One of the first things I realized when researching RV's is that many people have more money than they know what to do with, and as a result, impulse buy their motorhome. Not being that way both financially and in the way I operate, the internet became my friend. RV shows became a must. I reverted back to my days as a systems analyst with the Xerox Corporation, where everything had to be researched, verified by multiple sources, and seen with my own eyes.
Barbara says I am obsessed.
I prefer the term prepared.
For me, the starting point became how to RV first (full-time or part-time), which would then lead us into what RV to buy. Given our ages, likely lifespans, and everything we wanted to see, I felt that full-timing was the way to go. Barbara, being more cautious, wanted a small sticks and bricks base for when we weren't actively traveling, and maybe do 6-8 months of sightseeing. Could we do it her way financially? The calculator said yes, but it would be tight. Could we do it my way logistically and personally, living in (relatively) close quarters 24/7, 365 days a year? Fortunately, we're each married to our best friend, and actually have more fun together now than we did more than 30 years ago. Thus Barbara became convinced that full-time was the best way to go.
The "how" part of retirement was taken care of.
Now the fun part began - what type of RV would we need to make this work.
Now, lots of people full-time in Class C, some will full-time in the smaller Class B's and many full-time in travel trailers, but Barbara and I find that as we get older, the creature comforts of home are a must; extra space to maneuver, bigger screen TVs, lots of air conditioning and heat, and a comfortable driving experience. Our choices quickly narrowed to a Class A motorhome, where living space and engine are combined into one unit, or a 5th wheel, where the large living area is towed behind a very large truck. Both have advantages, and both have drawbacks.
Fifth wheels generally have larger living space. There is usually more seating for guests in the living area, more room in the kitchen, and higher ceilings. We found the bedrooms are generally smaller in most 5th wheels than in many of the Class A's we've viewed. To get where you're going, you need a big honkin' Ford, Chevy or Dodge dually truck, which then becomes your way to get out of campgrounds for sightseeing and shopping.
Class A's are self-contained units. You drive the whole thing, and usually tow a small car behind you for sightseeing and shopping. Ceilings are lower, usually just 7 feet high, so taller people get a little claustrophobic in a Class A. But nothing beats the view out of the roughly 40 sq. ft. of single pane windshield going down the road. Class A's also offer the advantage of arriving at your destination with your living space already climate-controlled. AC's and heaters can run while you drive, whereas in 5th wheels you have to park it to get the environmentals going. Bathrooms and refrigerators are also accessible when going down the road in a Class A, and are especially useful when stuck in traffic.
Now, I know many guys out there like to drive big trucks, but while they have their uses, taking S-curves in the Rockies or darting in and out of traffic in cities isn't in their wheel house, so what vehicle to drive once we got on site became more important than I initially thought it would. In short, while the truck is a great way to get to RV somewhere, it became a liability to us once we found a place to stay for a while.
Congratulations, Dave! You've just made your first life-altering retirement decision. We're on to the Class A motorhome!
But wait - do we want a gas or diesel model . . . . ?
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're planning the ultimate retirement experience - travel the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, play golf and stop at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.