Living in an RV when Its Cold

Jan 24th 2022

Living in an RV when Its Cold

It is the end of December, with below-freezing temperatures for most of the United States. It's cold, especially if you are still living in your house with heat that only reaches a few rooms. Many people who are thinking about leaving their home for an extended part-time stay in an RV are afraid of being cold during this time of year. They may have read horror stories about how difficult it is to keep warm in an RV when it's cold outside. It doesn't have to be this way!

I've been living in my RV full-time since August 2015, and I just survived one of the coldest Decembers on record. How do I keep warm? Here's my story:

Keeping Warm in My RV

I live in the Pacific Northwest. That means that winter here is cold and wet. The average temperature during December was 37°F (3°C), with an average high of 45°F (7°C) and an average low of 33°F (1°C). Over 13 days, the temperature did not rise above freezing, which is remarkable considering the fact that I live less than one hour away from Seattle! The coldest day was December 19th, when it didn't get above 22°F (-6°C) all day long. And yes, I still had to go outside… but because I have a very understanding neighbor who lets me use his bathroom whenever needed, it's not much of a problem.

Dressing for the Elements

I dress very warmly when I go outside during this time of year. Here's my standard outfit:

Base layer: black turtleneck sweater, black leggings, thick socks that cover my calves, and tall leather boots that go up to below the knee. I find these boots at thrift stores for less than $5 US dollars. They are waterproof and keep my legs sooo warm! Don't want to spend too much money on clothes you only wear for several months per year? Check out thrift stores or second-hand clothing websites like thredUP. I usually spend $5-10 on each of these items.

Top layer: A nice wool coat that has two layers of fabric just below the waist (to trap air) and it's also very warm. This type of coat is good for spending many hours outside at sub-freezing temperatures because it will keep you very warm. The total cost for this coat was $20 US dollars. If wearing your regular winter clothes isn't enough to keep you warm, you can find thick socks on close-out at discount stores.

It all boils down to two things: Layer, layer, layer! Keep warm by layering clothes so there are no gaps for heat to escape. For example, if I'm wearing black tights under my jeans, that addition of one more layer adds an extra barrier against the cold air. Wool or fleece material provides great insulation too.

Staying Healthy and Flu Free

When it's cold outside (or even in warmer climates), keeping your hands clean is very important health-wise. My dishwashing station consists of a small bucket filled with water (heated either on the stove or the hot water heater's leftover warm water), a small amount of dish soap, and two sponges. I use one sponge to wash the dishes, and the other sponge is my hand washing sponge. By keeping both my hands and dishwashing equipment very clean, I avoid germs from spreading inside my RV.

If you keep your living accommodations as sanitary as possible (and if you're healthy to begin with!), then having inconveniences like cold weather or less-than-perfect bathroom conditions really isn't that bad.