5 Ways to Downsize Your Home for Full-Time RVing

Last updated on August 28th, 2021 at 10:17 am. Originally published on January 7th, 2017

If you’ve decided to live the full-time RV lifestyle, congratulations! Full-time RVing is a fantastic way to minimize the clutter of your settled existence and to explore new destinations without having to take a “vacation” – provided that you have the ability to work remotely or have the financial resources necessary to sustain the lifestyle, of course.

As a full-time RVer, your first significant challenge is going to be identifying all the items you really need and care about from your home, condominium, or apartment, and cramming them into a much smaller space (the largest RVs are designed for a maximum of 400 sq. ft.). Making value judgments about your household items is perhaps the most difficult aspect of downsizing into an RV. Most of us have come to believe that certain items are necessary to the normal functioning of our lives, but with careful consideration, you’ll hopefully be able to downsize in a way that feels just right.

So, what can you do to better downsize your life into an RV? Consider the following.

Digitize Redundant Paperwork

Oftentimes, a lot of household space is taken up by various documents, stationary, bills, receipts, and other paperwork. Rather than piling your accumulated paperwork into boxes and cramming them into your RV, consider: 1) separating your existing paperwork into different categories according to importance, and 2) digitizing the paperwork you need to bring with you in the RV.

full-time RVing

Though digitization is a generally good policy when moving to a full-time RV lifestyle, do keep in mind that for certain critical documents (i.e., business documentation, marriage documentation, etc.), you should preserve the original paper documents for safe-keeping. For further insurance, you should consider saving the digital scans of your paperwork on multiple hard drives or on a Cloud file storage platform.

Carefully Assess Clothing Needs

Clothing is perhaps the most difficult to downsize into your RV when transitioning to a full-time RV lifestyle. The primary concern for many full-time RVers is that they remain versatile and ready for a variety of weather situations – and this is a perfectly fair concern. Inclement weather is not only unpredictable or unavoidable in some circumstances, but most people who become full-time RVers are interested in traveling to different destinations throughout the year. A full-time RVer will encounter a variety of weather conditions. 

Given that you’ll likely require a variety of clothes to suit warm, cold, and rainy weather, and everything in-between, you may find it challenging to squeeze all the right outfits for your full-time journey.

There are a few ways you can manage this problem. First, unless you’re a traveling salesman or will be attending many professional conferences on the road, you can safely downsize your formal wardrobe. Second, if you’re developing a bit of separation anxiety from having to leave behind a large portion of your wardrobe, try re-organizing your wardrobe into your favorite outfits – those pieces you love and can see yourself wearing consistently. Clothes you feel comfortable wearing frequently are critical to downsizing successfully, as you’ll likely have to pack fewer clothes for each weather condition (instead of 4 beach outfits, you’ll pack 1 or 2).

Full-time RVing

Consider Long-Term Storage for Valuable Items

Long-term storage can be expensive, but if you have neither the interest or ability to redistribute all your household valuables, and your RV is already full, then you may have to consider long-term storage.

Long-term storage may also be a necessary option for valuable family heirlooms and other irreplaceable items. Though not likely, if your RV experiences a security breach, then you do not want to risk an important family heirloom and other valuable personal items being taken from you.

Of course, once you invest in long-term storage, you may have extra space to keep clothes, furniture, and other items that you would otherwise have to sell or donate. If you can make it work from a budgetary perspective, long-term storage could save you a lot of trouble when it comes to downsizing into an RV.

Sell Existing Furniture and Purchase Portable Furniture

Furniture for the static home is quite a bit different than those made for an RV. For one thing, most RV furniture is built-in to the vehicle itself, so a lot of your home furniture will be made redundant. Sell your existing valuable furniture before going on your full-time RV adventure. If you want some extra furniture for your RV, consider purchasing foldable, cheap furniture instead that you can setup outside of your RV for picnics and outdoor relaxation.

Minimize Dishware Storage

Though your RV may have a reasonably-sized kitchen, you should try to avoid bringing along too much dishware, especially if you’re going to be doing a significant amount of “boondocking” (where you set up camp in a natural environment that lacks energy and water hookups).

Try to minimize your dishware and wash more frequently, and keep some paper or plastic dishware on-hand for those lazy days.

Good luck, and enjoy your time as a full-time RVer!

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