Even by full-time RV living standards, my travel trailer is considered tiny. At 160 SF of space, it looks like a teardrop next to the mammoth-sized RVs driven by retirees. Even so, my tiny trailer packs a punch. People are often surprised to see how big my bathroom is, for instance. It has a small tub, a full wardrobe, storage for Shadow’s litter box, and can fit two toilets. I also have a small but full kitchen, a dinette, a sofa, and a bed.
Still, when I first transitioned into RV living, I thought I was going to have a very long adjustment period. Thankfully, going from 620 SF to 160 SF was a breeze. I actually felt like I had more space, because the RV has a much more functional design than my old home. If you’d like to see the 360-degree tour of a newer version of my RV, you can find that here.
Nevertheless, living tiny isn’t a bed of roses. There are quite a few things that took some getting used to. These are the top five — in no particular order!
1. Shorter Ceiling Height
Some tiny homes have higher ceilings to make up for the lack of floor space. This is as true for RVs as it is for homes built on a permanent foundation. My tiny home didn’t get that memo. The interior height is 6’5. I’m 5’9, so that means I can’t even stretch my arms upward when standing. I was continually bumping my hands into the ceiling for the first month. Now, I hardly notice the height — or lack thereof.
It’s worth noting that I chose a short RV on purpose. Taller RVs are more top-heavy and, therefore, a lot less stable. You also have to be more careful when towing under bridges or manoeuvering at gas stations. My RV’s total height is only 10’5. I can fit under just about anything, except standard garage doors.
2. Weird RV Plumbing
I knew RV toilets were different, but I didn’t realize how different they were until I bought one. About a week before I left Atlanta, I started looking up videos on how to use the toilet. My parents were equally confused, so I sent them the video ahead of time to avoid any mishaps on our road trip across the country. The 12V pump for off-grid use was also insanely loud to me. To add to that, I had to learn how to manually manage my sewer system. This didn’t just mean dumping the tanks. It also meant knowing when to dump them.
For example, I learned not to flush the toilet with the seat up when it was near full, because you might get splashed! I also learned that the toilet “burping” meant it was almost full…..and that the greywater will back up in the tub when it’s full. And worst of all, the sensors are perfectly useless because they are rarely accurate.
3. Hassle of Moving the RV
Before I bought my RV and hit the road, I did a lot of research. For some reason, learning how to hitch up and unhitch the RV wasn’t one of the topics that caught my attention. I was busy looking at floorplans and wondering how on earth I was going to learn to back up a trailer. I also worried about trailer sway from high winds generated by Mother Nature or larger vehicles. I actually don’t get trailer sway and I can back up an RV pretty good for someone with a three-year-old driver’s license.
Well….it wasn’t until I bought the RV that it occurred to me that hitching up was not going to be a walk in the park. Securing everything in the RV isn’t easy either. Trailers have a lot more bounce than tow vehicles or motorhomes, so things get thrown around quite a bit. It takes me roughly 30 minutes to 45 minutes to hitch up, put everything away inside, put Shadow in the truck, and complete safety checks. It then takes another hour to set up at camp.
4. Responsive Body Clock
I knew before I ever spent a night in an RV that my sleeping habits were going to change. RVs have a lot of windows and so do many tiny homes on permanent foundations. Large windows reduce the closeted feeling tiny homes would otherwise have and they let in a lot of natural light. I was 100% sure natural light would wake me early in the morning and I was right. For the first month of RVing, I was up at 7 AM every morning. Prior to RVing, this was when I went to bed!
The primary reason I get flooded with light in the morning is Shadow. The largest window is by the dinette, which is where he spends most of his time. Consequently, I leave the blinds up for him at night and Mother Nature shouts at me in the morning. But, I can’t complain. I had insomnia for all my 30 years before I started RVing. I haven’t had insomnia since my first night on the road.
5. Tight Spaces
Of course, the biggest adjustment to tiny living is the smaller size. Even though I never felt confined or like I was missing anything, I still had to adjust to tiny living. I cannot tell you how many times I bumped into the dinette or hit my head on a kitchen cupboard that was left open. I can no longer buy in bulk and have to be mindful of the height of things I buy, because they might not fit in the fridge or cupboards. Additionally, tiny spaces get messier faster, so my morning routine begins with cleaning.
To make matters worse, my RV is dark brown and dark colours make spaces feel smaller. RV manufacturers have since realized that millennials do not cherish the outdated tastes of our RV elders and now make RVs with lighter-coloured decor. My RV must have been the last dark brown one on the production line, because it missed the memo despite being a 2018 model. I tried to paint it today and it would not adhere, but my quest to de-brown the RV continues!
Have you ever had to transition to a much tinier space than what you were originally used to? What were some of the things that took you some time to adjust to? Tell me all about it in the comments, below!
25 thoughts on “Tiny Living | 5 Things That Take Some Getting Used To”
> by full-time RV living standards, my travel trailer is considered tiny.
Vanfolk and other vehicle-dwellers live in even tinier spaces. My van is relatively large but still only 76SF. Seems cozy to me rather than cramped.
I’m aware. I have van-life friends. It’s not for me. I work inside my rig for long hours and could never do that in 76 SF. That would be like returning to cubicle days. 😅 I do have a separate overlanding setup with Samson and a tent. That’s my “vacation home” to escape when I’m not working and don’t need the extra space in the RV.
1. your square footage increases when you step outside. lol your bedroom, living and kitchen can be enormous! 🙂 2. my old truck had a mark on the top of the tail gate which i used to help line up my hitch and then a v shaped device on the the truck hitch would help slide the ball under the trailer receiver. a small thump and i was ready to roll up the trailer wheel and lock the hitch. total time? maybe a total of 5 mins. my new truck has a back up camera and that makes a BIG difference for ease of hook up. 3. NEVER trust the sensors. lol
1. This is true, but that depends on the weather. Joshua Tree was lovely in terms of temperature, but those wind storms used to blow my outdoor things all over the place. I lost a lot of those and never found them again.
2. I think you’ve told me about that before and shared that it required wheels on the tongue jack. My RV might be far too heavy to pull that off and it has no wheels. The literal hitching isn’t really the issue either. It’s all the little steps involved, such as capturing the cat, putting all my things away that people in normal houses never have to move, securing items, packing up my solar, rolling up the stabilizer jacks etc.
3. The sensors are USELESS. They’ve been working better now that I’m more mobile, but still useless. Neither the black tank nor the grey tank ever say they’re empty. The battery sensors and water tank sensors work perfectly though.
When my husband and I go visit my parents (who live 4 hours away), we sleep in their 30ft C-class camper as our own ‘guest house.’ We only sleep out there so we don’t have to worry about utilities, but I do love how cozy it feels. I would love to find a teardrop trailer to DIY into a comfy little portable nest for little weekend adventures. My Murano is only equipped to pull max 1,500lbs. so it would have to be something tiny.
That sounds like a lovely little getaway. Teardrop campers are often pricey to buy, but if you’re handy, try outfitting a utility trailer. They are much cheaper and often much better qualy. That’s on my to-do list.
I think the bathroom would be the biggest adjustment for me lol sounds like a lot of maintenance when you’re not used to it!
Yes, it really is. Having to manually manage your sewer system is no fun. 😂
Will you show us the before and after once you’ve de-browned the RV?? Would love to see that!
Haha, yes! I think I will do that. Check my Wordless Wednesday post today when you get the chance. I’ve started the process. 🙂
Never lived in an RV, but I’ve experienced down-sizing my living space when I moved abroad to Europe for four years. Coming from the US, and living in a spacious house in the suburbs, it was a shock to go from being able to stretch my arms out comfortably in a shower to cramping myself as much as I can in one; I swear, my shower in France was the size of a time machine– beam me up, Scotty anyone? Also having little kitchen space to prep, cook, even put pots and pans in. Eventually, I got used to it, but now that I’ve returned home to the US and back to my spacious house, I don’t think about going back to cramped quarters anytime soon!
Interesting! Why were the spaces so cramped? Were you in a hostel or a low-income apartment? Or was that just normal?
I’ve never heard anyone complain about a size difference in European apartments before, so I’d love to know. That’s where I’d like to move eventually, so I’m taking notes.
New York and China seem to get a lot of complaints for that though: very expensive matchbox sized living spaces.
I lived in low-income apartments, so that’s probably why. But even larger, more-expensive apartments in France still are smaller and more-cramped than those in the US!
I can believe that. Everything in America is made to be excessive. From food servings to house sizes. 😅
Good points, Alexis! I’ve switched from houses to apartments several times; the closet space and kitchen cupboard room seemed to be the biggest adjustments.
Funny enough, I think I have the same cabinetry space, but because that’s most of my storage, it has to share with other things. My solar generator is under the kitchen sink! 😅
I don’t use my dishwasher and wish that I could have that space for just shelves. I know that I could put plates, etc., in there, but it hasn’t come to that…yet.
That’s what my mom uses hers for. She never uses it to wash dishes. I don’t think it even works anymore. 😅
Being alone all of the time.
I’ve been on my own since I was 16, so that part was just more of the same. 😅
Fair. Enough! The question was specifically about downsizing though. When I lived in the house, there was a lot of room. So much so that we had 3 dogs, a cat, me and my husband, my sister, her son, my dad living there with a revolving door of my other sister, her baby, my aunt, and the babysitter. Then I came here and there’s just constant silence unless I play music. It’s funny, back when I purchased this place it was a huge growth. From my childhood bedroom to my own condo! Then moving my house to the condo was a huge downgrade. Sometimes I actually miss all the headaches. Then the kid on the other side of the wall screams as loud as he can “BUBBLES!” Or the dog down the hall starts yapping and I remember why I like the quiet 😂
But going from constant chaos to absolute alone has been an adjustment since it will never change back to what it was and I just needed a little quiet and now it’s forever silence.
It’s both the hardest part and the best part. That life wasn’t really for me. I held on like that way past my capabilities because I loved my life when I wasn’t hating it. Now I hate my life when I’m not loving it, and that’s a change I’m ok with 😀
I’m glad you’ve not just experienced personal growth, but EMBRACED it. That’s a hell of a change, for sure.
For me, nothing is more precious than my peace and peace of mind. So, I could never live in an environment of chaos like that. I’m glad you found your out!
It’s a rough change, but I don’t regret it. My sanity is more important than anything else. Thank you for understanding!
And you sleep better 👌☺️ sleep is the best mediation so enjoy your adventures…cool 😎sending joy hedy
Thank you. That’s definitely one of the best benefits I received. 🙂