Our Best and Worst Bits of Living in a Motorhome

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Tuesday 16 December 2014

Our Best and Worst Bits of Living in a Motorhome

So, after a little more than 6 months on the road we've been taking some time in this past week to reflect on everything we've done, experienced and learned about living in a motorhome since setting off on our adventure, helped along by some amazing long beach walks in the Albufera Nature Reserve south of Valencia.

It may seem to some that life in a motorhome and touring around Europe is just too distant from modern, working life. However, one of the most important things we've  come to realise whilst making this list is that almost all of the points below could be applied to some extent to our old (working) lives back in the UK as well. Whatever our future holds and wherever we end up, we feel living in a motorhome has taught us some really important lessons about what really makes us happy.

Our Best bits

It really wasn't hard to think of these ones....

1) Our home moves!
Pretty obvious when you think about it, but this is a novelty that we just can't get used to and hope we never do. Being able to experience the variety and richness of different cultures and places whilst having the security and comforts of our own space is brilliant. We've enjoyed long distance hiking, wild camping, cycle tours and apartment holidays in the past, but motorhome touring allows us to enjoy elements of all of these and more.

2) We have less stuff.
For some people this might sound awful, but condensing our possessions into just a few cupboards and taking only what we need we have found liberating. The less stuff we have, the less there is to worry about.  Some of the larger motorhomes with huge 'garage space' we've seen, now look cluttered and busy to us. We have looked around the bigger motorhomes in showrooms when buying some motorhome supplies and they are impressive and spacious, but frankly we don't know what we would take to fill all that extra space. (Barry you were right and yes we will come and clear all of our junk out of your attic :-) ).

3) We are spending less money for a better quality of life.
When we did the sums a couple of weeks ago we found that not only are we having a much, much better quality of life than we did back in the UK, but our living costs are almost £1000 less per month than we were spending back then as well. Of course we're not working right now (which certainly improves quality of life) but just in terms of cost by the time you factor in council tax, water bills, electricity, gas, commuting, recreation and leisure activity costs etc. just living in a house/apartment in the UK cost us much more. Moving into the motorhome has really given us a better sense of what we genuinely need to be happy without having to spend lots on modern life just to get by.

4) Our home is quick to clean.
We like things clean and tidy and when we lived in an apartment or house we would set aside at least several hours each week to have a good clean and tidy. In our motorhome this only takes us minutes in comparison, partly as we tend to keep it tidy anyway out of necessity, but even a thorough clean through takes less than 30 minutes.

5) We have more time to think and take up new hobbies. 
Spending less time cleaning, tidying, shopping for things etc. has freed up a lot of time to just sit, reflect, read and explore new things. I'm not just talking about having time to visit new places like on a shorter holiday, but the peace and tranquility we enjoy in our motorhome has allowed us to read lots of new books, often reading to each other, learn about things we never had time to in the past and take up new hobbies.

6) The smaller space is improving our shopping habits. 
Like most people back home we used to get most of our food and toiletries in one of the major supermarkets, usually in one big weekly shop. Now we have less space and a small fridge we've started to visit smaller, independent shops and markets more often and feel we are buying much fresher, higher quality food for less money in addition to supporting the local economies we pass through. Also, as we're on the move we're enjoying a wider variety of produce and ingredients and get recommended local recipes which is a great way to get to know a culture even though we don't tend to eat out.

7) We spend more time outdoors. 
We love being in nature and living in a small space gives us even more incentive to get outdoors and make the most of the fine weather whenever we can. Plus, with generally better weather and longer daylight hours in southern Europe it's easier to get out and about.

8) We are meeting lots of new people.
Since moving into the motorhome we've been lucky to meet some wonderful, like minded people who have been generous with their time and hospitality. This is especially true on Aires where there is often a community spirit and people tend to like to say hello, compare routes and chat. We are still in touch with many of the people we have met.

9) We sleep better.
With less distractions in the evening such as computers and TV, we are finding that once the sun goes down we naturally get sleepy quite early in the evening, usually reading a little to each other before a relatively early night. With the help of some pretty awesome blackout blinds in the motorhome we are sleeping great and even though we have the luxury of not having to set an alarm clock most days, after a few months we're finding we wake up naturally really early anyway feeling ready to go.

Worst bits

I should say that these were much harder to think of than the best bits (and we love living in a motorhome), but there are still a few minor downsides that we've had to get used to as well.

1) Missing friends, family and life events.
Since we left the UK we have already missed several weddings, family meals, babies being born and many other little get togethers. As much as we try and keep in touch with friends and family by email, telephone, Skype and writing letters when we can, sometimes it would be nice if we could still pop over to visit people and have a proper chat. This is the issue that has really shown us we need a better, more permanent way of accessing the web than using free WiFi points whenever we get the chance.

2) Bad weather days.
When the weather is rubbish and we don't feel like moving on to better weather, perhaps because the rain is coming down over a huge area anyway, it can feel a bit claustrophobic after more than 2 days. Being outdoors more is one of the things we love about motorhome life and when that's hard for more than a day or so it can be frustrating.

3) Storing sweaty kit/laundry.
Being so active and outdoor loving, it can sometimes be hard to get back to the motorhome with muddy boots or sweaty t shirts and find a good way of not making too much mess.

4) We have to share space with some people that have different (lower) hygiene standards. 
Some of the habits we've seen, especially around emptying cassette toilets and grey water have made us shudder. Perhaps the most irritating is watching people pour the contents of their toilet into the wrong drain (leaving lumpy bits lying around) and then rinsing the cassette from the drinking water tap. We do the best we can to compensate everywhere we go by having high standards, using sanitising gel, wearing gloves, keeping an old pair of shoes just for walking near the dumping stations and always adding some sterilisation fluid to our water tank. But it's still irritating to watch people that have no clue! (small moan over)

I'm sure that over time we'll think of things to add to this list, but there is no doubt for us that moving into the motorhome is one of the best life decision we've ever made. We're also really enjoying the opportunity to reflect now that we are taking things a little bit easier after a very busy summer of hiking and biking in the mountains. Perhaps most important to us, we feel more connected to each other and the natural world than we have for a long time. It sounds corny, but it's true. We haven't felt this good, energised and alive before.

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