In the past, every time I mentioned that my husband and I were full-time RVers but weren’t traveling around the country, we’d get confused looks. Most people equate living in an RV with either being digital nomads or retirees traveling from state to state. What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can live in an RV and actually maintain a more “traditional” life—you can still drive to your job every day, you can have a mailbox, and you can take weekend trips.
What Is Stationary RV Living?
Stationary RV living is the ability to stay or live in your RV, in one place, for an extended period of time. Typically, people who do stationary living will live at an RV park and pay a monthly “rent” for their space. Some stationary RVers don’t travel at all and treat their RV like a permanent home, while others will take their RV out for the occasional trip.
Now, you might be thinking that this goes against the whole point of RVing, but there are numerous advantages to this type of lifestyle…
How We Ended Up Stationary Living
In July 2016, my husband Will was offered a job with the San Francisco 49ers. We left Maryland, where we were living at the time, and moved to California. After spending a few months in our new state, we quickly realized that one of the best ways to explore it was by RV. So in February 2017, we purchased our first rig—an 18-foot Winnebago Winnie Drop.
Around this same time, the lease on our apartment was up for renewal. After crunching the numbers, we realized that our new lease was going to cost more than the mortgage on our house back in Maryland. So, we started thinking about some of the full-time RVers we had recently met and were curious if these travelers ever treated their RVs like permanent homes. After doing a ton of research, we learned that stationary RV living is both possible and pretty popular. We even found a nearby RV resort that offered spaces on a monthly basis. Pair that with the high cost of living in Northern California and our newfound love of RVing, we decided to officially begin our stationary journey.
We ended up doing stationary living for two years, in two different states, California and Michigan. During this time, we also upgraded to a much larger 38-foot Keystone Outback. Despite the many questions we got about how and why, transitioning to this type of lifestyle felt very natural and normal. Our day-to-day lives didn’t change much—we still drove to our jobs every day, we still had people over for dinner (the Outback even has an island!), and we still took weekend trips. Our only regret was that we didn’t start doing it sooner.
5 Stationary RV Living Tips and Advice
After doing stationary RV living in a few different places, with a few different rigs, we’ve learned some things about how to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible.
1. Choose Your RV and RV Park Carefully
There are a lot of factors to consider when searching for your home on wheels. A big one is the floor plan—be sure to choose a rig with a floor plan that fits your unique needs. Number of beds, kitchen size, room for entertaining, and storage space are just a few things to consider. For us, upgrading to a larger rig was ideal for stationary living because it not only gave us more physical space, but we didn’t feel like we were constantly crowding each other.
Next, when considering where to park your new home, always check the RV park’s amenities. What are your must-haves? In addition to the overall location and aesthetic of a park, consider things such as trash pickup, propane refills, a general store, a fitness center, and a laundry room. You may find that many RV parks are just like apartment complexes for RVers.
2. Remember to Factor in Utilities and Receiving Mail
Different RV parks will handle utilities and mail differently, so it’s important to ask about their policy on each. For example, the RV park in California charged us a flat fee every month for electricity and water. And we were unable to receive regular USPS mail at this particular park, but we could receive small FedEx and UPS packages at the park’s clubhouse. The RV park in Michigan, however, charged each individual site for electricity and water based on usage. This park also had individual mailboxes for each site, so it was extremely convenient to send and receive mail.
If mailing services are not an option at your preferred RV park, there are plenty of third-party services that can set up mail forwarding for you or get you a PO Box at a local post office. A few of the best third-party mail services are Good Sam Mail Service, Escapees, and Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA).
3. Learn How to Stay Connected
Most RV parks have WiFi but, in all honesty, it’s rarely a good, strong signal—especially if you want to stream entertainment or do video calls. There are WiFi boosters and antennas you can buy to help amplify the park’s WiFi, but we found that a portable hotspot device with unlimited data worked the best for us and gave us the strongest signal.
Many RV parks offer basic cable connections for local channels, but you won’t be able to get premium channels like HBO, ESPN, or TNT. For those channels, we decided to try AT&T Now, a cable app that works with your laptop, smartphone, or streaming device (Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast) and offers a wide range of channels, movies, and shows.
4. Stationary RV Cooking and Meals
Will and I love cooking, and we didn’t feel as if we had to compromise that while living in an RV. If you like to cook, one of the biggest advantages to stationary living is that you don’t have to worry about limiting the number of cooking gadgets you own. In addition to our RV’s indoor and outdoor kitchens, we also have a Blackstone grill, portable NexGrill, and Masterbuilt electric smoker. For most RVers, having to constantly set up and take down will deter them from bringing a lot of gear. But if you’re stationary, then as long as you have a place to store your items, you can have as many as you want. Some RV parks even offer storage rentals for an additional fee, so it’s almost like having a garage nearby.
5. Get to Know Your Neighbors
We have met some of our closest friends because of stationary RV living. When we lived in our apartment in California, we never even met our neighbors. But once we started RVing, we were constantly meeting new people—many of whom we still keep in touch with. Even if our neighbors were only staying for a weekend or a week, we would sit at each other’s rigs next to the fire, enjoy meals together, swap stories, and share RVing advice. During special holidays, many RV parks will put on community events or host potluck meals, which is another great way to meet everyone in the “neighborhood.” The sense of community at RV parks, and among the stationary RV world, is very, very strong.
Truthfully, Will and I never thought we’d embark on a stationary living journey—it’s not always what people expect, especially for RVers. But if you’re anything like us and want to hit the road, while still maintaining an affordable homebase, try it out. You might just fall in love with it.