4 Must-Ask Questions to Help You Decide on an RV
It didn't take long for us to decide full-time RVing was the right lifestyle for us. After a few years of feeling the pull toward location independence, we jumped at the chance to hit the road. But deciding to get an RV was only the first of a long list of decisions we had to make before choosing our rig.
However, there were four questions that really made the biggest impact on our decision-making and that we suggest others answer before getting an RV of their own. Whether you are considering an RV for shorter trips or as your home, answering these questions honestly will help you choose the best option for your needs, as well as your dreams.
1. What is your budget?
This is the first, and most important thing to ask yourself. Depending on your financial situation, a new RV may not be an option. For us, we knew we could afford it because the payments on a new Class C RV would be less than half of what we were paying for rent on a one-bedroom apartment near Denver. We also had enough saved for a 10% down payment, which is usually necessary when financing.
Initially looking at $100k+ RVs seemed out of the question. But being able to finance over twenty years at a decent interest rate allowed us to buy new. Plus, we will get to write off the interest of our new home on our taxes next year! And since we are total RV newbies, we also liked the idea of having a warranty.
But new clearly isn't the only option. There are people that convert vans into recreational vehicles or buy used for a few thousand dollars. Just make sure you calculate your budget carefully, especially if you are full-timing. It is easy to want the most-awesome RV out there. But what is the point in buying it if you can't afford to take it anywhere cool? Don't forget to consider fuel costs, RV park fees, maintenance, mail forwarding, and any additional internet options you may need if working on the road.
2. How often do you plan to use it?
We knew from the start that we would be full-timing. This meant we were extra-concerned with comfort. We looked at things like bed size, amount of storage and kitchen usability during our search. Since Buddy is 6'3'' this also meant our rig had to be tall enough for him. Because hunching over 365 days in a row would not be good for his back.
Our search took us into dozens of RV layouts and I made Buddy lay down in each. We even seriously considered the 24J version of the View, because we actually liked the living space better. But, we wouldn't be able to sleep in the bed together comfortably, so we nixed it. The 24G was another option because the bed was big enough, but since it was part of a pop-out we didn't like the idea of re-making the bed every night. For some people this probably isn't even a slight concern. But we plan to hike as much as possible during the day, so we want to be able to crash when we get home! When looking at RVs, spend as much time as possible in each one and try to imagine what every-day tasks will be like in them.
It is also important to consider safety and quality. Winnebago already stood out to us because of their drop test, ability to send any part we many need and seamless fiberglass roof. But after going into multiple RVs from other manufacturers at an RV show and noticing things falling apart, it confirmed our top choice was Winnebago. And although there were less expensive options, the price difference didn't really make a huge impact on monthly payments. So, we decided to pay more rather than risk major issues.
3. Where will you be taking it?
The road climbing up to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.
Some people remain stationary in their rig for most of the year, while others are somewhere new every day. Although we plan to maintain a slower pace during our travels, we want to take our RV all over North America. And since we are in love with the mountains, we knew we would need an RV that could handle those steep-grade roads.
After doing a ton of research, we realized a diesel engine would be best for mountains. It would also get better gas mileage on our cross-continent adventures. We also decided a smaller RV would be key to ensure we could park at National Parks and other points of interest. Plus, we would have better options for cheap camping and boondocking (camping for free without hookups).
If you are also planning to boondock as much as possible, having solar is really important. Since staying for free on public lands is how we plan to stay within our budget, our RV had to at least be wired for solar. You may still want to add more panels or larger-capacity batteries if you plan to stay unplugged for extended amounts of time. But having it already wired is really helpful.
4. Who is coming with you?
Although there are many families that live full-time in smaller RVs (like these fellow Winnebago View owners), knowing how much space you will need for your crew is important. Luckily, our fluffy cat is much smaller than she thinks, so we didn't have to dedicate much space to her.
However, a dedicated spot for our nephews to sleep when they come to visit is really important to us. Our elementary-aged nephew is almost old enough to start spending some of his summer with us and I have been dreaming of all the amazing places to show him. And our college-aged nephew is excited to have a cool place to escape to when dorm life gets old. Having a loft that either of them would be happy to crash in was definitely a selling point for us.
Obviously, there are many more things to consider when purchasing an RV, but taking the time to give realistic answers to these questions really helped us narrow down our search to a Winnebago View 24V. And we hope this will help you get a better idea of what option is best for you.
Now the next big (and much more exciting) question is, where are you going to go first?