by Morgan Rogue – Moving from a house to an RV is nothing short of a shock. For us, full time RV living was only a dream until one day, my husband got a huge bonus from his work which allowed us to purchase a used RV. Coupled with my work from home job and the sale from our house, it allowed us to finally make our dream a reality.
When we first started our search I really didn’t know what I was looking for. We have two children and two dogs so for a family of 6, what I thought I wanted was a lot different than what we eventually got. We were on a tight budget and we had to take boondocking into consideration, so we had to make some compromises.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t thrilled with our purchase in the beginning. My husband was over the moon about it because it was a nice used RV within our budget and with great mileage. I didn’t fall in love with it until we started personalizing it and eventually transformed it from just another RV into our home.
Before we get started, here are some terms you may want to know:
RV – Recreational Vehicle, a motorhome or trailer that includes living quarters
5th Wheel – This refers to a truck that pulls a trailer, though technically the term ‘5th wheel’ is the link between the truck that hooks up to the trailer
Motorhome – A motorized vehicle equipped with living quarters
Here are seven critical things to consider when picking the perfect RV for your family:
1. Write out a list of needs and wants
RVs come in all shapes and sizes and with all sorts of bells and whistles. Write out two lists; a list of wants and a list of needs. What does your family need on a day-to-day basis? Would you prefer a motorhome or a 5th wheel? Do you need a washer and dryer? Would you rather pay it all out of pocket or are you able to finance? Write it all down.
2. Be prepared to compromise
Once you have your list of needs and wants and you begin shopping, try to realize that you may need to compromise on some wants and needs in order to meet your budget. In our circumstance, we didn’t want a monthly payment so we allocated a set amount of money from my husbands bonus to spend on an RV.
In our price range, we couldn’t find something that had enough storage space, could pull our Jeep and also had bunk beds for the kids. So we compromised and bought an RV that had no bunk beds. But guess what we did? We took out the couch and made bunk beds.
3. Consider pre-owned
New RVs generally have problems right out the door. They need a few years of ‘breaking in’. Consider buying used, even if it’s only a few years old. An RV will always need maintenance, but it’ll be like regular maintenance, instead of breaking down maintenance.
4. Resist the urge to impulse buy
This is a big one. We looked at a ton of RVs before making a decision. This is a big purchase, even if it’s just for vacation needs; it’s still a good chunk of change that will hopefully bring about many years of memories for the whole family. Look at many, many, many RVs.
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Even look at brand new ones just to get an idea of what you might want or don’t want or realize that you wouldn’t be able to afford. Unless you’re on a time crunch, take a bit to look around. Take the entire family, too (except pets, of course), so the whole family can have input.
5. Make sure there’s plenty of seat belts
If you’re deciding on a motorhome which would pull a vehicle, instead of the other way around, make sure to check the seat belts and follow local laws. Not all spots in your RV are safe to sit, even if they have a seat belt. Passengers do need to be strapped in at all times. Though there are certain states that only require people in the front seats to be strapped in, please remain safe and strap everyone in. Using your seat belt is the safest way to travel.
6. Is there enough storage?
Storage is a pretty big deal to us. For families, consider where everything is going to be stored. There’s storage on the outside and inside. Take some time to walk through the inside and outside of your RV to investigate possible storage. I would highly recommend doing a Google search to find fun storage ideas.
7. Where do you want to camp?
The type of adventures you plan to have with your family in your new RV might help determine the type of RV you get. Whether you’re planning to stay in traditional campgrounds with hookups or to go boondocking, a smaller RV (35 feet or less) would be ideal. You’ll be able to park easier in any of those places, plus many state parks or other RV park campgrounds have a space limitation of 35 feet or less.
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Don’t stress! If full-time RV living is your dream then you’ll be sure to find the right RV for your family. Even if you have the perfect vision of what an RV looks like, once you begin your search you may discover something completely different that better fits your needs or budget.
There may not be a ‘perfect’ RV out there, but with a little bit of forethought, compromise and love for adventure, you’ll find the RV that’s right for your family.
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Morgan lives and travels full time in an RV with her husband, two daughters and two dogs. She is the owner and founder of Rogue Preparedness a website dedicated to emergency preparedness and survival skills.