What to Look for in an RV

An RV is more than just a vacation home on wheels that allows you to seek adventure on the open road. For many young adults, an RV is now an affordable living solution. Real estate prices continue to rise, making homes less affordable. Younger people are increasingly carrying high student loans and credit card debt. An RV or motor-home costs less than most houses and brings with it a side helping of adventure and spontaneity. After all, you can’t turn the ignition in a mid-century modern rancher and end up two states away by dinnertime.

Here’s the rundown on the different types of vehicles available, some of their selling features, and what you can expect to pay for them.

Class A

Class A motorhomes are typically the largest and most expensive vehicles in this class. They come in a variety of floorplans with sleeping and living areas. Class A motorhomes can include fully equipped kitchens, larger bathrooms, and different sleeping configurations.

Brands like Winnebago, Coachmen, Allegro, A.C.E. and Georgetown all offer large Class A RVs with various options. Brand new Class A motorhomes can sell for almost $200,000 [1]. Models that are 20 years old or more may be available for $10,000 to $15,000 [2]. A buyer can take out a loan to buy a Class A motorhome and think of it as a monthly mortgage or rent payment if they live in the vehicle full-time.

Camping World is an excellent resource for searching for new and used RVs to learn more about the market and the available inventory.

Class B

Class B motorhomes are vehicles known as camper vans. These are large vans built with raised roofs and lower floors to make it easy to move around. Manufacturers make clever use of the smaller space in Class B RVs to provide living, sleeping, and cooking spaces. Class Bs are some of the easiest RVs to maneuver.

The Winnebago Touring Coach is one popular line of Class B motorhomes. Models include the Era, Travato, Revel, Boldt, and Solis. Used Winnebagos can sell for a low of $50,000 while brand new ones loaded with features retail for $100,000 or more [3].

Airstream also manufactures a line of Class Bs that it calls Touring Coaches. Models feature living areas that convert into sleeping spaces, kitchen and dining areas, and wet bathrooms. A brand new fully loaded Airstream Touring Coach comes with a price tag in the neighborhood of $150,000 [4].

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Travel Trailers

Travel Trailers are also known as Class C motorhomes and are towed behind a vehicle. Most of today’s travel trailers can be hitched to a minivan, larger SUV or half-ton truck.

Travel trailers vary widely in length and storage space. The larger ones come with living areas, sleeping areas, a kitchen, a bathroom and storage space. Some of the bigger travel trailers also come with expanding features that increase the available space when the RV is parked. More compact travel trailers may include space for a refrigerator, a microwave, and sleeping.

Jayco is one of the leading manufacturers of travel trailers. The new 2020 Jay Flight Bungalow could cost $55,000, while the smaller 2020 Hummingbird may retail for $13,000.

Fifth Wheel

Fifth Wheel RVs, sometimes called Fivers, are named after the particular type of hitch that tows them. The “U” shaped component has to be attached to a pickup truck to haul a fifth wheel. Because of the way the hitch distributes the weight of the RV, the tow is more stable, and most people find it easier to drive. Fifth wheels were developed in the 1850s to make horse-drawn carriages more maneuverable.

Fifth wheels come in numerous lengths with many types of options. The larger ones are the “split-level” style instead of having all the living and sleeping areas on one floor. Solitude, Montana, Reflection, Cougar, and Eagle are some of the companies making new fifth wheels with many features.

Fifth wheels can be found new or used on the market, and because of the range of sizes and options, the purchase price can range from $33,000 to $100,000 [5].

Choosing an RV

Buying an RV is a very personal decision, whether it’s going to be your primary residence or a vacation vehicle. There are many choices in the RV market, and you have to begin by narrowing down what you are looking for during the selection process. Some important considerations are:

  • Do you want to drive it or tow it?
  • Are you comfortable with a compact RV, or do you need something more spacious?
  • How many people will be sleeping in the RV?
  • Do you need basic appliances or the equipment to cook and grill gourmet meals?
  • Would you like the RV to be a smaller size on the road but expand its footprint when it is parked?

Once you’ve come to some decisions on the format, the size and the features, research the market for new and used vehicles that meet your specifications. Camping World is a great place to begin to contrast and compare RVs. Knowing what the market is like will help you make the best decisions about a purchase and get the most value.

And finally, take some of your choices for a test drive. Driving most RVs is a different experience from driving the car you use for errands around town. Know what it’s like to get a Class A motorhome up to speed on a highway. Get a feel for backing a travel trailer into a campsite. Hook a fifth wheel up to your pickup. You’ll know when you’ve found the right one.

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[1] https://camperreport.com/how-much-does-a-class-a-rv-cost/#:~:text=The%20average%20cost%20of%20a,how%20old%20the%20RV%20is

[2] https://camperreport.com/average-rv-costs-with-19-example-prices/#:~:text=RVs%20can%20cost%20between%20%2410%2C000,prices%20usually%20start%20around%20%24100%2C000.

[3] https://www.rvtrader.com/Used-Winnebago/rvs-for-sale?make=Winnebago%7C2307464&condition=U

[4] https://www.wired.com/story/the-new-airstream-nest/#:~:text=The%20Nest%20starts%20at%20%2445%2C900,sleeps%20five%20people%2C%20costs%20%24139%2C900.

[5] https://www.godownsize.com/fifth-wheel-cost/#:~:text=fifth%20wheel%20campers.-,How%20much%20does%20a%20fifth%20wheel%20cost%3F,will%20cost%20up%20to%20%2450%2C000.

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