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RV novice-point me in the right direction
Old 07-07-2014, 12:32 PM   #1
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RV novice-point me in the right direction

We will be retiring in Jan and we have a not yet very well thought out plan to buy an RV and travel the country for about a year and then sell it.

Can anyone point be me in the right direction for things to look for and questions to ask? We know very little about RVs. I believe we would want a Class A. It will be just the 2 of us. We are willing to spend up to $100K. Several questions:

1) What would you suggest would be the correct size for 2 people to live in full time for a year?

2) Any certain brands we should lean towards or away from?

3) Im thinking something in the 4-5 year old range would be a good compromise between it still being pretty nice but not losing too much money to depreciation? Assuming we got a fair deal when we bought, if we paid $100K for a 4-5 year old RV, how much could we expect to sell it for a year later?

4) Are used RVs really hard to sell at a fair price? If its going to take a year to sell, this plan might be flawed from the get go.
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:38 PM   #2
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In addition to the responses you'll get here, I recommend you pose those questions on these two RV forums:

iRV2 Forum | - RV Forum Community and RV News
RV.Net RV and Camping Forum ? RV, Trailer, Camper, Motorhome, Camping and Campground Information

You might want to first check out the FAQ sections and do some searches. Your questions have been asked there many, many times.
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utrecht View Post

1) What would you suggest would be the correct size for 2 people to live in full time for a year?
That depends entirely on your personal preferences. What's too small for DW and me may be just perfect for another couple.

Quote:
Originally Posted by utrecht View Post
2) Any certain brands we should lean towards or away from?
This is the old Ford, Chevy or Dodge question. You'll get a lot of opinions based on personal preference. As in many manufactured products, the best brands usually cost more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by utrecht View Post
3) Im thinking something in the 4-5 year old range would be a good compromise between it still being pretty nice but not losing too much money to depreciation? Assuming we got a fair deal when we bought, if we paid $100K for a 4-5 year old RV, how much could we expect to sell it for a year later?
Posted below is a "rule of thumb" depreciation year-over-year price decline chart for motor homes. (Like any estimate, it can vary substantially, depending on a number of factors, primarily the condition of the unit, the economy and fuel prices. Values took a huge hit in 2009 with the double whammy of economic woes coupled with record oil prices. Like the economy, prices have largely recovered.

My experience says the depreciation chart is reasonably accurate. I bought a 6 year old (40' diesel pusher) motor home for $82,500. The original owner's paperwork was in the vehicle - he paid $165,000 new. We used it for 43 months and sold it for $62,750. If you run those numbers you'll see they are reasonably close to what the chart says.


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4) Are used RVs really hard to sell at a fair price? If its going to take a year to sell, this plan might be flawed from the get go.
In my opinion, yes they are considerably more difficult to sell than a car or truck. That said, if you are willing to do some legwork and are patient, you can get a good used unit at a reasonable price. That will allow you to pass that good deal along when your are ready, enabling you sell it within a reasonable time.

Buying or selling, I'd recommend you spend some time at this site: Used RVs, Motorhomes for Sale, and Consigned sales - PPL Motor Homes They are one of the largest RV consignment sales businesses in the US and have tons of online information on the actual sales prices of used RVs of all types. We sold our motorhome through them in 3 weeks time.

Note that the following chart says depreciation but is actually the amount of year over year price decline. Example: a motorhome selling new for $100,000 would be valued at $70,000 after one year and $63,000 (a 10% decrease) after two years.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Depreciation.JPG (31.6 KB, 39 views)
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:01 PM   #4
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I have tent camped, used a pop-up, owned a class C and currently own a travel trailer. While I have driven a class A, I have never owned one. I have used a fifth wheel, but have never pulled or owned one.

Here are a few things off the top of my head.

Tires need to be inspected often and should be replaced every six years. Even if you only drive 1 foot in six years, you need to replace the tires. My uncle owned a class A. Front tire blew at 7 years and punched a hole through the passenger side floor board. If my aunt had been resting her foot there as usual, she might have lost it. My class C blew a rear tire at 7 or 8 years punching a hole in the bathroom floor. It also cut through the fuel filler pipe. On class A and C motor homes the tire pressure is much higher than most cars and you have more weight on them, so failures can be more exciting. Many people are used to cars that wear the tread out before the tire fails. RVs are more like large trucks and buses.

I prefer a water heater that runs on both gas or electric. When you are at a camp you can run it off electric and save propane. With a class A or C the propane tank is large and is welded to the frame of the vehicle. That means to fill it you have to take the entire rig someplace which can be a pain. i.e. you have to break camp, drive, then set up again when you get back. I had to do this once. Some camps have portable fill things they drive around, but it's not cheap and most don't have it. With a travel trailer, you just unhook one of the 20# (or 30#) tanks and drive it to anywhere to fill. I use 20# tanks just like a home grill so that I have the widest possible number of filling/exchanging options.

Buy a good portable electric heater if you are going to camp anywhere you will need heat. The heater in the RV, will chew up propane very quickly. See previous paragraph.

Usually see better deals on used RVs in the fall and winter after prime camping season.

Rent one before you buy. I rented a class C for a week before buying mine. $1000 well spent. You can learn what you do and don't like which can help you buy one more appropriate for your needs/wants.

While it's easier to backup a class A or C than a trailer, you still need spotters in tight places. Little radios to communicate with spotters help. Back up cameras can also be pretty cool.

Many RVs have short queen sized beds in them. Lay down and make sure you fit before you buy. I am 5'10" and my feet hung off the end of the bed in our class C. My current travel trailer has a normal size king bed slide out.

Step into the shower. Put your arms up like you are washing your hair. Did your elbows hit anything?

Test drive the one you are planning on buying. There may be seating position and visibility surprises depending on what you have driven before.

What are you using as a dinghy? i.e. the car or bike you pull behind the RV to drive when you get someplace. Class A's don't do well in the McDonald's drive thru. Cars towed on 4 wheels are much easier to use than cars pulled on a tow dolly. Most cars can't be pulled on 4 wheels. There are lists which describe which cars can and can't be pulled on four wheels. I had a 2002 honda CRV that I pulled on 4 wheels. It was the AWD version. Honda said not to pull the 2WD version like this. All cars require modification to tow like this. A base plate is installed behind the bumper/grill so that the tow bar doesn't crush the front of the car when pulling it. Many states require the car to have breaking system or something that can operate the cars brake pedal in an emergency stop breaking situation. I used a brake buddy. The setup of a car to tow on 4 wheels is more expensive than using a tow dolly, but having done both extensively, I would never want to go back to a tow dolly.
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:38 PM   #5
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No opinion on what to get. I had Winnebago moho at one time. Another was Argosy trailer.

Be prepared for fixing things, there is always something.
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Old 07-07-2014, 03:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
In addition to the responses you'll get here, I recommend you pose those questions on these two RV forums:

iRV2 Forum | - RV Forum Community and RV News
RV.Net RV and Camping Forum ? RV, Trailer, Camper, Motorhome, Camping and Campground Information

You might want to first check out the FAQ sections and do some searches. Your questions have been asked there many, many times.
X2, the RV specific sites have a lot of info. Spend a few hours there. If you plan to live in it full time, generally bigger is better.

There is always stuff to fix in an RV. A 4-5 year old one is probably a good idea for what you want to keep costs down, but still be able to enjoy it and not deal with too many repairs. A diesel pusher Class A is common for full time use with a vehicle towed behind.
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:10 PM   #7
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... There is always stuff to fix in an RV...
There used to be an RV blog called "Two Tools and a Dream". This couple had a hammer and a screwdriver, their two tools. It was fun reading. He broke his hammer at one point, and was down to a single tool.

Too bad they got separated or divorced, and the blog stopped. Just now I checked, and found out that the blog was deleted. That's too bad.

Anyway, their marital problem did not stem from not having enough tools to maintain their RV, I hasten to add.
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:35 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
There used to be an RV blog called "Two Tools and a Dream". This couple had a hammer and a screwdriver, their two tools. It was fun reading. He broke his hammer at one point, and was down to a single tool.

Too bad they got separated or divorced, and the blog stopped. Just now I checked, and found out that the blog was deleted. That's too bad.

Anyway, their marital problem did not stem from not having enough tools to maintain their RV, I hasten to add.

Sounds like they themselves ended up being the "tools."




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Old 07-11-2014, 09:51 AM   #9
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DH is telling me we can live in a Sprinter van he will outfit with fold down beds and shower at truck stops. Ummm, I donno about that.

It will be stealthy and can be parked anywhere and gets 22 mpg.
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:08 AM   #10
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I dunno either.

Surely, a converted Sprinter will be stealthy and can be parked anywhere. But even as a man, I want to have a real bathroom.

I like the larger B+ class like the now-defunct Chinooks for travel, but living full-time in one is still tough for a couple.

Here's how a couple lives in a class C even smaller than mine. Theirs lacks a bed like mine, so they sleep in the overcab bed. You can see how tight it is, and it has a slide-out. I have used mine to travel for close to a 2-month stretch, and it is very comfortable, but I still wonder how full-time living would work.

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Old 07-11-2014, 10:15 AM   #11
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If price were not an issue take a look Roadtrek which manufactures on a Sprinter frame. The used units, particularly diesels, are offered all around the country so you may need to do a little traveling to check them out. One seller mentions rust and that they and the previous owners lived in the SE. Humm... Rust on vehicles isn't an issue in the west. Based on that comment I would watch out for water damage.

My concern about a home made setup would be safety, particularly because cooking and heating uses propane.

An advantage with the likes of a Roadtrek is that they are reasonable garage-able (check door height).

Units of that size don't offer much cabinet or storage space. I would be tempted to pull a small trailer tricked out with cabinets.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:11 PM   #12
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The bigger Sprinter with dual rear wheels should not have a problem, though I do not have the numbers. My neighbor just bought a used Winnebago View a few months ago. It's small enough to keep in her sideyard, and I have not seen it much recently. She must be out having fun.

My 25' class C has a cargo capacity close to 2,500 lbs. And that is with full fresh and waste water tanks. I run out of storage volume long before running into the weight limit. And even at that the max weight, I am supposed to pump the rear tires to only 65 psi, not the 80-psi limit of the tires. Lots of reserve.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:25 PM   #13
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My neighbor's View is a dually. Perhaps it is a recent year.

PS. Here are the floorplans. Hers is the one with a rear corner bed (View 24J model - upper right picture), just like my bigger class C. Hers is perhaps 6" 1 ft narrower, and 1 ft shorter, I am guessing. It looks very compact, but quite a bit roomier than a Roadtrek. Less expensive too, and with a diesel engine.

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Old 07-11-2014, 01:48 PM   #14
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Interior and exterior views, from the Web.



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Old 07-11-2014, 02:01 PM   #15
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My daughter drives a Sprinter (she has 5 children) and my husband and I went with her family across country last year. It isn't a conversion van, but we had 12 seats and it's tall enough to walk upright in. It drives really well, not anything like a Suburban. More like a minvan. It turns and parks easily. I've seen the conversions and they look like you could use them for an RV if you only had 1-2 people. They do get good gas mileage on the highway. Hers was diesel, but I don't know if they all are. The only problem they have is that they live in a small town and when they need repairs, they have to drive a couple of hours to a Mercedes dealer and leave it for a week or so.
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Old 07-11-2014, 02:22 PM   #16
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It's true that the Sprinter has both gas and diesel versions. And that's true for both van and RV chassis.

I just looked up the specs of the Winnebago View. Its width is 9" less than that of the regular class C like mine. The gross vehicle weight is 1,300 lbs less (11,000 lbs vs. 12,300 lbs). It is of course lighter, so the cargo capacity should be all right. List price is around $100K new, but my neighbor got her 3 or 4-year old RV for around $55K, in very clean condition and with around 20K miles.
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Old 07-11-2014, 05:24 PM   #17
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To the OP - I definitely second gozer's suggestion to rent before you buy. Since you are on the fence, I would actually start with a class C and then if you think bigger would be better (especially storage) then try a class A.

We have a 26' class C (Born Free - small Iowa company, great higher-end class C only company). We did a 3 week trip last year and I really never felt a need for more space. The mega-RVs I just think are silly, but that's me. I do all the driving (DH is disabled) and haven't had any major issues with backing it into spots on my own (great mirrors and a backup camera).

Happy shopping!
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Old 07-11-2014, 05:43 PM   #18
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A couple years ago DH & I considered buying an RV. I purchased a software and book package that analyzed the quality of RVs, I can't recall the publisher at the moment but they are in Washington State. I think it was this one: http://www.rv.org/

Born Free I recall was very highly rated. What I like about the units is that they have a fiberglass envelope. If you spring a leak just take it to a boat yard that fixes fiberglass boats. Big Foot, a CN mfg, if you can find one (they went through bankruptcy in 09 I think) was also highly rated.

Winnebago products were better than most because the have excellent manufacturing practices.

The other thing I recall is that smaller doesn't mean it handles better and that you really need to consider the balance of the unit on the frame. For all the money you will be spending I would buy an independent guide.
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Old 07-29-2014, 06:47 PM   #19
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A few thoughts...

1) Consider joining Escapees - or at least go look at their website: www.escapees.com

2) Turnaround costs are pretty huge in both directions. i.e.: If you're not a dealer, you'll "lose" both buying and selling due to a huge difference between retail and wholesale. Be careful buying from private owners - lots of them are underwater on their loan and have an inflated view of its value. Likewise, be careful buying from dealers - being able to research autos on the internet has chased off lots of the slickest and most crooked dealers; they've all gone to selling RVs now. You will indeed probably have trouble selling at a price that you're happy with after just a year's ownership. You can lessen that depreciation by buying one that is already several years old or by altering your plan and simply keep it forever.

3) $100K will get you into just a mediocre late model Class A, but you can get a top end 5th wheel/truck combo for substantially less. The Class A vs 5th wheel argument never ends, but I chose the latter as being the more thrifty option.

4) Consider buying in snowbird country (Florida, Arizona, Texas). The used inventory is reportedly better due to folks traveling South, getting ill and being forced to essentially abandon their rigs. Another alternative? Buy (either new or used) where they make them: Elkhardt or Goshen, IN. You're going to be traveling the country anyway, so there's no real need to buy where you are right now.

5) I found our 32' fiver to be adequate over a long period of travel for my wife and I as well as a couple hundred pounds of dog. Using walkie talkies we found it convenient to caravan with a modest sedan following along behind the truck/trailer combo. At first we traversed the country quite a bit. After a few years we got in the habit of rarely moving more than a few hundred miles per month. If it feels too warm, head North. Too cold? Go South. Have fun!
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Old 08-01-2014, 01:26 PM   #20
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RV novice-point me in the right direction

The size depends on one main factor: do you plan to live IN the unit, our out of it?

We had an old style class B we loved, but it was a little too tight for anything over a month. The bed was the couch, which took up the entire space when opened. Problematical if only one were ready for bed. We almost bought a 30+ foot C with triple slides, mistakenly thinking bigger was always better. Almost signed the paperwork, then realized we wouldn't be able to take it to some of our favorite remote spots. (We generally consider campgrounds a form of hell.) we laughingly looked at a one slide truck camper, walked inside for a look-see, then suddenly realized it was perfect. Too large a unit, we'd be mobile couch potatoes. The TC is large enough for us to nest comfortably for several days if necessary, but small enough to make us prefer to be outside - where we really want to be. And if we had more room, we'd fill it with unnecessary stuff. We don't full time, but w take off for a month or two, stop by the house for a few weeks or a month to see family, then we're gone again. We have yet to feel cramped or uncomfortable in the unit. It IS a good sized truck camper.

It's a Palomino Maverick 2902 in a 2012 GMC 3500 crew cab DWR with a Duramax turbocharged 6.6 diesel and an Allison transmission. The truck was a work model and cost about $44k. The TC was just under $20k. Both new. If we ever decide to go bigger, that truck will pull anything. We removed the back seat, and used the rear for storage. Used diesels are normally in demand have great resale value as well.

ImageUploadedByEarly Retirement Forum1406917492.716171.jpg

Don't automatically go for the bigger is better argument. It all depends on you and what you want to do with it...

Oh yeah - the Rig will pull a toad or a good sized boat as well' which you can't do with a trailer of fiver.

+1 on RV.net. I hang out there, and it's a great - and extremely large - crew of people.




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