Buying your first RV is always a difficult
decision - How long should it be? - How ‘posh’ should it
be?---Do I need 1, 2, or 3 slides? - Should it be new or
pre-loved? Oh the
questions go on and on. One
thing for certain even when you find your perfect dream machine it
seems another that is just a little ‘nicer’ or ‘bigger’ or
‘or’, ‘or’ has just surfaced on your dealers lot or during
your visit to the last RV show. Don’t despair; this feeling is
normal, as a result the average trade-up time is 4-6 years.
Although we are finally driving what we feel is our dream home---a
diesel pusher that we emphatically say will be our last purchase,
it is not always easy to stay with those convictions.
Most RVers suffer from a constant ailment referred to as
I have been sharing
our experiences in print and in seminars with RVers for years but
many new to this lifestyle seem to feel John and I have more
material things than they may have access too.
Not true, we were in our 40’s when we hit the road and
although our pensions were adequate we were not ‘rollin’ in
excess cash. Budgeting
and learning to live within our sometimes-meager means was and
still is always
a challenge. The
following info applies to those just starting out as well as to
the numerous seasoned RVers.
It’s not necessary to ‘have-it-all’ on your first RV,
or on each follow-up unit either.
reminiscing about the fun and experiences of our early travels we
discovered some of our most enjoyable times were during our early
days with our older smaller unit.
We went to almost anyplace we wanted to.
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In 1985 we bought our first motorhome (a 1983 class A) one
year before our retirement. After
a three-year search we finally found our dream machine ‘Kastle
#1’. She was a so beautiful in our eyes but looking back she was
really extremely well ‘used’ and not very ‘pre-loved’ as
we first thought. Her
1983, 454 engine was OK, not bad for power since this unit was only
31’8 “ long. We had NO basement storage to speak of, NO
dinette area, NO extra toys and of course, NO slide.
By the way slides didn’t appear on motorhomes until the
early 90’s. Yes
space was sometimes restricting but we didn’t care, the world
was our oyster and we had such fun finding pleasure from this
great adventurous way of life.
That Pace Arrow
class A motorhome was our only home for eight years.
We had both retired from the Canadian military with good (not
great) pensions but we learned to live on a budget because NO
extra funds would surface until John’s pension increased in
1992, four years later he would receive a little bit more;
although I had to wait (16.5 years) until this past December for
mine to kick in. So
yes we were enjoying our on the road experiences at a very young
age but we definitely looked for less expensive things to keep us
When John’s first
increase cut in we upgraded to a new motorhome. We had paid cash
for our 'Kruisin’ Kastle #1' when we sold the house. That seemed
like a good idea at the time but now we had no house to sell.
In 1985 we began RVing by the seat of our pants with little
knowledge and few expectations, as a result we made numerous
mistakes. Paying cash
for our motorhome was one of our biggest errors.
If we had been wise we would have kept our money from the
sale of our house invested and financed that first unit.
This way refinancing the second one would have been an
easier transition and our investments would have continued to
increase. Plus at
trade-up time in ‘93 we had to find motorhome payment money from
our living cash (yes John’s pension increased slightly but our
new mortgage payment was double what he received.).
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The good part was
our compact 10 year old Pace Arrow was mechanically sound and she
sported an awesome new interior facelift, plus by now she was a
definitely a ‘pre-loved’ unit.
The dealer took this fact into consideration resulting in a
generous trade-in value. The
good news was that dealer also helped us cement a 10 year mortgage
on our new dream machine. When we drove that brand new 37’ 6”
Citation class A with the futuristic paint job off the lot we were
bursting with pride. Paying a mortgage (we considered it a large
loan) was foreign to us but the thrill of living and driving our
brand new larger gas powered, tag axle ‘Kastle #2’ soon made it easy for
us to accept life as it was. Just as in a house or a cottage, the
mortgage payment simply became part of our monthly living costs.
In March 1999 we
finally moved into a diesel pusher when another small monthly
pension increase surfaced. What started as a joke while working at
the Hamilton RV show (Canada) culminated with us driving 'Kastle
#3', a 1995 Luxor by Winnebago, into the sunset. It took us 14
years to reach this pinnacle but finally we were driving a diesel
unit of our dreams. Payments
remained almost the same but this time our four-year-old unit was
now mortgaged for 20 years. Our investments continue to grow while
the bank allows us the privilege to drive our high-end machine of
choice. No our Luxor
still has no slide but we really can’t miss what we never had.
Even though we satisfied our yearning for a bigger heavier
diesel unit we still had to move into an RV that fit the budget.
One other plus, our new to us ‘toed’ served as a rental
automobile for a year before we bought it. We saved about $5000.00
buying an ‘almost new’ vehicle rather than a ‘new’ car
from the factory.
The following year a small windfall enabled us to add
appreciated toys such as a washer/dryer, a roof mounted dish
(trees only have hindered us twice but we no longer go to state or
provincial parks either), and our mural. Although the vented
washer/dryer was an expensive after market extra, this is our
home. After endless treks to the laundry during the previous 14
years we consider our washer/dryer combo a most valued on-board
necessity instead of a luxury. The satellite allows John to stay
on top of how his favourite sports teams are performing and our
mural added a pleasant touch of class.
While reflecting on
our early travels, we decided no matter what Kastle we drove, the
joys of this fantastic lifestyle helps to create unparallel
memories. Although out of necessity we learned to budget and find
ways to stretch each dollar, the pleasures of RV Life definitely
compensate for the occasional times of limited cash flow.
We routinely set
aside available funds for annual improvements and sometimes
expensive routine or periodic maintenance, For instance 2001/02 we
a maintenance free winter, so that summer our tired carpeted floor
was transformed into an easy to clean vinyl planking floor that
resembles a hardwood front to back.
It was necessary to add a sub-floor to provide a hard surface to
build on. The
couch and large barrel chair was scraped and replaced with two new
style recliners with the circular base. These modifications
provided a fold down working
table/desk for John. Right
from the beginning I laid claim to the dinette area as my
workspace. No, our
Luxor still does not have a slide but with careful planning the
changes did free up considerable more living space inside our already
roomy home on wheels. We will
satisfied our need for ‘Big-itis’ without
liquidating valuable investments to purchase a new unit. For more
details see the story about Our Space Of
A Slide From The Inside.
What makes RVing so
great is everyone can enjoy this lifestyle in a unit that suits
their current budget and travel desires. If your RV usage will be
similar to a cottage you may not be able to justify all the extra
amenities we feel are important. On the other hand since our
motorhome is our fulltime home many of our ‘luxuries’ we feel
are actually necessities. This lifestyle is contagious, originally
we planned to travel for two years and now almost 18 years later
we don’t expect to set down roots in the near future. Enjoy your