What is the RV lifestyle currently in the United States? Is it the same as it always was, or has it changed? How many partake in the RV lifestyle?  Looking ahead, what is the future of the RV lifestyle?

We will look at those questions in this article in an attempt to better understand a growing phenomenon in the United States and abroad.

The RV Lifestyle of Yesteryear

By the 1950’s, the traditional RV life was well-established in the U.S.  Depending upon your income and available disposable income, your RV might would range from a simple travel-trailer pulled behind your car, nor more than fifteen feet in length, to a truck camper sitting in the bed of your pickup truck, to a true motor home, like a Winnebago, with all the luxuries of home, twenty-five feet in length or more.

Back in the 50’s, proceeding to the 60’s and 70’s, RV’s were used primarily for camping and for road trips/sightseeing.  They were the alternative to car travel/motel living for many Americans.  With the introduction of the Interstate Highway System, starting in the 1950’s, more of America became available to the average American, and the road trip exploded in popularity.

For the less-fortunate financially, the RV became a home, and RV parks and trailer parks sprang up around the country, places where people could permanently park their RV and live in them full-time for much less money than owning property and a real brick-and-mortar home.

The current RV Lifestyle

There has been a huge increase in RV production, RV sales, and the RV lifestyle during and following COVID.  People with an increase in disposable income, thanks to the stimulus packages passed by Congress, suddenly went out and purchased the RV of their dreams. Others, less-fortunate, found the RV lifestyle to be the only one affordable for them.  Still others became the modern-day nomads, selling all of their belongings, purchasing an RV, and living on the road permanently, following seasonal jobs around the country, forming a very loosely-organized community of full-time RVers.

And then, unfortunately, there is an increasing number of the homeless who are living in RV’s literally anywhere they are allowed to park them on city streets.

The RV Lifestyle, by the numbers

By 2021, a full 11.3 million U.S. households owned an RV, and also in 2021, over one-million Americans lived in an RV full-time, both record high numbers in this country.  The RV industry estimates an increase in the next five years, beginning in 2022, of 30% in RV ownership in the United States, with similar numbers of RV travel seen in other developed nations like Canada, Australia, and Great Britain.

The future of the RV Lifestyle

For the RV industry, the future has never looked brighter. Sales are at a record-high and predicted to be higher in the very near future.

What that RV lifestyle will look like, however, is a matter of conjecture at this point. Will it morph back to the 50’s, when a majority of people used an RV for recreation, or will it take on the sad look of necessity, which we see at alarming numbers on the streets of all major cities?

As with many things associated with the United States, the answer to that question will be determined, most likely, by the state of the economy and the affordability of basic necessities for living, like food and shelter.