How to Choose-Purchasing an RV
Updated: Feb 4
I wish, maybe more than anything else that there had been a guide out there when we were looking for an RV. We floundered on what we thought we were looking for more times than I can even count. There are truly an endless amount of options, so how on earth does one even know where to start? I am hoping this post might help anyone that's in the same boat as we were in.
First, you need to think about where and how you want to stay, and even this is insanely broad. Here are a few important questions to ask that will begin to narrow your options:
Do you want to stay in resorts, or are you planning for more of a campground or boondocking type of stay?
-A lot of the nice resorts only allow Class A RVs
-Campgrounds are often tough to maneuver with a large unit
-Boondocking may require larger freshwater tanks
Are you planning to use your RV in cold climates during the winter?
-If yes, you will definitely need an all season RV and will likely want to consider getting a
skirt for it ahead of the cold weather.
Do you have or plan to purchase a vehicle to tow your RV or will you want a motorhome style?
-If you want a large fifth wheel or two behind, you may require a one ton dually, versus
the average F150 or Silverado 1500 style truck
Once these questions have been answered, you can begin to look at the different RV manufacturers to determine your list of top makers. This sounds like you are narrowing down your options, but even if you are down to two manufacturers, one a Class A and one a Fifth Wheel, you will still have at least 20 models to shop from, and likely many more than that. When it comes to choosing a model, you will want to know the answers to some more lifestyle type questions.
Do you want a larger living room or kitchen area?
Is it important for your television to be aligned with your seating?
Do you need a bunkroom or den type space?
What is the window setup of the unit like?
I'd like to walk you through some of the process we used, and hopefully this will give you some other things to think about when trying to decide what will be right for you.When we began looking at RVs, we initially thought we'd end up with a class A. We liked the idea that we had just the one unit, and could even tow our jeep along with us for the trips to town and such. The first thing we noticed when looking at them is that they had a pretty narrow enclosed feel to them. Then we began thinking about the motor home itself. We were going to live in it full time, so if there was a needed repair, or any engine or drivetrain problems, we would be without both our vehicle and our home.
These realizations led us to the fifth wheel style of RVs. We knew we would need a dedicated space for Piper that would keep us from having to pack up her bed everyday just to make the RV livable. We also needed a space for Ian to sleep when he was with us. This area would be more easily packed away if needed, but there were several loft options that seemed to meet our needs pretty well. Another thing that seems silly, but was important to us was the type of table we'd have. We knew we didn't want a booth style dining table, so we were on the hunt for one that had detached chairs. We did know we needed to have the best four season RV we could find, we would be spending a considerable amount of time in cold climates. The last big thing we looked for was the largest fresh water tanks we could find. Our goal was to do a ton of boondocking, and we didn't want water to be a reason we couldn't.
Here are some quick lessons we learned:
-We had a 100 gallon fresh water tank to boondock, but did not get an RV with a generator, so we couldn't camp off the grid unless the weather was exactly right. We couldn't run fans or anything. For many, that's not a problem, but with Piper being a baby, we needed to be able to keep the temperature comfortable
-Even a four seasons RV will be colder in winter than you expect... Invest in some rugs. We were happy not to have carpet in our bedroom, but in winter the floors of that slide were VERY cold.
-A full wall of large windows does you no good when you can't always decide which direction you want to face. We knew we wanted lots of windows to see the beautiful places we were going to stay, and it turned out that most times those windows were just looking at our neighbors.
-Getting the biggest trailer you can haul isn't always the best. A few extra inches of space inside may keep you from staying in places you really want to be.
I hope this quick list gives you some things to think about when looking for an RV that we didn't consider. We did a great amount of research and still felt we didn't have a lot of direction, so hopefully the things we learned from will help you in your search.