Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam Where the deer and the antelope play!
Every RV owner has their own individual story about getting started in the RV lifestyle. If you are thinking about it, you’re not alone. It has been reported that over 8 million Americans own RVs, and they all seem to have one thing in common:
Wanderlust: Wan’der’lust noun 1. a strong desire to travel.
We’ve never met an RVer who didn’t have some wanderlust. But long before the adventure begins, there’s a process that all new and used RV owners go through when getting started in the RV lifestyle. It usually starts with thoughts like, “Call the guys with the little white coats and stuff us in a rubber room. I think we’ve gone crazy.” Then comes the inevitable, “Ok, so everyone else thinks we’re crazy…but we really want to do this.” And finally, “Yes, so maybe we’re a little crazy. But we’re still going to do it.” If you’re thinking about joining the lifestyle, let me assure you, it’s just a little leap of faith, folks!
Who We Are
Our names are Eric and Brittany Highland. In early 2014, we sold everything we owned and bought an RV. Sure enough, some folks think we’ve lost our minds, while others are excited for us. Others want to sell everything and join us! We hope you fall into the latter group.
Brittany and I are best friends, bloggers, Internet types…oh yes, and husband and wife. We work for ourselves and about two years ago we started a little blog called The Austinot. It quickly became one of the highest ranked blogs about the city of Austin, Texas. We had been dreaming of getting started in the RV lifestyle for some time, about three years or so. Since we knew it’s what we wanted to do, the first thing we did was stop buying stuff. This is our first piece of advice, even if you are just contemplating the switch to RVing. Stop buying stuff now. You’ll thank us later for that tip! So about three years ago, we stopped buying anything that wouldn’t eventually fit with us in an RV. Then we started our research.
What We Did to Research
Having never RVd before, research was like drinking from a fire hose! It seemed we were on an endless quest for information and the more we obtained, the more we wanted to consume.
A quick word of encouragement: One of the repeating things we read is that the only regret RVers have is that they didn’t start sooner. This sentiment propelled us on our journey of research. Here are some resources we used:
- Local Libraries: We emptied local libraries of pretty much every book they had on RVing. We scoured through them. Most of them were dated, seriously dated. Like from the 80’s. Though they were dated, we were able to learn the basics from those who had gone before us. Our advice, though we love libraries, is stick to the Internet for the majority of your research. The world of RVs changes so rapidly that it’s really important to get up-to-date information.
- Internet Forums: Perhaps the single most valuable resource we found were Internet forums. They are filled with people who have thousands of years of collective experience in RVing. They’ve forgotten more about RVing than we’ll probably ever know. There are plenty of RV forums out there, but our favorite forum so far is the iRV2 forum.
- Blogs: There are so many high quality RV bloggers out there. We’ve spent countless hours reading over articles during the last 3 years. Some blogs are specialized, while others are more general. Our favorites so far are Wheelingit.us, Gone With the Wynns and Technomadia. In case you’re interested, we’ve just started our own blog at RVWanderlust.com.
- Social Media: We joined a bunch of RV Facebook groups and followed a number of Facebook pages as well. On Twitter, we started following people who were actively tweeting about the RV lifestyle. We’ve actually became friends with several of them on various social media platforms. I won’t give you a list here, but do some exploring and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
With the research phase in full swing, it was confirmed for us that we wanted to move forward. Now we just had to decide which type of RV was right for us.
How We Decided on Our Type of RV
Keep in mind, this is our story. You have to decide which RV works for you. We knew we weren’t going to get a fifth wheel or a trailer because we wanted the whole setup to be self-contained. We also knew we wanted something big enough to live in and work from full-time. This narrowed down our options to a Class C or Class A motorhome.
We started by looking at Class C motorhomes, primarily because of their lower cost. These are the rigs with a bed over the cab. Many of them are attractive and well-built. But after physically going out and looking at a few, we decided they were too small for our full-time needs. So we landed with the Class A. These are the big bus-looking beasts out on the road. They come in all kinds of makes, models, lengths and floor plans. They also come in gas and diesel models. When considering the pros and cons of gas versus diesel, there were many factors. This is what it came down to for us.
Class A Gas RVs
- You can get a new gas model for the price of an used older diesel in the same size.
- New is nice and comes with a warranty!
- Gas RVs are cheaper to maintain than diesels and almost any mechanic can work on one.
- Basement storage is normally left wanting in a gas RV.
Class A Diesel RVs
- Diesel engines are notoriously longer lasting, easily hitting the 500,000 mile mark.
- Diesel RVs can carry more weight than a comparably sized gas version because of the heavy-duty chassis they are built on.
- Basement storage in many diesel RVs is massive compared to their gas counterparts.
- Diesel RVs are more expensive to maintain and not every mechanic can work on one.
Also note that, with diesels, you need to choose between a “pusher” and a “puller” or Front End Diesel Engine (FRED). Though there are many people who swear by their FRED, the general consensus is that diesel pushers are the way to go for the simple fact that the engine is in the back and the generator is in the front. This makes more sense for both driving and sleeping. With the engine in the back, a pusher is quieter to drive. And with the generator up front, it’s quieter to rest in the bed in the back. At this time in the decision-making process, we were open to gas and diesel options. I was leaning more toward the diesel pusher while Brittany was leaning more toward gas.
Where We Looked for Our RV
In short, we looked everywhere, at both gas and diesel models. We visited at least 10 dealerships, 3 consignment lots, and spoke with several private sellers. There are many places to look for an RV. We found our rig because of a last minute scan of Craigslist. Right before we left that day, I was on the computer and Brittany was already headed out the door. I came across the ad from a private seller and shot him a quick message that we would be in his area. He agreed to meet us that same morning and the rest is history.
After weighing all of our options and looking at countless RVs, we decided to go with a 2004 40’ Class A Diesel Pusher Phaeton by Tiffin Motor Homes. It’s an older model, but new to us. We named our rig “Meriwether” after the explorer Meriwether Lewis. Our Advice for Your RV Purchase
- Make sure you love the RV floor plan.
- Check the quality and reputation of the manufacturer.
- Remember that engines, generators, tires and batteries are the most expensive things to replace. So make sure you know the age and condition of these four things. Everything else should be within your budget to fix. If it isn’t, don’t buy an RV.
Why We Started RVing
Honestly, RVing has been a dream of mine for years and Brittany caught the RV bug. We both love to travel and are huge fans of state and national parks. We love the beauty and history of the United States of America. During our very first trip, camping at a Texas state park, a huge hawk landed on our side view mirror and we were surrounded by deer. We worked from our dinette and had the most magnificent view we’d ever had while working.
It’s a true adventure for us and we are looking forward to every moment of it. Hope to see you out on the road! Disclosure: The folks at Florida Outdoors RV asked us if we’d share our story and the process we went through with their readers. Please note we were not compensated for this article. We were simply asked to share our story.