Upgrading your RV is an exciting prospect but replacing all of the custom features you loved on your old one is an expensive chore that needs consideration as you embark on the purchasing process. Last September when we upgraded our RV, we didn’t pay close enough attention to the ramifications of changing out our existing equipment like solar and satellite Internet access. Here’s what we learned after the fact:
Create a budget that allows for the unexpected. You should have a good idea of what you can spend on a new RV, but do you know which equipment upgrades you can really afford – and when? Last September we paid less than we thought we would for our new RV, but we neglected to carefully examine our bank account to determine if we had enough funds for a new solar system, daily expenses and an unexpected emergency thrown in just for fun.
When calculating what you can afford to spend on your RV upgrades, allow enough wiggle room to see you through ordinary expenditures. We didn’t do that and while en route to put a new solar system on board, our reliable Dodge pickup started misbehaving. By the time we traveled the span of the Southwest, our bank account took a $3000 hit. Consequently, our ideal new solar system had to wait until we rebuilt our savings to a level that would feel comfortable enough for us to buy the new equipment without worry.
Another incident that happened during the transition to our new RV was our satellite Internet system got mishandled and broken by the RV dealer technicians when it was being moved from our old roof to the new one. Since it happened on-site, the dealer was accommodating and knocked a few dollars off our sales price because of this incident, but this “free re-installation” they promised still ended up taking a toll.
Our later attempts to fix the problem ourselves ended up costing us more off-line time and expenses then we anticipated. Repairing the broken system meant paying $200 for wireless broadband Internet access while the dish was out of service, a $900 software upgrade and other expensive and time-consuming technical repairs that I’m not geeky enough to explain but suffice to say that two months after it was broken our system went back online.
Beyond the solar and Internet modifications we needed to get up and running on our new RV, we had to budget for re-installing other modifications we enjoyed on our previous rig, like a fresh water tank modification that enabled us to utilize our existing water pump to bring external water into our fresh water tank while boondocking. In addition, we had to reconfigure some storage areas to suit our technology and other work-related equipment, as well as modifying the fifth wheel’s bunkhouse area to become my new work space. All told, the money we thought we were saving by getting a good deal on the rig ended up going right back into it once the deal was said and done and we were back on the road.
The lesson here: always be especially well-prepared for the unexpected in this lifestyle and when you upgrade to a different RV, prepare for even more unexpected expenses. You’ll sleep better knowing you have the funds when Murphy’s Law inevitably strikes.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.