River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018

River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018
River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018

Monday, July 23, 2012

Choosing an RV -- Mon., July 23

This blog is for people new to RVing who are thinking about buying their first RV. I'm sure lots has been left out. For you long-time RVers, please chime in with your thoughts and ideas in the Comments.

This topic was addressed on Debbie's Fork in the Road blog. This is diferrent information. 
Here's a quote from her blog that is spot on: "But in the end, there’s no right RV. Get what you like. Get what works for you."

Some thoughts on what to look for when buying a new RV home...(Note: we have a 5th wheel so this is skewed toward 5th wheels.)
  1. Look at lots and lots and lots and lots of RVs: motorhomes, 5th wheel trailers, and regular trailers.
  2. Make sure you love it. Sit in it. Take your time at the dealer or RV show. Don't let them rush you.
  3. Buy used if new is too expensive. There are some good deals out there, but you have to take the time to find them.
  4. Look for a "four seasons" coach. That means it was made for all weather...has thicker insulation, a completely enclosed undercarriage, double skylights, and hopefully two AC units on the roof and a "fantastic fan" or two. You are more likely to find these up north where the weather is colder.
  5. It helps if you like the decor, but that can always be changed later if need be. Or the decor may make you want to barf so avoid that type of interior.
  6. Be sure it has enough storage inside and out and that the storage is easy to get to. If the "basement" storage has sliding drawers you will have easier access to your things.
  7. The kitchen should have a slide-out pantry or two with a number of shelves.
  8. If you have a cat or more, have a place in mind for your kitty litter box. (We bought a unit with washer/dryer closet but don't have a washer/dryer. The closet is our kitty litter, vacuum, broom, mop closet. It also helps that the bathroom is where the closet is located--keeping bad smells in one place you can vent with an overhead fan.)
  9. When you're looking at RVs/5th wheels on a dealer lot or at an RV show, the slides are usually open. Close the slides and see how much room you have to move around inside. (For example, say you want to do an overnight stay at a rest area or Walmart and won't put slides out. Can you still get to the kitchen, the couch and dining room table with the slides in?)
  10. If you're a couple, see how easy the kitchen is to navigate with both of you in it. Try it with the slides closed.
  11. Check the underneath storage compartments thoroughly. Will all your stuff fit? Are there built-in lights in the "basement?"
  12. Does it have an outside shower?
  13. Does it have an outside entertainment system? (Ours does but it's just a little radio and there's an electrical outlet there if we want to plug in an outdoor fan or, say, a toaster oven or small outdoor refrigerator.) 
  14. Does it have an outside "kitchen."
  15. I'm sure there's more outside stuff I'm forgetting because Bob does most of the outside stuff.
Those are my thoughts on an MH/5th wheel purchase. Some good brands are Winnebago, McKenzie, Jayco, Holiday Rambler (we have a 2003 Presidential model), Monaco, Carriage, Cameo, Newmar, Tiffin Phaeton, Forest River, Brookstone, Keystone, Montana, Alfa, just to name a few.

As far as a pick up to haul a 5th wheel or trailer, you're looking at a long bed Ford F350, preferably an older model with a 7.3 litre engine; Dodge 3500 or a large Chevy pickup (don't know name of large Chevy truck). You'll want to make sure you have a heavy-duty 5th wheel in the pick-up bed or find out how much to have one installed. At all costs, avoid a Ford F350 with a 6.0 litre engine...they're nothing but trouble from all the blogs I've read, plus Bob researched them and would not get anywhere near a Ford F350 with a 6.0 litre engine. The problem seems to have been resolved with the newer 6.4 and 6.7 litre engines.

If you ask around you'll probably get lots of good advice on a pick up to haul your RV.


  1. Don't forget to check out the bed. Can you get into it if the bedroom slide out is in? Do you have access to both sides of the bed, or does one person have to climb over? They can cost p to a thousand or more. I've seen some that sort of fold up when the slide is in. Most RV mattresses are terrible, and you will probably want a new one. If buying used, when you make your purchase budget be sure to include several thousand dollars for things that may need to be replaced or repaired in the short term. Tires, Batteries seals come into that catagory. If you are buying an A or a C, you will probably want a tow car. Don't forget it can cost up to 4K to set a car up for towing with the proper hitch, tow bar, baseplate and braking system.

    1. Merikay,
      Great! Thank you so much. There's so much knowledge "out on the road."

      I can't wait to hear what other people say as well.


  2. Not seasoned, but having started in a TT and already moved to a used A... older due to budget. Here is something I should have taken more time to think about...
    Electric outlets - are there enough? are they in the right places?
    My water heater is GAS only, since I spend most time in campsite hooked up to shore power, I would prefer it to switch over to electric...not possible unless I change out a perfectly good water heater.
    The dinnet..benchs... is there 'electrical' or other 'stuff' under the seats that make it impossible or at least very difficult to remove / remodel the area?
    Mine has gas heaters underneath, limiting the inside storage I 'thought' I had.
    Had this A for 3 months and I am already saving and looking for newer and better suited to our needs. Not regretting, just a tad smarter I hope.

    1. Not being "seasoned" simply means this is closer to your heart because you've just lived through it.

      Good things to think about. If someone hasn't had the experience, it's hard to know what to look for.

      Thank you for helping others wrap their heads around some of the issues in RV ownership. Good comment.


  3. Great list and suggestions. As for the inside, one other thing I would add is to make sure that you can see your TV from the chairs or sofa that you are going to be sitting on the most. I've seen some where you have to crane your neck around and that could get pretty painful after a while.

    Another thing we like is having some kind of laminate flooring in the living room and kitchen area - we have a 32' 5'er. Keeping a carpet clean is pretty tough in an RV at the best of times and the living room area is especially difficult.

    1. Oh my gosh, see, I knew y'all (I'm starting to sound Texan) could come up with a list of helpful things.

      Our combined experiences make for some good reading and shopping tips.

      Thank you, Rick.


  4. Great job Susan. I would also add purchase trailer before truck. This is important because the weight of the trailer determines the size of truck. Some folks by the truck first, then find out the truck will not tow the trailer. Most sales people in dealership know very little about truck tow capacities.

    Another suggestion is to sign up with http://rv-dreams.activeboard.com/. Howard/Linda Payne manage the most honest unbiased RV Forum on the internet. Lots of people there with lots of good advice. This is a great forum.


Please let me know what you think, your experiences, and constructive criticism to make this blog stronger.