Trailer? 5th Wheel? Motorhome?
January 23, 2014
One of the many difficult decisions that we need to make is the type of RV to full-time in. RV decision-making is complex. Over the past 4 months we have been able to narrow down our choices. To do this, we went to 4 RV shows and visited a couple of dealers in Oregon and California over this period.
One thing to consider is resale value. Currently resale values for Class C motor homes are higher because of the demand for these mid-sized RVs. Trailers and 5th wheels also are attractive and since they have no engine their resale value is greater and maintenance is less (until you factor in the pickup or other vehicle to tow the trailer). Check out Buying a Used Motorhome and not get burned by Bill Myers. I think it was the best 3 bucks I spent in a long time. He has a great discussion about the different types of RVs.
How do you FEEL?
Probably the most important consideration is how you feel in the RV. Does it feel right for you?
The Types of RVs we considered
5th Wheel Trailers
We find that 5th wheels have some big living areas that feel more like a traditional front room that we really like. The 5th wheels that meet our needs are large so we need a big heavy-duty dual wheel pick-up truck to haul it. We also need a king cab so our big dogs can travel up front with us. We do not like either of these options, so 5th wheels are out.
Class B Motorhomes
We had lots of fun times back in the ‘80s in our VW Vanagon Westfalia camper, but every time we decided to go someplace, everything gets stowed away for each side-trip and errand we go on. Current Class B motor homes are larger and have more amenities, but they don’t fit our proposed lifestyle. They are great for weekenders, but they are just too small for us now.
Class C Motorhomes
Class C motorhomes range in sizes up to small Class A range. This is closer to what we like. But we face the same problem as class B – still not enough room for us to comfortably live in with us and the dogs. Sound like the 3 bears?
Trailers are another consideration and we spent many weekends camping with a Suburban and an old Prowler. However, like a 5th wheel we would have to get a heavy-duty dual wheel pickup truck with extended cab for us and the dogs. Too cramped and we are not interested in driving around in a big pickup when we go sightseeing and exploring.
Class A Motorhomes
Class A motorhomes are what our friends Judy and Jan retired in, and that was what we pictured all along. After reading about so many people selecting the wrong type of RV the first time, we want to make sure that we don’t fall into that trap. Class A just seems right for us. With a slider or two the motorhome opens up to give plenty of room when camping. Closed up, many provide enough room for the dogs and even the grandkids can buckle up when they go trippin’ with us. Plus we can pull a small Jeep that will get us around more conveniently than driving a pickup.
We spent 4 months looking before our decision was firm to go with a Class A motohome. We used the last RV show we attended to test our assumptions. We walked through trailers, 5th wheels and motorhomes again. We feel good about our decision and are looking forward to the next step to narrow down our choices further.
Here is what we did:
- Walk through as many RVs as possible to get an idea of the variety of layouts and options.
- Look at both new and used units since there are differences in the same model over different years.
- Write down our likes and dislikes because there are so many things to keep in mind.
- Spend some time in the units that we like and envision living there cooking meals, watching TV, reading.
- Check out the storage and think about where you will fit your things – such as is there space for your kayak, fishing gear and bikes?
- RV Shows – sponsored by a single dealer or several
- RV Dealerships – both brick and mortar as well as web inventory
- Manufacturer websites – you can download brochures and get video tours – often for prior years too
- Websites such as eBay, RVSoodle, YouTube, RVTrader and of course general Googling are especially good to research new and used units. Many include videos, pictures and layout diagrams
- Blogs and Reviews – we have found the following very helpful: FMCA, iRV2, Gone with the Wynns and RV-Dreams
- Magazines such as Motorhome, Trailer Life, FMCA Magazine
- Books – search online and view our expanding reviews.
Your RV is home. Have fun with your RV Decision Making, and don’t rush. Remember – write a list of features that you do and don’t like as you tour the various RV types and models and keep track of those that meet your needs.