Wow, we finally did it! We did it! I knew that we would do it!
This post covers 3 years of research and our story detailing how we became RVers.
Making well-informed purchases has never been a strong suit of mine. I tend to be rather impulsive and regret decisions or realize I could have spent less money elsewhere. Not this time. We did the research, it was rough. At times I thought it was not going to happen but it did. We bought our RV, a Coachmen Apex Travel Trailer. Our shopping started in 2014 and continued for 3 years. It was a slow process of learning about RVing and all the different models and options out there. I knew nothing about this when I started. I read many blogs, magazines, books and watched video after video. Our family has gone to RV conventions and RV dealerships. We have talked to anyone with an RV that will have a conversation with us, (most RVers love talking about their RVs). It may seem like a lot of research but I had more time than money.
Not having any money wasn't our only obstacle, my wife was not on board with us getting an RV. Even a year into the process she was only lukewarm to the idea. I kept the dream alive by slowly feeding her pictures, stopping by RV dealerships and going to conventions. One of the big selling points was the Harvest Host membership. She really like the idea of being able to stay at wineries, farms or other businesses and get to know about them.
The parameters for our RV, taking into account our families needs and wants were as follows.
Four people two adults two kids 7,9 (2014) Homeschool and remote work family that needs room to work and learn Separate vehicle that seats more than 5 people
It narrowed us down to an Ultra light travel trailer under 9000 lbs. pulled by an Expedition with a class IV tow package.
These were our options in 2014 to 2016. Yes two years of research turned out two models and we thought one of them was it!
- Option One
- Venture RV SportTrek ST320VIK
- Option Two
- Forest River Surveyor 321BHTS
We liked both of these options because of the separate bunkhouse, the third slide out with an island in the kitchen and a bathroom with external access.
I will be excited to sit in both models, at the same time, during the RV convention and compare. (Ha, HA!) (So as I was writing this in 2016, we were leaning toward the Surveyor.) But we were never able to find the two models in the same place so we could go back and forth between units and compare and contrast.
Fast forward to January 2016. Surveyor discontinued the model and there were design issues with the Venture we didn't like.
In March of 2016 we went back to the drawing board. My wife and I started discussing what we really wanted in an RV. What could we live with and what could we live without. How much weight did we want to tow and how mobile did we want to be? This was the first time she was really on board with buying an RV. It created some great arguments! Remember arguments are suppose to be two people trying to find truth and we did. That limited our decisions. I created a list for the Rosemont RV Show in Illinois. There were about 12 models we wanted to take a look at. Well again the Rosemont RV Show was a giant disappointment. Very few models were available but we were able to rule out a couple of models. One model we wanted to see was the ForestRiver Coachmen Apex 300bhs, unfortunately was not at the show. This unit was slightly smaller than we had previously been looking at but it lowered the tow weight. The unit is built by Coachmen RV which has a good history. The unit was being sold at a dealership close to us, General RV, and another place in Indiana, Campland RV an hour and a half from our house. General was not very responsive when we talked to them at the show, constant pushing toward models they had brought to the convention. They didn't have an Apex to look even back at the dealership but one was on order. We headed to Campland. We loved the model.
We get serious. I get some quotes for insurance and researched hitches, where to get a loan and how are we going to come up with the deposit. I think this is going to happen.
We do a practice run. We pack up our Expedition and camp and stay with friends for over a month. We traveled up and down the East Coast. We have a great East Coast trip(see other posts Sept - Oct 2016) and my wife feels more comfortable with travel and working on the road, I think we might move forward. We, my wife and I, agree to put down a deposit on the Apex.
All monsters move counterclockwise! This reference will mean little to many but for those who have played a great board game named Castle Panic they will get a great laugh. Basically you can set up all the pieces and do everything right and life throws you something unexpected.
Taxes are a funny thing. We have a tax guy so we thought the money we were spending on a tax guy would protect us against bad moves, or help us in the long run. We don't make tons of money but it felt safe. We were wrong. If you are renting property, be careful when you go to sell it. If you are taking a depreciation deduction on the building it is a tax deferment not a deduction. You will have to pay back that deduction you have been taking. We didn't see it coming. So what do we do?
Here was my case, maybe not coming out so eloquently at the time. Buying an RV was alway a decision that had an expiration date. When our kids are too old they will not fit as comfortably in the RV. The kids, as they grow, will have their own focuses in life and moving around the country may not work with those goals, high school, college, or extra curricular activities. I wanted to show our kids, first hand, that we have an amazing diverse country before they decide what they want to do with their lives. Traveling, from place to place, helps to develop skills such as becoming comfortable with new situations, meeting people from different places, keeping in contact with old friends and starting new relationships and lots of problem solving. But my final argument to my wife was, "We are better when we travel". In life it is easy to be lazy. Wait. In 2017 it is really easy! At any moment you can pull out technology and be distracted for X amount of hours. Any food can be delivered to your door super freaky fast. You can search the internet and see a picture of anywhere in the world. We were too comfortable, in a rut and slowly dying, emotionally and physically. Was this all there was? To wait for retirement? Mow the lawn, take the kids to classes, wait for them to grow up? My wife's goal when she retired was already to travel. Well with a job that allows remote access why not travel now?
As stated previously, our family travels well. We eat healthier and are much more active, physically and mentally. I presented this case and we put down a deposit.
This was a journey, funny to think that just buying the RV was a journey. But it was. Of course, there were so many emotions around the purchase, but the most difficult step was to embrace the unknown.. Now that we have an RV, what are we going to do? Well, we are still figuring that out. For us it has been amazing so far. As I write this last paragraph we have been on the road for over a month now. Meeting new friends, seeing amazing sites, stressing over new challenges, but I wouldn't change a thing.