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Old 08-17-2015, 10:38 PM   #1
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Ready to pull the trigger! - a little motorhome advice?

Hi everyone. My name is Craig (37), my wife is Christin (34), Daughter Caroline (2), and one on the way!

We live on 82 acres in Jefferson, GA and for a few years leading up to moving onto the land we had an 03 Mobile Suites 36' 5th Wheel on the property on a generator that we stayed in several times per year until moving out here. We sold it about a year ago shortly after moving here. We miss it!

Believe it or not, we never took the 5th wheel anywhere but here. We have talked for a long time about buying a motorhome, and over the last year the talks have gotten more and more frequent.

We came real close to buying a used Tiffin Phaeton (I forget the exact year but it was around $150k) about 6 months ago and got cold feet. We felt like we might need a bunk unit and weren't sure so we did nothing.

Now, as the wife is pregnant the doctor told us that she shouldn't really fly if avoidable (she is high risk, has had blood clots, etc). We have a conference in Tucson, AZ in Sept that we planned to fly to ... so hmmm ... after the doctor appointment Christin said "So what if we bought an RV and drove there and back?". I perked up of course and have been on a hunt since!

Fortunately I am the CEO of a company we own and have the ability to be away for long periods of time (although getting on the laptop at least once every 3-5 days unless "on vacation" is typical), so it would not be too much of a stretch to take a week or so to get to Tucson, and about the same to get home after the conference. It sounds like it would be a blast!

Thoughts?

And, here is what we have been looking at for units. I would love any advice you guys and gals might have!!

100-150k for a 2004-2008-ish Tiffin Phaeton, American Coach, Forest River Berkshire, Newmar Essex, Mountain Aire, or Dutch Star (although many of the Newmars are up closer to 200k).

OR ... we have been looking at some things in the 250-300k range like newer (2012-2014-ish) Newmar Mountain Aires and Dutch Stars.

Of course we love the newer ones - the looks, the fancy features - but are trying to balance being reasonable with getting what we want. From a payment perspective there isn't that huge of a difference (especially if you go for the 20 year am), the down payment would be a good bit more though. The concern is "what if we don't like rv'ing?". To sell something more expensive means a potential larger loss. Buying something cheaper might mean more issues or constantly regretting not getting what we really wanted if in fact, we love it.

I am a bargain hunter so I have already searched nationwide and built a spreadsheet, etc. I don't mind flying somewhere if it means the best deal and therefore a higher likelihood of being able to get all or most of my money back if I sold it after this trip (keeping in mind we have a 7% unavoidable tax in GA).

So ... I would love to hear your feedback!

As a side note, I am really excited about the idea that I can start my family off RV'ing - all the memories we can build! It seems so very cool and is very exciting!

Craig
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Old 08-17-2015, 10:51 PM   #2
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Well, even though we now own a Country Coach we're still very partial to the Newmar line having owned two Dutch Stars. If we had it to do over we'd get a DSDP 4375 though as my DW fell in love with the unit about 1 HOUR after we signed the papers for the Magna. And she was probably right, we'd have been much more satisfied.
You might want to look at an Entegra Cornerstone even though they won't do much, if any, custom work or modifications.
I started RV'ing when I was 10 and the memories are still with me and why I love RV'ing today.
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Old 08-17-2015, 10:57 PM   #3
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Sounds like a good idea.

Biggest thing is the Floor Plan.

You can fix engines, etc but you have to live with a floor plan.

You are going to be spending some time inside so what you pick can have a big influence on your enjoyment level.

Figure out the accessories and options you want. Residential fridge, washer/dryer, all electric???

Get what the DW likes and you will be golden.
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Old 08-17-2015, 10:58 PM   #4
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Craig,

Have you considered renting an RV first to find out if you and the family would enjoy the lifestyle?

Since your trip to Tucson is work related you should be able to write some of it off on taxes if not all of it.

Jon
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Old 08-17-2015, 11:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
Well, even though we now own a Country Coach we're still very partial to the Newmar line having owned two Dutch Stars. If we had it to do over we'd get a DSDP 4375 though as my DW fell in love with the unit about 1 HOUR after we signed the papers for the Magna. And she was probably right, we'd have been much more satisfied.
You might want to look at an Entegra Cornerstone even though they won't do much, if any, custom work or modifications.
I started RV'ing when I was 10 and the memories are still with me and why I love RV'ing today.
Thanks!

I have a few Entegras on my list but no Cornerstones - they are mighty pricey even used! ($330k-ish). The Anthems seem nice. I haven't looked at the feature differences yet.

We have been liking the Tiffins for a while now. I prefer the darker interiors which are easier to find in Newmars and Entegras it seems, but some of the Tiffins have them. I would be happy (I think) with the lighter interior but if I were trying to be 100% happy I would do something darker. I love the diagonal tile you see in some of the Newmars and such. Tiffin seems to a tad more plain, but still very nice.

As for camping since a young age, I found a site where the family rv'ed every summer for 15 years since their kids were small. So many memories. I think it would be awesome.
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Old 08-17-2015, 11:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Gordon Dewald View Post
Sounds like a good idea.

Biggest thing is the Floor Plan.

You can fix engines, etc but you have to live with a floor plan.

You are going to be spending some time inside so what you pick can have a big influence on your enjoyment level.

Figure out the accessories and options you want. Residential fridge, washer/dryer, all electric???

Get what the DW likes and you will be golden.

Great points. I have obsessed more about the look and feel of the inside than many other things and features. I also want the residential fridge and washer/dryer (separate if possible). I like the idea of the total electric but I THINK I would be ok with propane for the range ... but does that mean that other things are likely to be propane too? I really like the idea of the generator, water heater, and heat being diesel powered. Really cool to be able to just fill one tank and not worry about it.

DW - haha yea, that has been part of my strategy. I think if we skimp too much on the front end she may be less likely to want to go places!
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Old 08-17-2015, 11:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by jfran304 View Post


Craig,

Have you considered renting an RV first to find out if you and the family would enjoy the lifestyle?

Since your trip to Tucson is work related you should be able to write some of it off on taxes if not all of it.

Jon
Thanks for the welcome!

Yea, I thought about renting something but when I have looked at what is available they seem to be about $2000 per week or more for something even close to what we would buy. I wouldn't want to skimp too much. We need it for a little over 3 weeks so you are looking at 7k or more after this fee and that one. I have a hard time "wasting" 7k that I could put toward a unit we might keep. I even thought that if I was willing to waste 7k and found the right deal buying one, I could sell it for a 7K loss (keeping the taxes in mind) and still "break even". Not sure if that makes sense or not.

As for tax deductible, that's another point .... I have thought that if I owned one I could take a trip per month somewhere with the family and make time to visit customers while on the trip. If I do that, I can reimburse myself and essentially pay for it. Interesting concept (not sure if it would pan out that way or not but it sounds interesting)
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:14 AM   #8
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We're in Hiawassee, as a 'home spot' while I run two Insurance related businesses(VirtualAgency and a Technology startup) from our coach while we have the capability to travel for meetings and pleasure. 25k miles since we started last June '14 - cross country several times, and to Canada and most major US cities. Two teenage sons with us. We started this journey after having never been owners of an rv of any sort.
We started with a fifthwheel Blackwood 40', to a new ClassA gas 38', to our new DP Palazzo 35'. If traveling, go Diesel, especially with today's amazingly low diesel prices. If kids, go bunkhouse floorplan. And, believe it or not, even though one of our coach criteria was an electric drop down front bunk, we use it for storage only. The boys love their own personal space in the bunks, and with their own actual TVs, not just a dvd player, as in other even higher end coaches.
The wife is a former teacher, and now a traveling teacher for her youngest two boys, while I concentrate on the logistics of travel, driving, setup, parks/parking, etc. I bring her coffee in bed every morning : )
We have as much technology on board as any home, if not more, but staying online successfully and consistantly is of the most importance and can be the most challenging, though today's options allow easier access in most scenerios. We have a WifiRanger mounted on the forward roof a/c that is a wifi antenna and a router to all our devices. We use park or available wifi sources when possible, and both Vz and Att iPhone hotspots when we must. TV options include a portable tripod mounted DishHD and a new Tailgater dish as a secondary option, with Cable when available, and Antenna if not.
We tow a 4 bike rack, and a 14 Ford Fiesta. The DP doesn't even know they're there.
Come see us. It's beautiful on the Hiawasse river, in a private site, with shade and cool breezes.
: )
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:46 AM   #9
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Wow MisterT, that's a lot of info! Thanks!

Nice to see you are working from the road as I would hope to be able to do. We wouldn't be full time like you guys (congrats on doing that with two teenage boys!) but it sounds like "gettin' er done" wouldn't be an issue.

Diesel is on my must list. I have had a lot of diesel engine vehicles and just prefer them in general, plus I have been told time and time again that they are really the best way to go for cross country travel. That is on my non-negotiable list.

Are you pretty sure about the bunkhouse plan, even with a 2 year old? We thought we might could have her sleep on the couch for now. I would truthfully prefer the bunks but there aren't a lot of them out there to choose from. I just love the looks of the Newmar interiors! I need to look back at the Palazzo and some of the other bunks out there I guess.

I had not heard of the WifiRanger but that sounds like a great idea!

As far as visiting, we just might take you up on that!!

Craig
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:04 AM   #10
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for your situation - a very young child, the bunks actually are the best route - they are right next to your bedroom, and the bottom bunk is very close the floor level - so fear of 'falling out' is not really as much of an issue, plus when you close the doors it creates a nice barrier(or you can just close curtains instead if you leave the doors open).
I will tell you that while the front electric bunk and jack knife couches seem to be good sleeping choices, the couch especially can get tiring if having to use it on a regular day-to-day basis. The drop down bunk also seems a good option, but you will probably need a ladder, which can get in the way, and it must be stored somewhere in the coach when driving because the bunk goes all the way to the ceiling when traveling. We modified our front bunk, with lower resting points, to allow use it as storage. It gives us enough room to slide many items within the area that are not used very often, and pots/pans, etc..
For the hall bunks, I modified the bunk ladder to be permanently attached to the bunks still allowing for the doors to close.
We found that many 'sleeps 8' type of RVs are advertised so that buyers can see the potential sleeping possibilities if they are the camping type, but most realize quickly that the 'make shift' beds are not really for full timing and extensive traveling families. They seem fun the children at first, but most kids want their own space over time.
As for Newmar, every one of their DPs have the option for a bunk floorplan, especially if you order a new one. Used models can be found, though it's probably a time-consuming search. I think we'll order the Mountain Aire 4599 bunk house soon. : )
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Old 08-18-2015, 11:05 AM   #11
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So I just went and looked up the Mountain Aire 4599 ... clicked search, saw the prices and my face went

lol

Oh my gosh that thing is absurdly nice! Sigh. I guess we will have to find something that is somewhat nice now but know that if we really get into it we can always upgrade! :-D

I think your thoughts are very convincing about the bunk unit. The wife mentioned this morning that she doesn't like the idea of Caroline being "so far away" and "near the front door" with the sleeping on the couch idea.

I actually really love the idea of the bunks but was kinda giving up just because we had such a hard time finding a lot of used choices out there. I will change my search and go hard at looking for those now though.

I saw the floor plan for the Dutch Star 4312 a while back and thought that would be awesome for Baby Cakes to have "her own room".

I also saw something this morning (Can't remember what it was off hand) where they turned the master closet into bunks. That seemed cool but where do you then hang clothes? haha.

Craig
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Old 08-18-2015, 11:42 AM   #12
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We are on our second bunkhouse model, with two girls now ages 11 and 15. Our current RV is a 2013 Fleetwood Discovery 40G (diesel pusher)--recommend you look into that one. We have been very happy with this RV and I think Fleetwood sells the most bang for the buck in their Discovery line. You get all the key elements as the big boys, lacking things like electric blinds, glitz, televators, cherry wood cabinets, tag axel, that kind of stuff, but otherwise you have all the same amenities (dishwasher, residential fridge, 3 AC's, etc..) and excellent floor plans.

I have 3 sets of friends with a DSDP bunkhouse model, Entegra, and Tiffin high end coaches. Theirs are tag-axel big boys with big price tags, and they are gorgeous. Having seen their experiences and coaches and service issues, If I wanted to spend an extra $100k,I'd choose the DSDP hand's down; second would be the Entegra. Dutch Star makes an awesome coach with complete customization, all wood (cherry) cabinetry, excellent fit and finish, and superb customer satisfaction and service. Entegra owners seem equally happy from what I've read. I read a lot about Tiffin that I wouldn't want to deal with...

My girls love their own private space that the bunkhouse provides, so I do think you should consider that. Long drives in bed with a TV or iPad are really easy on them, and thus on the driver too. When they want to crash for a nap or just get a little quiet time, there's zero setup for them. Bunkhouses are great--just make sure that you evaluate them in the driving mode as well as the camping mode to be sure that you like the access they provide to all of the areas...

Note that our youngest kid did fall out of the top bunk on the FIRST night staying in our first (previous) RV, braking her shoulder and pushing a tooth part way through her lip. Not a good way to start an adventure, but she is a trooper and we laugh about it now! That RV did not have any sort of net so we used a bed rail. Current RV has a nice net that we use nightly--this girl moves a lot when she sleeps!

As my kids grow taller, I sometimes wonder how much longer they will be happy in the bunk bed, but I do think it'll last us until they both get into college. I hope to trade up to a non-bunk house then, if college payments don't kill that for me!
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Old 08-18-2015, 12:21 PM   #13
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I, too, would highly recommend getting a bunk model. You could easily make the bottom bunk into a secure crib with some handiwork. Having the children sleep in the living room would get old after a while. That's the time to spend with your spouse or having a friend over, the t.v. on, working on computers, etc. Also, you have to make up the bed and take it down and store everything - everyday and even for nap time. It would be so much more enjoyable for everyone if you got a bunk model.


Get a more reasonably cost model as your guinea pig model to test the features you like or don't like. Then you won't be pressured by time to spend more money on something you may not like.
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:11 PM   #14
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It's reeealy sounding like the bunk is the way to go!

I have seen a few of the 40G's online and like them in theory. Perhaps I just need to go get in one and see what I think. I really do like the Newmar's and I like what I see of the Entegra's too. As for Tiffin I think it IS pretty odd just how much people talk about all the trouble Tiffin resolves for them. I mean, shouldn't they be concerned that they had the trouble to begin with? haha.

Falling out of the bunk - oh no! That's horrible! We already talked about the fact that we would have her on the bottom bunk until older. With a net she would be fine to transition to the top bunk, she does pretty good with her playset ladder ;-)

twogypsies - The crib as a bottom bunk is a good idea! I am torn about buying a cheaper unit to start with though. I have received other advice to "buy what you want now" and I feel like i might be happier that way. If I cut too many corners all I would be thinking about is upgrading and that's costly. I don't know if this is the same in other areas but in GA we have a 7% tax that you pay in place of yearly ad valorem so to buy and sell too quickly could be a costly endeavor.
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