It seems like everyone has the idea of buying an RV (camper, 5th wheel, travel trailer) in order to get out and see the country during these times of restricted international travel. What’s not to love? You can travel with your own “Bed and Breakfast” in tow, get out in nature and explore while social distancing at the same time. And with homeschooling and working from home more prominent than ever these days, the RV lifestyle has become a viable option for many families. It’s not just for retired folks anymore.
Before you take the leap into this lifestyle here are some important things to consider:
Buying An RV: What Type/Size Should You Get?
The first thing to consider is your needs and comfort level. Do you want to tow a trailer or drive a bus or van-style camper? There are several styles and lengths available depending on your needs and your budget.
If you decide to tow, you need to consider your tow vehicle and make sure you are within the weight guidelines for towing safely. This is a science all on its own.
To get started in figuring out what you want, it is helpful to check out different styles of campers online, visit dealerships, watch YouTube videos, or join Facebook groups. Once you do, ask questions and read threads about different campers or RVs that are available to narrow down your needs and wishes.
Remember, the more bells and whistles you get (slide-outs, electric stabilizers, solar panels), the more things that potentially could need to be fixed down the road.
Used or New RV?
With so many people getting into the RV lifestyle, campers have become hot commodities, and prices have gone up as demand has increased. While this may not work in your favor now, it may if camping falls out of favor in a year or two.
But when thinking of your purchase, keep in mind that, just like a car, as soon as you finish buying an RV and drive it off the lot, it depreciates in value. And if you are looking at second-hand RVs, you will want to check them thoroughly to ensure that there are no issues or damage with them.
You will definitely get a better deal buying a second-hand RV or Travel Trailer, but you do not want a lot of issues you need to fix.
Costs associated with buying an RV
As you calculate what you can afford to spend on your RV, make sure you include all of the costs associated with them, including fuel, campground fees, storage, and maintenance or improvements to your rig.
You will want to do some research on the overall costs of ownership beyond the purchase price. Again, YouTube videos or Facebook groups are places to get an idea about additional costs you will run into.
Work involved in RV lifestyle.
Once you have your RV and are ready to go camping, the real work begins. You will need to know how to maintain your home away from home.
You are about to learn so much about the freshwater tank, grey tank, black tank, water heater, setting up at the site, leveling your camper, getting the best wifi, monitoring tire pressure, and safely backing up your RV that it may just make your head spin. But if you take it one issue at a time and watch lots of beginner tutorial videos, you will be just fine.
There is also a lot of work in maintaining your RV. Things such as cleaning the roof and re-sealing it, sanitizing the fresh water tank, flushing out the water heater, checking all seals, and re-applying sealant or trim molding are all critical. And ongoing maintenance is necessary to keep your RV happy, safe, and functioning well.
With camping being so popular, many campgrounds are at capacity most of the time. Not only does this require some planning on your part to make reservations in advance, but it also means there’s a good chance you will be close to your neighbors.
And there are some rules campers observe to be polite and courteous to each other, including:
- Do not walk through other people’s campsites. Respect the boundaries and their privacy.
- Be aware of the volume on your music or tv, especially if you have outdoor speakers.
- Keep your dog on a leash, and clean up after your pet.
- Those outdoor lights might be the coolest thing ever, but not so much all night long.
- If you have children, make sure they understand the guidelines and respect fellow campers.
As you can see, the RV lifestyle does take some forethought, planning, and work from before your purchase to protecting your investment. You need to do your homework first to see if it’s right for you and know what you are getting into and be prepared to keep up with the maintenance.
If you do decide camping is for you and embrace the lifestyle it can lead to many happy moments and memories and is well worth the effort.