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Old 07-01-2012, 09:17 PM   #15
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1. Figure 10% of purchase price per year in maintenance for a well maintained unit.
For a well maintained unit, the inital maintenance cost should be $0.00.
10% of the price of a new unit... Not sure if we're talking about 25k travel trailer or a 100k+ Class-A or a 350K+ DP, but regardless, that's WAY too much maintenance cost.

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2. Cost of ownership goes up expodentially not linearly as the length/size increase.
I don't agree with exponential increase here. More expensive rigs have more systems, but honestly - the things you're maintaining with my $20k Class-A and a new $350k DP are largely the same. Diesels cost more in terms of oil changes, etc, but not exponential.

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3. For new add 10-20% of purchase price for outfitting to make it functional/safe for long term use, 35-50% for older/pre-owned. In many circumstances buying new or near-new is the better value.
If it's new and not safe to drive down the road, why would you buy it? I spent about 10% of the total cost on a used Class-A to have it fully inspected, oil change, transmission fluid changed, diff fluid changed, and a few things fixed. The other stuff that I added such as TVs were totally optional.

I've owned lots of toys. Planes, boats, motorcycles, lots of cars/trucks. *Nothing* depreciates faster than a used RV. Nothing. Anyone telling you that new or near-new is the better value is getting a commission.

I'd buy "near-new" if I could get 40-50% off original price. I think that's a sweet price point. Shop around, you can find barely-used, inside-kept RVs for a fraction (20-30%) of their original price. Buy a new on if you have to have it and you're going to keep it forever, but otherwise, you're just throwing money away.






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4. You can get speed, quality & low-cost but you can't get more than two together.
I'm not sure what "speed" means here, but quality and and cost are usually highly correlated. There are lots of RV manufactures that build things the same way - rubber roofs, wood frames, composite sides. There is nothing wrong with these. You can go up from there to aircraft manufacturing techniques (airstream) as well as some really complicated diesel pusher rigs designed to go 500k miles.


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I ask this question because it is my experience that just because you can afford to buy something doesn't mean you can afford to own it.
I think that's a pretty smart statement. It's especially true of owning aircraft. :-)

One way to get started on the estimate is to figure out what it will cost to insure it and what it will cost to store it (assuming you don't have a place). You can drastically decrease the cost of ownership by learning to maintain it yourself... These forums are great for help!
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:20 PM   #16
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We are part time rver's and we started out with a new TT about five years ago. The monthly payments along with maintenance costs were a little too expensive for our liking, so we got rid of the TT and paid cash for a older motor home. We have spent a great deal of time and money to renovate it, but now that we have made it our own the annual cost of ownership is very low. The amount that it cost me to maintain it plus the cost of our trips is still less expensive than us having to drive somewhere, eat out for the duration of the trip and pay a higher premium for lodging. The extra benefit that we like is that it is a much more enjoyable trip getting to and from our destination. I also agree with a previous post about the cost of maintenance differing greatly depending on you own skills and abilities to do upgrades and maintenance yourself.
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:29 PM   #17
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...because it is my experience that just because you can afford to buy something doesn't mean you can afford to own it.
We are relative new RV owners, so I don't really know what our cost of ownership is at this point beyond the initial purchase cost, insurance, and gas.

I just wanted to say that your last sentence is extraordinarily ON THE MARK. I have seen new posters arrive here, having purchased a rundown POS RV with the idea that they will "fix it up," live in it and save big bucks. I have to shake my head at the naivety...and feel a bit of pity, too. They just have not done their homework and are stunned at the expense of repair and maintenance, and overwhelmed by the "systems" of their new home.

And we now return you to your regularly scheduled thread topic...
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:45 PM   #18
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I just wanted to say that your last sentence is extraordinarily ON THE MARK. I have seen new posters arrive here, having purchased a rundown POS RV with the idea that they will "fix it up," live in it and save big bucks. I have to shake my head at the naivety...and feel a bit of pity, too. They just have not done their homework and are stunned at the expense of repair and maintenance, and overwhelmed by the "systems" of their new home.

And we now return you to your regularly scheduled thread topic...

Having polished many a "turd" in my day, I'll agree. A run-down MH will cost a small fortune to get back into working order.... Nevermind the "cost" of your time.

However, there is a strong middle ground between something that will depreciate like crazy off the lot and buying a run-down coach.

Find something well maintained, well cared for, with documented history. Paying 50% of new is easy. I buy rigs that are about 10 years old, if I buy them undocumented, I expect 2-3k in "issues", but at this price point, I'm paying about 20% of the new price after we're all-in.

If I was going to full-time or use the rig more, I'd go up the scale and low for newer, nicer, and better documented. I can tell you that I'll never buy new...
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:53 PM   #19
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I have to admit I should have done more homework before getting our rig. Then again, as much information as I tried to get, I didn't even begin to know what I didn't know. LOL

The only real cost of significance that I know would hit me was 6 new tires. Outfitting the rig to MY needs was a LOT more than I expected. Progressive Industries Hard wired surge protector, air compressor, tools, and such were not hugely expensive but still more than I expected. We got surprised with needing new rear shocks (cracked bushings) and mildly surprised by needing to replace the serpentine belt.

Storage wasn't too bad until today. LOL We got an open spot in a storage lot for about $50 a month. As of today I am now the proud renter of a very nice, enclosed (50' X 16') storage space. Only $225 a month.

Then there are the "optional" toys. Scan Gauge II and 6 tire TST 507 TPMS.

Then to top that off is a an appointment on the 5th for to replace the Norcold cooling unit (2 burned out recall boards in 2 months) with the Amish Cooling Unit. My refer hit 55* over the week and that just isn't going to work.

I also have a $2K future expense since I have found out a king pin is going to need replacement in the foreseeable future. SHEESH! :face palm:

All that being said, I don't regret these things. In some cases it was either safety related or protection of my investment. In a few others it was something we could have waited for but chose not to.

So, baring the unforeseen breaking of stuff, I think we are good for this year. Oh, but there is next year...toad, toad and brake set up ...
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Old 07-02-2012, 08:16 AM   #20
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In 2007 we spent $19k on a brand new 27' TT to pull with our existing truck. We put $1k into it for a solar power setup so we could boondock all the time. We lived in it full-time for a year and our expenses were $1700 a month, including everything. In 2008 we spent $40k on a brand new Dodge RAM 3500 and $40k on a brand new Hitchhiker LS II fifth wheel. We put $4000 into the rig to buy a fifth wheel hitch and install a big solar power bank. Our monthly expenses continued to be $1700 a month for everything.

In 2010 we bought a 2-year-old used sailboat to live aboard and cruise Mexico/Central America. It was waaay expensive. Outfitting it for full-time cruising was 20% of the purchase price -- anchor system upgrade, watermaker, solar power system, dinghy, safety gear, new bottom paint, parts for broken things and on and on. Our monthly budget for both lifestyles combined grew to $2200/month more-or-less -- still crunching the numbers which we'll post in October at the end of this RVing season.

I don't think you can compare the ownership of a boat with the ownership of an RV. RVing is infinitely cheaper, especially if you put solar on the roof and boondock in the gorgeous public lands the western states have to offer for free.

Our boat requires 20 hours a week of work just to maintain it, never mind installing upgrades. Our RV requires maybe 3 hours a month and has everything on it we could ever want. Storing our RV when we are on the boat is $85/month. Storing the boat when we are in the RV starts at $200/month and goes up from there depending on the port.

For us, we've found after 5 years of doing both of these activities full-time that you get much more bang for you buck out of RVing than you do out of cruising.
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Old 07-02-2012, 08:46 AM   #21
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I'm not a boater so I can't address that side of the topic but my view of RV ownership is pretty much the same as any Joe Average. We started with a very old Class C. The price was more than right and we knew going into it that there was going to be some expenses. We have a friend who runs his own RV mobile repair/service business so that has been a very large help. We are now in an older class A but we did try to do our home work before the purchase. We paid what felt like a reasonable price and the required maintenance that we needed to do on it has been what I consider minimal. The cost of making it suitable for our desires hasn't been a lot but I always consider that a choice versus a must do detail.

There will always be a project to do on it and I blame some of that on many of the great ideas I read about here on IRV2. All in all we find this adventure well within our means. Part of that is because we know what we can do financially and remain within those boundaries. The other side of the coin is that we did research and investigate before jumping in blindly.
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Old 07-02-2012, 03:30 PM   #22
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Good responses, just what I was looking for. TY all, I'm encouraged.

Now back to my search for the right type of R.V. for our needs & wants.
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Old 07-02-2012, 04:49 PM   #23
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In 2007 we spent $19k on a brand new 27' TT to pull with our existing truck. We put $1k into it for a solar power setup so we could boondock all the time. We lived in it full-time for a year and our expenses were $1700 a month, including everything. In 2008 we spent $40k on a brand new Dodge RAM 3500 and $40k on a brand new Hitchhiker LS II fifth wheel. We put $4000 into the rig to buy a fifth wheel hitch and install a big solar power bank. Our monthly expenses continued to be $1700 a month for everything.

In 2010 we bought a 2-year-old used sailboat to live aboard and cruise Mexico/Central America. It was waaay expensive. Outfitting it for full-time cruising was 20% of the purchase price -- anchor system upgrade, watermaker, solar power system, dinghy, safety gear, new bottom paint, parts for broken things and on and on. Our monthly budget for both lifestyles combined grew to $2200/month more-or-less -- still crunching the numbers which we'll post in October at the end of this RVing season.

I don't think you can compare the ownership of a boat with the ownership of an RV. RVing is infinitely cheaper, especially if you put solar on the roof and boondock in the gorgeous public lands the western states have to offer for free.

Our boat requires 20 hours a week of work just to maintain it, never mind installing upgrades. Our RV requires maybe 3 hours a month and has everything on it we could ever want. Storing our RV when we are on the boat is $85/month. Storing the boat when we are in the RV starts at $200/month and goes up from there depending on the port.

For us, we've found after 5 years of doing both of these activities full-time that you get much more bang for you buck out of RVing than you do out of cruising.
That was a very interesting read. If you don't mind me asking you a couple of things. We are new to RVing, what exactly do you do for maintenance for 3hrs. a month? Also, I like the fact that you boondock and are off the grid. What can you now run via the solar panels?
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:13 AM   #24
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Hello Horizonchase -- That 3 hours a month includes things like washing/waxing the truck and trailer, washing the roof, fixing minor things that go wrong - recently they were things like tightening screws that wiggled loose on cabinets, re-attaching things that got detached on rough roads (ceiling fan lights and a sconce light were recent culprits), fixing a hitch bolt we attached wrong when we started this season, getting an oil change for the truck. All small stuff that's manageable and averages out to something like 3 hours a month -- some months might be 6 and others 0.

We run everything from our solar panels except the air conditioning: 2 laptops, 26" TV, microwave, hair dryer, lights. It's like having full hookups all the time. We have 490 watts of solar panels and an 1100 watt pure sine wave inverter that is on from when we wake up until we go to sleep. We use a Yamaha 2400i generator to run the air conditioning about 2-7 times a year. Lots of info about it all on our website...
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:19 AM   #25
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Having polished many a "turd" in my day, I'll agree. A run-down MH will cost a small fortune to get back into working order.... Nevermind the "cost" of your time.

However, there is a strong middle ground between something that will depreciate like crazy off the lot and buying a run-down coach.

Find something well maintained, well cared for, with documented history. Paying 50% of new is easy. I buy rigs that are about 10 years old, if I buy them undocumented, I expect 2-3k in "issues", but at this price point, I'm paying about 20% of the new price after we're all-in.

If I was going to full-time or use the rig more, I'd go up the scale and low for newer, nicer, and better documented. I can tell you that I'll never buy new...
We are just the opposite; we will never buy used. I've seen too many jury-rigged, overloaded, poorly-maintained and downright dangerous RVs. We are not full timers and God willing will never be; we like our home too much. We're RV vacationers all the way.

However my point was that people buy an RV with absolutely no idea of the expenses and effort to maintain...or the reality of owning one. "Oh...you mean I have to EMPTY those tanks??"
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:00 AM   #26
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...However my point was that people buy an RV with absolutely no idea of the expenses and effort to maintain...or the reality of owning one. "Oh...you mean I have to EMPTY those tanks??"
I keep going back to my favorite phrase...I didn't know what I didn't know. Fortunately I have owned an airplane and knew that just because you can afford to buy it doesn't mean you can afford to keep it. That being said, even though I have had to put out a bit more cash at the beginning than I planned, in the long term it is not as expensive as owning a plane.

There are so many things that a newbie CAN NOT KNOW in advance. It is impossible to research everything when one doesn't have enough experience to even know some of the things to ask. As an example, I would not have figured out the issue with my Norcold refer and recall boards before I bought my rig. That issue is kind of esoteric to a novice. I now have a better understanding of all the parts and system suppliers out there and might foresee these "hidden" issues a little easier but there are sooooo many little things that only come to light when one gets exposed to them.

Hence... I and learn something nearly every time I get to my rig. It has been a whirlwind in the last 3 months of being educated but it has been FUN.

Keep in mind that I don't think there is a salesperson out there that will tell a new user all the details of how much it costs to maintain a unit. Might scare off a sale.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:07 PM   #27
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Like SarahW, we buy new. I create enough of my own problems. I would rather spend my time and money traveling than repairing. I agree with what she about unsafe conditions that are done. Since I am retired I maintain as well as I can to try to eliminate problems. My wife and I do not fish, hunt or live an extravagant life. We were able to help our son and daughter get started with their own path of life. So the rest of the $ we have we will use to see the beautiful USA and care for us when we can't travel anymore.
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Old 07-03-2012, 01:43 PM   #28
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Sometimes I think "cost of ownership" becomes over focused on $$$$, when for me it is more about "aggravation" of ownership. A "good & comprehensive" EW can take care of the expense issue, but I cringe everytime I read about the owner who's MH sends more time in the shop than it does rolling down the highway. New or Used....who cares if you're afraid to leave your driveway.

I couldn't live with this sort of aggravation! In my mind, this is one of the best reasons to buy Used & be sure you can live with the problems & necessary "fixes". If our MH had turned out to be perpetually in the "shop" it would have been painful, but I could have driven it off a cliff & walked away with a smile ony face!
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