Now, this is a fun story to read. Keep in mind, we had zero experience with RVs when we decided to become fulltime RVers. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Our search was entirely built on our own preferences and what we anticipated as our needs on the road. Our priorities in our search were:
- Something we could afford to buy outright. No payments on the road!
- Something that felt more like an apartment than an RV – in other words, an RV that we could completely renovate.
Here are the four main steps we went through to get what we wanted…
STEP 1: Pick the Type of RV
At first thought, we wanted a very small all-in-one (we came to find out they are called Class C or Class B). The idea of being able to take it anywhere and not need a separate vehicle was very appealing. So, we went to a dealer and toured one. The tour took two seconds, and it took one second to change our minds. It was just too small for us. I had visions of Jack Nicholson’s crazy face in The Shining. Plus, if we were having a problem, both our vehicle and home would be out of commission. To top it all off, even the used models were much more expensive than we thought. Next, please!
For a few deranged moments, we considered a Class A (those are the big busses). Not that only deranged people buy a Class A, that is not at all what I mean…in our situation though, we would have been deranged to take one on. First, we couldn’t afford one without owing money – a huge deal breaker for us. Additionally, we really couldn’t imagine driving one and towing a car to boot! We were focusing on simplifying our lives, and these were too excessive for our wishes. We didn’t even look at any at the dealer…Next!
Clearly, we needed something in-between. Our lack of towing experience and our desire to keep the cost down made us think that we should see what my 4Runner could tow. That lead us to consider small travel trailers. We went for our first travel trailer tour and the Jack Nicholson visions returned. Again, it just felt too small to us, and we knew we needed something that felt bigger. It was the low ceiling that made it feel small, despite the length they offer. We were naive in thinking that my 4Runner could tow something that would also feel spacious to us. Next!
We decided that our best option must be a fifth wheel (I had never even heard that term before). We toured one and found that they gave a much better feel for the living space. It was the high ceiling…what a difference! Finally, we found something that we thought we could live in fulltime as new RVers. The fifth wheels felt more like tiny apartments which appealed to us. The open feel of the fifth wheel is what finally made us give in to having to purchase a big truck for towing. Fifth wheel it is!
STEP 2: Pick the RV Model by Choosing a Layout
But, which fifth wheel to choose? We still wanted something as small as we could manage since we were new to big trucks and to towing. We toured a few more fifth wheels to get a feel for the layout we wanted. As we looked at the available layouts, we narrowed in on our biggest desires: 1. a large kitchen (relatively speaking of course), 2. a bathroom separate from the bedroom, 3. we wanted to keep the overall length down which meant that we would give up bedroom space. Once you decide on your top few criteria for the layout, it is very easy to start eliminating options. The dealer we visited had nothing that met these criteria, so we took to an online search. We began googling RV layout images to see if we could come up with a model that fit the criteria we wanted. There are so many different layout options available, but once you decide your key factors, the options begin to become very limited. We found that the 2006 Keystone Copper Canyon offered exactly what we wanted for both the kitchen and the bathroom, and it had an overall length of 26 feet.
STEP 3: Find Your RV (preferably close by if you are a new RVer like us)
Now, we were able to start searching dealers online for the model we wanted, and it did not take us long to find one. Only one problem, it was in New Jersey on the other side of Philadelphia. We were living in the Williamsport area, and that would mean that the first time we towed anything, we would be taking it through Philadelphia and over 4 hours. Maybe this RV thing isn’t such a good idea after all? Well, we prayed about it and kept searching. Lo and behold, we found the exact same model at Bonner Sports and RV, and it was only 30 minutes from our home. Coincidence? I think not.
STEP 4: Make Your Purchase
We do not agonize over decisions. We believe that you make a decision off the best information you can gather at the time and then move on. In fact, my wedding dress was the very first dress I tried on (I tried on two more and went with the first). Boom…done. So, it doesn’t surprise me that we only toured 7 different RVs, and we only spent a few hours with our online search before purchasing our first RV. Once we found it at Bonner’s, we went to tour it. After the tour, we went home and gave it a few days for us to think it over. My brother-in-law also toured it with Chris to get a second opinion on the renovations that we wanted to do. He agreed with us that our renovations would be possible, and then we called with an offer. Once we settled on a price, Aunt Glady became ours. Now, we just had to find a truck to pick her up with.
By the way, it’s a good thing we were close to the dealer. When we took our RV home, we couldn’t get it unhitched from the truck! We spent two hours in our church parking lot trying to figure out how to unhitch the darn thing. We had just spent four hours at the dealer learning all about how things worked in our RV. We did everything they told us to do, but our hitch was not budging. After trying every possible thing we could, we finally called the dealer. They literally had to send someone to help us. We were so embarrassed and less than encouraged about the fact that we now faced having to unhitch hundreds of times on our own all over the country. I am happy to report that we have been fulltimers for over a year now and have stayed at close to 80 different campgrounds, and we have never had a problem unhitching since that first time! But, it is a fun memory to look back on. Oh, how far we have come, figuratively and literally.