Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Process Of Selection, Financing And Purchase - How To Lose Your Mind In Increments - We Are Nearly There

How Do You Start the Process Of Purchasing an RV For Full Timing?

Below you will find the process we used to discover what kind of RV fits best. This method may not be the best method for everyone but it did work for us. I tend to have wanted every RV I walked into. But, my wife and best friend Martha would always say "I will know the right one when I've found it." So, this is a mix of our shopping styles.

Evaluate and examine
  • When you start the process, take the time to reflect about what your daily experience living in an RV might look like. Do you fancy yourself living in what is essentially a "tiny home" on a daily basis? Examine your likely preconceived idea of believing you will be spending most of your time outdoors, because you won't. There is inclement weather, excessive mosquitoes, too hot or too cold to be outside along with a host of other reasons. Ask if you will be comfortable staying inside for a day or maybe two.
  • Take the above information and figure out what amenities you might want in your daily life while you are indoors.  Do you need single beds,  queen bed or perhaps a king bed? A big kitchen or a small one? Recliners or standard RV furniture? dinette or table? Overhead TV or one built into the main living area? How about permanently installed satellite TV? Do you want a Split bathroom (toilet in it's own room) or one large bathroom with the stool in it, How about storage? How much will you need? Take all of these things into consideration and list them on paper for later reference. Right all of this down, you and your partner should both do this.
Know what RVing costs really are
  • Look at your current non-RV budget. Be sure to include, food, utilities and entertainment. Compare current costs with projected RV'ing costs. To figure our the costs of renting space to park your RV you will have to average those costs. Make sure you includes space rental, food, entertainment and fuel costs for towing or operation of a Class B, Class C or Class A vehicle. 
  • Class B's get an average 18-21 mpg, Class C's get about 12-14 mpg and Class A's about 6.5-8.2 mpg.   
  • For space rental a good average nightly cost would be between $15-$25 a night in a Corps of Engineers or National Park to an average of $25-$35 a day in State Parks and finally an average of $35 to upwards of $90 in private or luxury RV Parks.
  • Make sure to project your space rental in the upper ranges of costs to project an average
  • When we making our projected budget we took an average of $28 dollars a day space rental. Then projected those average costs to a monthly total (you will get better rates if you stay for a week or montly) Take all of these projected costs and compare those to your current monthly expenses in your conventional housing. Don't forget you will need to insure the RV and have a road hazard policy in place. This will get you on the road to choosing your RV budget. Be honest about the costs 
Figure out the "must haves" "the nice to haves" and the "dang I want that in my RV"
  • Now that you have your projected monthly costs it's time to go back to your list of essential items that you want in your RV. To that end have your partner look at your list and you theirs. Find commonality in the lists. Find things that each of you consider to be a luxury and possibly frivolous and make note of them.
  • Take the two lists and make a single list of "must haves, "wants." and "It would be nice to have" items. Figure out which of these things should be on the final list and write them all down
  • Based on the information in this list coupled with your projected budget figure out what type of RV you should be looking for. Remember to factor in a properly equipped tow vehicle if you think you will be purchasing a Fifth Wheel Trailer or a Pull Behind Travel Trailer.
  • If you will be purchasing a Class A or Class C RV. You will need to "flat tow" or "dolly tow" a vehicle behind the RV. Be sure to think about the cost of the flat two equipment (about $2000) or a tow dolly at about the same cost.
  • Another option is a Class B Motor Van. These are your home and your exploration vehicle rolled into one. They present problems and considerations of their own. If you purchase one consider that they cost as much as an entry level Class A or really nice Class C however, you have to use your home to explore the area. Meaning you will need to break camp each time you intend to go somewhere. This process may or may not fit your needs. Additionally they almost always have what is referred to as a "wet bathroom." This means your vanity, toilet and shower are all in one room. 
Starting the search for "the one"
  • Now that you have taken the time and figured out your projected budget and the type of RV that you think you want it's time to go to the next step. Remember, these choices are subject to change as you go. Also, expect that as you look for an RV your ideas will undoubtedly morph. Nothing is poured in concrete at this point but you are much closer than you were.
  • Now the fun begins. The next step is to get out there and look at RV's. Use your time wisely as you can look at many of them at one time at a fall or winter RV show. These are more than worth traveling to. If you can see several shows prior to your decision you will be the wiser for it.
  • So, what will an RV show do for you?  You will be able to see the latest and greatest innovations in RV Camping and be able to view the most expensive and least expensive units all in one place.  Beware, this process may cause you desired amenities list. 
  • Don't forget to try on an RV. Do things like sit on the toilet, get in the shower, both of you lay down on the bed together, try the dining booth or table. Sit in the drivers and passengers position. Open cabinets and storage areas including the storage beneath. In short interact with that particular RV.  Make sure to take a note book to jot down likes, dislikes, models, manufacturers, and dealers information along with and prices. We took photos with our phones of innovations we really liked.
What next?
  • After an RV show you need to explore the stock of as many dealerships around the region as you can and don't rush things. This time shop for used but look at new while you are there. . Make sure not to overlook consigned units. Doing your due diligence is what this is all about. Comparison shopping new vs used will give you an idea of the costs associated with used RV's vs new Rv's. Do your homework about depreciation of a new RV. Typically the depreciation will be around 35% the second it leaves the lot. Do you want to loose 35% of value the first day? Or, would you rather buy used and let someone pay that depreciation?
Don't forget online resources
Other considerations.
  • Other considerations you should make are has the engine been serviced recently,? ask for maintenance records, check the tires for the date of manufacturing. When checking tires you will find a molded oval area that contains a date code. It Looks like this. Why is it important? Tires are expensive. Most RV's sit a lot without use. If the RV you are trying to purchase is older with low mileage this is because it sat in one place for a while. Get dirty and crawl under to find the date oval of it's not on the outside of the tires. Knowing the age of the tires is essential to your safety. RV tires tend to "age out" before they wear out. If well cared for the tires should last five years to seven years and then regardless of condition they should be changed out. You can use this information while haggling. If you are looking at a Class C or Class A you will have six to eight tires that will eventually need replacing.  Each tire costs about $300 on average. Take this into consideration when buying and use it to your advantage with haggling price.
The time to buy is close at hand
  • By now you've seen the best, the worst, the new and the old. What should you do now? My advice is give it a few days and then talk over your original shopping list of things you wanted in an RV. Discuss which RV's fit that list best. Also, consider that if you buy used will you be able to repair defective items or will you need a shop to do it. This may help you decide whether it's best to buy a used or new unit. The new unit will have a warranty but know that even with a warranty you will ultimately have something break that you will have to fix yourself before you can get back to the dealer.
  • Now that you have narrowed the list of qualifying RV's it's time to shop again. Yes, I said shop again.  However now you hopefully have narrowed down to two or three manufacturers or two or three specific RV's.
  • Why do this again? Because now you're educated. You know the average asking prices, you know the true value of those RV's. Guess what? It's almost time to haggle.
Time to decide whether you need to finance and get financing lined up prior to shopping for your RV
  • Yep, you are close now. You know about what you want to spend so it's time to line up financing if you need it. Check with your bank, the nearby credit union, USAA (if you're a vet), You may also choose to borrow from your 401K. Which ever option is going to give you the lowest interest rate, it's time to get your credit checked and your RV money lined up prior to the final stage.
Lets get ready to "Ruuuuumble" Time to haggle.
  • Haggling prices on an RV is not as daunting as it sounds. Dealers have about a 25%-$35% mark up on new units. If you know the specific manufacturer and model you want it's easy to play one dealer against the other. Do not fall for the "its the only one I have and when it's gone, it's gone" trick. There are other dealers out there that have that exact unit. Just walk away and call the other dealer. On the flip side, if you are sure the other dealer can beat the price but you would like to purchase from the dealer nearer to you, then definitely tell the sales person that. They will either match the price or let you walk. Don't fret over walking away.
What if I found "the one" from a private owner? How do I haggle for a used RV?
  • If  you think you've found "the one" currently owned by private owner or perhaps you are buying a used consignment unit at the delear, you will need to know the actual value of the RV using the RV NADA priceline guide
  • When buying used and if you are an RV Neophyte the it would be most prudent to find an RVIA certified inspector to look at the used unit you're trying to purchase. He/she will give you a very comprehensive written list of all systems from top to bottom, inside and out. This service can cost between $300 to $500 dollars depending on the area of the country you live in. You won't need this service until you have arrived at a sale price with the owner. 
  • Make your deal offer to $100 cash to hold the unit until an RVIA Certified inspector can be contacted and contracted to do the inspection. Make sure you have a receipt that states that the deal is null and void if the inspection reveals problems you can't live with.
  • Make sure that you have the inspector do an oil analysis on any unit that has a motor. Diesel and gas engine repairs are not cheap. The oil analysis will reveal many things about the current condition of an engine. To understand what oil analysis will tell you read this
  • The inspection is good money spent even if you have to walk away. If the inspector flags the unit as pile of crap on wheels you just potentially saved mega bucks in repairs on a lemon. It also gives you some leverage with haggling. If the owner wanted $35,000 and the inspection showed about $2,000 in repairs then you may be able to do all $2000 worth yourself if you are handy. 
Line up insurance 
  • RV insurance is another necessary piece of the puzzle. Make sure to make comparisons with Good Sam, Escapee's, Family Motor Coach Association and your private carrier. 
  • We have been with State Farm for a long time and this turned out to be my cheapest option. Make sure to discuss all of the options available to you like road hazzard, comprehensive, liability, glass and content inside the RV.
  • If you expect to have a lien on your RV you will not be able to secure the loan without proof insurance. Due diligence is required here. Consider all options and choose the insurance carrier of your choice.
  • Be prepared to supply the RV's V.I.N. for the insurance company so that your insurance is in force the moment you step behind the wheel or pull it off the lot. 
That's a lot of information right?  I hope all of this will help you choose the perfect RV and enjoy being on the road. Remember patience is key. I would have bought at least five of the RV's we looked at right then and there. However, my wise wife kept telling me "lets take this one step at a time" It turned out to be great advice.

We are at our journeys end in regard to RV purchasing - We are ready to hit the road

Our search is over and we are nearly full time!  We have our beautiful Newmar Northern Star. Repairs, maintenance and road and camping testing are complete. "The" Estate Sale will be Memorial Weekend on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We have our photos scanned and in the cloud, important documents scanned and placed into boxes for storage. Everything we don't want or need is now in the garage awaiting the sale.

We have chosen our new permanent address and mail forwarding set up. I have donated dozens of items to Good Will and have taken about a thousand pounds of paper and cardboard to be recycled What we don't sell will be donated to Good Will and other organizations around the area.

If you have followed us through out this process, then you know that we had a lot of decisions to make regarding what we wanted in a coach. You also know the process took a long time. We are pleased with our decisions and wanted to share this experience with all of you. I hope you find it useful.  Please drop to the bottom of any of my pages and leave a comment so we know what you think about our blog an this post in particular. Happy Camping!


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