first time full timer ?'s


Junior Member
I bought a pretty large parcel of land last year (25 acres) and was planning of staying in a small travel trailer for ~5 years while I saved up some money and decided what I wanted to do. It's getting really hard to build around here, in Virginia, now; we even have to have a permit to dig dirt. I can't even put in a driveway without VDOT's permission... but I did it anyway. Anyway, I've been doing a lot of research the past few months but am still kind've foggy if this is going to work. My main concern is winter; I don't want to be freezing my butt off in this thing during a snow storm - I did that while building my first home and staying in a 160sq/ft shed with no power and it's not fun. I live in Rockbridge County, Virginia and the winters here can be mild to pretty bad, not Minnesota bad but still bad. We usually hover around 20-40f in the day and 0-10f at night. I'm trying to get a temp power pole from the power company but I can't get in touch with them at all; they never return my phone calls. I thought of going solar but I don't want to git stuck in the middle of winter with no power. Another concern of mine is the black water tank; I'm not sure how long it would take to fill it if I only use it for solid waste. I was thinking of putting in a large black tank into the ground since it cost >6k to put a conventional septic field in around this area. Wells in my area cost >10k easy, but luckily water is not an issue since I only need enough water so each day I can take one shower, brush my teeth, and shave. We have a fresh water tap right down the road from me that the farmers use to fill their water tanks. I'm just going to drain the gray tank out into the field since there's nothing in it that will hurt anything.

The Jayco dealer in the area is trying to get rid of their SkyLark Model on their lot and cut the price from $26k to $19k. It looks like they just discontinued this model since it's not on the Jayco site anymore. For once in my life being short has paid off big time since I'm one of the few people that can actually stand in the shower without having to kneel. I really like how the RV is layed out with the large dual pane windows and led lighting, but I'm not sure if it could handle a hard winter? I read all the specs of the trailer but I honestly can't tell you it made any sense to me because I have nothing to compare it too. I've never been in a RV during the winter but it seems that it would take a lot to keep it warm since the walls are so thin and the skylights are only a piece of plastic. I've heard horror stories of people spending 1k in propane a month to keep warm but they never said were this was so I have no idea if they were talking about Alaska or Florida. Also, want happens when I need to go to work. Will the lines freeze, does it even matter. If I have temp power this wouldn't be an issue but currently I'm not sure if that's possible since the power company doesn't seem to employ humans anymore.

I've never lived in a RV before so I really don't know what to expect but it couldn't be much worse then what I've been through before in my life and I'm still alive. But I'm reaching an age where I don't want to have to go through that stuff anymore; I want to live at a certain level of comfort - (power and temp control is a must). Since I have the money and no bills I thought that I would give the RV idea a shot and see how it goes; but I would like to know what I'm getting into first and any ideas on how to make this easy as possible. Heck, if this works out, I might not even want to live in a house again.


Senior Member
I might look at and older well maintained RV rather than new. Some of the older blue bird motor homes come to mind. It would come with a generator and all the features you would need. Plus you might find one with an agua hot heat system which is diesel fired hotwater for heat. you would be toastie and warm all winter or a propane forced air furnace and a extend a stay large propane tank. They have large blackwater tanks so one could go near a month without a dump. Think I would make a dry well for the gray water, a fifty gallon barrel buried and a perferated pipe system would be cheap enough. With a MH you could fire it up once a month dump black water and fill with diesel for heat. To help with heat you could build quick on/off skirting to help with keeping warm and using less fuel.



Junior Member
Thanks for the reply. I talked to the zoning department today and they told me that I have no choice in the matter, I have to have a well, septic, and electric power even if it's just an RV on my own land. Also, you can't have a storage tank or a cystrine; it has to be a drain field and a drilled well. It kind've floored me because it seems so bizarre to need these items when the RV was designed to work fine without them. That being the case, being in an RV will not be such a big deal during the winter because I can just get an electric heater and have it turn on around 50f while I'm not home. It might not be the cheapest option but the power company already charges you $26 dollars if you use no power at all.


Junior Member
You might want to think about selling the land and buying somewhere else. I live in Missouri in the Ozarks and there are no restrictions where I am, I can build anything I want on my land and they don't care. Just a thought. Any way you can get Government out of your life is worth it's weight in gold.
chilly rv

just an experience thought id share ... I've spent some time in my travel trailer in the winter for a few weeks. 0 to 10 degrees outside and snowing like hell! my 30lb. propane tank would last me about 3 days at best! (furnace worked alot)id go to work and set it at 45-50 degrees or so, turn up when i got home. be a good idea to have a couple "back-ups"....or a 100 pounder, also ... water is an issue. heat tape, heat pads, and light bulbs.(all electric ofcourse, is a must have!) i strung light bulbs through the underbelly of the trailer and some side skirting (keep the wind out) it worked well. buy lots of blankets! i remember one morning waking up .. nice and warm .. till i took the blankets off .. holy shit! ran out of propane!
$1,000 a month for propane? That must have been a barn up in Alaska.

Living in a trailer is all about conserving.....unless you're hooked up. What size are the holding tanks on that Jayco? Dual pane windows.....I assume they're thermal pane windows? Are the holding tanks heated? I'm not familiar with that Jayco.....are the holding tanks heated? Is the plumbing ran through heated space?

You want to enclose the bottom of your can do that with OSB or plywood and just paint'll get five years out of it. That will help to keep your plumbing from freezing and also help keep you from using so much propane to heat as it will keep the temps approx. 20F warmer under your trailer. If you get temp power pole then it'll be a bit easier for can use a portable ceramic heater (ceramic doesn't create as much condensation) to assist with the propane heater. You'll still need the propane heater to aide in keeping the plumbing from freezing but it will not be all propane heat. When you return from work, use the elec. heater to warm the trailer back up to 68F-70F and leave your propane heater set at 55F so at night it'll come on automatically. In the morning, crank the elec. heat back on till you leave.

Black water is your biggest issue, but you certainly don't want it to be just "solid" or you'll get what's referred to as pyramiding in your holding tank (where it stacks up in the bottom of your tank and doesn't flow out the drain). You want to be sure that you're using plenty of water with each flush.