By Madoline Markham
Photos by Morgan Hunt

Nathan and Emily Fitts were looking at campers to take on weekend trips with their infant and toddler last November when Nathan had an idea out of the blue.

“What if we just sell our house and a move into a camper?” he suggested.

“Absolutely not!” Emily said immediately in reply.

But then a week went by, and she came back with a different answer. “You know I think we can actually live in a camper,” Emily suggested. “It gives you so much more freedom to do things.”

During that week Emily had started watching YouTube videos on RV living and connecting with families who live in campers full time on Instagram, and the RV lifestyle started to look not just doable but also enjoyable.

By April the couple had sold their Helena home, bought a fifth wheel the next day and temporarily moved in with Nathan’s parents in Helena to renovate the RV, working each night from 8 p.m. until midnight after their kids went to bed. But first they’d purged their closets, hosted a yard sale and took around 50 garbage bags full of donations to Goodwill.

The fifth wheel—which they nicknamed Nora the North Point—is a 2019 model but came with dark colors and carpet that weren’t the couple’s style. So they hired painters to paint virtually every dark surface—cabinets, walls, you name it—white, and set to work DIYing tile work, replacing dark wood trim with stained pine and switching out carpet for luxury vinyl flooring.

“I really wanted it to be bright because the brighter it was, the larger it would look,” Emily says. “There are so many windows, and I wanted the light to come in.”

After setting out from Helena this spring, the Fittses have tried out campgrounds all over the state and down at the beach, where Nathan can still access his sales territory for work, and they still spend a good amount of time in the Birmingham area, where Emily picks up shifts as nurse.

Their 2 ½-year-old Rhett is enjoying having a new backyard often—usually one that comes with a pool, splash pad, playground and/or field to play in—and being outside much of the time.

The family’s original plan had been to live full-time in the RV to save money to buy land after a year or two tops, but they quickly came to love the lifestyle and have no plans to leave the adventure of it all for the foreseeable future. These days Emily is saying “Absolutely yes!” to Nathan’s idea.

Follow the Fittses’ RV journey on Instagram @4fittsinafifthwheel.

Kitchen (pictured at top of article)

White paint brightened up the kitchen cabinets, all the more so with the peel-and-stick subway tile backsplash the Fittses added with it.

Living Space

To create a more homey look, the Fittses removed a larger pullout sofa that had a “manufactured” look to it and in its place added two chairs from Home Reserve. A lot of RVers order furnishings from the company because their pieces can be taken apart to fit through doors, their fabric covers are machine washable, and they have storage and are lightweight. The Fittses also have a leather love seat from the company in the living area.

Dining Nook

To create more space off the kitchen the Fittses removed a dinette set and built a table-height butcher block bar in its place with two metal chairs.

Master Bedroom

A king size bed was a must for the Fittses when they were looking at RVs. To freshen up the small space, they added pine trim to frame the bed, painted the mirror-paneled closet next to it and added neutral bedding from Parachute.