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Saving For the Future: Family of 5 and Their RV Reno

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If 2020 has been a rough financial year for you, it might be time to consider going tiny in an RV! Sara and her family did just that 2 years ago, and it’s helped them go from living paycheck to paycheck on rent, to having spare money in their budget to enjoy life together.

Sara and James live in their RV with their teen daughter Maddy and littles Ezra and Eleanor. Maddy has her own private bunk room, while the younger two have an awesome queen-sized loft to call “home.” It’s a really cool set-up, and works great for a family with kids and a wider age gap.

They live on her parent’s land as they keep saving up for a forever home, but tiny living has proven a blessing despite it’s challenges (like no washer and dryer or dishwasher!).  Sara shares their story at the end of the post, so be sure to read that! Follow the family on Instagram here.

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Thriving RV Life with Littles and a Teenager

The central space has a TV, faux fireplace and

Wow! A tiny wood stove. How perfect.

Deck the Halls! Looking festive in the living room.

Maddy’s room is through the door, and the loft is above it.

Living tiny doesn’t mean you can’t bake bread.

Subway tile always adds some flair.

Maddy’s room looks like a sophisticated teen space.

Saving For the Future: Family of 5 and Their RV Reno 2

And mom & dad’s room looks great too.

Here’s the wonderful couple!

RV Layout


Sara Shares About RV Living With Three Kids (Including a Teen!)

Hi, we’re the Kauffman’s; James, Sara, Maddy, Ezra, and Eleanor! It’s nice to meet you!

We, as a family of 5, have been living tiny (sometimes it still feels weird to say that!) since October of 2018, so just over 2 years.

My husband works for an armored car company, and I work part-time for Young Life, and I get to homeschool my 15 year old daughter, and stay home with my two littles every day too.

When we first went tiny, the purpose was really to save money towards land, or a sticks and bricks home. We were living paycheck to paycheck in a rental we couldn’t really afford, and we knew that had to be a better way, which led us to rv living. I researched and followed pretty much every full-time account I could find at the time, which is a lot less than it is now, until I felt sure that we could do this, we could go tiny.

We chose an rv over a bus, or traditional tiny home because we did wanted to keep the option to travel with our home if we ever got the chance. It’s not in the forecast for us right now, but maybe someday. And while I love a bus conversion (who doesn’t?) we didn’t have the resources, or space, to go that route.

We bought our RV through an RV dealership in Washington State, where we live. I researched what I wanted for a while, and then we pretty much started hunting until we found the right one. We love that we have a middle bunk layout, AND a deck off the back, which is unique. It makes it brighter, and more homey.

Our bills are much, much less living this way. It has actually afforded us a better life. We travel more, eat healthier, and save more money because we live tiny. Prior to this, it was pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck. We knew we didn’t want to live that way anymore.

We are currently stationary (parked full time) on my in-laws land in the country. They knew that we wanted to save for a home and generously offered for us to park on theirs. It was a fair bit of work to get the land ready for our rv. We had to run water, electricity, and sewer to our spot. Those things were challenging, as the work was being done by my husband while we were already on the land, and he was working full time. We lived with a generator for power for several months in the process. You learn VERY quickly what a luxury running water, power, and sewer are!

Before going tiny, we were living in town in a rental we couldn’t afford. We loved our house, but once I had our son Ezra and stopped my full time administrative job, it was no longer feasible on one income to live there, and to actually be able to enjoy life.

I miss a dishwasher, and washer and dryer in my house! But a washer/dryer combo is on the short list for the new year!

I think the benefits of living tiny are huge. Not only for financial freedoms, but we have been able to truly see that a home is not defined by it’s size, that we don’t live a lesser life because we have less, and that when you get rid of a lot, you realize you don’t need a lot to be happy.

I would say that the challenges can be real, especially for RV living. RV’s simply are not designed well. They will have issues, but if you can go into RV living aware that there will be regular maintenance, that issues can and will pop up, then it will be a lot easier to navigate. Water damage/leaks is a common problem to be aware of in RV’s. We’ve caught a few before they caused a bunch of damage, so just going through a maintenance check list every six months can really save you.

I think the most special thing about my tiny home (beyond that it’s a cool layout with the deck) is that it’s mine. It’s a reflection of me and my family. I wanted it to feel like a home, not an rv, and I think I was able to achieve that.

My favorite part of my tiny home is the main living area, it’s the most (shocker) lived-in spot in our home. We truly “do life,” there. We laugh, eat, cook, play, and celebrate as a family in our little living/dining/kitchen area.

I think the best advice I would give anyone considering going tiny is, “yes, you can live with less.” If the advice was specifically going to someone considering living full-time in an RV, I would say 1) Don’t wear rose colored glasses, there will be hard things that pop up, be ready for them with a willing attitude to work out whatever they are. 2) Get an RV inspector prior to buying, no matter who you buy from, they could potentially save you thousands of dollars. 3) If you want this lifestyle, it won’t feel like a sacrifice and you’ll love it.

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Our big thanks to Sara for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 3 comments… add one }
  • merryl
    December 23, 2020, 8:51 am

    Wow this is amazing!Great job.

  • Brenda Foster
    December 23, 2020, 9:50 am

    Congratulations. Wonderful story, and it appears everyone’s needs were taken into consideration. Adding that it is so important to spend quality time with the family, to do that and be able to save money at the same time, is such a wise decision. (Amazing to have children and no washer/dryer.) Truly dedicated parents. One thing that will happen is when you are ready for a larger, foundation centered home, it will probably leave a smaller footprint on the planet after this experience. Thank you for sharing. Brenda

    • Natalie C. McKee
      December 23, 2020, 1:36 pm

      Yes I think people really realize how little they need once they start living with less. I hope it stays with them!

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