While September 14th marked my third nomadiversary, it also marks almost three and a half years of living in a small RV.
To this day I get incredulous looks that a trailer only 17 feet long from hitch to bumper provides adequate space to live and thrive in, but I can now say in no uncertain terms that for me, it works wonderfully.
I love my little home. It’s small size encourages me to spend more time out in the world. The lack of storage space and thus stuff that I own makes me feel free. I don’t need a behemoth of a vehicle to tow it, it tracks better than a longer trailer, and I don’t need a spotter to get in and and out of of a campsite.
More specific to a Casita, it’s narrow width makes for easier driving on narrow or congested roads, the fiberglass shell has fewer possible leak points than a box style trailer, and the multitude of windows make the interior feel surprisingly roomy.
I’m very proud of the legwork my 28 year old self did when researching RVs. For my situation, working in a location for months at a time and needing to commute to seasonal jobs, a trailer + tow vehicle was the best choice at the lowest cost. Casitas are pretty low maintenance and have amazing staying power compared to other brands of small travel trailers.
At 16 years old now, Cas has held up to the rigors of full-time travel these past three years better than I anticipated. Long time readers will recall that my several months on the road was full of plenty of wonder, but also an apprehensiveness than my used RV, while it looked sound on the surface, could prove to be a lemon–I had only the previous owner’s assurances that it had been well taken care of.
I anticipated needed to replace at least one appliance within the first year, my water heater (the only major thing that has gone kaput in my 3.5 years of constant use) lasted about a year and a half before it quit. To be honest I hardly used it anyway and I haven’t used it at all since getting it replaced this spring.
There have admittedly been numerous other small problems, but none that have required drastic action.
I’ve had several leaks, a couple involving rivets, one spot where the awning is anchored to the roof, part of the seal around the fresh water storage compartment, part of the seal along the top of the door frame, one when the vent over my gray tank disintegrated due to age and UV exposure, and one crack in the roof resulting from hail strike damage (it didn’t start leaking until nearly two years after the fact). Most leaks in a Casita are easily handled by carrying a tube of caulk, rivets, and snap caps with you. The gray tank vent one was a bit more of a hassle, I needed to order a new part and had help replacing it.
One of my inside storage cubbies has a door that refuses to stay shut when traveling, and I’ve had to replace the hinges on it a couple times. My propane bottle cover blew away, I never bothered to replace it. The city water connection valve became damaged (could have been age or the fact that it froze once or twice), it still worked fine when hooked up to city water but would leak (outside the trailer) when I used the fresh water tank and so I had it replaced. A couple of the additions the previous owner made to the trailer didn’t work out in the long run: the shelves in the closet have fallen a couple times and I removed the valences over the windows after one broke and the others started warping the metal window frames.
It’s hard to remember every little thing that has broken. RVing wannabes might cringe at this rather lengthy list but if you compare it to other full-timers you’ll see it’s really not that bad. It’s important to know that no matter what RV you pick you’ll be dealing with these kinds of issues and if you can’t handle them yourself and don’t have the money to pay someone to fix them for you, then RVing might not be for you.
I have the 17′ Spirit Deluxe model, and still find it the best floorplan to fit my needs. I keep the rear dinette as a full size bed at all times, the small side dinette is where my laptop is set up. The only problem I’ve had is that I’ve found it impossible to keep the weight evenly distributed between the left and right side. The major appliances, closet, fresh water tank, and largest storage cubbies are all on the right side of the Spirit model and so it’s always heavier on that side which probably isn’t great for my tires (though the my last ones held out for seven years), but with the weight distribution and sway control I’ve never noticed any problems in handling while towing.
Casitas aren’t perfect, but the truth of the matter is no RV fits that description. As with most things in life, choosing an RV involves compromise. You can’t get something without sacrificing something else. For example the increased maneuverability gained by the narrower width of a Casita comes at a cost of the length of the bed. The correct question a prospective full-timer should be asking is not which RV is best, but which RV best suits their needs. In the example I listed above, I’m short enough that the 75″ bed length is not a problem for me, but for taller individuals it could be.
I frequently get questions about Casitas and if I’d still choose one if I had it all to do over, and those questions have increased as I’ve started contemplating on IO about downsizing to something smaller. While I haven’t come to a decision yet on the later point, on the earlier question I can give a solid answer.
Yes, if I had it all to do over with the experience I’ve gained, I would still choose a Casita for my current situation and needs. That doesn’t mean that in the future my needs and situation won’t be different and therefor better met by a different RV, but I certainly do not regret my purchase.
If you’re a prospective full-timer who’s been thinking about a Casita yourself, I won’t come out and say that a Casita is the best option out there. I don’t know your situation and needs nearly as well as I know my own, you’ll have to do some research and come to conclusions yourself. But I will direct you to my rig page, which gives more info on my Casita and links to several other articles I’ve written about my diminutive home. Happy hunting, and I hope you find the RV that works best for you.
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