By Mike Willis
At some point, most outdoor enthusiasts will consider purchasing an RV. Whether it’s because of the plush conditions or the convenience, this multi-billion-dollar industry is thriving.
When first diving into this new world of luxury camping, it can be a bit overwhelming to take in all of the information and try to make an informed decision. As with any significant financial investment, a little knowledge will go a long way!
Know how you are going to use your RV.
If you’re going to spend all your days in the national forest, boondocking far from power and conveniences, then that is an important consideration in your purchasing process. However, if you are going from RV resort to RV resort, there is no need to invest in a bug-out shelter capable of sustaining life off the grid for weeks on end.
It makes me chuckle a little bit to see RV Parks littered with solar panels mounted on RVs plugged into the grid. The majority of the people that I see with $80,000+ RV’s equipped for the apocalypse have never seen a gravel road.
Almost every one of these people would have benefited greatly from reallocating that money towards creature comforts to support their actual lifestyle.
Until you live out of an RV and define how you will use it, you will struggle to identify which one will meet your needs.
The reality is that no amount of research can replace the knowledge and understanding that comes from actually owning one of these units.
I have seen people painstakingly comb over the RV lots trying to find that perfect one. The majority of RV owners do not end up with the same RV that they originally purchased. Almost every RV owner that I know purchases the unit that they feel would be best for their needs only to buy another one a couple of years later after getting educated.
When I purchased my RV, I did it with my entire family in mind. We had envisioned long and frequent family getaways. So as not to jeopardize my marriage and inconvenience child protective services, my RV is mostly utilized for my hunting and fishing trips. If I had known this before purchasing, I would have purchased a unit that was geared more towards the actual use of the unit.
The RV that I would have picked would have worked great for the times that my family wanted to go camping, but it would have been primarily set up for establishing a base camp and transporting gear.
Equipment Turnover has serious financial consequences. As you likely know, selling something after owning it for only a year or two is only beneficial to the next purchaser.
Purchasing a lower-level unit is often a cost-saver in the long run. By controlling costs on your first round of ownership, you can minimize the financial bleeding.
I recommend doing some moderate research and getting as close as possible to what you believe is the best unit for your family. Not being overly picky on your first unit will enable you to capitalize on excellent savings opportunities.
This approach will significantly aid you in enjoying the process of purchasing an RV as you don’t feel the burden of getting everything right on the first go-around.
Another real benefit of having a cheaper RV is that as you learn the ropes, mistakes are not nearly as costly. Backing into a tree with a used model is far less impactful than crushing your dreams.
During the first year of RV ownership, you will also see how much you will utilize your RV. It is no secret that the majority of RVs stay parked in the driveway way more than most owners would ever have anticipated. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t use your RV much, forgoing on the purchase or reducing the level of your investment will help make your experience more reasonable and less wasteful.
As an alternative approach, there are some excellent websites out there that will allow you to try other people’s units as a rental. Initial searches will produce results that seem to be somewhat expensive. However, when considering the true cost of ownership and the ultimate consequences of a misinformed purchase, this price quickly gains appeal.
Regardless of which path you choose in your journey towards ownership, take your time and allow yourself freedom and flexibility throughout the process. RV stands for “recreational vehicle”, not “ruined vacation”; so, have fun with it!