How to Choose the Best RV to Live In Full Time (2021 Guide)

Last Updated on September 23, 2021 by Chris and Lindsay

Are you considering RVing full-time and not sure which is the best RV to live in? We hope we can shed a little light on the pros and cons of RVs that you will want to consider. 

We have lived on the road in an RV for 3 years and have strongly weighed all of the options ourselves. While one RV may be right for you, we’ve found that we have needed different RVs for different stages and goals in our lives. 

Determining the best RV for full-time living is dependent to a large degree on your personal preferences and goals for traveling. There are clear advantages and disadvantages for each type of RV and we hope we can help you line these up with your preferences.

In this post we’ll provide several questions you should ask yourself to determine which RV is best for you. We’ll also break down why each type of RV may be the best RV for full time living and leave you with confidence in making your decision.

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post may contain links to products we think you’ll like. If you purchase any of the products through the links below we’ll receive a small commission. As full-time RVers, we know our RV products well and only recommend those that we either own or would consider owning ourselves.

What is the Best RV to Live In Full Time? 

It probably won’t surprise you that the answer to this question is, quite simply, whichever RV you have and/or can afford. But since this generic answer probably won’t satisfy you, let’s get into the details and help you make the best decision you can in finding your next home on the road.

You may want to grab a pen or pencil and paper and jot out some of the ideas you have based on the 7 questions we present below.  

Questions to Ask Before Buying an RV

What RV is my budget?

Perhaps the first question you should ask yourself before you even consider purchasing an RV is what is your RV budget? This will determine quite a bit when it comes to the kind, size and age of RV you choose.

You can spend as little as $2,000 – $3,000 for a nice, small travel trailer and with a little TLC be quite comfortable in your new home.

Or you could easily drop several hundred thousand dollars on the newest, biggest and best RV on the market.

So first, decide what is a reasonable budget and consider being as generous as you can since this will be your full-time home. 

Should I buy a new or used RV? 

While the appeal to buy new comes across with most products, there is one reason why buying a used RV is a great idea. Most new RV owners do not use their RV for more than a few weeks and a few thousand miles per year.

This means you can find lots of 20-year-old RVs with 50K miles or fewer on the odometer. Of course, you may have to spend a little time and money remodeling some outdated decor and upgrading a few appliances.

But if you are interested in the most cost-effective way to get a great deal on an RV to live in full time then searching for a used RV is a great way to go. 

But if you are retired and/or are selling your primary brick and mortar home then you may be in the market to splurge on a larger, newer RV with more bells and whistles than older models. Like other automobiles, new RVs will have the latest technology and appliances and may also have a great service plan and warranty. 

Old and beat up Motorhome parked in a yard
sometimes an older RV can be more work than its worth

How much room do I need? 

RVs literally come in all shapes and sizes. Determining how much room you need will go a long way in determining which is the best RV to live in full time. If you are seeking a minimalist lifestyle you can get away with a much smaller, more mobile RV.

But if you’d like to keep many of the same comforts of home in your new home on the road then you will likely need to look at a larger RV. Of course, there are all sorts of great ways to conserve space with creative storage ideas.

But if you are worried about space then you’re going to want to look for a larger RV to live in. 

How comfortable am I driving and maneuvering an RV? 

Unless you’re coming from driving a semi-truck as a profession then it’s likely you might be anxious about driving some RVs. If that is your background, then you’ll be comfortable behind the wheel of even the largest Class A motorhome.

But for the rest of us, there is a learning curve and willingness to (safely) practice maneuvering some RVs that will come to factor in what is the Best RV to live in for you.

Of course, the larger the RV the more space and comfort you have. So you’re going to want to consider this factor before you settle on either the largest or smallest RV on the lot. 

Do I have or want to purchase a truck or do I want to be self-contained in the RV?

Class A, Class B and Class C motorhomes include the living portion of the RV built into the cab of the vehicle so there is no need for a separate vehicle to tow the RV.

But if you are considering an RV that will require a separate truck for its mobility then this will factor into which RV is best to live in and the costs associated with each.

For travel trailers, 5th wheel trailers and slide-in truck campers you will need to have a usually large truck to tow the camper.

These trucks can be expensive and involve their own criteria when shopping. But for all other motorhomes this will not apply.

Truck pulling a travel trailer
Be sure to consider the cost of a separate truck if necessary

Do I want to tow a vehicle for added mobility?

You will find that having a larger living space is great when searching for an RV to live in full time. After all, it is your home and you want to be as comfortable as possible.

However, another factor in choosing a larger RV is whether you want to tow a smaller vehicle for mobility when camping. There are all sorts of considerations about this decision if you choose to have a tow vehicle.

But when it comes to choosing the RV you will want to have one with the capability of towing this second vehicle.

We have seen every class of RV towing all sorts of vehicles so anything is possible. But think about what is practical in your case and whether having a tow vehicle will mandate purchasing a larger RV.

Would I like to add more room with a slide-out?

Slide-outs can vastly increase the living space of an RV without increasing the outside dimensions of the RV. And you’ll find that you can have the option to purchase RVs with slide-outs in virtually all classes.

But adding a slide-out also increases the weight of your RV and also adds more mechanical parts that can be prone to break, especially in older RVs. 

Renting an RV – Try Before You Buy

If you are on the fence about how you feel toward certain RVs at this point you’re not alone. Unless you’ve already lived full-time in an RV for some time (in which case, you likely don’t need this article!) you’re going to have your doubts.

We want to keep you from “buyers remorse” so we have 3 suggestions that will help you as you transition closer to your decision.

First, read on about the pros and cons of each RV for full-time living. Note, these pros and cons are different when you consider long-term use as opposed to short term camping trips. Your full-time RV is your home and you want it to be as comfortable as possible for what you are looking for.

Second, after reading the pros and cons consider renting an RV to try it before you consider buying one in that class. You may find that driving a Class A is not as intimidating as it sounds. Or you may find that a Class B can be quite spacious if you arrange your storage creatively.

We always recommend you consider renting an RV first if you have doubts as to whether you will want to invest in buying a similar one.

Third, consider taking a test drive of the RV you choose before committing to purchasing it. If you are buying a used RV from a seller you definitely MUST test drive it.

Don’t buy from a seller that won’t let you get behind the wheel and go for a few-mile drive. But test driving an alternative RV might also open your eyes to the possibilities of buying a different kind or brand of RV.

Now on to the pros and cons of each kind of RV as it relates to living in an RV full-time!

Pro Tip: Check out great deals on RV rentals near you on RV share!

Types of RVs For Full-Time RV Living

Now that you’ve given yourself some time to think through the factors that will impact which RV is best for you let’s get into some of the specific considerations for each class of RV.

We’re not going to get into the details of specific brands and models. But we will give you a pretty in-depth guide for what to consider with each class so you can start shopping for your RV with the confidence you know what you are looking for!

Best Class A Motorhome for Full-time Living

Class A RV camping in the woods

By default, most Class A motorhomes are larger than most other options (though there are some pretty huge 5th wheel travel trailers our there). So if you are looking for extra living space and don’t mind the size of the RV when it comes to maneuvering and parking then a Class A is probably your best bet.

And you’ll also have larger everything in a Class A – from freshwater holding, grey and black tanks to the ability to have full-size showers, sofas and even RV washers and dryers.

But don’t enter this decision blind to the cons of Class A motorhomes. The most significant disadvantages include cost, size and limitations when it comes to where you can travel and camp.

Most Class A motorhomes will have diesel engines which can be expensive to maintain and repair. But these engines give the RV the power it needs to travel.

PROSCONS
Large and spaciousMassive and cumbersome to drive
Most amenities and comfortsExpensive to purchase and maintain
Lots of tank capacity and storageLow gas mileage
Can tow a portable vehicleNot recommended off-road
Limited camping options

Pro Tip: We have never considered owning a Class A due primarily to the price point both for the initial purchase and for ongoing maintenance and repairs. We also saw the decision to purchase a Class A motorhome as necessarily mandating the purchase of a tow vehicle and all of the associated costs related to it (registration, insurance, reduced fuel mileage, etc.). 

Best Class B for Full-Time Living

Class B RV camping in front of a mountain

Van Life is all the rage right now, primarily among younger people interested in a low-cost nomadic lifestyle. And while many van lifers choose to either build out their own vans, the Class B RV is an already built-out motorhome on a panel truck or automotive van chassis.

These are the most nimble and compact options for RVs to live in as they fit in normal parking spots and often have no outside markings indicating that they are habitable. Class B RVs also have great fuel mileage and can be outfitted with 4wd and hardier suspension to go offroad a bit.

And if you’d like to cover a lot of miles then the gas mileage of a Class B RV is hard to beat. But do be aware that the advantages of a Class B campervan are also its disadvantages.

If you don’t mind living full time in an RV that is small and might lack amenities like a shower, toilet or stove then this minimalist lifestyle may be right for you. Additionally, well-built and customized Class B RVs can be very pricey, especially if they are ready to drive off the lot and into an adventure. 

PROSCONS
Maneuverable and compactVery small living quarters
Most nimble RV Sometimes do not have amenities such as toilets, showers and stoves
Best gas mileage of any RVCan be expensive 
Usually has everything you need 

Pro Tip: We considered purchasing a Sprinter van to build out ourselves when we were looking to first enter into living in an RV full time. However, we realized this would take more time, money and expertise than we had. We also wanted to have a little more headroom in our RV so we opted against a Class B RV.

Best Class C to Live In

Class C RV camping in the woods

Class C RVs should be called Class B as they are literally between Class A motorhomes and Class B campervans in size, amenities and function. Like all other kinds of RVs, the size and shape of a Class C motorhome varies.

Most will be between 25-35 feet in length and include every kind of amenity and appliance you could want. As the mid-sized RV option, Class C RVs are often a great entry-level RV and the best RV to live in because they have a little bit of everything.

They are typically built on van chassis vehicles such as an E-450 with gasoline engines. Some are small enough that you would not need to consider having a tow vehicle.

While others stretch over 30 feet and a tow vehicle might be a great way to add mobility when camping. But Class C RVs have the notoriously terrible fuel economy. And they can also be quite heavy when built on a van chassis. 

PROSCONS
A great middle ground in sizeNot good for going offroad
Fairly maneuverablePoor fuel efficiency
Has similar amenities as a Class AMay or may not need a tow vehicle
Decent size storage and tank size
Able to tow a vehicle

Pro Tip: We actually chose to purchase a 31’ Class C motorhome as our second RV because we wanted to have more space than with our truck camper or a Class B campervan and didn’t want the size and cost of a Class A. We found an incredibly reasonably priced 20+-year-old used motorhome and remodeled it to upgrade it to look and feel like home. 

Best Travel Trailer to Live in Full Time

Trailer at a campsite

Travel trailers are probably the most diverse type of RV to live in. They are most common among people who enjoy camping but are not committed to full-time RVing.

However, there are always exceptions – especially among the widely popular Airstream brand trailers. Because travel trailers are so diverse in shape, size and amenities it is hard to say whether one, in particular, is best for full-time living.

These tend to be lower priced in comparison to driveable motorhomes. However, they do require the additional expense and maintenance of a tow vehicle.

They also tend to look terribly flimsy on the road. But travel trailers are great options for full-time RVing if you already own a truck and you want to be able to disconnect the truck and camper to explore the areas where you travel and camp. And they will almost always have the same basic amenities as a Class A or C motorhome. 

Fifth Wheel trailers are a subgroup of travel trailers that we’ve included in this section because the primary difference between a 5th wheel and a standard travel trailer is size. Fifth wheels connect more securely to the bed of the truck rather than a standard ball hitch and typically offer more space, especially with the addition of a slideout or two. 

PROSCONS
Usually roomy and spaciousDifficult to park and maneuver
Can be detached from towing vehicleCan be flimsy in manufacturing
Typically the most moderately pricedLess stable and prone to highway accidents
Usually low insurance premiumsRequires a separate truck to town it
High resell valuesSeparate vehicle and living space

Pro Tip: When deciding to upgrade in size from our truck camper we considered a travel trailer as an option because we loved our truck and simply wanted to upgrade the living space. Ultimately we were intimidated by the combined size of the truck and camper and the difficulties we observed other travel trailer owners have in maneuvering and parking them. 

Best Truck Camper to Live in Full Time

Truck Camper in front of a Lighthouse

Slide-in truck campers are a unique form of camper and can be one of the best RVs to live in if you already own a compatible truck and you are interested in a minimalist and adventure-driven life on the road.

Because they are tied down to a truck, they tend to be hardy RVs most capable of offroad exploration and adventure. Truck campers can be great for full-time RVing if you consider that you will live “out” of them rather than “in” them.

Most truck campers require a ¾ to a full-ton pickup truck and there are some great and creative flatbed truck campers that you can build and adapt yourself on a budget.

But you can also buy one off the RV dealer lot and spend a pretty penny because they are built so intricately to include everything you need in the minimal amount of space. 

PROSCONS
Agile and somewhat maneuverableCan feel cramped 
Compact and smallSmall living space
Able to be separated from tow vehicleRequire a separate truck to tow it
Decent fuel economySeparate vehicle and living space
Best RV for offroad adventureNew ones can be expensive

Pro Tip: After over a year of researching our dream journey to drive from Alaska to Argentina we opted for a truck camper over a Class B campervan because we wanted the rugged durability of the truck and all of the amenities of a standard RV in as small a space as possible. We lived in our unique flatbed truck camper RV for nearly 3 years and loved every day of the adventure! 

Wrapping Up

Choosing the best RV to live in is not easy. But as you consider the various factors you want in your next (or first) home on the road then you’ll find yourself naturally narrowing down your options.

Knowing the purpose for living in your RV – whether actively seeking new scenery and adventure, working from the road, saving money in living expenses, etc. – will also help you make the best decision about which RV is best for you.

We hope this guide has helped and look forward to hearing your feedback about how you came to decide on which is the best RV to live in full time!

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