Things to Consider Before Purchasing an RV

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Things to Consider Before Purchasing an RV

Is the idea of taking a memorable cross-country road trip with your family in an RV something you’ve always imagined yourself doing? 

Or maybe you like the idea of being able to hook up your travel trailer on a Friday afternoon and escape to a campsite for the weekend.

If you’re nearing retirement age, you may be ready to downsize and spend your golden years living the RV lifestyle.

Whatever it is that has you considering purchasing an RV, we can help you start the research process.

Recreational vehicles are separated into different classes, and each of the three types, A, B, and C, are built on different platforms. Some are large enough for full-time RV living, while others are perfect for a long weekend for you and four, six, or eight others.

Then there are the trailers that start as mini campers, pull-behinds, and fifth-wheel trailers. With a trailer, not only do you need to consider its size, but you also must consider how you will pull it.

What you must decide before purchasing an RV is what you need and want and what you can afford to buy and maintain. RVs range from 15 feet to the big dogs, the Class As, which can be up to 45 feet long and as luxurious as any home.

Class A Motorhomes

The Class A motorhome (aka – motor coach) is built on a bus or commercial truck frame. They can be gas or diesel-powered and are self-contained. Class A RVs are designed so you can spend a weekend, a season, or all year at whatever camp sight you can park it on.

Their size is more significant than many tiny homes, where people live year-round, and are often used for that purpose. Although a Class A motorhome can be built with enough space to sleep more than two, but it is more likely to have permanent sleeping space for two and a fold-out couch for guests.

Class A RVs are BIG

A class A motorhome may have as many square feet of living space as many tiny homes. However, they exude luxury, as they should for their price, and can move about under their power.

Range of sizes and weights of Class A Motorhomes:

  • 24 to 45 feet in length
  • 12,500 and 30,000 pounds in weight (DRY)
  • Built on a commercial truck or bus chassis
  • They are the most expensive motor homes to buy, operate, maintain, and store.
  • The fuel mileage of a Class A RV ranges from six to ten miles per gallon.
  • Sleeps one to eight

Class B Motorhomes

Class B motorhomes are the smallest of the three types and are customized vans. They have higher roofs, and the interiors are designed for a short weekend or extended travel.

The Class B RV is the least expensive to buy and operate. However, one decked out can cost over $100,000 when new.

Since they are customized vans, they are not purpose-built as RVs. Class B RVs are also smaller than Class A or C RVs. They may have a wet bathroom, which is a shower and toilet that share the same area, or nothing more than a portable toilet, if that.

Range of sizes and weights of Class B Motorhomes:

  • 16 to 25 feet in length
  • 6,000 to 10,000 pounds in weight (DRY)
  • Vans have theitsundation with interiors designed for overnight travel.
  • The least expensive motor home to purchase, operate and maintain.
  • They can get fuel mileage of 18 to 25 miles per gallon.
  • Sleeps one to two

Class C Motorhomes

Built on a van or truck frame, Class C RVs are smaller than Class A Motorhomes and larger than Class Bs. However, like the other two classes, they can be powered by a gas or diesel engine.

Class C RVs can be as luxurious as a Class As. Or they may be built for expedition driving, and primarily off-road, because these RVs are more utilitarian.

Range of sizes and weights of Class C Motorhomes:

  • 21 to 45 feet in length
  • 10,000 to 20,000 pounds in weight (DRY)
  • The chassis of a Class C motor home can come from a van or commercial truck.
  • They are the second most costly RV to purchase, operate, and maintain.
  • The average fuel mileage is eight to ten miles per gallon.
  • A Class C RV can sleep up to eight people

Pop Ups, Pull Behind Trailers, and Fifth Wheels

The various travel trailers range from small pop-up trailers, which can be pulled by a small car or SUV, to 35-foot pull-behind trailers requiring a large pick-up truck or SUV to tow them. Fifth-wheel trailers can be up to 45 feet long and need a sizeable heavy-duty pick-up truck to pull them.

The amenities of pop-up and mini trailers are minimal. However, the trend of exterior kitchen areas in these units offers more livability. They are the cheapest way to go RVing and a great way to test the waters when moving up from tent camping to something more comfortable.

Travel trailers range from 15 to 45 feet in length and can weigh between 4,000 and 15,000 pounds (DRY). Like fifth wheelers, you will need a powerful pick-up truck to pull a trailer much longer than 26 feet.  

Some RVs Are Self-Contained — Some Are Not

A self-contained RV has tanks for fresh, grey, and black water. It will also have a source(s) of power, which may be a generator, and solar panels, with battery power storage.

Equipped in such a manner, an RV can be taken to a site and have everything you would have at home, including power and water. However, not all RVs are so equipped, and you will need to get power and water at a campsite.

Self-contained RVs are great for campers who want one for a private camp or at a primitive site where there is no power and the water may be drinkable. And if you have RV camping equipment that is ready to go when you are, you will likely go more often.

A Note About Licenses

When looking at an RV to purchase, consider that you may need a different class of license to drive it legally. Check with the local Department of Motor Vehicles in your state to learn the licensure requirements for pulling a trailer or driving an RV based on weight and length.