Adapting to life in the RV


We’ve now spent 6 nights in the RV and adapting hasn’t been all that difficult, however it sure has come with it’s challenges.

Location

When I purchased the motorohome, I asked our landlord if it was going to be ok to park it on the driveway whilst we spruce it up. As we don’t own a car, yet have access to a parking space, this wasn’t an issue. Our landlord, who is the nicest and most helpful person, went on to offer us this same space in which to keep the RV.

This was perfect as it gave us the opportunity to remain where we were without the need to re-locate. Ideal for the cat.

However, it does pose a couple of issues.

Sewage

The first challenge being that we are joinging another RV, who is currently utilising the one and only sewage drop. As the ‘black water’ tanks empty using gravity, the fact that it is about 55 feet away and slightly uphill doesn’t make for the ideal tank clean out operation.

As we are a motorhome and not a trailer, we at least have the option of starting her up and moving her around to get a better shot at the drop. This would be fine, if she starts, something I’m a little anxious about, but have some faith in.

Aside from that however, to move the motorhome involves disconnecting a tarp, the electric and the water hose, plus a 3 point turn similar to the one we all remember from Austin Powers.

I have been told about portable holding tanks called ‘Blue Boys’, that you can wheel under your holding tank to empty it and then wheel that over to the main sewage dump outlet. These range from $100 – $400, depending on size. As we are unsure about sticking around at this location, purchasing one of these may not be necessary at this stage. The other challenge here; is knowing the size of the holding tanks, something which is not in the manual. Emptying a 40 gallon tank into a 30 gallon blue boy, is not gonna be pretty. So we’re going to hold off this purchase at this stage.

Blue boy portable waste
Blue boy portable waste

I feel that the time to empty the sewage is fast approaching and this is somewhat unnerving. Perhaps I will update you on that in a future post.

Weather

We noticed that in our current location we only get about 1 hour of sunshine a day at around 9am and whilst we are not yet operting on solar power, being surrounded by beautiful trees does have the drawback of us remaining in the damp.

We do have a dehumidifier which helps a lot with this, but nevertheless, it would be so awesome to get some sun on the RV to dry it out and heat it up, on the odd occassion that it shines. This is defintely not the spot for experimenting with solar power and could be the deciding factor in an upcoming relocation.

LIfe Style

The second topic I wanted to touch on was the lifestyle. Certain things have changed after moving into an RV that range from how you cook, clean, sleep, wash and generally navigate your day.

Downsizing

Our move involved downsizing and between the two of us we’ve probably got rid of about 75% of our belongings. Some permanently and some to friends. Moving from 900 square feet to about 170 square feet means you have to carefuly think about what you need to take with you.

Despite our purge, we are finding that we may still have too many belongings. It’s going to be ’Purge Round 2’ pretty soon here!

Whilst I didn’t do this prior to moving, an idea I had was to buy a pad of green sticky circles and stick one on everything you use in the space of two weeks prior to moving out. At the time you move out, anything without a green circle on it, then gets passed on or stored. Usually an item in storage is an item destined for the trash, so if you’re going to downsize save yourself the hassle later and ditch it now!

Showering

Showering isn’t as much fun in an RV as it is in a luxurious house. We are limited to a 6 gallon tank of hot water and a rather cramped space. This means you take showers less often or even seize the opportunity at a friend’s house to have a more spacious and lengthy shower. Showering in the RV also creates a lot more moisture, something you want to keep down.

We currently own what appears to be a late 90’s dehumidifier that makes a lot of noise and is way too large for our space. A little research has introduced me to the Eva-Dry brand of dehumidifiers, that are supposed to be better for you and a lot more quiet.

I have just ordered some of these Dehumidifier products. The 2200 measures the right size to slot under the table when it’s set in it’s bed configuration so it can hide away nicely. And the smaller units simply soak up the moisture, so we will place one in the bathroom and one in the bedroom area. 

Eva dry 2200
Eva dry 2200

They use silica gel instead of the toxic pellets that some of the others use. We ordered a powered one for the main grunt of the work and then a couple of smaller ‘refreshable’ ones for the bedroom area and the bathroom. I will report back soon on how these little fellas do. The reviews all seem rather positive, so let’s hope they’re right.

Rain

As I write this, the rainforest is fullfilling it’s description, it’s raining! This emphasizes the importance of a porch area outside the front door and somewhere to hang your wet jackets.

As we travel everywhere by bicycle, we get very wet and use the fisherman style rain gear. This is the non-breathable rubber stuff that simply allows the water to run off. Bringing that stuff inside is a no-no, as in no time at all you’re floors will turn into a pool of water.

Whilst the RV does have an awning there are a couple of reasons as to why we aren’t using it.

  • We are very close to some trees and so are unable to extend it out
  • It makes the place very dark inside reducing natural light
  • If storms pick up over the winter it could rip off the side of the motorhome, or according to some, tip your RV right over. (I doubt this would happen in a motorhome as the engine is pretty heavy. But perhaps in a small lightweight trailer.)

So for a porch we have used a clear plastic tarp. Unfortuntely the tension on it has pulled the tarp a little bit away from the side of the RV and so I need to make sme adjustments.

I am told that getting a larger tarp that covers the entire roof of the trailer is a worthwhile investment. Weighting it down on one side with either a bucket of stones, or plastic milk jugs filled with water and then leading the other side up and out over the door side into the trees.

This set up will cause the water to run off the side of the trailer, protecting not only the area by your door, but also the roof, reducing the chance of leaks.

Using upturned plastic storage boxes over your skylights will give the tarp some clearance from your skylights and roof, whilst still allowing you to open your skylights with ease. This is not yet something I have done as I haven’t had the time and I am not sure if we are staying in this location.

Once I’ve got this set up, I want to experiment with the possibility of a water catchment system that runs directly into the holding tank (via a filter obviously). Hopefuly more on that in the future.

(Update: As I was writing this I noticed a leak in the RV. An urgent search uncovered a leak around the overhead extractor fan for the oven and in the left seem of the roof. I had to run into town and by a tarp that would cover the entire RV. It appears that water pooling on the roof was slowly seeping in.

The tarp has made a huge difference to the temperature inside and it feels a lot more cosier and knowing that we are protected from the heavy rains here is much more comforting.)

Water

We have the luxury of connecting to a mains water supply and so I purchased a regulator, to make sure that the water pressure isn’t too powerful for the RV fittings. The last thing you want is a burst pipe of join inside the RV.

You are also able to buy specific drinking water hoses that are usually white and blue to help you differentiate between what is safe to drink and what is not.

I would also recommend a water filter. We have used a Berkey Filter for the last year for all our drinking water, however I am also going to look into different inline water filters, as I want to remove the plastic taste from the water without having to pour it into the berkey.

Internet

We have no internet here in the trailer. Whilst there is an option of sharing with a nearby tenant, I’ve decided to test my fortitude and go on an internet detox of sorts. I am typing this into ‘iA Writer’ software and will upload it the next time I am at a place with free internet.

Not having internet has so far been excellent. I have played the guitar, read books and decompressed. It has been a lot more grounding and life feels a lot more real. I have been able to focus on maintaining the RV and trying to make small improvements to our immediate surroundings rather than being obsessed with the larger viewpoint of worldwide news or other nonsense. It is sometimes difficult when you want to research something, such as ‘how to insulate an RV’, but it is simply a reminder that things will unfold organically and the pace of life becomes a little slower.

Space

Having your personal space reduced can be a challenge. This challenge is magnified by the pressures of everything else I mention above. This can put strain on your relationship with your partner, but also the relationship to yourself. If you are able to witness yourself and the other in this dynamic, it is possible to learn and grow.

Asking yourself what you need in this moment? Asking what the other needs and being able to provide that where possible will help in the transition. Remind yourselves why you made this move and re-affirm your goals.

Our aim is to grow towards an off grid way of life, to own land or be apart of a landshare and live in harmony with nature and in community with like minded people. To transition from the current way of life that is considered ‘the norm’, is going to take some work, like a catapillar transforming into a butterfly, it’s a struggle, but a worthwhile one. From crawling to flying, the transformation is powerful.

Stay tuned for more updates as they unfold.

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