I’ve been debating the pros and cons of keeping my 12 year old 36′ motorhome vs. getting something newer. But higher payments and the increased debt of buying a new (or even just new-to-me) motorhome kept me on the side of keeping what I have, telling myself it would be paid off in a few more years. I know it and all its systems well, I’ve kept records of all service, followed maintenance schedules and recommendations, etc. See February, 2009 post: RV Repair vs. Trade-in Debate about how long that struggle has been playing through my mind.
Should I Even Continue RVing?
Also part of this debate has included the question of whether I should continue fulltime RVing at all. I’m feeling my age more now (both in body and mind), and fears about having no “secure” retirement or health insurance argues that I should hang up the keys, move back into the duplex and lead a more “reasonable” lifestyle. Maybe I should just be grateful for the great 11 years I’ve had. I’ve seen so much more than most people ever dream of, do I have the right to expect more?
But when I really sat quietly with that thought for a while, I had to give the argument over to my gut, which literally got sick at the thought. Whether it makes sense to anyone else or not, whether it’s reasonable or practical, my heart just knows it’s not time to give up my lifelong travel dream yet. I’m grateful for all that I’ve been blessed to see so far, but I know there’s so much more I haven’t seen that I still want to.
Mounting Repair Bills Not Inspiring
But the problems with the motorhome are increasing in cost and frequency, the slide is still not right, one of the hydraulic leveling jacks need to be replaced, and I’ve put thousands of dollars in repairs over the last couple of years, including replacing the microwave. And let me tell you, appliances for RVs are unbelievably and unreasonably expensive to replace.
The last straw was the water heater breaking last week. As I was thinking about where to go this summer, I realized I just honestly don’t feel safe driving it long distances anymore. And I no longer feel it’s worth continuing to pour money into something this old and expensive to repair.
A friend wrote, “How can you say that about your first Inspiration?” And there’s no doubt that Inspiration has served me well – it launched my dream of fulltime RVing and I was so thrilled getting something much nicer than I had ever dreamed of at the time. Of course my very first motorhome will always hold a special place in my heart, but inspiration can be found in driving something newer, too – Inspiration 2!
So now at least those main struggles in my mind are resolved. Basically I concluded: reality and reasonableness be damned!
That takes care of the more “practical” side of the debate. But I fully recognize that the emotional side of me is just plain excited about getting something new, “prettier” and more updated overall.
When I first started researching RVs in 2001, I concluded that buying brand new was out of the question, and not just because of the initial price. The fact that you can pretty much bank on losing 20% in depreciation by the time you drive off the lot, the stories I heard from owners who spent their first few months going back and forth to the dealer to work out “kinks” (that to me should have been addressed before it even left the manufacturer), convinced me not to even consider brand new.
And if I can come up with another miracle deal like I did the first time (1 year old with 3,000 miles at an unbelievable price), I’d probably jump at the chance. But I’m not in a “settling” state of mind, and I’ve also decided not to rule out any option (within budget anyway). Good incentives and financing on new RVs, plus having a warranty, at least persuades me to look at these options. And I admit – there’s definitely an appeal to being able to pick out just the options, color and decor I want. At 60 years old, I realize I’ve really never bought anything major in my life new. There’s certainly a feeling at this point of, “You deserve it, Malia – go for it!” I have my own cheering squad in my head sometimes that can drown out even my darkest doubts.
The Big Show
So I really had a blast at the RV show. Of course what they had there were all the new, shiny models. I had no intention of buying at the show, but I figured it would show me the new floorplans and start the baby steps toward my dream of another motorhome. The ones I liked the best there (more or less in my price range anyway) were the 33′ Winnebago Sightseer and the Allegro 34′ TGA. That’s a whole ‘nother debate between manufacturers – Winnebago has been good to me and I know they’re considered to be well made, but Allegros have always appealed to me and I’ve heard good things about their customer service and Bob Tiffin.
I am so happy that Rob Hoffman, the salesman who led me to Inspiration is still at Crestview and was at the show. Having someone I trust with a long history in the business is comforting to me. Since he was one of the first “angels” who assisted me in getting started RVing, he’s now on alert for another miracle, and is also putting together information on brand new options. The baby steps have begun! As I was recently reminded of one of my favorite quotes, “The longest journey begins with a single step.”
I also loved meeting other people as we walked through the different models. As always, RVers are some of the friendliest, open and fun people on earth. I met other fulltimers and wannabe RVers looking for their first one, but I particularly enjoyed sharing the second day of the show with a former online-only friend. Susan came in from Temple and is dreaming of starting her solo RVing journey sometime in 2013. We had already discovered via email and Facebook that we had so much in common, it really felt like meeting an old friend instead of a first meeting.
She expressed all the same anxieties I felt about even considering a motorhome – “I can’t possibly drive something that big – I’ve never driven anything larger than a van before!” So familiar hearing my own words and fears reflecting back on me… all I could do is tell her to look around, research, at least test drive, and be open to what her own heart tells her feels right for her. But I could also testify that I learned to drive a 36′ motorhome despite being terrified at first, and now people watch me and say I drive that big thing like a little Toyota! So I had to advise not to let fear alone limit her choices.
And she looks great behind the wheel of this 33′ Winnebago Sightseer, doesn’t she? A real natural!
I had been thinking of looking at least a few feet smaller than what I’ve had. I’ve been perfectly comfortable and never felt cramped in my 36 footer, and felt I could get by with something at least a little smaller. I figured increased gas mileage and the ability to get into some state parks that have size limitations would make this option better.
I really want to look at the new 2012 Winnebago Sightseer 30A model, but they didn’t have one of those at the show. Hope to find one to check out and/or test drive soon, though, because it was actually seeing pictures of this in a press release that first sparked the idea of something new. It would take a real miracle for me to afford this one, though! Crestview, are you hearing me? 🙂
But one thought that keeps me from the smaller ones I’ve seen so far is the lack of even the space for a combo washer/dryer. I would have never thought that was a deal breaker – mine just came with it and I took it as a bonus. And I know my more “rustic” camping friends think that argument is ridiculous. But last summer in Michigan at state parks without full hookups made me have to go to Laundromats and I discovered I really hated that! So I’m still debating the every-once-in-a-while problem of not fitting into some state parks and the every week trip to do laundry (or two weeks if I buy more underwear).
Pusher vs. Gasser:
Of course no debate about RVs would be complete without the diesel pusher vs. gasser argument. I have friends I totally trust who swear that’s not even an argument – go with the diesel, no question about it. Among other reasons, the increased power, the engine longevity, and the quieter ride is very attractive, I admit. But the $30,000+ increase in price, the maintenance and fuel being more expensive pretty much squashes that option for me. And Rob said he’d be happy with the larger price commission, but he knows my driving style and habits (Inspiration only has 57,000 miles on it after 11 years), and thinks that is not a necessary thing in my case.
So he is putting together info for me, researching options for washer/dryer in smaller models, and I’ll be meeting with him soon to go over brochures and all options. I don’t want to be in any unnecessary hurry, so I guess I’ll at least try to get the water heater fixed in the meantime, since I’m finding that to be a real pain. It’s hard to be patient for someone like me whose motto is, “Instant gratification takes too long!” OK, I’m spoiled – I freely admit it! What else is new? Besides my new motorhome?