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Topic Winter vs RV
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Winter vs RV
Total Views: 3396 - Total Replies: 12
May 21 2011, 3:05 pm - By zoemorn

Well, just from reading between the lines of various forum threads, and some out right blatant comments about the subject, I'm getting a little bummed about my family's dreaming of RV living. Been researching much on the subject of fulltiming, with a family, either 'on the road' or long term staying in a particular region.
In the case of 'on the road' you can usually just snowbird, i.e. run away from the undesirable climate changes (unless you're shackled to a work position, workamping etc). But in the other scenario, if your region to live in does go through winter snow/ice seasons, is the RV dream dead at that point?
Our scenarios for regional living has included bouncing between a few RV parks or purchasing a little land or even a repo'd small home on a little land (perhaps even a mobile with land) so that we can then set it up for our RV, maybe create a shelter structure/garage to help shield it from Jack Frost.
Anyone you know or heard of doing this, how do-able is it? Will it just suck entirely and should be a no-go option. Should we just rent an apt in the winter and store the RV?
thanks for advice and anything you've seen or heard on the topic. Oh, and I'm also interested in opinions about the "polar" packages you see on some units, claiming to provide better insulation etc. Would those packages make a unit livable throughout winter?

zoemorn.blogspot.com - don't you dare!  B)
LiveWorkDream Fulltime RVing Blog
May 21 2011, 5:48 pm - Replied by: LiveWorkDream

Hmmm, not sure what lines you're reading, but most of us here live in our RVs during winter. But yes, we do run from the cold. Living in a RV when it's snowing and cold out SUCKS (and we have a 4-season, well-insulated one, and it's still not enough).

The beauty of living in a RV is that you can move whenever you want, if your work permits it. There are TONS of families living this lifestyle, and working on the road (in fact, the founders of Escapees, lived on the road with their kids for many years).

Do check out Families on the Road, it's a good place to start if you plan on doing this with kids.

Working and Living Our Dream Life
May 21 2011, 7:15 pm - Replied by: zoemorn

Right, the key factor is income and where it comes from. On the road income sources seem fairly challenging to come by, especially taking health insurance into consideration.

So realistically, seems to put getting a traditional job, or maybe one that can accommodate RV traveling to onsite work.  Sure on the roading would be great, I'm just having a hard time figuring out where the money to support my family on the road is gonna come from. but thats a different thread.  :)
I appreciate your comment though, coming from an owner of one of the 4 season type units.  So in your experience is it just that you can't keep the living spaces warm enough or is it dealing with the cold issues on the exterior, with the hookups etc?

zoemorn.blogspot.com - don't you dare!  B)
May 21 2011, 8:48 pm - Replied by: Technomadia

Our little Oliver Travel Trailer was also designed to be pretty winter livable (it was a double hull construction).  We did a winter in it during zero to single digit temperatures, and it was a challenge.  We did end up with our outdoor shower faucet handle bursting from freezing (our fault for not winterizing it.)

Some of the other challenges were keeping on top of the water hook-ups - we didn't go to the effort of heating the water pipe coming in (which some folks do with special electrical heat tape), so we had to disconnect most of the time and hope the weather warmed up enough to fill our tank when needed.   We then ran into the complication that the campground's showers were closed for a few days due to freezing - so our bathroom options in general became really limited for a bit. 

If we were to have done it again, we would have looked into marine compartment heaters to install between the hulls, as the biggest challenge was keeping the water pipes from freezing.  

That said, plenty of folks spend winter in RVs.  Just travel through any northern RV Park that is open year round and you'll see RVs that have had skirts built around the bottom to help keep the cold out.   We had some friends that spent a winter in CO in the RV while waiting for their house to be build - and that's what they did.   It may not be the most fun you'll ever have.. but if you gotta do it, it's not completely impossible. 

That said..  we opted this past winter to park the RV and move temporarily to the US Virgin Islands :)  So nothing wrong at all with winterizing the RV and finding more comfortable digs for the winter.

 - Cherie

PS. As far as income on the road... all depends on your skill sets, interests and desires.   So many folks have embarked on unique and interesting income sources while traveling, that I truly believe that most everyone has the capacity to earn a mobile income if they're creative and dedicated enough. It's all about making this lifestyle a priority and basing all your decisions around it. 

Cherie and Chris / Technomads / www.technomadia.com
1961 GM 4106 - Vintage Bus
On the road since 2006 

May 22 2011, 7:04 pm - Replied by: zoemorn

thanks very much for your thorough reply, hitting the nail of what i hoped for in a response.
I've seen the year round RV parks and did wonder, do they really get business in the winter.

On the income situation, my optimistic side agrees with ya, and the challenge intrigues me, guess its just the instability factor that scares me out of just jumping right in, ha! With two kids to support, its a scary notion, but I've not given up the idea yet. We really want to be able to do something like that so that I can be more a part of the family than just the few hrs in the evening each night after work. thanks again for your advice and encouragement.

zoemorn.blogspot.com - don't you dare!  B)
May 22 2011, 8:38 pm - Replied by: hitek_homeless

If you get lucky enough to find a park with electricity included in your monthly rate, it is completely doable. You will probably need to invest in several ceramic heaters depending on the temperatures and space you're heating.

As Cherie mentioned, keeping your water thawed is the toughest bit. If you figure out how to heat your tanks enough to keep them thawed as well as your hoses, you're halfway there.

Our last cold weather winter, I gave up on the heat tape and insulation after a couple of frosts. After that, I would just go fill the tank when it got low, then disconnect and drain the hose.  If you keep the water and waste hoses empty, there is no chance of them freezing up, just a bit more inconvenient as you have to go refill your tanks periodically.

We haven't had any issues with tanks freezing, but we do have to run a lightbulb into our plumbing compartment in order to keep the pipes from freezing up and cracking. That area is not terribly well insulated.

Now if you have to pay for electricity or do this all with propane.... it can get pricey!

Lots of folks live in RV's full time in cold areas. A couple years back, I watched our neighbor trying to thaw his rig out from underneath with an acetelyne torch! Not recommended. ;)

A couple of 30-sometings on an ultimate adventure.
May 24 2011, 4:01 pm - Replied by: LiveWorkDream

Don't give up on your dream of doing this with your family. There are many who do it successfully and although nobody I know has gotten rich financially, they're all happier because of their decision to follow their hearts. If the founders of Escapees could do it with four kids before cell phones and Internet, so can you!

As for staying warm....our rig is well insulated but it can still get cold, mostly because I'm too cheap to burn propane all day. I want a catalytic heater though, which is supposed to be the cats pajammas and really save on the propane costs while keeping your toes warm.

The only time our pipes froze was when we forgot to leave the faucets open at night and we woke up with a big icicle dripping out of our kitchen faucet. We never stay hooked up in freezing weather, not worth the hassle, so we always keep the water tanks full. Otherwise we haven't had any problems with severe cold.

Working and Living Our Dream Life
May 25 2011, 6:27 pm - Replied by: zoemorn

So, if I understand you all correctly, if you're at a park with power (i.e. not a winter crisis thats killed power) then you can probably maintain comfort and keep critical areas thawed, simply by using electricity. Of course being in a park where power is included is more budget friendly, but if you're in a house then you're used to paying for electricity right? So that idea doesn't bother me much, unless the cost is heightened either by pricing per kw or because of usage and inefficiency of insulation etc. I've not heard anyone speak as to pricing for electricity at parks being exorbitant so i'm assuming that it is comparable to what you'd pay on your avg electric bill, correct me if thats an incorrect assumption.
If shore power is lost (or boondocking without solar or even with solar), obviously you'd be needing to use fossil fuels in the form of propane, oil or such.
One worry my wife and I have had is if all the 'little things' to learn about RV life is worth the hassle. Now, I think the answer to the question is a resounding YES, IF you are doing the on the road traveling all over lifestyle.  But if we instead, do more of a park it longterm lifestyle (homebase + traditional non-mobile job), only traveling with it occasionally, maybe on weekends, then it becomes a little more counterbalanced towards the "i dont know if it is" worth it. I need to see if i can find others that are doing that to see what their perspective is. I've only spoken to one such family, on a different forum, that does that  - and they seemed fine with it, but theyre also in a warmer climate (texas).

zoemorn.blogspot.com - don't you dare!  B)
May 27 2011, 5:46 pm - Replied by: LiveWorkDream

Costs for park power can vary wildly. We've paid as much as $60 a month and as little as $15, it all depends on the weather, where you are and how much the park charges. We just try to stay away from parks in general when we dont' need to be in one to save money (as a consequence though we've invested in a solar system so we could dry camp, which was expensive but did pay for itself).

Fulltime RVing is a constant learning experience, there is never a point when you know all there is to know. If you ever get cocky that way, something will go BLAMMO! and sock you in the face to remind you that you aren't ever really in charge. We've been doing it 4 years and we still learn something everytime those wheels turn.

If you're at all hesitant about whether or not it's worthwhile, start small and only do it during vacations.

Working and Living Our Dream Life
Jun 08 2011, 6:29 am - Replied by: hitek_homeless

LiveWorkDream wrote:

start small

That is such good advice. If we could do it over, we would have bought a smaller and used, not new, rig. There are somethings you can't learn from others. The general consensus is to buy big and that was what we thought we needed... well a big, small rig. We ended up getting a new, extra large truck camper.

After almost four years of living in an RV fulltime, our needs and desires have changed. Or, perhaps they have just come to the surface. While we love our home, we feel a little sheepish about spending so much on more than we really need or desire.

Wow... that got off topic.
A couple of 30-sometings on an ultimate adventure.
Apr 20 2012, 1:24 pm - Replied by: wandrly

We lived through a Colorado winter in our Volkswagen Bus (well, October through December). It was definitely cold, cold, cold but though it can dump feet at a time worth of snow, the sky is always blue.

If you live somewhere that you get winter already, I don't see the difference between doing it in an RV vs. a house. Just make sure you have heat, know how to put on a jacket and hat, and if you start to get miserable because of the cold, just pitch a snowball at someone, the ensuing good times should be sure to take your mind off of things until you can get the Baileys and coffee warmed up. 

Wand'rly Magazine
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