Showing the Highs and Lows of Fifth Wheel RV Living
Kirsten and Devin from @fifth_wheel_living have amassed a loyal following of over 27,000 followers. With their beautifully designed RV and quirky personalities, this duo shows the real highs and lows of full-time RV life.
While most people tend to upsize their RV as their full-time journey goes on, these two downsized. It wasn’t a small jump either. This couple started RV life in a 40-foot fifth wheel. Now, they happily live in an 18-foot toy hauler.
Their journey with RV life may just inspire you too.
Their RV life journey
Kirsten and Devin jumped into RV life head first. Like so many others before them (like Megan and Philip), they had no prior experience with RVing. In fact, for these two, their original RV purchase was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
It all started with a song…
In 2017, Devin popped the question to Kirsten and asked her if she wanted to move to Nashville. Devin is a successful musician; he is a professional guitar player and background vocalist. If you are a fan of country music, you may have heard him alongside Drake White and the Big Fire.
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Moving to Nashville meant an opportunity for him to make new connections and broaden his musical experiences. The move also gave the two an opportunity to explore a beautiful area of the country.
So, Devin asked, Kirsten agreed and they told their family the next day – talk about jumping right in. Over two months they looked for an RV. They hadn’t planned on an RV but the cost of living in Nashville is sky-high. In order to make the dream a reality, an RV would be the perfect home.
In the beginning, Kirsten was skeptical because of their three dogs. She wasn’t sure how if RV life was suitable for them. But again, Devin has the answers. He showed her how they could remodel it and make it their own. And after all, an RV (especially a fifth wheel) is basically just a studio apartment.
Full-time RV life in 18 feet
After experiencing full-time RV life in a 40-foot fifth wheel, Kirsten and Devin downsized to their current rig, a 2021 Forest River MicroBoost XLR 18LRE toy hauler. With their busy schedules, a mini-sized toy hauler meant that they could do something they had always intended to do – explore!
From 40-feet and 3 slide-outs, their new rig is 18-feet and has no slides.
When they were making this change and looking for a new rig, it was important to Kirsten that they had free-standing furniture. Having less built-in features meant they would lose potential storage, but free-standing furniture makes the space feel more open. In a tiny rig, it’s important to have space so it doesn’t feel claustrophobic.
The MicroBoost has a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen area, and then the “garage.” Kirsten used her design skills to transform the garage into a dreamy, boho living space.
Kirsten’s RV design style
If you’ve seen Kirsten’s rig on Instagram, then you have probably noticed her distinct style. She completely transformed this small space.
Her toy hauler renovations included painting everything including the walls, cupboards, and front door; redoing the trim around the front door; installing slat walls; and removing the table and factory cushions.
From an outside perspective, the toy hauler looks completely different. But Kirsten assures that it is just paint and decor. They didn’t rip out anything or renovate any major components.
Over the years, Kirsten has found her stride and unique design style. In the original fifth wheel, she started with a country, farmhouse decor style. When they sold that rig, the overall aesthetic was light boho – think lots of plants and a lot of white. A goal was to incorporate Devin’s instruments as decor and not just have them in storage.
Now, in this toy hauler, the style is better described as dark boho.
In the beginning, Kirsten was hesitant to put black elements in their rig because of its small size. Then, someone asked a question that changed her perspective. One of her followers asked why she hadn’t painted the newly installed slat wall black.
Kirsten hadn’t because the space was small. But then they said something that gave her the freedom: “You already know it’s a small rig.” That simple observation allowed Kirsten to realize that she didn’t have to try to make the rig something else.
Their favorite renovation? The front door. Devin says it “looks like the entrance to Narnia.”
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Stationary full-time RV life
Unlike some RVers who are traveling digital nomads, Devin and Kirsten are stationary RVers. When they originally got to Nashville, they lived in an RV park. One of their goals was to find an affordable living situation (hence the RV) and the Nashville RV park scene wasn’t cutting it. Luckily, they have friends who allow them to live on their property.
Living on private property has been great – not just because of the lower cost – but because they get to experience the great outdoors. A great bonus of the smaller living space is that they are forced to spend more time outside. And the toy hauler patio makes that easier. The patio becomes a second living area with a cooking spot and nice chairs. They also get to have bonfires as often as they want.
In the future, Kirsten and Devin plan to spend even more time outside. Their new rig came pre-wired for solar panels. They installed Go Power solar panels and will be planning some epic boondocking adventures with the toy hauler.
Working in Nashville
Their move to Nashville was quick and sudden. Kirsten was lucky and able to find a job just one week before they moved.
Kirsten has a job that you probably didn’t even know existed – I had no idea! She is a Telemetry Nurse. Simply put, this vital role involves reading and monitoring heart rhythms. Contrary to what is shown in Grey’s Anatomy, information like heart rhythms is sent to the main computer where nurses like Kirsten monitor patients remotely.
She works at the hospital 3 days a week on 12-hour shifts.
The downside of full-time RV life
Unfortunately, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows with RV life. And Kirsten and Devin aren’t scared to show the not-so-glamorous side of this lifestyle.
In a recent incident, they had to deal with a water leak – the true nemesis of RVs. When they were searching for storage space (also a struggle of RV life) they found a water leak. When they opened an inside cupboard, they found that the furnace wasn’t hooked up properly and there was a puddle of water. Upon further investigation in an outside cupboard, they found a hose wasn’t sealed properly inside or outside.
Now they have RV water alarms everywhere.
A downside of being the first to own a new rig is finding and fixing all the kinks and issues of a newly built rig. As the demand for RVs grows, manufacturers and factories have to work faster and cheaper to have enough supply. In some cases, this can mean that it seems like rigs are “thrown together”. Kirsten and Devin have run into a number of issues with their rig including a front door that wouldn’t close and the stairs being measured incorrectly.
That being said, an older rig isn’t always the answer. They come with their fair share of issues. Kirsten and Devin recommend hiring a professional to complete an RV inspection before you buy.
They aren’t new to water issues. In their old fifth wheel, they didn’t see any indications of water damage at the time of purchase. But after they bought it and moved the couch, they found a huge black hole – water damage!
Being a resource for other full-time RV families
After over 2 years in the full-time RV life, this couple has no plans to move into a sticks-and-bricks home.
They will continue to be a resource for other RVers looking to see the ins and outs of RV life, design inspiration, and real-life struggles of living in a tiny space.
Keep an eye out for their future YouTube channel where they will be sharing vlogs and more RV life insights. You can also find Kirsten on TikTok. They were also recently interviewed on The RV Advisor podcast.
The last bit of advice from this RV couple is simple. They say that an RV will teach you how to work on it.
Everything you need to know is online – just search on YouTube, on Facebook, and on RV forums. Before Kirsten and Devin had their huge following, they binge-watched 188 Square Feet to learn how to RV.
Find more RV LIFE Stories
- Meet The Queen Of RV Renovations: The Happy Glamper
- These Full-Time RVers Have An Office In Their Toy Hauler
- Meet This Digital Nomad RV Couple
- RV Living Makes Dreams Come True For This Couple