Retiring and enjoying an RV can be tempting, whether you plan to live in your RV for long periods or just use it for short vacations . In any case, it is important to remember that an RV is a considerable investment. While a towable hybrid caravan costs a few thousand dollars, a motorized motorhome with all the luxuries and comforts of home can run for half a million dollars or more. We asked Jeremy Puglisi, co-host of the RV Travel Atlas podcast and co-author of Idiot's Guides: RV Vacations , to enlighten us on the realities of owning an RV . This is what he said.
Think about whether you want a motorized home (which you drive) or something like a conventional caravan (which you tow with a van). We often tell people who already have a truck that they could buy a towable caravan because they have already spent so much of the money. I have a $ 40,000 pickup truck and a $ 30,000 motorhome. If you add it up, it's $ 70,000. I could have bought a motorized motorhome, but I like my truck.
The second important thing to know is how big you want the house to be. Many people, especially if they are thinking of moving into the RV or retiring , may be tempted to buy a really large, 40-foot, because they want space. But you have to think that it may be more difficult to enter some camps.
If you are retired and you are going to live in the motor home or take very long trips, you should look for something that works in all seasons and can be used in different temperatures. Many RV dealers will say that a house is for all four seasons, but then it turns out that the thermal insulation is not that good. There is a lot of valuable information on YouTube and online for looking for a good four-season motorhome, and about companies that actually make all-weather motorhomes.
In terms of different classes and types, there are towable motorhomes, which include hybrid caravans, but a person who is going to retire will probably not retire in a hybrid caravan. There is also the conventional caravan, perhaps something like an Airstream. And then there are fifth wheel caravans, known as the Cadillacs of RVs. They are very residential, very luxurious. They are like a second home. If I were retiring and looking for a towable home, I would look for a fifth wheel.
Among the motorized houses, there are those of class A, which look like buses, for lack of a better description. There is no bed above the driver's area, so you have a large cabin with a huge windshield. Then there are the C class, which have the large bed over the driver's area. Those are also great options if you are retiring or spending a lot of time in the motorhome. And there are also the class B ones, which are like trucks, so you have to decide if you can survive in that limited space.
Towables do not have much maintenance cost because they do not have an engine. You have to insulate the house for the winter and grease the wheel bearings (to prevent them from rusting), something you can do yourself. Now when you buy a motorized home, there is a motor. You will have all the maintenance that an engine requires. Certain motor homes will need dealer service for a very specific type of oil change; others, such as C-Class with 4450 chassis, may be serviced by your Ford dealer. But even these oil changes can add up to expense.
Most will say that diesel is more durable and has a longer life. It has more maintenance costs, but it also performs better at higher altitudes in the mountains. Gasoline engines can be really good too, but the general old wisdom in the RV industry is that the diesel engine is a better investment, it doesn't wear out as much, and it lasts a long time.
You must choose a good dealer. We sometimes say that a good dealer is almost as important as a good motorhome. Choose a dealership that has been in business for a long time, perhaps family-owned, with a lot of experience. See how many service bays it has. If you don't have maintenance bays, that's a sign that you need to go elsewhere.
Driving class C is very easy. But okay, I have driven class A houses and I think they were somewhat more difficult to drive . My recommendation is to take class A driving classes. A good dealer will offer those classes. If you've driven a U-Haul, you won't have a problem with Class C. A Class B house is basically a pickup truck. As for towing a motorhome, I was intimidated at first, but after a few weeks I felt very comfortable.
What you should not look for is a very large house. If you get to 40 feet, it's going to be a little more intimidating to tow. If you stay longer at 30 or 28 feet (in length) - a size that gives you more than enough room for a retired couple's travels - it's going to be easier to back up and park.