll only need a couple. This will keep the hose from freezing at night as long as it’s getting above freezing during the day – or even if it only gets above freezing every few days.
If you’re really concerned about the cold, you also have the option of purchasing a Heated Drinking Water Hose. They’re expensive and need to be plugged in, but they work. Again, these probably aren’t necessary in Oregon, but might be if you’re up in the mountains (Cascades).
For the holding tanks you can install tank heaters (http://www.dyersonline.com/rv-plumbing/rv-holding-tanks/holding-tank-accessories/tank-and-pipe-heaters.html). These are only necessary if it’s going to be below freezing for several days.
In general it takes several days of below freezing temps before you have to worry about most of these things. Oregon usually doesn’t get that cold, so the short answer to your question is I don’t think it will be difficult at all. Montana or Minnesota on the other hand… 🙂
I hope this is helpful – let me know if you have any other questions, and good luck!
Keep your questions coming! If you’d like a question answered go to our contact page and ask. We usually respond to questions within 24 hours.
Until next time, happy trekking!