Tuesday, December 6, 2022


Wife wants smaller RV but with bigger space – hubby needs advice


RV Shrink

Dear RV Shrink:
For a number of years we have been planning on buying an RV for our retirement, but my wife is now dragging her feet. We plan to keep our home but live in the RV for most months of the year. Her problem seems to be space. She doesn’t want a big RV, but she wants lots of storage, cooking area, bath and bedroom. That is an impossible combination.

Please give me some reasoning firepower so we can get past this perception obstacle in our road to retirement. —Little Big Mansion on Wheels

Dear Little Big Man:
If you have never had an RV it will take some adjustments. I do not know how your wife defines “big.” Just about every manufacturer has slideouts in their models. This makes a huge difference in what is being hauled and what is stretched out at the destination. This could help in meeting her standards for size and space.

The other things to consider when shopping for a rig would be storage. Being organized in a small space is key to successful living. Having plenty of storage will be a significant help in staying organized. You will find the smaller the unit, the less space is dedicated to storage. Something with basement storage (storage space under the floor) will make a huge difference in what you end up stepping over (pun intended).

You need to look at as many floor plans as possible, with your list of needs, likes and dislikes. I can’t guarantee you are going to find a unit that will make your wife happy. She needs to be open-minded about the fact that this is not going to be a 1500-square-foot house on wheels.

Most people in the retirement stage of life begin to downsize, throw out ballast they have collected over the years, and start sharing family heirlooms with children and family members.

Another point that may help your cause is housekeeping. You will both find it much easier to clean and maintain an RV than a home. Once you actually get on the road you will find you have much more time on your hands to explore and do things you truly enjoy.

You can always start small and work your way up. Once your wife is comfortable with traveling in a smaller rig, she may find it more realistic to bump up a bit. Looking at units will give you an idea of how just three feet can gain you more elbow room in various living spaces. In most situations you will also spend more time outdoors than you normally would at home. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.


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Jim and Sharon Stoops
3 years ago

We have a similar situation having a nice regular home but traveling a lot. We chose a Lance 1885–about 20 foot with a slide. It lets us go many places a bigger rig won’t fit. I have had a great time looking for and buying gadgets that are made to fit –like collapsible bowls and a popcorn popper, etc. I carry a spare set of towels and a spare set of sheets. I have enough canned and frozen food on hand for 4-5 meals (weather and illness happen). I keep trailer stuff in the trailer and house stuff in the house. Clothes get changed out and varied (That’s why the house with big closets is nice) but if I don’t have something I need–well, I call it shopping time. I bet his wife would it enjoy it if she looks at the prospect as a shopping adventure, too. My husband might not agree, but I know he has had to go shopping now and then for a ‘new” tool that he “forgot” to pack.

3 years ago

Little Big Man, go look at Safari Treks. Manufactured from 1991 thru 2008 (by Monaco after 2002). These rigs feature a queen bed that stores in the ceiling so a 24 or 28 foot coach has the living space of a 34 or 38 foot standard rig. You won’t believe the kitchens and bathrooms.

3 years ago
Reply to  Bret

If you want more info go to trektraxs.com

Jerry X Shea
3 years ago

His wife needs to understand that RV in retirement is about “2 people.” She will cook for “2”, thus large pots, frying pans, serving dishes – they are not needed. First, have your wife cook for a week (at home) using the smallest pots & pans you have. 2nd, if you attend church, then she needs one “Sunday best” outfit. 3rd, true RVers explore, hike, see museum and discover new thing. As you do that, the size or your RV is not an issue. The key is to find a RV that gives both of you “your own space” as small as that may be. Then again, just open the door and step outside. After 12 years of RVing we have settled into a 25 foot Leasure Travel Twin Bed Class B+.

Bill Lampkin
3 years ago

One doesn’t ‘need’ as much as you might think….the point is to try it, and if you find you ‘need’ something, just buy it while you are on the road. My wife ‘needs’ a washer and dryer, so we have a 40′ motorhome. Go figure.
“Its the journey, not the destination’.

3 years ago

Be aware of the RV’s weight limits. There are many comments on the internet explaining why and how, so ask Mr. Google, and he will give you some good information.

Judy Arroyo
3 years ago

I recommend going to a few RV shows (we love to go to these just for fun) to see what is out there. Pinterest has tons of ideas on how to get more out of RV storage. We never owned a 5th wheeler, and never will – my husband doesn’t care to own a truck – but at the last show we went to, saw some kitchens that are roomier and more esthetically pleasing then our condo kitchen, plus storage galore!!! If her idea of storage is for clothing, do rent an RV, and take a few side trips, she will quickly learn you do not need or want to bring a lot of clothes, especially if your RV has a washer dryer.

3 years ago

I agree with Jeff re: renting first. I’d advise the couple to rent several types and sizes of RVs for a month or more at a time so they can get a better understanding of what will best suit the kind of travel/camping they think they want to do and what features are important to them. The choices in new and used RVs are overwhelming these days and “trying before they buy” could save them a lot of money and heartache. E.g., it may be that the wife really isn’t on board with living in an RV most of the time. Hopefully she’ll enjoy it as much as I have!

My husband and I have been traveling for extended periods and/or full-time in three different 5th-wheels for the past 15 years. Every year we realize we need less and less “stuff,” especially clothing and kitchen items, and even when full-timing (ditto for the houses we’ve owned). There are many websites and blogs that address all the concerns this couple has, including maximizing storage space in an RV or tiny home. I hope they do a lot of research before purchasing any type of RV.

3 years ago
Reply to  Sue

Thanks Sue:
The persons mentioned in the article should also consider keeping their Stick Built house, before just selling everything and jumping into a FULL TIME situation, if that is their plans. Many people do this and regret it later. My Wife and I Full Timed for almost 2 years, before I retired and just had to get back into a regular home again. Having a home and our RV is a Godsend! We can travel and then come back to our home and property.

Just my 2 cents worth.

3 years ago

Don’t forget, A Large 5th Wheel or Travel Trailer will only have Several Hundred Square Feet of living and storage space. A motorhome will have a little more, but not much and the cost will be allot more and the cost to own a whole lot more.

It will be a learning experience and newbie RVers should consider Renting an RV and see what you like best. Virtually all RV’s can be rented.

3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

We went from a diesel pusher (full-time 2 years) to a fifth wheel (been 20 months, still full time).
We should have started out with the fifth wheel. There is a lot more space, both living and storage.
Added an auxiliary tank to dually and haven’t looked back.

All of our accessories such as water softener, regulator, surge protector, etc. transitioned with us.

Rent first to test a variety of units.

Good luck!

3 years ago
Reply to  Gisele

I agree on renting first. We have had them all but love our 40’ fifth wheel. Also, make sure you decide on the rv (if 5er or travel trailer) first if you have to buy a truck to pull it. You want to make sure your vehicle can pull your RV – and more importantly, stop it.
There is much to learn and meeting full time RVers and gleaning their knowledge is priceless.

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