Kirsten and Devin Trout have made plenty of mistakes while living in four RVs in the last five years. fifth_wheel_living/Instagram Kirsten and Devin Trout have lived in four RVs since moving into their first one in 2018. While they love the tiny lifestyle, Kirsten told Insider that the couple has made some mistakes.
From accidental floods to buying an RV sight unseen, here are the biggest ones she says they made. In 2018, Kirsten and Devin Trout moved into a 350-square-foot RV. Nearly five years and four RVs later, they're still loving the lifestyle.
A photo of Kirsten and Devin Trout when they moved into their second RV. fifth_wheel_living/InstagramIn 2017, Kirsten and Devin Trout decided to move from their home in Delaware to Nashville, Tennessee. But expensive apartments and homes for sale initially made the transition feel impossible.
Then, Devin stumbled on RV life. The couple could buy an RV, live in an RV park, and spend less than the cost of nearby apartments, Kirsten said. They agreed to give RV living a shot and purchased a used 350-square-foot RV in January 2018 for $18,000, she said.
The plan was to live in an RV for one year, save money, sell the RV, and purchase a brick-and-mortar home. "But we just loved how much freedom we felt with the RV," Kirsten told Insider. Nearly five years later, Kirsten said they don't plan on abandoning the RV lifestyle anytime soon.
In fact, this past May, the couple moved into their fourth RV after spotting one with all the features she wanted. From renovating to redecorating, Kirsten said she's has made every RV a home. She shares her journey on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, and while they love the freedom RVs grant them, Kirsten said it hasn't been without its challenges.
From floods to buying RVs that were too small, Kirsten told Insider that living and renovating RVs has been a rewarding yet bumpy road with many lessons learned. Kirsten and Devin Trout told Insider that their RV gives them freedom. fifth_wheel_living/InstagramWhen Kirsten reflects on her five-year RV journey, there are plenty of moments of celebration.
The couple has watched their drab, grey RVs transform into colorful, welcoming spaces. Kirsten said they're able to go out with friends stress-free since rent is less of a financial burden on the couple, and Devin has been able to foster a music career by moving to a city centered around it. While there have been plenty of highs, Kirsten said the couple has also made plenty of mistakes while living tiny.
Here are eight of the biggest hiccups they've had, how they could've avoided them, and what they've learned through life on the road. In 2021, Kirsten's dog accidentally turned on a faucet and flooded their second RV. Now, she never leaves without completely shutting the water off.
One of the couple's dogs accidentally caused a flood in 2021. fifth_wheel_living/InstagramKirsten and Devin live in their small RV spaces with three dogs. One day in 2021, Kirsten left and came back home to a flooded RV, she said.
"That RV actually got flooded because my dog turned on the faucet when I was gone," she said. The flooded RV was considered a total loss by her insurance company, and Devin and Kirsten purchased a new RV after that. But Kirsten said they learned their lesson.
Today, if either of them leaves for a long period of time, they completely shut their water off, which is connected to a spigot at their campground. Regardless of whether you have pets, Kirsten said it's a smart thing to do since a pipe could burst or a myriad of things could go wrong. "If anything does happen, then you won't have a massive flood like we did," she said.
The couple made the mistake of downsizing to 100 square feet after living in a 350-square-foot RV. Side-by-side images of the 100-square-foot RV versus the 350-square-foot RV. fifth_wheel_living/InstagramThe couple's first RV was about 350 square feet, and after living in it for two-and-a-half years, the couple decided to downsize and move into an even smaller space.
Kirsten said the hope was that a smaller space would enable them to travel more since a smaller RV would allow them to save money on gas and navigate to more remote places. "But we never traveled," Kirsten said. "He was always gone doing stuff for work, so it was just me in this even tinier space.
" Reflecting on the decision, Kirsten said she and her husband should've considered whether more travel was feasible with their schedules and if it was worth sacrificing the size of their living space. "That was the biggest mistake, getting an RV and not thinking it through," she said. After a few years in the 100-square-foot RV, when it flooded and they needed to purchase a new home, Kirsten said she immediately knew that they would upgrade back to a larger space.
Kirsten also urges buyers to see the RV in person before buying, which is advice she learned the hard way. Kirsten said she and her husband made sure to tour the most recent RV they purchased. fifth_wheel_living/Instagram"One of our biggest mistakes was not seeing an RV in person before buying it," she said.
For the couple's second RV purchase, when they decided to downsize, they saw mock-up images and the layout online. Kirsten remembers the model selling out fast, so she and her husband made the decision to buy it before seeing it in person. "We'll never do that again," Kirsten said.
Kirsten said the pictures online made the space seem larger than 100 square feet plus they didn't have a chance to evaluate any issues with the RV that could've happened during the manufacturing process. Now, Kirsten said the couple buys used RVs that they can see in person before purchasing. This allows the Trouts to ask detailed questions about things like hookups and water damage, and they're "able to see what the previous RV owner went through," she said.
When Kirsten tours potential new RVs, she makes sure to take notes and videos. Kirsten Trout said she didn't take enough notes when she toured her first RVs. fifth_wheel_living/InstagramKirsten said when they were purchasing their first RV, they toured multiple layouts with different amenities and features.
Kirsten said the experience was a bit overwhelming, especially since she didn't take enough notes from the tours. She recalls RV dealerships and owners asking her not to record footage of the RVs she was touring. She obliged and proceeded to forget details of the RVs' amenities, hookups, and features.
"It would've been nice to actually have that walkthrough and be able to look back and understand what different parts of the RV were used for," she said. For example, if Kirsten had taken better notes on one of the tours, she wouldn't have spent hours scouring YouTube for a video about how to empty and clean the black tank, which holds all the sewage and was covered on one tour, she said. Now, she said she either insists she records or writes down notes so she doesn't forget the details of a potential home.
Kirsten said when she first started living in an RV, she hadn't perfected the skill of "purging. "A cluttered counter in Kirsten Trout's RV. fifth_wheel_living/InstagramIn just a few hundred square feet of space, clutter quickly builds up, Kirsten said.
Closets can start overflowing, kitchen cabinets become crammed with food, and decor starts to feel overwhelming. Kirsten said she originally thought that she and her husband would have to do a one-time purge when they transitioned from an apartment to an RV. They got rid of the vast majority of their furniture, sold off household items, and downsized their closets.
But she said she quickly realized that getting rid of items like clothing and decorations is a constant chore. Nearly five years later, Kirsten said she's still getting rid of things on a regular basis to maximize her space. "I told my husband this week that when he gets home, we are purging clothes," she said.
Kirsten skips permanent renovations now and opts for renter-friendly hacks. In Kirsten Trout's old RVs, she used to paint and make permanent changes, now she relies on removable wallpaper and non-permanent DIY tricks. fifth_wheel_living/InstagramKirsten and Devin did major renovations on the first two RVs they lived in.
They ripped out cabinets, painted walls, and made permanent changes to their homes. But Kirsten said some of those major renovations were sometimes a mistake since they were expensive and timely. For example, when they painted their second RV, Kirsten remembers the paint fumes lasting in her home for days.
For her last two RV renovations, she said she's focused on simple DIY projects. For example, she's swapped wet paint for removable wallpaper and nails for Command Hooks. This allows her to constantly change and freshen up the space without damaging her home.
Kirsten said she'll never buy another RV that doesn't have amenities like a washer and dryer. The washer-and-dryer setup in Kirsten Trout's RV. fifth_wheel_living/InstagramThe first three RVs Kirsten and Devin lived in lacked the luxury of a washer and dryer.
But their current RV has that amenity, and Kirsten said she's never going back to a life without that perk. "I don't know how I lived without a washer and dryer for this many years," she said. Kirsten originally made the mistake of thinking that tiny living meant you had to sacrifice features like a fireplace or laundry setup, but now she knows that it's about compromise.
You might have to have a smaller fireplace or give up some closet space, she said, but that doesn't mean you can't have things like a washer and dryer. Finally, she wished she discovered and connected with the online RV community sooner. Kirsten Trout said she's now not afraid to ask questions.
fifth_wheel_living/InstagramToday, there isn't any question Kirsten is too afraid to ask her TikTok followers or RV Facebook groups. But when she first started living in an RV, she didn't know those groups existed. When she finally discovered them, she said she was sometimes afraid to look silly asking simple questions.
"Now I've become more confident," she said. "I've learned you don't have to feel stupid. No question is stupid.
"Plus, she said that everyone she's met — whether in person or online — is eager and willing to help. "I wish I would've turned to those groups for support years ago," she said. Read the original article on Insider.