Finding the right RV is a very broad statement for a very specific endeavor. Whether you are finding the right RV for an individual, couple, or family will play a huge role in that decision.
I don’t even know where to go with a title like this. Sure, it would be easy to type, “go out and buy a big ‘ole RV, along with a car, and whatever else your little heart desires”, but I don’t think that would resonate with most people. Instead, I’ll try to walk you through the main concerns our family is grappling with in regards some of the things we will need, things which we don’t currently have, for this adventure (hint hint . . . an RV).
It should be apparent that the necessary capital must to be there to make some of these purchases. Unless we plan on stealing an RV, which I don’t see happening, as they are slow getaway vehicles (and I’m told that stealing is unlawful and immoral).
Hopefully, after whittling down some of our current stuff, we’ll have a bit of money available to begin our shopping spree in regards to all-things-RVing.
This is where, after we’ve properly implemented some of our “plans”, we can begin to see our dreams changing into reality.
What is an RV?
Of course we’ve had to ask this question! Could there be another way?
The answer is simple enough: An RV is, in North America, the usual term for a motor vehicle or trailer equipped with living space and amenities found in a home (thank you Wikipedia).
The next question is a bit dicey, and can lead to quite a bit of contention when posting it on Facebook or other online forums.
What is the right RV?
Have no fear, we are not here to answer that question, as we’re still struggling with it ourselves.
So for us to tell you what is the best option is out of the question. But, hopefully you know the difference between the classes.
If not, here’s a quick (huge emphasis on quick) primer:
Fifth-Wheel: Imagine a hybrid between a travel trailer and a Class C. Tons of space, pull with ¾ ton truck.
There are a few other options out there, but the above should be a good starting point. Each individual/couple/family is different, with differing needs and opinions in regards to full-time travel. There isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all answer.
Talking with those who have gone before, I have come up with the two primary factors that most everyone has based their RV purchase upon.
This is an easy one. It has to be feasible and within our budget. I’m sure we would all love to buy the most luxurious unit available, but if the payments make daily life impossible, then it probably isn’t meant to be. Another consideration in finding the right RV will be the projected upkeep/maintenance of the RV.
- Will it be a Class A or C with a gas or diesel engine?
- Is it a fifth-wheel that requires a specialized tow vehicle?
- Will the unit be new or used?
All there are basic considerations that we have been addressing as we plan on purchasing our home-on-wheels.
I was a bit surprised when reviewing the responses in regards to this question. I was expecting to hear a resounding, “The most space we could afford”, when instead there was a general consensus that gravitated towards the smallest unit possible . . . while still being livable (not everyone wants to live in a conversion van). That doesn’t mean having everyone crammed in like sardines, but giving each person a minimal amount of space while still enjoying life on the road.
It became apparent that the reason for having less available living space transferred into fostering a lifestyle that was oriented towards outdoor activities. Hooray fresh air!
Finding the Right RV . . . for Us
This is one area I’m very grateful we have been going through this long, drawn-out, plan and prep process. If we had the means to make our purchases and cut all ties when we came up with this decision, then we would have been in a rig already . . . but it probably wouldn’t be the right one.
I don’t know about you, but when a huge life-changing decision is made, we want to get on with making that decision a reality. Add to that the fact that Tricia is one to shout I WANT IT NOW, and we have a recipe that makes it ripe for jumping into things.
Don’t get me wrong. Each day that goes by is one more day where we are all fantasizing about fulltime RVing, while still being stuck in place here in Florida. But, we have been using this time to research the options that are available, and evaluate which ones will be right for us.
When we first came to the conclusion that we wanted to do this thing fulltime, we instantly began researching to find the right RV . . . for us.
There are always lots of wants whenever we come to a new decision . . . especially in regards to a huge lifestyle change. I mean sure, we would love to go out and spend like drunken sailors, acquiring the greatest RV and every gadget imaginable. Sadly, but more likely fortunately, that is not in the cards.
So what do we need?
We’re going to need an RV. It has to be reliable, affordable, and comfortable . . . and that’s it for the ables.
We need separate living quarters, as we’re not going to expect our daughter to live and sleep on a convertible dinette . . . she deserves her own space. Seeing how Nevaeh has refused to stop growing, we feel that an area to call her own, and decorate accordingly, will go a long way in making the upcoming transition a bit easier.
Since we’ll be full-timing, storage will be at a premium. Depending on the type of rig we choose, we’ll either be scaling back quite a bit, or down to nothing but unitards and sporks. Yes, that’s a bit dramatic, but we’re trying to wrap our heads around the fact that all our stuff will be extensively evaluated for its usefulness on our journeys.
We like to explore, so we’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t want to unhook the RV every time we’d like to go into town. With that in mind, we’ll either have to have a towable vehicle (if we’re rolling in a Class C), or a truck (which would serve the purpose of pulling the Fifth Wheel).
And that’s it. Sure, there’s lots of other stuff to consider . . . but we’re confident we can figure out those details along the way, or manage and around them when they happen.
When we first sat down and began to really consider the idea of buying an RV and full-timing it around the country, somehow we immediately came to the conclusion that a Class C would be just the ticket. The right one would fit in our budget, the girls would be more comfortable during the drives, and it could pull a dinghy/toad (more on that later).
It was so obvious; a Class C would be perfect.
We began looking for something in the low 30’ range. Tricia and I would have a room in the back, and Nevaeh would have her over-the-cab cubby to do as she wishes.
While driving between locations, the girls would be much more comfortable. Tricia might even be able to homeschool Nevaeh, and restroom stops would no longer be an issue. I have to admit though, I was never sold on the wandering-around-while-in-back while driving idea.
We began looking online, checking the local Craigslist ads, and there were plenty of Class Cs that fit in our budget.
The solution to our fulltime RVing dreams would be a Class C!
We spent a few months fixated on the notion that we would be embarking on our adventures in a Class C. I mean, we knew what we wanted, so why consider anything else? We even began coming up with names for out soon-to-be rig.
But then a lightbulb went off.
Was our decision to purchase a Class C based solely on the fact that we wanted a bit more comfort during the few hours of driving we would do between sites? Really? We don’t plan to be moving every day or two, but would rather take our time and enjoy our stays (1-2 weeks, or more, per location). We’re not going to hamstring ourselves with an unrealistic hit-every-state-in-13-weeks timeline.
Not only was this a revelation, but it also opened up more opportunities to make this transition even more comfortable.
Enter the Fifth Wheel
Looking at the numbers, we found we could purchase a newer Fifth Wheel for the same amount as an older Class C. There would be more living space, more storage, and Nevaeh would have an actual room (bunkhouse model) as opposed to a cubby over the cab.
We’re going to lose a few years when buying a truck over a towable car, but we would only be servicing one drivetrain (which would be newer than a Class C) . . . so that’s a win. Plus, the truck would serve as our run-around vehicle when the fiver is set in place.
There are only two downsides that we currently see with the Fifth Wheel:
- Backing up – Sure, we don’t normally drive with trailers . . . but Tricia and I are no strangers to the towing scene (I’ll never admit it publically, but Tricia is probably better at backing a trailer than I am).
- Everyone will be in the cab of the truck when transitioning from place-to-place. That may seem particularly uncomfortable, maybe even cruel and unusual, but it won’t be too bad. We’ve embarked on several 12+ hour road-trips, piled into a 2-door Jeep or a 4-door SportTrac (with all our gear & luggage). I’m thinking that a ¾ ton, crew cab will give everyone ample room, while all our “stuff” will be safely tucked away in the home on wheels.
I could go on, as there’s so much to say. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll leave you with this. A few of the posts that have been super beneficial in our choice . . . up to this point.
The Boyink clan, over at Ditching Suburbia, have been rolling in a 5th wheel for several years now. I value their opinions and see then as content experts in this area. Check out their article on how and why they chose a Fifth Wheel.
The Hannan’s have been doing the fulltime thing for a couple year now, and have experience with both a Class C and a Fifth Wheel. Check out their posts on why they made the transition and what was beneficial with each type.
Last, but definitely not least, Heath & Alyssa Padgett initially purchased a Class C . . . we miss you Franklin. They have since transitioned into a Class A Winnebago, but have some great advice about RVing in general, check these out: RV Mindset & 29 Reasons Living in an RV is Better than Living in a House.
As or right now, I think we’ll end up in a Fifth Wheel. It’s such an exciting time for us, and I’m grateful that we have had the benefit of time to really think through some of these decisions.
If you have any advice on this subject, we would love to hear it.