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Family of 5 Saved $30K in 2020 by Living in an RV!


Here’s another family proving you don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck to afford a pricey mortgage on a large home! They downsized from 2,500 square feet and have been living in an RV for two years now. In 2020 alone, they saved $30,000!

Mom Shannon says they won’t live in an RV forever, but it’s allowed them to follow her husband’s military jobs across the country, as well as travel with the family and sightsee all over the United States. They have far more time together, and are learning how to live minimally.

She’s done some beautiful work renovating their RV to make it feel more like their home, and we got to interview her about her tiny life! Be sure to read the Q&A after the photo tour below. And follow the family on Instagram here.

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Full-Time RV Life with 3 Kids

Here’s the RV all decked out for Christmas.

Quite a bit of counter space in this little home.

Isn’t that tile backsplash gorgeous?

I love what they did with the counter tops.

This boho Christmas tree looks awesome.

Nothing says “home” quite like family photos.

What a fun spot to eat (with gorgeous views).

Here’s the happy family.

Look at that lovely headboard!

Now THAT’s a RV fridge!

Her fall mantle decor was stunning.

Cute way to add spice to the steps.

Here’s a good spot for lounging.

The shower in this RV is surprisingly large.

Master bedroom.

Cozy kids’ room!

Laundry in the master bedroom! Perfect.

Their RV Layout

5893-377RLBH

Images via Jayco

Shannon Talks About 2 Years of Full-Time RV Life


What are your name(s)?

Kristjon and Shannon.  We also have three kids.

How long have you lived tiny?

We have lived in our RV for almost 2 years.

What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time?

Kristjon is Active duty military. I, Shannon, ended my career in the medical field to be a stay at home mother, homeschool my kids, and to give our family the freedom of traveling with Kristjon whenever he has to leave for work.

What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?

The biggest thing we were hoping to gain from tiny living is family experiences.
Also, We wanted to keep our family together as much as possible when my husband would travel locally.
The financial benefit is another reason we chose this lifestyle. We have paid off $30,000 in debts while traveling (3 cross-country road trips) in 2020, alone!

What inspired you to choose an RV (rather than say a tiny house or a bus)?

Our family was more suited for an RV because we have three children. we wanted to make sure that the transition from our home to tiny living was as smooth as possible. RV life seemed to offer the most amenities suited for our family.

How did you acquire your RV? Did you do a lot of renovations?

We purchased our RV in Albany, New York in 2019. It’s a 2020 Jayco Northpoint 377 RLBH. We have done some renovations to make it more our style and to make it more functional for our family.

What are bills/utilities like compared to before?

We save SO MUCH MORE. We came from a 2500 square-foot home. We were definitely living near paycheck to paycheck. On our free time we felt like we were constantly taking care of our house.
Moving into the RV, we save about $2,000 a month, spend very little time cleaning and maintaining our home, and travel way more than we ever have in our lifetime.

How did you find a place to “park” your home? Or do you travel?

We go through spans of traveling and spans of staying pretty stationary. While stationary, we have been blessed with amazing places to park. One was a military campground and another is my family’s land. While traveling, we used Tents for Troops and Harvest Hosts to travel nearly free across the country.

Before going tiny, what was life like?

So stressful. we spent all of our weekends mowing our lawn, cleaning our house, tending to things in our home that needed to be fixed … we did not have a lot of family time because of this. Also, we were pretty financially strapped because our home was fairly expensive.

Is there anything from your old life that you miss?

One day I would love the perks of a home back- decorating, more personal space, etc… but for the most part, not really! I know that I will be back in a home one day, so I am embracing this moment of simplicity while I can.

When we get a home again, we will still have a minimalist approach to it.

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?

More family time, more money, more travel, happier family.

What about some challenges?

None, really! Our biggest challenge is when we all funnel into the same hallway and have to duke it out to pass each other by.

But I’ll take it!

What makes your tiny home special?

We have really made it feel like our own home and style. Also, I don’t know any sticks and bricks homes that can just latch to a truck and GO. Our home comes with all the memories in SO MANY different places. It’s an experience I wish everyone could have.

What is your favorite part of your tiny home?

As mentioned above, The fact that we can take it wherever we need to. Our family definitely has gypsy souls- and love to wander as we please. we love that we don’t have to stay tied down in one spot!

Our living room is our favorite room. We spend most of our time there and with our open-floor-concept… it makes it the best place to gather and share good conversations.

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?

Be picky with your RV but be REASONABLE.
If you think you might want the washer and dryer- get it. If you want a specific floor plan- get it! Make life easy for your family.
But don’t expect unreasonable things.

Also, keep up with your maintenance!

Highlights:

  • New RV
  • Renovations to make it feel more homey
  • Travel with husband in the military across the country
  • Saved nearly $30,000 in 2020 alone!
  • More family time
  • Less time spent on home maintenance
  • No longer living paycheck to paycheck

Learn More:

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Our big thanks to Shannon for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

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 two little kids. She and her family just purchased a small fixer-upper and are starting a self-sufficient homestead on their happy little acre.
{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Linda Baker
    December 22, 2020, 10:25 am

    so happy to hear that there are military campgrounds/options for your use, thank you for your service. This looks like a wonderful option for your family with enough space to feel comfortable. You seem to have plenty of space with your slide outs.

    • Avatar BORIS ODREITZ
      December 22, 2020, 7:02 pm

      but it is realy stupid loundry and sleeping romm together. This proectant need to go in prision and need to lost licence! it is not good and not health !

      • Avatar James D.
        December 22, 2020, 8:15 pm

        No, it’s just a common RV layout… Besides, won’t effect your health just to have the Washer and Dryer in the Bedroom and definitely not something to throw people in prison over…

        • Avatar BORIS ODREITZ
          December 23, 2020, 6:27 am

          but dirty cloats, and slipingroom is not to be together.Atleast to lost licence for projectinhh living object. It is not higienis and praktic .Is nice camper but it, is to big mistake , litle children know it !And if washing mashine defect and leaks wather in sliping room . Yes it is realy smart. And for this money ,cost camper like this is than big big damage wet living object !It is desaster .This projectant is realy druged or natural stupid !

      • Avatar James D.
        December 23, 2020, 11:39 am

        Nonsense, again, it’s a common design. So it’s not an issue… Seriously, people have to deal with laundry and it’s going to be part of the living space unless you don’t do laundry at home and spend more money to take it to a laundromat but that means you take longer to get cloths clean and will have dirty cloths piling up in the home between trips.

        Plus, it’s a small space, if anything leaks it’s going to effect the whole space if not taken care of right away, which is why there’s usually multiple water cut offs and is just the risk of having indoor plumbing, which most people would not be willing to live without to avoid.

        Besides, it’s far more hygienic and practical to be able to easily clean your cloths…

        • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
          December 23, 2020, 1:53 pm

          We had our laundry in our room in an apartment and I loved it! So much easier to wash and put clothes away. I seriously miss it now that ours is in the basement.

  • Avatar John
    December 23, 2020, 3:01 pm

    Laundry is the least of their concerns. RVs although not as bad as they were at one time are full of hazardous chemicals used in the components and structural elements. Because they technically aren’t full time residences they fall under less stringent regulations for their build. Data is there to support health issues in children with increased respiratory issues. My understanding the industry is doing a good job of suppressing it.

  • Avatar Lauren Highfill
    December 23, 2020, 6:26 pm

    We did this for a couple of years but our Travel Trailer cost 20,000 and we already had a truck. It was great for our militaty lifestyle, not so great for our future. We found that although we saved money we also spent way more (going out to eat, seeing new things). Our monthly bills were low but our spending was higher. For us being together was worth it. As far as doing it to save money long term, it won’t work if you have to pay to stay. Now if you can stay somewhere free, thats where your going to bring in some savings. Otherwise is will come out fairly even with the cost of home living in a 1000 to 1500 square foot home (unless your in NewYork/LA) but not 2500sq ft home. Sometimes we just need to downsize our home instead of going tiny : ) Travel trailers have little to no resale value unlike property that usually increases in value..so that kind of stinks but if you have retirement set and you don’t need to flip a home for profit its fine. Also 5 years is probably the max your going to get out of a TT or motorhone before costly maintenance becomes norm so consider that as well.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      December 28, 2020, 9:45 am

      Great advice, Lauren! Love hearing from people with experience.

  • Avatar Dior
    December 24, 2020, 4:32 am

    OMG it is for you normall ?

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