When you’re shopping for your first full-time RV, it’s always smart to ask other RVers their opinions about the good, the bad and the ugly of choosing a first full-timing rig.
But there’s one bit of advice that’s been going around the Internet for years and, in my opinion, it’s the worst advice I’ve ever heard. Here it is:
“Buy your last RV first.”
This advice seems to make sense for many reasons. After all, you don’t want to buy a RV you’re going to regret, so it’s smart to put extensive thought into “Must Have” criteria for your first full-time RV. You might begin by trying to figure out what your “last” RV might look like by asking yourself questions like:
- What are my camping preferences? Do I love going off-grid into the hinterlands, or living in resort-style campgrounds?
- What’s my cooking style? Do I need a fancy, large kitchen that will allow me to cook gourmet meals, or am I a keep-it-simple kind of chef who’s just happy with a basic galley?
- What kind of work / hobbies will I do on the road? You need reasonable space to do what you love, and if you’re like me and work from the road, you need room for that too.
And finally, the most important question:
What can I afford? This is the most important question of all, which is why I believe the “Buy your last RV first” advice is so bad. Far too many aspiring full-time RVers think this advice means that the way to happiness as a full-timer is to “go big,” or in other words, “Buy an RV that’s larger and nicer than you think you need.” Here’s why that advice can get you into trouble:
Buying your last RV first usually results in a pricier rig
If you can’t afford that RV, life on the road will not be fun. I’m not just talking about being able to make the monthly RV payments – even if you pay cash for a bigger, nicer RV than you think you need, can you really afford the cost of upkeep for that rig?
Buying your last RV could result in a RV that’s too big for your camping style.
There’s a fine line between an RV that has enough room, and one that has too much. I’ve talked to several full-timers who fell in love with boondocking after they started full-timing, but the size of their rig limits their off-grid adventures.
Buying your last RV first forces you into trying to predict the future.
When you’re new to full-time RVing, you have no idea if you’ll even like it. By trying to imagine your “last RV first,” you’re trying to play fortuneteller and know exactly what your tastes and needs will be like in future traveling years. This is an especially impossible task if you are working-age like me, love full-time RVing and have many years of travel ahead.
Buying your last RV first might save you the hassle of shopping for a new RV after you discover that your first one doesn’t suit your needs. But following this advice can also lead you down a path of debt and dissatisfaction with full-timing.
Remember, this lifestyle is a constant learning experience. It’s full of surprises and the more we travel, the more we learn about ourselves. Keep your first RV within your budget and current tastes, and if you end up hating it, you can always move up into a bigger/newer/prettier rig when the time is right.
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.