Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I are on the verge of becoming RV owners. The biggest roadblock turns out we cannot agree on which type of RV to buy. I want a 5th wheel and she wants a motorhome. I tell her we get a lot more living space in a 5th wheel for half the money. She wants to be able to get up and move around while I drive. How do others work this out and agree on a rig that makes everyone happy? Please let me hear from you soon as I have a tight wad of money burning a whole in my pants pocket.
--Anxious in Austin
Dear Tight Wad:
Keep it in your pants until you have sorted out all the options. It’s a buyer’s market and you can find a great deal on whatever you decide. There are many ways to look at how a rig will serve you and what is important to you and your wife. Size matters. Some folks like a small living space that is easy to drive and park, and others want the Queen Mary on wheels. You should consider fuel. Not mpg on the rig only, but total travel mpg. Example: Your 5th wheel might cost more in fuel over a long period of travel compared to a motorhome pulling a small high mileage tow vehicle. Most people put on many more miles sightseeing than when actually pulling a rig.
Be sure to ballpark total trip mileage if a fuel budget is a concern. Another factor would be gas or diesel. Manufacturers are beginning to produce shorter diesel pusher motorhomes (Ex: Allegro Breeze) and class C Sprinter body rigs (Ex: Winnebago View). A diesel truck is going to cost you more at point of purchase, but save you fuel costs over the life of the vehicle. If everyone who joined the RV family could try before they buy, I guarantee most would make a different choice than what they end up with. I would suggest you and your wife visit a few local parks and talk to people with various rigs. You will find most RVers approachable and more than willing to share their thoughts and considerations on buying an RV. You will also find a wide variety of camping options from pop-ups to slide-outs.
Another important factor often overlooked by first time buyers is an efficient floor plan. When buying a rig, looks are only skin deep. Make every square foot of living space count. Let’s not forget the ever popular “Toy Haulers.” Yes, RVs in America need a garage. Some people with a lot of toys find this a must. There is comfort in knowing your Harley Hog is sleeping right next to you in an adjacent room. Before you know it you and your wife will be on the same page -- totally confused. The point is, there is no perfect rig. You need to find the most comfortable, affordable options that make the two of you the most happy before you unroll that wad.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink