Living in a motorhome full-time might be a daunting prospect to some and to be honest, we didn’t know exactly what it would be like before we set off… but actually, the experience has been hugely positive on our family life!
So here’s how we live, as a family of four (with 2 dogs) in a 7.5m Compass motorhome…
To start with, let me tell you a little about our abode. We live in a Compass Avantgarde 196 motorhome. It’s actually 7.3m in length (24’1”), and 2.2m wide (7’2”) – not including wing mirrors. The habitation area has a height of around 6’10” which is enough for us to walk (and dance) around comfortably.
Our motorhome has a maximum capacity of up to 3,500kgs, which means, when you take away the weight of the vehicle (2,932kgs), we can add up to 568kgs worth of belongings, including people and pets!
Now, that might not seem like much but it’s surprising what you can fit in within that weight limit – yes, it was a bit of a faff when deciding what to take, but it’s great to have a motorhome that can be driven on a standard license and can access most roads.
What we love about living in a motorhome:
We moved in not really knowing what specifically drew us to that point, we just knew we’d really like it. For the first couple of weeks the adjustment period was challenging. We don’t know whether it was adjusting to the new, much smaller space, or trying to find homes for everything we own (which took a while), but we got there.
The adjustment period was challenging.
After the dust settled, everything was put away and we knew the area well. We started moving more harmoniously around each other, and, aside from the occasional bump on the head (or regular bump on the head in my case), we very quickly grew fond of the space we had.
"The best things about motorhome living, in no particular order, are: the absolute freedom of being able to go anywhere and do anything (when there isn’t a pandemic); regularly waking up in a different place (the views we’ve had from the window!); meeting new people; spending time together as a family and understanding each other better than before; working from wherever we like (if you have the job flexibility); and having less stuff!"
Letting go of all your belongings can seem quite daunting but, having less stuff around you really makes you feel lighter. So, let’s get to it, here’s a look at how we organise daily life.
A question we often get asked: ‘How does sleep work with a toddler and a child?’ This was one thing we thought would be an issue too. Riley, who was one when we first moved into the van, has never been the greatest sleeper. I’m sure many people will be able to relate. Still to this day, Riley will not fall asleep on her own so bedtime is a real team effort.
When we first moved in and bedtime came around, we’d turn the lights off, put some calming music on and we would all lay together for a while until Riley was fast asleep. Rufus, (our now 7-year-old) would very patiently wait until she drifted off and our family game time (and quality time with Rufus) could start.
After a little while of running this routine, we started to switch so that one of us would put Riley to bed and the other would very quietly sit and play games with Rufus. We got really good at this and thankfully, only need to be quiet until she’s asleep.
It’s not always that exact routine, sometimes we’ll all lay together and read, other times we’ll have a movie night but almost every night we try to read at least one book to set bedtime up.
So, that’s how we work bedtime with a toddler in a motorhome. The first few nights everyone was over-excited as you can image, but they quickly settled into this new routine.
But what about logistics?
Sleeping arrangements in our van can be quite flexible, as we have a few bed options. Our preferred layout is to have the kids’ bed set up and ready so that they each have a space that is completely their own.
The benches at the back of our van are not long enough for an adult to lay on but they’re the perfect size for children and luckily Rufus still just about fits here, so they each have their own bed to sleep on. The cupboards above each of their beds are their own for toys, books and the all-important craft box. It’s completely their area – Rufus particularly likes this set-up because the TV is at the end of his bed!
Scott and I sleep on the electric drop-down bed at the front of the motorhome and this is our preferred sleeping space. The mattress that comes as standard is surprisingly comfortable and we always sleep well. Plus, getting up and down the ladder keeps us agile – we’re not getting any younger!
Where do you keep your clothes?
Living in a motorhome with 3 other people means being selective with the clothes you take with you. Everything has to be chosen for its practicality (Blog post coming soon) and you can’t take too much of anything. Our Compass motorhome does have a cupboard with a rail for hanging clothes, but this is where we keep our coats and the odd shirt.
Everything has to be selected for its practicality.
We actually keep our clothes in boxes like this. It took a couple of tries to find the right box that was not only big enough to fit our clothes in but, that also fit in the space we intended. We each have one of these boxes in a different design and they all fit under Rufus’s bed. Crazy that we managed to cut down wardrobes filled with clothes to one of these small boxes each!
We use a pillow storage box for bulkier clothes.
In this cupboard, we also have a shared box for jumpers, loungewear, running clothes and the odd tutu. We picked up one of these IKEA pillow storage boxes and it’s perfect! It slides into the remaining space, on the top of the other clothes boxes under Rufus’s bed… it’s like it was meant to be!
And finally, for underwear, we have little letter-size boxes for the kids’ underwear so that it’s easy for them to grab some socks on the way out without having to dig around under the bed.
What about dog stuff?
Under-bench storage – what a lifesaver. Our dogs have ownership of the bench at the front of the van and we have waterproof covers over the cushions so they can lounge here during the day, and the underneath of this bench stores allllll of their stuff (and a box of our shoes and wellies).
Under this bench we have a dog food container which we access from the outside. They have a little basket of toys, Dentastix galore, dog poop bags, dog shampoo, towels, dog grooming clippers, scissors, brushes, treats, leads, water bottle, all sorts!
When the dogs aren’t lounging on their seat, they sleep on their dog bed at the back of the van. we have a Tuffies dog bed. The bed is waterproof and you can buy fleece covers. It’s easy to clean and durable, one of the best dog beds we’ve had for pups that like to get messy, and paw at their bed to get comfy – whether you’re in a motorhome or not, we’d highly recommend this dog bed!
For travel, we also have car seat adaptors to restrain them and keep them safe, and a vet bed with a non-slip base to keep them comfortable and stop them from sliding.
And Human food?
In our kitchen, we have 4 top cupboards (two with shelves), 4 drawers and two smaller cupboards at the bottom. We keep all our cutlery, crockery and pans here, which means we really only use 3 of the top cupboards for food and sauces, oils, etc. Which is mostly what we keep here, along with snacks and dried beans and pulses in containers we bought specially. We opted not to have a microwave installed, as this would have taken the space of one of our cupboards.
Whilst we do add weekly food to any remaining space in these cupboards, we keep additional items in other places within the van. At the front we keep pasta and sweet snacks, at the back in the little corner cubby-holes, we keep things like extra pasta, sauces, tins, and extra tea bags! We don’t have a lot in this cupboard but it’s a great extra space for items that we don’t need every day.
And then, there’s the fridge. We went from a big side-by-side fridge-freezer, to this compact fridge with freezer compartment and the transition wasn’t difficult. I’m pretty good at Tetris so it’s impressive what we can actually fit in here! With a compact freezer compartment, we mostly eat fresh food, which thankfully, we’re now experts at preparing in a small space!
We love our little kitchen, anything is possible here!
This is a quick glimpse into how a family of four lives in a 7.5m motorhome and how we manage logistics and storage of everyday items. We have more coming up soon so keep an eye out and if there’s anything specific you’d like to know, just ask!
Check out our other recent blogs (below) to see how we manage homeschooling and lockdown in the van, plus, how our motorhome copes with Winter conditions!