Living in an RV, aka the best life decision ever

March 26, 2016

by — Posted in Case Study

Wow – I can’t believe I haven’t done a post on this yet. I write this as I sit in the heart of the Mission District in San Francisco, on my bed, in my RV. I’ve been living in this RV for over two years now (since February, 2014), and it really does almost top the list of best life decisions I’ve ever made.

At once, living in an RV completely changes everything about your life, and not much at all. I look and act exactly like I did before I lived in an RV, I have exactly the same friend circles, I do almost exactly the same things, and have exactly the same life and career prospects as I did before.

At the same time, I pay next to nothing to live in the most expensive city in America (<$500), can pack up all my belongings and move on a whim to anywhere in the world, and can choose to live in the most desirable part of town right next to my favorite climbing gym. I’m in the best shape of my life because I literally live a three minute walk away from the gym, and because I’m obligated to go there every day to take a shower. The gym membership is also entirely justified as my largest recurring monthly expense at $77 (can easily get a membership for ~$30 though, such as at 24 Hour Fitness) – it’s literally less than 50 cents/hour for how much I use the damn place (it’s my coworking space as well as gym).

Almost across the board, when I tell people I live in an RV, they’re either super intrigued and interested, or pass it off as not a big deal. Not once have I seen it negatively impact me in any way, socially or otherwise.

It’s also extremely environmentally friendly – I’m 100% off the grid, and generate all my electricity from two massive solar panels on the roof of the RV. Not counting showers and whatnot in the gym, I use about 10 gallons of water every month or so from the water tank in my RV. Gas consumption is less than a gallon a month. To cook, I use minuscule amounts of propane – about 5 gallons of liquid propane every 6-8 months. Overall, I’d estimate my environmental footprint is about as small as you can get it without being a hermit in the woods.

The financial implications of living in an RV can’t be overstated. By far, the only ludicrously outsized expense of living in San Francisco is rent. Everything else, such as food, transportation, and whatever else a normal person needs, is only marginally more expensive, if that, than somewhere else. I’ve been indulging more lately in spending money on experiences with friends (have, in fact, started a 5% generosity fund with my friend Tynan, where we each spend 5% of our money income on experiences and things for our friends), but removing all of that, and I could easily live on $300/mo in SF. Add all that in, and I’m somewhere between $500-700. Still, in a year, I’m spending well less than $10,000.

That means that even if I were making minimum wage (~$20k/yr), I’d still be able to save about half my income, all while living a life that’s just about as good as that of most of my friends in SF, if not better in several ways. Sure, I don’t eat out every day, but I don’t particularly care to do so, nor do I think it materially improves the true quality of my life. I take plenty of trips both international and domestic (though I’ve been aiming to severely cut down to focus more on work and structure), but we all know how free those can be, given the nature of this blog. I work out and eat great food, and am again in pretty great shape.

I have amazing friends and have no shortage of activities and experiences I share with them. Most of these cost little to no money.

And on top of it all, I have an amazing experience to share and tell people about – it’s not every day you meet someone living with a high standard in an RV. I see it as a free awesome experience I can put on my life-well-lived list while not doing much more than I would if I were living in an apartment. And yeah – so all-in, I couldn’t recommend this lifestyle more strongly. Already purchased the exact same RV I’m living in for a friend who’s also living in and loving it right now. Hope more of you jump on board – say hi if you do!

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