'We Live In an RV Tiny House With Our 5 Kids'

In October 2017, we had ten acres of land and had built our dream house from the ground up. It was on a farm in Deer Park, Washington, which is a tiny town less than an hour north of Spokane. But after we had lived in it for two years, we realised that it wasn't our dream after all. One day my husband Brentt looked at me and said: "Do you want to sell up and go traveling?" I just said: "Thank the Lord, yes!"

I had wanted to go tiny and travel around America for five years and I had been working on persuading Brentt throughout that time. I don't like to be stationary and when you have a mortgage, you can really only travel once or twice a year and typically only for a week. I loved the idea of traveling somewhere, setting up our home and staying there for as long as we wanted. We could pick the location and the weather.

We sold our home and everything in it apart from some items that went into storage and moved out by March 2018. At the time, I was 28 and Brentt was 32 and our five kids were 11, 7, 5, 4 and 18 months. It was one of those situations where you feel like you're finally able to breathe because the weight you had on your shoulders for so long has been lifted. It was amazing.

Our first RV home was tiny. My husband wasn't sure he wanted to live in an RV for longer than a year, so we bought a 33ft travel trailer that didn't even have a bunk room. Every night we converted the living room area into a bedroom for the kids, and every morning we put everything away. Although we completely renovated it, including the kitchen and bathroom, and it ended up being beautiful, it was not conducive to comfortable living in the long term for a family of seven and a dog.

Eventually we partnered with an RV manufacturer and they gifted us our current 5th wheel RV back in June 2020. This is our home, it's just smaller than a lot of other people's stationary stone and brick houses and over the past year we've worked hard with renovations and interior decor changes to make it our own.

We have a front master bedroom that sits over the top of our truck, it has an en suite bathroom and we have a large living room area, because it was important to have a big family space. Beyond that is our kitchen, which has a residential sized fridge, washer and dryer and a large oven. The only appliance we don't have is a dishwasher. At the back of the RV is our kids' space with a smaller bathroom for them. We added flooring and storage for them and it has two twin bunks that lower on an electrical jack system. Our eldest daughter has her own private loft area. There's also a huge tent that goes on the back of the RV over the patio, so they have plenty of space. The kids do like to play and read back there, but honestly they're mostly running around outside, riding bikes and scooters, playing sports with other kids or we're out exploring as a family.

Thankfully our kids are really adaptable. They have never been children who need a very specific regimen; they just go with the flow. They were excited to leave the snow in Washington and go on adventures, because we had talked about all the historical places we were going to be able to see in person. Living in an RV has never been an issue and it still isn't. We are very open with our kids and we talk to them all the time, asking if they want to go back into a house or if they want to stop sharing space. The kids are homeschooled and they love that they get to do their school work in the morning and then go and explore for the rest of the day. They're gaining so much real life experience; they get to meet amazing people from all different backgrounds, races and religions and hear those people's stories in person. There was actually a point in 2020 when we were moving from our old RV into this one and had to spend time in a couple of rental properties. We asked the kids if they wanted to live in a house permanently again and they begged us to go back into an RV!

We are currently in Florida for six months, but we have traveled to 27 states so far. During the later spring, summer and early fall we do our traveling and we're typically at places for one to two weeks so that we can really explore the area and visit museums and historical sites. We have covered a lot of the West Coast because we're from Washington, a lot of the Southern states like Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and we've visited much of the Midwest as well. Our family favorite is Utah. We love Arches National Park near Moab, Zion National Park, Heber and Provo. They're all really beautiful and gorgeous all year round. We also love eastern Tennessee; places like Chattanooga and Pigeon Forge. And, we are big fans of southern California. Who doesn't love that area? San Diego is wonderful.

I have worked with an essential oils company for seven years and that provides the bulk of our income, but we also have an online subscription course for social media and we do collaborations with brands online. During the winter, we typically work at an RV park. For example, at the RV park and workout camp we are currently at in Florida we stay on the land for a discounted rate and get paid work. So, we have a whole bunch of different income streams and we do that so we can actually stay on the road.

The RV we live in would have cost around $160,000 to purchase, and our renovations so far have cost between $4,000-$5,000, though we are planning to do more, like changing the flooring and tiling the bathroom.

The Proha Family's Tiny House RV
Brittnee and Brentt Proha live in an RV tiny home with their five children. The Proha family have been traveling America in their RV for four years. Brittnee and Brentt Proha

The beauty of this lifestyle is that there are so many options, it just depends on how you want to do it. There are people who live in RV parks where the rent costs $400-$500 a month and there are people who live out on the land.

Some people are fine with more of a camp ground situation, but we like RV resorts with more amenities, so I don't know if we have saved money. The months we stay in different resorts when we travel can cost anywhere from $1,000-$2,500, which is basically like paying a mortgage.

When we first started almost four years ago, there were families but they were more spread out. In the past three years we have seen a big influx of families doing the same as us, so we actually travel with other families. It's kind of like a rolling neighborhood. There will be families that we'll travel with for three or four months at a time, then we may not see them for a month, but we'll connect back up and travel the country together again. Our kids have those friends and get to travel and experience places with them. A lot of the families we know are also in Florida now. So our kids see their friends all the time!

When we're driving through little towns my husband always reminds the kids that we would never have seen that place or area of America had we not done this. It has given us so much freedom. We love that our backyard and front yard always changes but our inside always stays the same.

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On the other hand, with so much freedom comes so many options and that can be a little overwhelming. We can go anywhere in the country, stay in any town and do anything! But honestly, there haven't been a ton of lows.

Next, we're planning to travel the East Coast of America. We want to see places like Virginia and Washington D.C. and travel all the way up to Maine, then spend a couple of months there to experience Maine in the summer. Afterwards, we'll travel back down the East Coast and return to spend winter in the same RV park in Florida that we are currently staying in.

In the long term, we are looking to start investing in vacation homes in places we have visited around the U.S., and eventually, we'd like to purchase land in Florida or Tennessee. The idea is to have a small RV park on that land so our friends can come and stay. We'd also like to have stationary tiny homes and glamping tents available there for people to rent.

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Living in an RV tiny house definitely simplifies your life. I think a lot of people can get stuck in the daily grind. They have the same routine day in, day out and then wake up 20 years later wondering where the past two decades of their life went. With this lifestyle, we're outdoors in nature and experiencing new places all the time.

Wherever we are, we always just stop for a second and take it all in so we can remember it. Life does go fast. So for us, living this way has helped us to slow down and really savor every moment with our family.

Brittnee Proha lives in an RV tiny house with her husband Brentt Proha and their five children. You can follow them on TikTok @oilsandgracetribe on Instagram @oilsandgracetribe or find out more about their life at msha.ke/oilsandgracetribe.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Jenny Haward.