Should you buy an RV?

Should I buy an RV? That is a question families have been asking themselves since the first models arrived decades ago.   

There is just something about the promise of comfort and the ability to hit the open road that appeals to so many of us. Have you ever considered loading up your crew in an RV and traveling across the county?  Does the idea of an open road and a relaxed agenda pluck at your heart strings?  Are National Parks totally your jam? Then maybe an RV is the right choice for your family. So many people however make the commitment and purchase an RV and within two years have fallen out of love with this fancy-free vacation style.  So how do you know if making this investment is right for your family?

RV-ing is a lifestyle not a destination.  Growing up, RV-ing was a big part of our family life.  I remember we enjoyed the simplicity of having just enough things to keep us comfortable but more than enough room outside to keep us entertained.  We were always finding new places and new things to do.  All you need to have a rich RV life is a little food and your sense of adventure.  

My sister grew up with the same lifestyle as me but she is not interested in any accommodations less than a 4 star hotel.  The idea of camping holds no appeal for her and she has no interest in anything that involves a bug or not sleeping in a traditional bed.  She enjoys outdoor activities, was active with search and rescue teams, and she has spent many hours in the woods throughout her life.  But she doesn’t want an RV, to vacation in an RV, or to spend time in campgrounds.  She prefers amenities, long hot showers, and room service.  

So the answer lies in where your allegiance falls.  Is it a burden to carry your house with you, or a convenience?  Will it add stress or relieve stress?

Here are some things you may want to consider: 

Back to Nature

Most families buy an RV to get back in nature.  Hiking, biking, wildlife watching, and eco-discovery are a big part of the RV lifestyle.  With that comes heat, cold, bugs, snakes, and plenty of wildlife bent on tasting your supper.  Are raccoons in your campsite an exciting idea?  Would you pass out at the sight of a snake? (In all fairness, me and snakes do not have a good relationship.)  Would creepy crawly and flying nuisances steal your joy?  

The natural world we work hard to prevent from entering our stick-and-brick homes will always find a way into your RV.  We use gear that helps, like a bug zapper and netted outdoor tents to keep as much nature out as possible.  But that still does not help with the weather.  If it is hot outside, your RV will be warmer and vise versa with the cold.  We can only minimize the effects of nature, not completely separate ourselves from the outside.  

Hobbies that take you traveling

Maybe nature is not your thing. But, there are other reasons why an RV may be a good choice for your family. Some people trip into the RV lifestyle through a hobby or pastime.  For example, dog showing.  Have you ever tried to book a hotel for you and 12 of your favorite dogs? And even if you have a hotel working with your event, that is still a lot of gear to move about.  Maybe your family enjoys fishing.  Or horse events.  Maybe you are on for most people are being is the hobby if I get an RV for but maybe you dog show. Maybe you’re an amateur golfer or a professional golfer I would like to keep a more home-like environment.  Many professional Dog Handlers RV to dog shows. Likewise, you are going to see a lot of RVs at horse shows. It is worth considering the cost of an RV if you are frequent in hotels and it’s being close to a venue is important. The great thing about RVs is that there are so many configurations out there so if you need to take the bunks out and put 12 dog kennels in, there is likely an RV that will work for you.

 Full-time living

Full time RV living has definitely picked up popularity in the last 5 years. Young military couples, traveling nurses, and doctors and even young families who want to explore a little more I found a full-time RV living has allowed them to minimize their life and maximize their family time. so much time is spent maintaining a home and land full-time rving can allow someone the opportunity to move from a higher rent district will lower rent area. 

Special circumstances

For us moving to vacationing in an RV was an easy one. We love nature and we travel a lot for our Hobbies where we can use the RV. We are comfortable living long periods of time in  a confined space.   But there was one more catalyst that pushed us over the edge to make this investment, food allergies.   With an anaphylactic allergy in the family, travel can be difficult. Not only does it take a considerable amount of time to research restaurants and options for getting food, navigating a brand-new medical system in a new destination can be tricky. When we travel in an RV, there is almost a 0% chance that we will run into a food issue, lessening our likelihood of needing to make a family trip to the ER for anaphylaxis. I feel much better when we travel in our RV than when we stay in a hotel because I have so much more control over what foods are in our environment.

RV lifestyle

Chores

There are some very specific chores that come with owning an RV. The one you see most often in movies and TV shows is some black water tank malfunction. While I’m sure that those problems exist, in all the years that we’ve had an RV I have never had an explosion at the dump site. But you have to know if you are ready to deal with handling your own sink and toilet water. Every time you need to either dump the system or hook up to a full system you will have to navigate hoses and the hookups for your unit. I use two layers of gloves, 1 nitrile layer against my skin and then an elbow length set to give me more grip. 

Size

The second biggest issue is living space per person. We purposefully went with a small RV while our kids were little.  As they continue to grow that space starts to feel smaller and smaller and smaller. I think we’re about three years away from moving to a larger unit, but even the biggest unit is small by home standards. Introverts seem to have a little more trouble with the group confinement. And even if you move outside the RV, you can still  hear everything going on around you in the campground. This type of tiny home living  and vacationing is not a very private one. There is a lot of shared space, shared conversation, and unless you have a really big bathroom in your unit you will be using a shared bath house with the rest of the campground.

Amenities

Another issue you might face is the lack of amenities. You will not always be able to get full hookups with water, sewer, and electricity. There are many sites that only provide electricity and water requiring that you move your unit or hire someone mobile to dump your tank. Sometimes electricity and water are luxuries, and you will have to do something called boondocking.   When you Boondock, you are self-reliant using your own water tank, gray and black water tanks, and a generator if you have it. Many times when we are doing a loop we stay in Cracker Barrel and Walmart parking lots.  We have to refill and dump every 3 days. That means no showers, no big meals, but most troubling is no air conditioning.  

Maintenance

Another Factor is that  RV’s break often. You will need to be handy about fixing things. RV repairs cost $100+ per hour for service.   They usually require at least one big service call a year and many smaller jobs throughout the year.  You will need to get good at reading specs for ordering parts and doing minor repairs on your unit. Service centers frequently are booked weeks out and even then repairs may take an extended period of time . 

Expense 

 What I think is the biggest consideration of whether or not you should get an RV is if you can financially handle having a second home. RV Prices range from a little too a lot. You need to not only buy the unit that fits within your budget, but also one that fits within your lifestyle and skill level. You are essentially buying a second home. Only you will know how often you will have the opportunity to use this new second home, and if you have the time and money to keep it maintained.   Without maintenance, your RV will be stationary and quickly deteriorate. To be honest, I was shocked at how much it cost to maintain our RV. From the storage rental, tires, upgrades, equipment, and the frequent orders we make for parts it is a big financial commitment. Now for us that makes sense with an anaphylactic food allergy in the family, being frequent Travelers, and our love for nature. It’s an investment we’re making in our children’s future. They will grow up with lots of memories and get to do and see some amazing things.

You don’t have to buy

One of the beautiful things about the RV landscape right now is that you no longer have to purchase an RV to enjoy this lifestyle. There are so many online RV rental options that if you have any consideration of purchasing an RV but you have no experience you should really consider renting one first.   It may even be possible to rent the unit you are considering buying. This way you can figure out if you’re willing to go through the headaches of ownership to be able to enjoy your RV.

 So, what do you think?

Are you ready to buy an RV? Have you sworn off a whole idea? Or, are you curious enough to take the plunge and rent a unit to test the waters?

  

Shanda
A Wife, Mother, horseback riding, RV-ing, travel enthusiast always looking for the next adventure. As the Matriarch of a homeschooling family of four we keep our suitcases packed and our atlas handy. Join us on our adventures.