I really think the title of this post should be “How to pick out the perfect RV for you” because let’s face it, we’re all different and we all have different wants and needs to fit our lifestyle and that’s really what this post is all about!
We learned a ton from owning our first RV. We learned our likes and our dislikes, the things we could live without and the things we definitely could not. So when it came time to buy our new home on wheels we had a much better idea of how to go about the process and what exactly we were looking for.
Since we just signed on the dotted line for our new home and trudged through what can be some very muddy waters in the RV buying process we thought we’d share our thoughts on the best practices for how to find the RV that’s perfect FOR YOU and YOUR FAMILY!
SIZE MATTERS AND SO DOES HOW YOU USE IT
Before you even step one foot onto an RV sales lot or set a spending budget it’s essential to consider what you want to do with your new rig. Answering these simple questions will save you a ton of headache and rehashing on the backside
- How long are your camping trips going to be? Weekends, a couple of months a year, or are you going full time).
- How often do you plan on relocating? Do you want to always be on the go or is slow travel more your speed?
- Where do you want to go? That’s right boys and girls, despite what they say size really does matter. Many State and National parks don’t have the space to accommodate larger models. So if you’re planning on staying in more remote places it’s something to consider.
After you’ve roughly figured out what you need and why you need it, it’s time to answer the age-old question, “How much do you want to spend?” Daunting, we know!
As much as it stinks to confront your money situation head-on, it will save you loads and loads of heartache later. It’s important to remember when setting an RV budget that there is more to consider than just the cost of the RV- things to think about include…
- Gas mileage
- Maintenance costs- like anything in life RV’s whether they’re motorized or a tow behind costs money to keep them rolling, some more than others
- If it’s towable do you already own the truck to pull it?
- Where are you going to park it when you’re using it? Camping fees can be as little as zero a night and as high as thousands of dollars a month!
- Where are you going to park it when you’re not using it? Storage fees can rack up quickly, and once again size really matters!
Having a realistic budget in mind before sitting down with a salesman will save you the stress of walking into a unit, falling head over heels in love with it only to find out it’s 10-20k more than you wanted to spend. Avoid the upsell trick and stay strong, only look at what you can afford. When you get tempted to overspend remember every dollar you’re not dropping on your camper fees is money you can be spending on one of a kind experiences along the way!
KNOW YOU NON-NEGOTIABLES
We all have things in life we refuse to live without. Small luxuries can make a big difference in your overall happiness especially if you’re going to be using your new RV for long term travel. It’s vital to have those little things, and it’s also important to accept what you can live without- this is a lesson we learned the first time with our adventure van and one that we carried with us when buying our new home. Everyone’s non-negotiables will be different but to get you started thinking of your’s here’s our list…
- Storage- one of our main reasons for upgrading was to allow us more space to bring our toys with us on the road, and in the long run expand our adventure capabilities. Storage space was huge for us!
- Optimum Airflow- This might sound silly, but we spend a lot of time off the cord/dry camping, and we didn’t intend that to change. When you’re living without the luxury of AC you’re dependent on nature’s air conditioning, a nice fresh breeze and you’re going to want to well placed windows to help bring the outside, in!
- Washer Dryer Prep- I know, I know, a lot of you are probably sitting there thinking that this is silly, and maybe it is. But when you’re traveling full time a teensy tiny little luxury like being able to do laundry in the comfort of your own home can make all the difference in the world so even though we weren’t certain we’d be installing a washing machine we wanted the ability to have one if we wanted it!
- Useable Space- This might be something that’s hard to understand unless you’ve ever lived the van life but if you have or have done something similar you’ll get it. At the end of a long day, chances are you’re going to want a comfy chair to pop your bottom into and relax or knock out some work. Our van as much as we loved it just didn’t have this. If the weather was bad or if we just wanted to hang out at night and chill w our 2 choices were the table and the bed, needless to say working in bed often lead to more sleeping and less working, not exactly optimal! Looking for a comfy living space became super important to us when shopping for our new home.
- A Fireplace- We will admit when we first put this on our list of must haves it was entirely a matter of luxury. Who wouldn’t want a fireplace to hang out by? Now that we’ve lived in the fifth wheel for nearly 2 months, it has become a can’t live without item. The fireplace with its blower provides us with free heat when we are hooked up to electric and considering these past few months have been filled with snow, and freezing temps it has been both a propane and a lifesaver!
ACCEPT THAT NOTHING IS PERFECT
Like all things in life perfect does not exist, and the sooner you accept that the happier you’ll be! After months of deliberating literally every type, model and make of RV and finally settling on our Keystone Cougar Fifth Wheel, we still spent time wondering if we had made the right choice and fretting over our decision. Was it too big? Sometimes it feels not big enough! Were we “fifth wheel” people? We had big moments of sadness missing the convenience factor and simplicity of van life. The reality was that once we sat down and accepted that we had done everything we could to make the best choice for us and trusted our process and ourselves we not only fell back in love with our new home but we were way happier as well!
Don’t let the stress of searching for perfection suck the fun out of the process! You’re on an adventure, and all good adventures have their ups and downs, just breath don’t rush, and most of all never let anyone pressure you into a purchase you aren’t ready for! When the right one stumbles into your path you’ll know it!