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Logan Adams
Logan Adams

Buying A Motorhome To Live In

Over the past few years, the option of using your motorhome as your permanent home has become a reality for more and more people. But how do you go about choosing the best motorhome for full-time living?

buying a motorhome to live in

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When the Venture S was first put out as a concept vehicle, its inflatable pop-up roof and rear door that folds down to create a sun deck seemed incredibly futuristic. But a production model of the van was unveiled at Caravan Salon in August 2022, and for those who really dream about living around the clock off grid in their motorhome, it really is something rather special. The inflatable roof creates a bedroom, but noise reduction compared with a standard campervan roof is immediately noticeable. And you get up to this little haven by a real flight of stairs that cleverly doubles up as extra storage units.

Could there be a better name for a motorhome designed for full-time living? You have two comfy beds that drop down over the cab. With these in the down position the cab is completely obscured so you could almost forget you are in a movable vehicle.

If you are going to be using your motorhome full-time, eventually you are going to want a fairly decent kitchen, with plenty of storage and workspace. Fortunately the 520 ST has that in droves in the large L-shaped kitchen that takes up the rear offside corner of the motorhome. Rather handily, this has direct access via a hatch to the garage behind, so you can haul in your bulky provisions and kitchen appliances that you might not need all the time without having to go outside or even having to disrupt everyone else in the motorhome.

The driving experiences for motorhomes versus trailers are vastly different. When driving in a motorhome, passengers have access to the bathroom, kitchen, beds, couch, and everything else in the RV, all without having to exit the vehicle.

Many find that towing a vehicle is easier than driving a large motorhome, but driving preferences will obviously differ depending on who you ask. The experience of driving a fifth wheel versus driving a travel trailer is vastly different. Fifth wheels are typically more easily maneuvered and tend not to sway, whereas travel trailers can be prone to sway at high speeds and/or on windy days. Sway bars make a big difference, but this is still something to be considered when choosing your rig.

There is also a large difference between driving a small class B or C motorhome and driving a class A. Driving a smaller motorhome can often feel like driving a small SUV, whereas driving a large class A can feel like driving a semi-truck. Wind is especially troublesome in a large class A, while it may not be as big of a challenge in a class B or C. When you add in the possibility of towing a vehicle behind the motorhome, this adds a new set of challenges to the picture. Some people do actually prefer driving the motorhome versus towing a trailer, but again, this will be different for each individual.

However, boondocking experiences are different in different rigs. For instance, larger rigs tend to have larger tanks. Some fifth wheels have huge tanks, and some class A motorhome have large tanks too. Smaller motorhomes and smaller trailers will also have smaller holding tanks. This issue tends to be less of a motorhome versus trailer issue and more of a big rig versus small rig issue.

If you plan to RV travel with children (full-time or part-time), many tend to prefer travel trailers and fifth wheels. With a trailer, when traveling from one place to another, each person has their own seat and seatbelt. This is often preferable, especially for families with children still in carseats. Motorhomes are often equipped with seatbelts in the dinette and/or couch, but it is still (arguably) safer to have an actual seat in a truck, versus a seat on a couch or at a table. However, if you do choose a motorhome with children, there are some major travel day conveniences. You can easily grab snacks from the fridge, and potty breaks are also much easier and less time-consuming.

Pets travel differently in motorhomes versus travel trailers. When towing an RV, it is not safe for anyone to ride in the trailer, so pets must ride in the truck. Cats and other small mammals will most likely need to be kenneled, and anxious dogs may need to be kenneled as well.

When driving a motorhome, anxious animals may also need to be kenneled. However, once all animals are accustomed to the moving motorhome, they are typically much more comfortable and can move around the cabin while en route. They can also have access to food and water, comfy places to lie down, and even their litter box (for the cats). Make sure to read our tips for RVing with dogs, RVing with cats, and our best RV pet hacks.

Setting up camp is different for each type of RV. In a motorhome, you must level the vehicle, hook up the water, sewer, and electric, and open the slides. If you have a tow vehicle, you must unhitch it and park it elsewhere. When towing a trailer, you must park the trailer first (which is arguably more difficult than parking a motorhome) and then unhitch the tow bar and safety chains before also leveling, hooking up utilities, and opening any slides.

One benefit of having a towable RV is that you can set up camp, then drive your vehicle around. Being able to leave the trailer behind and cruise around town without breaking camp is very convenient and perfect for stays that are longer than a few days. However, if you have a motorhome and tow a separate vehicle, it is also easy to set up camp and drive around town in a smaller vehicle. And the vehicle you are using to drive around town will typically be less bulky and better on gas mileage than a huge diesel truck.

All RVs require work and maintenance to keep them running smoothly. However, since a trailer does not drive, it requires less than a motorhome. Travel trailer and fifth wheel owners will still have to perform routine maintenance on their vehicles, as well as their trailer, but it is still less work than maintaining both a motorhome and its tow vehicle.

The upfront cost for motorhomes versus trailers is different. Trailers and fifth wheels are arguably much cheaper than motorhomes. However, if you need to buy a diesel truck and a trailer, you may be looking at a hefty sum. If you already have a truck, a trailer is a much cheaper option. However, the two options may be comparable in price if you need to purchase both a truck and a trailer. You also may consider an RV loan which can help you get into your RV faster.

This point is more relevant for full-timers, but it is still something to be considered for everyone. Vehicles often break down, and if your vehicle (your truck or whatever you are using to tow your trailer) breaks down, you still have somewhere to live (or stay while on vacation). If a motorhome breaks down and needs to go to the shop, the owners typically need to find somewhere else to stay. Trailer owners can sometimes end up with their trailer in the shop, but the work it may need is typically less extensive than engine work and can make a big difference. In addition, the work being done on a travel trailer is cheaper than any engine or mechanical work that would need to be completed for a motorhome.

Gas mileage differs with each type of rig. Most motorhomes do not get great gas mileage (10-12 mpg for most rigs). However, large diesel trucks towing a big trailer also get low gas mileage. If you are looking for something that is good on gas, you are best off finding the smallest class B or C. Here, you will sacrifice living space, but you will save money in the long run.

The interior of a travel trailer (especially fifth wheels) is often much larger than that of a motorhome. Of course, there are very large motorhomes and much smaller travel trailers, but if you are looking for the largest size rig possible, fifth wheels are often your best bet. Some of these even contain multiple rooms, with a master bedroom and a separate bunkhouse that is perfect for families with children. Fifth wheels without a bunkhouse tend to have a very large living area, which is also nice for those living and working from their RVs.

I followed your article with interest to see what your conclusion would be. We have owned every one of your RV items over the last 20 years. The only one missing for us is a Class C which I always thought would be interesting. The motorhome was so comfortable and much loved. However, when it needed repair we stood in line with the 18 wheelers and there were no hookups. We might have service at 3 am and hung out with the truckers in the coffee waiting room. When our truck needed service with the fifth wheel or bumper pull, we dropped it off at the Chevrolet or Ford dealer and stayed in the RV park. When the unit needed service we called the RV mobile repair people to come to us. So, I am of the opinion that motorhomes are way more difficult to deal with.

Our Mercedes Sprinter based Winnebago View gets about 14 mpg towing a small car. It has been my observation that it takes longer to set up camp and break camp with a trailer than with a motorhome. I think larger trailers and 5th wheels are more conducive to longer stays for that reason. Motorhomes are more conducive to shorter stays and keeping on the go.

One subject more, I had a large class C and on my last birthday, I was 87. My old class C was getting more time in the shop than the campground, so I had decided to give up camping after 65 years. I still like to travel, but I need a toilet, and the larger motorhomes and the wind cause my hands to pain. A friend said try a small class B and it drives like you said, an SUV. So I purchased a Thor Sequence, 20 ft. long and it has a toilet. I plan to keep on keeping on.

When buying any used or old RV, you should plan and budget for a few repairs and maintenance items immediately to get the RV road-ready. This may be things like cleaning, tank maintenance, or new tires.

Now, the type of RV will determine the approximate cost. In general, pop-up campers are cheaper than traditional travel trailers, and travel trailers are less expensive than fifth wheels or motorhomes. However, this is not an exact science. 041b061a72


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