Purchasing an RV is exciting and overwhelming and, not to mention, kind of a big deal! There are so many different makes, models, and options to choose from that can make the whole process seem a bit daunting. Whether you are considering full-time living or just recreational use, there are some things you should consider. Here are 13 questions to ask yourself before you begin RV hunting.
Will your new RV be your home on wheels or a weekend cruiser? Or maybe a weekend cruiser with the potential to be a full-time home. It’s important to think about the purpose you want it to serve, short term and long term, so you can find a rig that will fit your growing needs. Writing down your purpose will help you to focus your search and be a good starting point for a sales consultant, if you choose to work with one.
Whether you plan to pay cash or take out a loan, it’s important to determine a budget before you begin your search. If you are planning to take out a loan, think about monthly payments and the additional insurance. (I always recommend insurance, but it is required for a loan) Another thing to consider is your down payment. Most loan companies require 10% down on recreational vehicles. If you plan to do any kind of work or renovations to it, consider this in your budget.
This is really important to consider before you begin your search. There are pros and cons to both options. Buying new gives you the added security of a warranty and knowing the history of the rig, but it’s usually the more expensive option. You can also search for exactly what you want, layout and interior. RV companies have started to create more modern designs and layouts that are great for full time living/traveling. Buying used is usually cheaper, but you run the risk of having issues like water damage or wear and tear.
After you decide if you are going to buy new or used, you’ll want to decide if you want to do renovations. RV renovations are becoming increasingly popular and the possibilities are endless. One of the best ways to make a home on wheels feel like a home is to create a space you love. You can do this on your own or you can hire a team to do it for you. Check out @rvfixrupper @wearedanandsam @karleemmarsh and the services they offer. When deciding on renovations, it’s a good idea to keep your timeline in mind. RV renovations tend to take a lot longer than you plan for because something ALWAYS comes up. Also keep in mind your experience, tools, and location for renovation. You can find before & afters of our RV renovation HERE.
There are so many different types of RVs out there like motorhomes, fifth-wheels, travel trailers, campervans, caravans, popup campers, and truck campers. Motorhomes and campervans are drivable and are great for full-time travel. In some states, these require a special license, so make sure to check out the requirements in your state. Fifth-wheels have higher ceilings and are usually more spacious than tag-along trailers. Travel trailers come in all shapes and sizes, are easier to pull, and can fit a variety of needs. Popups and truck campers are great for weekend travel or short term trips for small groups.
Before purchasing your RV, it’s important to think about where you will be storing it when it’s not in use. Do you have space in your yard, garage, or barn? Do you have a covered space? Does your city or ordinance allow you to park an RV on your property? If you do not have the space, there are plenty of storage facilities and storage yards that you can rent space from to keep your RV. A climate-controlled storage facility is ideal, however, they are usually rather pricey. Before purchasing an RV, check your local storage facilities and find out what it would cost you monthly/yearly to store your RV. Don’t forget to include this in your budget when RV shopping.
Full-time RV living looks differently for everyone. Some people travel often for work or leisure, while others remain stationary all or most of the time. If you’re traveling full-time, make sure you purchase an RV that you are comfortable driving/pulling often and setting up and tearing down. You will also want to make sure your RV has all of the hookups you need to live comfortably – water, electric, gas (heat), washer/dryer, wifi, cable, etc. If you plan to be stationary, think about where you will be parking your RV. Whether it’s at a permanent RV park or on your own property, keep in mind what hook ups you have available – 30/50amp, water, sewer, cable, wifi.
If you’re buying any type of pull-behind RV, you need to keep in mind the size of your vehicle and its towing capacity. Fifth wheels have a bed-mounted hitch and will most likely require a three-quarter-ton truck, like Ford F250, Ram 2500, or Silverado HD. Travel trailers and pop-ups can be pulled with any truck and most large SUVs. If you’re planning to buy a new truck/suv to fit the needs of your new RV, think about the additional cost or monthly payment when planning your budget.
This will look differently, depending on your purpose. Will you mainly be using the RV with your immediate family or do you plan to accommodate friends and other family members? For full-time living, you will want a permanent sleeping space for everyone. While a convertible sleeping space will work for short-term living, it will get old after a while. For example, a couch that turns into a bed, but would have to be folded up and pillows/blankets stored during the day. For weekend/occasional use, it’s more important to focus on the convertible space to accommodate as many people as possible – pull-out couches, convertible tables/benches, bunkbeds, etc.
The amount of private rooms in the RV is more important for full-time RVers, but is something everyone should consider. Kids and adults may need their own private rooms if you plan to live in the RV full time. Trust me, it will be good for your sanity. If your work is taking you on the road, you may want to consider an office space for work or a hobby. If your RV will be for occasional use, think about who you plan to travel with and if sharing a space is something you’re comfortable with.
RVs do not have the same insulation as a sticks and bricks house, making harsh climates less than enjoyable. Keep in mind where you live or where you will be traveling the most before you begin your RV search. While most RVs are built with the same materials, there are some manufacturers that have packages for hot/cold climates. Artic Wolf, Artic Fox, and Heartlands come with an extreme weather option that is great for cold climates. If you live in or plan to travel to hotter climates often, consider purchasing an RV with double AC units and blackout curtains.
Boondocking is essentially going “off-grid”. This is any place that will require you to live without hook-ups (mountains, desert, back yard, beach, etc.). If you think you would ever consider this, even for a short time, make sure you purchase an RV that can run off a generator, battery, or gas. Other things to consider are the size of your tanks (fresh water, grey, and black), propane hook-ups, and solar panels. Solar panels are not necessary, but they can make off-grid living must more convenient.
After you’ve answered all of those questions, make a list of your must-have items or non-negotiables. If you’re buying new or working with a sales consultant, this is a great list to give them to narrow your search. If you’re buying used or considering a renovation, use your list as a guide to find a layout that you can redesign to accommodate all of those must-have items.
Asking yourself these questions will help you focus your search and find the perfect RV for you. We just recently purchased a new RV and these questions really helped us out. Stay tuned for more RV advice and a full tour coming soon! Follow us on Instagram to check out our new rig and our everyday life as full-time RVers.