Friday, November 18, 2016

Living Large in a Tiny Home

It has been almost eleven months since moving out of our beautiful home and into a fifth wheel and I would be lying if I told you I didn't miss that home, my garden, my quilting, but most of all, I miss my daily routine with my grandchildren and daily they tell my husband and I, how much they miss us!

We had a morning routine, an after school routine, nightly sit down dinners at the dining table and a bedtime routine and now, our morning routine is done via texting and while I write this, I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

We knew the time would come when they would transition to living with their dad or going off to college, but we didn't expect the abruptness with which it happened. Ahhh, but this isn't about 'THAT,' story.

There were things I absolutely had to have living in our new home:
1- Photos that sat on our night tables for over 30 years are now in our living room.
2- Photos of all our grands, are now taped to a small space on a living room slide and as I get more pictures, I will find a space for them as well.
3- My Kitchenaid bright red stand mixer, is in my closet.
4- My books and bibles are stacked neatly in a pile on the floor and on a small box in our bedroom and as I read them and complete them, they are donated to others as they were donated to me.
5- I have taken up crochet as I can't quilt and it is NOT the same and not a day goes by that I do not miss my quilting and it is all in storage as I cannot bear to part with it.

What works and what hasn't?

The small RV dish drainers are to small, so we finally broke down and purchased a full sized drain rack. I hate to admit it, but with only two of us living here, I don't wash dishes every day.

While our fifth wheel is insulated, the floors are cold even with carpeting, so we have rugs down and that truly does help. We are also purchasing styrofoam insulation to place under the slides.

Windows are single paned, but applying bubble wrap to them using the removable hooks tape helps immensely. We can't use the shrink plastic because our interior windows have screens and the plastic won't stick to them.

Absolutely the best money spent thus far was for a cyclonic vent cover for the plumbing vent for less than $25. It works by sucking the odors out of our holding tank in the bathroom. When hubby went to put it on the vent it took less than ten minutes. When the wind blows, the vent changes directions and we haven't had the smells since!

I am not advocating you shop at Tweety's if you have an RV, but I am just placing a link to the type of vent we have should you want to invest in one. you won't be sorry and you will save yourself the money that the more expensive ones sell for and do the same job!

I have learned no matter what I am cooking, keep the vent fan on as cooking is the #1 cause of humidity in an RV and humidity is NOT an RV's friend. We also use a regular house sized dehumidifier and when it rains in Washington we can empty out over 2 gallons of water a day!

The heating vent for the bedroom is under the bed of all places, so we purchased a vent deflector and now the heat blows into our room instead of being blocked by our bed.

Investing in magnetic vent covers helps force air to the areas you need heat to be and blocks off the ones you do not need such as the one under the dogs kennel.

Keep a back up supply of light bulbs, you will need them when you least expect them and our RV uses specific bulbs, not your regular house bulb because our lights even when connected to power, operate solely off batteries!

Before you find yourself locked in as I did, do a trial run with someone inside and have someone lock the doors from the outside. In our RV, once the doors are locked from the outside, no one inside can get out. That was a huge thing to learn and at that time, I was so grateful we had a key put up for the grands if they needed to come by.

We have all we need in our fifth wheel and I keep bins in my closet to hold extra toothpaste and items I can find on sale. I do NOT go overboard as I have no place to put things.

Do not settle! Do not make a snap decision!

We made a list of the things we absolutely had to have, a list of things we wanted to have and we knew what we did not want. Look on line on Ebay, check out your local RV lots, RV shows and take your time.

We knew we wanted:
  1. A place to have 2 recliners and our television to be in front of those and not like so many RV's are and have them on a wall in the back of the RV where you have to turn your head.
  2. A walk around bed, it was important to be able to stand up and make my bed or get in and out of my bed without having to crawl in. 
  3. Queen sized bed/platform. We paid good money for our amazing mattress and I was taking it with us. Our RV came with a huge king sized foam mattress and we found a family in need and gave it to them.
  4. Cabinet space! We still have empty cabinets. I have 2 pantries in my kitchen, a large dish cabinet, a cabinet for my trash bin, lots of cabinet space for my crock pot, toaster, cooking pans, etc. In the living room we have a total of 8 cabinets, 2 desk drawers and a writing space if needed. The bathroom has a small overhead cabinet and our bedroom has more closet and drawer space then we find we use.
  5. Forced air! We did not want a small electrical wall unit. Our heat is forced air, our A/C is a single unit with vents throughout the house.
  6. Slide covers. If you get slides, you will want the covers to protect your slide from the elements. Just periodically check the to ensure birds haven't made nests under them or in our case, yellow jackets. We do get an occasional tree frog serenading us as well!
  7. Hooks and silicone! We found early on our hooks didn't stay on the wall long, so the ones we use for keys, mirrors, robes, hubby siliconed them to the walls. We do not use nails or screws.
  8. Windows! I wanted light, so we have nine windows in the living/dining area with day night shades. 
  9. Have a place to keep laundry hampers. We have 2 of those netted pop up types, 1 next to hubbies side of the bed and another in my closet.
We wanted an expandable dining table, so when we have company, we can pull the table out and our extra chairs are kept under the belly.

One thing I wanted or so I thought was a washer/dryer combination, however after talking to other Rver's, checking out reviews on these we discovered that:
  • They put out way to much humidity in the RV
  • They do not dry your clothes well
  • They are expensive to run
  • They are expensive to buy
After looking at the costs associated with them, we figured it would take over six years in laundry costs to break even. We could purchase a stackable as we have hook ups for them, but it would eliminate hubbies closet space and he needs it for work uniforms.

Once a week, we gather our hampers, laundry supplies and head out to the laundromat. We have two that are local, kept very clean and we get there early.

Hubby and our oldest son go and carry supplies in. While I load the washers, they head off to our local dump and take our trash and my son's trash as it is cheaper than having trash pick up.

In less than 2 hours, we are in our two loads of laundry for the week are washed, dried, folded and done! Total cost? $9 to $12 depending on if it is bed sheet washing week.

The other thing you need to remember is to check the payload on your tow vehicle. In our case, we can have a few things loaded in the trailer, but when we move, most of our things must be binned up and put into my vehicle.

DON'T LEASE an RV space! If you are going to be full-timers as we are, do not jump into a lease right away. Rent the space for a few weeks or a month to make sure it is the right fit.

Important to us were several things:
  1. Noise levels from dogs, neighbors, roads, trains, etc. (Our first spot we rented for awhile had neighbors that fought day and night and many times outside next to our bedroom window and there were dogs that barked frequently and a train, but I got used to the train!) Where we are now, is peaceful.
  2. Space. How much space do you have? Our first lot was to small, my vehicle had to fit between our place and the neighbors, hubby truck had to be next to the trash bin and he had no place for his work van. Our new place has plenty of parking.
  3. Utilities. We get charged for what we use here and in our old place, but some RV parks charge an upfront fee for so many KWH and then gouge you for anything over that!
  4. Animal parks or runs. Our old place had a small patch of grass we could take the dog to our walk her to local school, but our new place has an actual fenced in yard for her to play in, the kids to come play in and feels more like home. If you have a small dog or cat, yard space may not matter, but we have a larger dog who loves to run!
What are you parking on? Our old place was solid pack dirt and mostly mud when it rained, the drives were loaded with pot holes. Our new place our RV sits on a sold concrete pad, we have enough space for a patio section, the dirt road is solid pack and gravel so as good as asphalt. My only issue is the pine needles, but a broom and hose works great!

We are blessed to live close to my son, so if I don't have something I need and I know he does, I go over and borrow it. If I need to bake or cook large items, I use their kitchen. Many RV parks have a common kitchen space you can reserve and use.

Bottom line is, it takes adjustments, it isn't for everyone, but don't jump in with both feet until you have done your homework.

Oh and one more piece of advice, you will either have to pay cash or find a bank or credit union that will loan to full-timers, most will not if you reveal to them up front that is your plan.

Be flexible and learn all you can about your RV.

I have a notebook with how to empty the tanks, what size bulbs we need, how to change propane, etc..

It isn't a bad life, get a hobby, find something to do and don't just sit around!



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