Who says you must road trip across the country to make proper use of your RV? Many RVers, especially full-timers, park their RV in one place throughout the year. Others choose a new destination each season, moving their RV and then keeping it stationary for three to five months at a time.
In this guide to stationary RV living for beginners, we discuss why a more permanent setup might be right for you, how to choose an RV for stationary living, and what you’ll need to prepare. Let’s get started!
Is Stationary RV Living Right For You?
Nothing says that living in an RV requires embracing a mobile lifestyle. While many people buy an RV to explore more of their domestic territory, and full-time RVers often move around regularly, there’s no RV time limit for any given destination.
Stationary living means parking your RV in one place and remaining there for most of the year. It’s logical if you have a property available with utilities to park your RV free of any additional charges. And some RV parks cater to this type of camping, offering discounted rates for monthly site rentals.
Stationary RV living can be a budget-friendly option for many people, but there’s much to consider before you jump. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What’s your location? Locations with favorable winter weather are usually best for stationary RV living. However, there are methods to protect your RV’s critical systems if you live full-time in a cold destination.
- Does it fit your budget? Are the combined expenses of an RV payment, insurance, and site rental still less than the average price of a home or apartment rental near you?
- Are you open to work camping? Unique job opportunities for RV owners can allow you to dramatically reduce the cost of a monthly site rental in exchange for part-time duties.
- Can you embrace a minimalist lifestyle? Like living in a tiny home, stationary RV living requires creative storage solutions to fit all your stuff and keep the space livable.
- What’s your employment status? Stationary RV living is convenient for remote workers or those who follow contract opportunities around the country. You can easily pick up, move to a new location, and remain stationary there until your contract is complete.
How To Choose an RV For Stationary RV Living
Some RVs are better suited for stationary living than others. Consider the following factors.
Where you park your RV matters for stationary RV living. Most RVs perform fine in warmer climates. But if your location experiences four seasons, you must choose a more durable model built for extreme temperatures and inclement weather.
Examples of features you’ll need for four-season RV living include:
- Heated holding tanks
- Heated and enclosed underbelly
- Thicker walls and roof
- Upgraded insulation
- Slide-out toppers (if applicable)
- Advanced heating systems
- Specialized tires
Ultimately, the RV manufacturer is your best resource to ask about the four-season capability of specific makes and models.
Many full-time RVers believe in the following moniker: the bigger, the better. For stationary living, this is especially true. You’ll need enough interior living space to stay comfortable throughout the year. That means space to retreat into in bad weather. It means space for indoor activities if you have kids. It means storage for all your belongings.
Because you won’t move your RV frequently, there’s less concern about a factor like fuel economy that decreases as RV size increases. You can opt for a larger model that prioritizes interior living space over design elements, such as one of the best luxury destination trailers.
Towable versus Motorized
We’ve documented the pros and cons of towable campers versus motorhomes in the past. Many of those considerations apply here. But what’s unique to stationary RV living is figuring out your “usable living space.”
Let’s say you’re comparing a 34-foot fifth wheel to a 34-foot motorhome. The fifth wheel will always have more interior living space because the motorhome’s cab isn’t really “usable” space once you’re stationary.
The cockpit chairs might spin around and provide secondary seating (in a class A RV). And yes, maybe your furry companions love sunbathing on the dash during the day. But you’ll likely need to compare a slightly larger motorhome to a towable camper if you want a certain amount of interior square footage.
For those interested in towable campers, you’ll also need to find the best vehicle for towing a camper. Your vehicle’s towing capacity plays a major role in limiting the campers you can safely tow. Use our towing guide to calculate your current vehicle’s towing capacity and decide if you need to upgrade to tow your ideal RV for stationary living.
Additionally, factor in your comfort level with driving a towable camper versus a motorhome, not to mention pondering whether to tow a secondary vehicle behind the motorhome if it’s capable.
Here are a few more resources we recommend to guide your decision:
- How To Safely Tow a Travel Trailer
- How To Tow a Fifth Wheel
- Camping World’s Complete Guide to Dinghy Towing
Stationary RV living looks much different for families with kids than it does for couples or solo travelers. Factor in how many comfortable sleeping spaces you’ll need for everyone. And, for full-time stationary living, we recommend against relying on convertible dinettes or sleeper sofas as permanent sleeping options for anyone.
Anything you convert daily from a sleeping space to a lounging space becomes a nuisance for full-time stationary living. That’s why bunkhouse floorplans are so attractive for full-time families. The parents have a dedicated (and hopefully private) sleeping area, and the kids have their own comfortable bunks. Better yet, opt for a floorplan with double-over-double bunks so the kids can grow without feeling cramped.
A bunkhouse can feel like wasted space for couples and solo travelers unless you convert the bunks for storage when not hosting guests. Unless you plan on your family expanding in the immediate future, prioritize floorplans that make better use of the space that others reserve for bunks.
RVs with residential features and amenities perform better in semi-permanent scenarios. That means a larger refrigerator, a substantial pantry, a range with an oven and multiple burners, and plenty of counterspace for meal prep.
An outdoor kitchen is a handy feature, but if you live in your RV year-round, you won’t want to rely on it. You need a functional kitchen space that doesn’t limit your meals or make you feel cramped while cooking.
Beyond that, consider your RV’s bathroom(s) and shower. Many RVers don’t prioritize the size of their bathroom and shower because they don’t mind using campground facilities on the handful of trips they take each year. But for stationary RV living, you better have a spacious bathroom and a skylight in the shower so everyone can stand up inside comfortably.
Remember, there’s no substitute for seeing RV floorplans in person. Once you have your list of must-haves and would-be-nice features, head into your local Camping World to tour RVs that meet those criteria.
Tips for Full-Time Stationary RV Living for Beginners
Use these tips for stationary RV living for beginners to stay clean, organized, and comfortable year-round.
Maximize Your Storage Space
If you move all your belongings from a residence into an RV, space is at a premium. Fortunately, many creative solutions help you pack efficiently and retain easy access to gear when needed.
For an RV with pass-through storage compartments (or even deep compartments), consider installing a MORryde sliding tray. This will save you tons of time and energy loading and unloading everything from a given compartment to find what you need at that moment.
If you’re struggling to fit everything, a solution like this Lippert Underchassis Storage Container might work. Just consult your RV’s manufacturer before purchasing and installing something like this, as improper installation may void any existing warranties.
Know How To Get Mail
Mail service can be challenging when you don’t have a physical address. Many full-time stationary RVers set up a PO box at their local postal branch, but that’s really only an option if your stay lasts longer than six months. For shorter durations, you may need to prioritize campgrounds that allow you to send mail to their office or, better yet, directly to your campsite.
This is an important question to ask when picking where to park your stationary RV.
Improve Your Connectivity
Cellular signal and Wi-Fi signal strength should be important factors you consider when choosing an RV park or campground for stationary RV living. However, you can always have other methods for improving connectivity at your disposal if a park meets all of your other criteria.
Examples include Wi-Fi routers and antennas, cellular signal boosters, Wi-Fi range extenders, Starlink internet, Wi-Fi hotspots, and more. Signal boosters and range extenders rely on an existing cellular network or internet provider to increase and amplify that signal.
Routers/antennas, hotspots, and Starlink can be used as standalone options, independent of whatever internet service your campground provides. Here are a few more resources to help you learn about your options in this category:
- Everything You Need to Know About Cell Signal Boosters
- Do You Need an RV Wi-Fi Hotspot?
- Everything You Need to Know About Starlink Internet for RVers
Prepare Adequately for the Winter
If you head south and find a recommended snowbird destination for stationary RV living, your life will be much easier when winter rolls around. For everyone else, staying comfortable and protecting your RV’s vital systems requires strategic preparation.
Some of the items to consider when preparing your RV for winter include:
- Installing an RV skirt to improve insulation and remove potential access points for critters looking for a warm place to hibernate.
- Setting up a heated potable water hose to prevent freezing temperatures from damaging your RV’s water systems.
- Using a propane refill service to keep your containers topped off so your furnace, cooktop, and other propane appliances can keep running.
- Installing slide-out toppers (if not already equipped) to reduce the potential for slide-out damage from moisture or falling debris.
- Managing moisture with a dehumidifier to prevent the accumulation of mold or mildew.
- Supplementing your RV’s heating systems with a portable space heater rated for RV use.
Stay On Top of Monthly RV Maintenance
Just because you aren’t driving your RV doesn’t mean regular maintenance isn’t required. For example, the engine in your motorhome is meant to be exercised regularly. Sitting idle can cause different issues than overuse, but it should still be avoided.
Here are a few examples of monthly maintenance to consider:
There are many variations of full-time RVing. Here are more beginner-friendly resources to help you explore the right style for you:
- How To Live in an RV Full-Time to Save on City Living
- Essential Camping Gear According to Full-Time RVers
- A Quick Guide to Work Camping
What questions do you have about living in one place in an RV? Let us know in the comments below.