If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering which RV is the best RV to live in full-time. Maybe you’re researching ahead of buying an RV and are overwhelmed with the sheer number of options out there: diesel-pusher motorhomes, nimble Class B vans, homey fifth wheels, or bunkhouse travel trailers. Which one is the best?
We’re sorry to tell you that there is no universal, one-size-fits-all RV that will meet your every full-time RVing need. However, this article will help you sort through the fray of RV options so you can determine the best RV to live in full-time for YOU!
What Type of RV Is Best for Full-Time Living?
Of course, there are several fundamental types of RVs to choose from, but what’s more important are the features. There are features they all have in common and features that are different.
By thinking about the features rather than the type of RV, you can start to think objectively about what you need and filter out RV types that don’t fit the bill.
RVs differ in tank sizes, layouts, length, and whether or not they have slide-outs. As we walk through the 7 Full-Time RV Living Questions below, notice how your answers will reveal the criteria you want for your full-time RV.
7 Questions for Determining the Best RV to Live in Full-Time
To figure out the best RV to live in full time for YOU, start by answering these 7 questions:
1. Towable or Drivable?
All RV types can be broken down into these two categories: towable RVs or drivable RVs.
Towable RVs include travel trailers, fifth wheels, truck campers, and any other RV that requires a tow vehicle. Drivable RVs include all motorhomes, vans, and offroad RVs that have their own drivetrain but do not separate from the living space of the RV.
Ruling out one or the other category can greatly reduce the number of RVs you’re evaluating. Consider the following:
Driving & Parking Comfort Level
When you use a towable RV, your primary vehicle usually becomes a large truck. Drivable RVs, while usually bigger, typically tow a smaller toad vehicle for driving around town and exploring.
Also, consider how much towing experience you have – particularly in the backing up and parking department. Both types have a learning curve if you’re not familiar with RVing. But one may stand out to you as being more or less comfortable.
Work Involved With Hooking Up
Drivable RVs are typically much easier to get ready on travel day. Towables involve backing up your truck and hooking up to the bumper or in the bed of the truck. You will need to be able to bend and reach to maneuver parts of the RV every time you arrive or leave.
Maintenance on Another Engine
Drivable RVs are one more engine and drivetrain to maintain in addition to your other vehicles. Any work that needs to be done on them typically needs to go to an RV-specific service shop and get specialty parts.
With towable RVs, your primary vehicle engine is usually serviceable at almost any auto mechanic or you can do it yourself with standard parts from common auto parts stores.
2. How Much Stuff Do I Need to Bring?
The next thing you need to understand is the amount of stuff you’re bringing with you. You can’t move everything in your house into an RV because they are weight constrained. Every RV has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This is the maximum weight your RV can be with all the stuff inside it.
Many RVs have very little cargo-carrying capacity after you fill your freshwater tank, leaving little room for RV life essentials and other possessions.
If you plan to live in an RV full-time, you need to choose an RV based on how much cargo it can carry without going overweight. We learned about this the hard way and ended up having to switch RVs before we hit the road.
IMPORTANT: If you have a towable RV, you also need to know what your tow vehicle GVWR is. This is the combined weight your truck can handle, and many RV dealers will sell you an RV that is too big to safely tow with your truck.
Learn more about Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings here.
3. How Many People Are Coming With Me?
The number of beds and the amount of living space required will differ depending on your family size.
A solo traveler will typically need less space than a family of 5. However, we do know families that travel full-time in Sprinter vans, and solo travelers that have 40 foot Class A motorhomes! Regardless, this is something to consider to make sure everyone joining you on your full-time RV journey is taken care of.
Some RV manufacturers have floorplans with bunkhouse. We’ve rounded up the best fifth wheel bunkhouse models and bunkhouse travel trailers for RVing with a family.
4. What’s My Travel Style?
Your travel style is a combination of three things: frequency of movement, duration of stay, and driving style.
Frequency of Movement
Are you moving every other day? Every week? Once a month? For frequent travelers, drivable RVs tend to be easier versus hitching up so often.
Smaller RVs also tend to make frequent travel easy as you don’t have to deal with size challenges in the places you stay. If you’re settling in for a while, a larger RV is nice to spread out in.
Duration of Stays
Are you staying put for longer time frames? If so, then the best RV to live in full-time will likely focus on comfort and space.
Tip: If you are planning to live on your own piece of property, you’ll want to make sure if it is legal to live in your camper there.
Your driving style includes the distance you travel each day, the speed you like to drive, and how many stops you like to make. Drivable RVs make shortstops easy as you don’t even have to get out of the vehicle to access the kitchen and bathroom.
5. Where Do I Want to Go?
The destinations you want to visit will also factor into your full-time RV choice. There are some size restrictions on National Park and National Forest campgrounds. Cities tend to be tough to visit if you have to park a gigantic tow truck downtown, so having a smaller toad vehicle behind your Class A will make getting around much easier at your destination.
If you’re looking to get out in nature, you’re going to want to have something off-road capable with clearance. Many tow trucks can get towable trailers out onto BLM land, just be considerate of the weight of your vehicle and how rough the road is. Truck campers are also a great option for exploring remote areas.
Be sure to think about the temperatures and climates you’ll be encountering. Four-season camper capability for cold weather camping and double pane windows are two common criteria people look for when finding their full-time RV.
Finally, be aware of the terrain you’ll be driving in. If you’re planning on spending lots of time in the mountains, diesel motorhomes and trucks perform much better on steep grades than gas vehicles do.
6. Will I Be Staying at Campgrounds or Boondocking?
With all RVs, you have to manage your resources: water, electricity, and sewer. If you plan on going from campground to campground, you really shouldn’t have any issues with resources.
Campgrounds vary in their hookup situations, though. Some have full hookups right at the site, while others may only offer electricity and a dump station. Some campgrounds, like in National Parks or National Forests, may not have any hookups at all.
If you are going to be camping in dry campgrounds or boondocking, you’re going to want to consider your RV’s tank sizes. The larger your freshwater, grey, and black tanks, the longer you’ll be able to go in between fills and dumps.
Pro Tip: The RV gray water tank is usually the one that fills the fastest and is the limiting factor.
On our RV, we specifically looked for large tank sizes because we knew we wanted to do a lot of camping without hookups. Our fresh tank holds 100 gallons, our grey holds 75 gallons, and our black tanks held 50 gallons.
7. What Will Be My Primary Activities While Full-Time RV Living?
Finally, think about your main objectives for going full-time in your RV. Are you retired and looking to meet up with friends and do a lot of socializing? (If so, you might want to check out these front kitchen fifth wheels.)
Are you looking for adventure and want to explore as much as you can? Do you enjoy the outdoor camping lifestyle, sitting by the campfire, and grilling? Do you have hobbies that would require indoor space or outdoor storage?
You’re going to want to think of what you’ll be doing 90% of the time. Don’t plan for visitors if you think you’ll get 1 or 2 per year. Don’t get the tricked-out adventure van if you’re going to sit in an RV resort for 11 months of the year.
8. What Is My RV Budget?
Last but not least, you’re going to want to figure out your budget for your RV. If your dream RV makes it so you’re struggling to make payments every month and stressing about money, then that probably wasn’t the right choice – even if the interior and features suit your taste. Again, this number is going to be unique to you and your circumstances.
If you’re trying to figure out what your budget is for RV shopping, you should probably start with figuring out how much it will cost you to live full-time in an RV.
The answers to these questions will shed light on the best RV for you to live in full-time.
What’s the Best RV to Live in Full-Time For YOU?
We hope this exercise brought you some clarity around what you want in your full-time RV. There is obviously a lot more to consider before making your purchase, and we encourage you to continue your research.
RV Buyers Bootcamp is one way to continue your education. It is an online course we co-created with Getaway Couple and Drivin’ & Vibin to help prospective RV buyers make the right choice and guide them through the buying process. It’ll even help you stay within your budget with tips on when, where, and how to buy, and figure out financing options.
We would love to hear about your journey to find the best RV to live in full-time. Let us know in the comments which RV you think is best for you or which one you already chose!
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Saturday 26th of December 2020
DW and I have settled on an Outdoors RV 25 RDS Titanium model. It not only has all the features mentioned above, but it's also off road capable (with an appropriate ¾ ton TV) and easily modifiable to make it even better! We're unsure whether we'll get a Ford F-250 or a RAM 2500 HD as both have plusses and minuses to consider. While I like the RAM's air ride suspension, I also like the beefier suspension on the F-250. Seeing as you have a RAM, what are your thoughts on a TV like yours? Thanks for producing such great material for the FT RV lifestyle!
Mortons on the Move
Tuesday 29th of December 2020
We like our Dodge RAM as a tow vehicle and it has worked well for us. Although, we have made some upgrades to the truck along the way. If you want to see our truck specs and read more about the upgrades, all that information can be found here: https://www.mortonsonthemove.com/how-we-chose-our-rv-our-home-on-wheels/
Friday 4th of December 2020
Like your article. We have been planning for a few months now. Picked up some thoughtful ideas from your articles.
Mortons on the Move
Friday 4th of December 2020
Thank you and good luck with your planning! :)