The Great Motorhome Debate Continues

May/30/2012 24 Malia Lane
RV Repairs

Well, I’m still driving myself crazy and getting nowhere except more insane and less sure about what to do about this major decision I’m faced with.  So I’m going to try to be analytical about this and get some help and input from my other RVer friends.

Former posts and history about this thought process:

The question first became priority in 2009 when major repairs were necessary as I was planning another major trip: RV Repair vs. Trade-in Debate.  At that point it seemed to be settled by taking care of the repairs needed at the time.

But in 2012 the question was raised again, including whether or not I should begin to consider just giving up RVing altogether.  But that idea literally made me sick, was quickly squashed and I began Drooling at RV Shows and the idea of something new was beginning to be pretty exciting.

Patience is certainly not my strong suit, so Waiting for My New Motorhome has not been easy or amusing to me.

The Great Washer/Dryer – Laundromat Debate:

The comments and opinions on whether a washer/dryer was a necessary appliance in an RV was interesting to say the least.  Some people swore they were a waste of space, others said they’d never do without one.  Some suggested that washing clothes at local laundromats was an interesting social event where you can meet and converse with interesting people, and still others said their clothes were frequently ruined because of junk/bleach, etc. left in washers or dryers.  All I know is that when I can wash clothes in my own home while I’m doing other work I am grateful that I don’t have to go anywhere else to do it.  The times that I do have to use laundromats to wash larger/heavier items, I am never glad to be there, no matter how nice they are.  And that expense is not an insignificant thing, either, these days.

Does Size Matter?

As far as motorhome size, one of the main advantages I thought at first was to get something smaller.  I thought something shorter in length would be better because there had been some times when my 36′ size made it impossible for me to fit into some of the state park sites I preferred.  But when I looked at the 30′ or 32′ models, I just felt like I’d be too cramped in such a small space fulltime, especially since I needed office/desk space.

The more I looked, it seemed that the Allegro 34 TGA or the Winnebago Sightseer was my best bet, but the more I thought about what I would be giving up in my current floorplan and the amenities I had become so used to, the more I thought I would quickly become dissatisfied with either of those smaller, more entry level motorhomes.  And to lose just 2 feet in length did not seem worth it to lose all the other interior and storage features I had become used to.

Then recently I’ve had to sink another $750 into necessary repairs, so not only is that eating into my down payment for my potential new RV, it makes keeping what I have seem more economically feasible.

So by now, confusion reigns and I have no real clear, rational direction or even gut feeling as to what I should do at this point.  Rob, my salesman at Crestview, suggested I do a pros and cons list and see what I come up with.

Inspiration: 2000 Itasca Sunflyer 36W Newer Motorhome (2012)
Original sales price = $72,500
Current payments = $544 (5.5%) 15 year note
Loan balance = $23,900 (maturity date 6/16/16)
New loan = $110,000 (amount qualified for)Payments: $683 (4.28%) 20 year note ($140 more per month)
Mileage: 57,000 (Tritan V10 gas engine)Overall: I know all systems so well and how well maintained Emotional appeal of having something newer and different is strong, but certainly not as practical.
Pros: Great floorplan/amenities:Hall with large windows give more light and looks roomier.Cons:  Outdated and “worn” looking: shower stall, brass plumbing and lighting fixtures pitted and need to be replaced. Pros: Newer and more updated, better decor, etc.Cons: Much more money, longer payment period, high depreciation immediately.
Washer/dryer (all-in-one/non-vented dryer)Larger side-by-side double door refrigerator/freezer No washer/dryer or way to retrofit for one.Much smaller single door refrigerator, very small freezer
TVs, Electronics older and may need to be replaced soon Larger TV, LCD, better picture quality
Windshield: continuing issue with leaks.(Winnebago defective design in many models – lots of complaints) Single one-piece windshields give more expansive feel to view (but replacement would cost more)
Bedroom:Radio/CD player next to bed.Vanity area with stool (can sit and put on make up).Huge storage area under bed; more overhead cabinets and bookshelf. No advantage to other bedrooms I’ve seen.No radio/CD next to bed.No vanity area.Storage space under bed much smaller (was told due to newer bedrooms on electric slides instead of hydraulic, so less weight is allowed)
Holding tanks:Fresh water:86 gal.Grey water: 67 gal.Black water: 45 gal. Tiffin 34 TGA:Fresh water: 70 gal.Grey water: 66 gal.Black water: 50 gal.
Major work done on Inspiration:Tires: replaced with Goodyear RV UV tires in May, 2007 at 44,750 miles.  Value of tires, installation, etc. = $3,000.  Current tires have 12,500 miles and are in good shape.Microwave/convection oven replaced in Dec. 2008 = $650Water heater: electric elements replaced and leaks fixed in May, 2012 (note: as of 2/13, leaking again)Refrigerator coils, board, etc. checked May 2012 when it stopped working on electric option. Now all working, but still worried since fans are not operating.

Repairs needed/wanted on Inspiration:Still worried about LR slide since it still is uneven even after being fixed several times.Windshield leak – continuing issue.Exterior painting needed (full body paint job)Hydraulic jack leak: $119/hr.

Large patio awning replaced = $500 (maybe more)

Slide awnings need to be replaced also

Surround sound no longer working; speakers cut out.

Replace carpet with tile in LR.

Window treatments: some cording needs fixing, all need cleaned, but preferably replaced.

Side windows seal broken; condensation (replacement only fix)

Bedroom window doesn’t close tight (was told replacement was only option and that’s expensive)

Couch needs to be reupholstered (or replaced since hide-a-bed mattress is terrible)

Chairs: recover (tiny, but many scratches from cat)

Kitchen counter: cracked

Replace ugly, pitted brass handles throughout.

Bathroom: replace brass plumbing and lighting fixtures.

I don’t yet know how much all the items I want to get done currently will cost.  But if it’s equal to the down payment I’d have to come up with for a newer RV ($5,000 – $7,000 depending on trade-in allocation), I’m not sure how to measure that value.  Does the fact that I’d have a 16 year old RV completely paid off in 3 years with lots of work and remodeling done make up for the fact that it’s still a 16 year old RV?

I assume I can still write off some of the costs off when I file taxes, as long as the RV is used as a “second home,” or for business purposes, both of which apply to me.

Of course, I could buy a brand new one now and in a year still be faced with all kinds of necessary repairs myself and I’d probably never live long enough or be able to RV long enough to see it paid off.  Are the newer RVs better made now than they were 12 years ago?  Not from everything I’ve heard, I’m afraid.

But no matter how much money and remodeling I do to what I have now, will it be worth anything at all if I want to sell it in 3 years?  Or if I buy new and want to sell in 3 years, would I be terribly underwater and owe much more than what I can possibly get at that point?  Who has a crystal ball and can possibly know or predict these things?

So for now I’m putting this all out there in hopes that my mind and new direction will become clearer.  Any ideas anyone?