Choosing your first home on wheels for full-time RVing is daunting. Experienced full-timers are always happy to share their shopping tips like “Buy your last RV first” or “Don’t buy too small,” but you won’t know if it’s a perfect fit until you take the plunge and put some real miles on those wheels.
In time you’ll understand if you made the right choice, but eventually you might start to recognize the top four signs that it’s time to upgrade your RV.
Sign #1: Your RV’s first name becomes “Stupid.”
Living in a new-to-you rig is like moving in with a romantic partner: you hope your life will be blissful, but you won’t know if you have a future until you experience difficult times together.
If you buy a used RV, you’ll quickly find out why the previous owners sold it and if your rig is brand new, you’ll usually discover areas where the manufacturer cut corners. If those issues are all you think about when you’re inside the rig and you begin referring to it as “That stupid RV!” that’s when you know it’s time to go shopping.
Sign #2: Your RV spends more time in the shop than on the road.
Full-timing is hard on RVs and eventually all of them need repairs. One way to keep costs down in your early road-tripping days is to buy an extended warranty. We opted into one for our first rig and used it plenty during our first years of full-timing.
From a cracked bathtub to problems with our satellite dish, the warranty gave us the peace of mind as we honed our own RV repair skills. We would later learn that when it comes to RVs, some fixes are easy to do on your own and many aren’t. Eventually your cost of owning the rig will exceed its current value and that’s when it’s time to put the “For Sale” sign on the windshield and start shopping.
Sign #3: Your RV seems to be shrinking.
An experienced full-timer once told us that she based her first RV purchase on whether or not it had enough room for her to practice yoga. This makes total sense because if you aren’t able to do at least some of your favorite indoor activities, life on the road will feel like a sacrifice.
In my situation, our 24′ fifth wheel was great before I started my jewelry business. But as orders took off, my work started overtaking the kitchen table. After over one year of consistently eating late night dinners because I was working on orders, we finally purchased a slightly larger rig with a bunkhouse that we converted into a workshop. Now I can make jewelry–and do yoga inside!
Sign #4: You and your partner bicker about upgrading your RV.
All married men know the old saying: “If Momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy” and that’s especially true when he and his bride live in a fiberglass shoebox. I was the first one to suggest that we consider upgrading to a larger rig but it took my husband at least a year before he was open to the idea.
The biggest motivation was my growing jewelry business and the toll that full-timing was taking our our RV. Finally the time came when we saw eye-to-eye (he might describe it as “caving in”) and we started shopping around for a rig that was a little bigger but within the towing limits of our Dodge 2500. Now those bickering sessions are now a thing of the past and everybody’s happy.
Whether you’re full-timing with a partner or flying solo, life on the road can be as comfortable as living in a stick house if you choose your RV wisely. And if the day comes when you fall out of love with your home on wheels, there’s no need to be miserable because there are plenty of models of new and used RVs in every price range for traveling full-timers like us.
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.