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Old 09-21-2021, 04:32 PM   #1
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Help Choosing best rig for me

Hi all,

Iím a total Newbie, this is my first post on this website.

I need help choosing a rig. My priorities are good gas mileage and a big kitchen. I found one but didnít know enough at the time to jump on it. It was a 29í Safari Trek with a 3.? Diesel. The owner said it got 17 mpg and it had a great kitchen.

Itís really critical that I make the right decision on a rig. It needs to be solid and not exorbitantly expensive to maintain. I will be living in it. The primary purpose is to enable me to retire. My modest Social Security income is not enough to both eat and pay rent. The plan is to outfit with solar and boondocks on public lands. But the plan wonít work if my rig is expensive to maintain or needs big-ticket repairs.

My purchase budget is $15K so that means an older rig. Your thoughts and suggestions please.
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Old 09-21-2021, 04:41 PM   #2
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I hate to be the one to break this to you, but 15k in today's market, will get you an old Crown Vic with a Harbor Frt solar panel up top.
You will have to spend TWICE that to even get started with a "fix-r-upper' class "C" or "A". The "A" will have a bigger kitchen............

Mike in Colorado
2004 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37c,(Jezebel) Ultra RV ECM / TCM, Bilstein's, Sailun's & Sumo's all round, pushed by a 2014 Chrysler T&C.
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Old 09-21-2021, 04:55 PM   #3
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First thing to do would be to forget find a used RV in the rust belt and look in the desert SW for a rig. Be sure it's been stationed there. Rust damage from salted roads will cost you an arm and leg in maintenance. Then read all you can on the 2 biggest RV forums so you'll get an idea of typical maintenance items. Those are RV dot net, iRV2 dot com. There are others but those are the biggest. Then there are brand specific forums too.

Since which 'brand' is the least problematic in which year is always in flux, you'll need to study for a year or two to narrow your search down to 3 models that have the sorts of issues you feel you can easily take care of yourself and won't be too expensive.

Now start driving around and visiting dealers lots looking at used rigs of those 3 brands. To get a feel for what a used rig will look like in your price range in your selected brands. Remember if a saleperson's lips are moving, they are lying, so just sorta listen. Often you'll know more about the RV than they do if you've studied and read up on your brands.

As far as costs? I have kept spread sheets for the last 19 years of full time RV living, owned two RVs one after the other. Back then sold my sticks and bricks so I could buy a used diesel rig outright. And it cost me, on average, $68/month for my first RV including registration, licenses, insurance, optional items (like an outside rug or nice folding chairs), repairs, & maintenance. PLUS that amount includes deducting what I sold it for after those 12 years of use. With that 1st one, I paid $5,000 for a major engine repair but it still only averaged that $68/month over the 12 years of ownership.

My last RV didn't have 2 slides like my newer '02 Winnebago does which makes it much more comfortable, and it's costing me $200 per month for the same stuff I mentioned above. But nothing big as far as repairs for the last 5 years because I do most repairs and maintenance myself. That $200/month is slowly falling as I've taken care of many of the issues the rig came with and have improved the deficiencies.

But I did need to sort of deplete my retirement account to buy these two rigs outright. I like the lifestyle and finding a reliable rig really helps. My first one wasn't. This 2nd rig is pretty reliable so I've spent quite a bit on upgrades and optional stuff rather than repairs.

If you need too, I'd suggest pouring some money right now into a reliable car, then when it's time to retire, move to the SW and rent an apartment or mobile home while you're scouting out used RVs to buy. Or even manufactured homes to buy found in RV parks. Smaller towns will have much more in the way of bargains.

Good luck.

PS Good gas or diesel mileage in your price range and RV'ing are mutually exclusive. 7-8 MPG for gas rigs, 8-11 MPG for diesel. Trick is, drive for 3-5 days, squat at an RV park for 30 days for the low daily rent. Then drive again. Explore! Have fun!
'02 Winnebago Journey DL, DSDP, 36' of fun.

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Old 09-21-2021, 06:22 PM   #4
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The age RV you will be looking at will be subject to breakdowns and equipment reaching the end of its useful life. In my opinion, you will need to have in reserve a few thousand dollars for potential repairs. Brakes, generator, A/C unit (roof or dash), refrigerator, tires (max of 6 years old by DOT date codes), roof leak repairs, TV, etc.

Then with a motorhome, you will need to tow a car and getting it set up with a tow bar, break-away brakes and auxiliary brakes. This can run close to $3,000 plus the car.

That model Trek with the small diesel is petty underpowered in the mountains, especially towing a car.

Having been on the road full time for a bit over 8 years and can tell you RV living is not "Cheap". Campground expenses have gone up quiet a bit unless you plan to boondock.

Amateur Radio Operator (KE5DFR)|Full-Time! - 2012 6.7L Ford Crew Cab Dually -2013 HitchHiker Champagne 38RLRSB - Travel with one Standard Schnauzer and one small Timneh African Gray Parrot
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Old 09-22-2021, 12:57 PM   #5
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I appreciate all your helpful advice; however, some of it doesnít quite fit.

So, a little more about me. Iím 76 and have been earning my living cleaning houses for the past 20+ years. I have a book to write. I deeply desire to be retired yesterday. What would work better than an RV is a long-term house/pet sitting job with minimal responsibilities. Unless any of you know of one [I have outstanding reference], boondocking in an RV is the best solution Iíve been able to come up with. My goal is not to see the country and have fun, though Iím certainly not adverse to that; rather, my goal it to be retired and write my book.

I will not be towing a vehicle. I canít afford the extra maintenance and insurance. Yes, I know it will be cumbersome to drive my RV to the grocery store and laundromat but I figure once a week tops.

Do any of you have suggestions for a solid, reliable rig - brands, models, engines, etc. and how best to have it checked out to insure that it is indeed solid and reliable? I live in Portland, Oregon, which is not exactly the sun belt but it isnít the rust belt either because we donít allow the use of salt on the roads in the winter. The bigger risk in this area would be leaks, mold and dry rot.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 09-22-2021, 01:37 PM   #6
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I lived in PDX for 33 years. I bought my very first RV, a '94 Fleetwood Bounder, from a consignment dealer south of PDX...I forget the town, just 16 miles south from Gresham.

I full time RV'ed in that rig for 12 years WITHOUT a towed car. I used common sense of where and how long I parked at RV parks, and bought a bike to carry. I only needed to go to the store once per week or once every other week. Most everywhere I needed or wanted to go I scoped out prior to driving there to be sure I could get my RV into their lot (used Google Earth quite a lot) and get out of it too. You should check out my blog for the first 12 years to get an idea of how I worked it all out.

Staying in Mexico 6 months of the year was a great way to both enjoy my RV, and the lifestyle.

I think you'll need to consider Workamping instead of boondocking if it's a money issue. I retired 8 years early so I had savings I was living off of and becoming a Workamper really paid off since I'd have no rent to pay, really allowed me to stretch out my savings AND allowed me to continue traveling.

You have to be really smart about it though as many Workamping opportunities turn into a bad deal when the owners are tightwads. Often the COE (Corps of Engineers) opportunities are the most honest about the work they want you to do for your space.

Workamping - Caretaker

Workamping RV'ers...

It's recommend you think more about workamping than boondocking but if you find the right RV, boondocking can be lots of fun if you don't need TV or a refer much. Note that the average RV can last 3-5 days without power, or can last 10-12 days when running the generator for 3-4 hours per day. That's with good, newer, batteries. Helps to have solar, but to put in a new system that's way expensive. Best if the RV you buy comes with a system.
'02 Winnebago Journey DL, DSDP, 36' of fun.

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