help with small RV shopping - have I missed something?

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paul58

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Aug 1, 2018
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Geneseo, NY
My wife and I are shopping for our first RV. We had a pop-up when our kids were young and are looking to get back out there.
I am retired with a somewhat limited budget. Maybe $20k max for our first trial rig. My wife will not drive a large rig greater than around 22-24'. Ideally we'd like to be able to pull into a regular parking space because we are interested in traveling into the city for an occasional dinner as we explore the country. Decent gas mileage is important.

In my research I've come to some understandings/assumptions that I'm not sure are correct.

class B RV's are very expensive for their size and harder to find used
to fit in a regular parking space I need either a class B "van" or an older (1990 - 1994) Toyota size RV.
class C RV's get around 6 mpg while a van or the Toyota get closer to 15 mpg
used shorter class C RV's seem to be harder to find

the old 1990's Toyota Winnebago / Dolphin etc. seems like the best solution? There must be other options?

thanks





 

ArdraF

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We've had five motorhomes ranging in size from 18 feet (1972) to 40 feet and both Cs and As and both gas and diesel.  All of them have averaged about 7.5-8 miles per gallon.  Some of those older small motorhomes were grossly underpowered for the small Toyota engines so got poorer mileage (too much weight for the smaller engine).

By the way, tell your wife not to be intimidated by size.  Some of the larger motorhomes actually are easier to drive.  I love driving our current 40 ft. diesel pusher!  I've loved driving all of them, but the larger ones have better visibility for example.  Try driving a wide variety of motorhomes before making a decision.

Have fun hunting for your perfect rig!

ArdraF
 

HappyWanderer

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The old Toyota motorhomes were much too heavy for the chassis components, and most didn't age well.  Buying a 25 year old vehicle that was marginal leaving the factory doesn't seem like a great idea.

You're right on the money about Class B pricing. They are crazy stupid expensive, on par with a good-sized Class A.

A couple of friends have smaller Class C units, for just the reasons you mentioned. They are out there.
 

NewmanRacing

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May 30, 2017
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St. Charles, IL
A friend had an old Toyota MH. Grossly under powered but those little 22R engines will run forever!

A Class B was not for us. A full size bathroom / shower was imperative.

Most Class A units are too large to keep in my driveway. Class A is in my 10 year plan.

I was in the same boat, but with only a 10K budget. I was finding precious few short Class C Motor Homes. I wanted a small Class C for my favorite Girlfriend and I to explore the country in. The search took almost a year. I checked Craigs List and other sites daily, sometimes several times a day scouring the country for the right unit. The search became an addiction. I traveled many miles and kissed many frogs before finding the right deal.

The ad was 2 hours old, I was the 3rd caller. The seller made appointments for viewing at 9:00 AM for the first caller and 5:00 PM for the 2nd. I told him I can arrive anytime to check out his rig. He called me at 9:30 AM stating that the first caller did not buy, and 5:00 was too long to wait, come ahead.

This Wheel House was a beauty! 20' 1993 Chevy, 2 owners in 25 years and very well cared for. Clean inside and out. It did have a few issues. I invested in all new shocks and springs, a new fridge, and many other misc stuff but I am still under $8500 all in. Moral of this story, it takes diligence to find the right unit for the right price. 

Fast forward to a year of ownership covering over 11,000 miles and at least 90 nights spent. A good amount of our time has been spent boondocking. The small water tanks are a challenge due to My Ladies affinity for showering. A solar shower helped work out water rationing.

Storage is very limited. It forced us to examine closely what we carry for the times we leave the motorcycle and covered trailer at home.

All in all, we love our old Motor Home and are very pleased with our choice.




 

SeilerBird

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Location
St Cloud Florida USA
paul58 said:
My wife and I are shopping for our first RV. We had a pop-up when our kids were young and are looking to get back out there.
I am retired with a somewhat limited budget. Maybe $20k max for our first trial rig. My wife will not drive a large rig greater than around 22-24'. Ideally we'd like to be able to pull into a regular parking space because we are interested in traveling into the city for an occasional dinner as we explore the country. Decent gas mileage is important.
That is your first mistake, limiting yourself to under 24 feet. That is basically way too small for anything other than short weekend trips a few times a year. There is no difference really between driving a 24 footer and a 35 footer. Go to a dealership and take a test drive in a bigger RV and have your wife drive it. It will take her less than five minutes to fall in love. There are lots of women on this forum that drive 35-40 foot RVs and loving it.
Ask Ardra.

class B RV's are very expensive for their size and harder to find used
And they are harder to resell when you figure out it is way too small. You will spend 95% of your time living in the RV and 5% of the time driving it. It only makes sense to maximize it for living, not driving.
to fit in a regular parking space I need either a class B "van" or an older (1990 - 1994) Toyota size RV.
I full timed for years in a 27 foot and a 32 foot class A. Parking is easy. Walmart parking lots and mall parking lots are everywhere. You don't need to park in a normal parking spot. Google Earth is your friend for planning out trips to the restaurant. You can see in advance the size of the parking lot.
class C RV's get around 6 mpg while a van or the Toyota get closer to 15 mpg
All RVs get between 6 and 10 mpg. If MPG is important to you then RVing is not for you.
used shorter class C RV's seem to be harder to find
That is because that is the one almost every beginner wants to buy. But the problem is with a C the first 8 feet is wasted engine space. So a 33 foot class C has as much usable room as a 25 foot class A

the old 1990's Toyota Winnebago / Dolphin etc. seems like the best solution? There must be other options?
They are basically way too underpowered to even be considered.
 

Isaac-1

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SW Louisiana
I too am going to tell you to shop for something a little larger, every foot adds a lot of space over the 20 ft mark, of course floor plan, etc. counts for a lot too.  My wife and I are 5 or 6 days into an 11 day trip in our 28 ft class A (2002 Safari Trek 2830), it is actually 29'5" bumper to bumper and we can fit into a full size parking space (sort of at least sticking out no more than a crew cab pickup would parked nose in) if we can back in and overhang the curb with our 177 inch wheel base.  Though there are places we don't go, some we can't due to overhanging limbs, too steep of driveway or just to tight of parking lot, others just look to be too much hassle.

Since buying our coach we have looked at those 24ft Sprinter platform class B+'s  (typically 25'1" - 25'6" bumper to bumper) and walk away saying even if price was not an object we like the living space in ours better.  Our Trek is only a little taller and a little wider than one of those sprinters (3 inches wider and 10 inches taller),  but it is on a 17,000 pound GVWR chassis vs the 11,030 GVWR on the sprinters, this means we have close to 3,000 pounds of cargo carrying capacity with empty water tanks, vs around 600-800 found on many of the Sprinter based units (some even less).  We also have large water and propane tanks meaning more ability to boondock off grid.

I am not saying go out and buy what I have, the Treks are not for everyone as there is no bedroom, instead there is a queen size bed that lowers down from the ceiling in the living room.  But what this buys you is near 7 feet of kitchen counter top space and a 6x6 ft bathroom with a 32 inch neoangle corner shower.  (there are also 26 ft Treks with 154 inch wheel base on 14,500 - 15,000 GVWR chassis that have either a smaller kitchen or smaller bathroom, but also about a thousand pounds less cargo carrying capacity).  Some here will tell you that the Trek's are a bad compromise, personally though not perfect I like it, and have spent close to 100 nights onboard since buying it in late 2016.

Ike

p.s. I paid $20,500 for mine with 75k miles, price is above NADA, but mine was well updated, and NADA is not very accurate on older coaches in good condition.
 

JudyJB

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I am a short woman (5'1" on a good day), aged 75, and I drive a 32' Class C.  In fact, I have driven it 118,000 miles so far.  And I know women who are older and shorter than me who drive even bigger vehicles. I am guessing your wife is younger than me and maybe taller, so if I can do it, so can she.  And by the way, I picked up my brand-new motorhome 6 years ago without any more than having taken a short test drive and looking at some online RV driving tips--drove my adult son nuts, but in spite of his concern, I have not had any major accidents or rolled it over on the freeway. 

Parking is seldom a problem.  I usually look at Google maps before I go someplace unknown, but often you can find street parking and take up 2-3 spaces of parallel parking, especially in smaller towns.  In addition, if the restaurant has a small parking lot, you can usually find a restaurant near a shopping center or a "big box" store like Home Depot or Walmart or any big grocery or hardware store.  You can park there and walk a block of two.  It is not that difficult, really. 

You are looking at really old, really small RVs that will cause you a ton of problems.  You will much more easily find a used (5-10 years old) smallish (22' to 26') Class C that you will be more comfortable in that will be within your budget.  Those old rigs will likely need several thousand dollars worth of repairs, no matter how good they look and how well someone tells you they have been maintained.  The systems are going to be old and not working very well, plus you will feel extremely cramped. 

Instead of size, look at living space and things like tank size and storage, and condition. 
 

paul58

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Aug 1, 2018
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Location
Geneseo, NY
lots good info for me to consider.
I think we will take the advise of test driving different size rigs.

still hard to get past the $700 gas bill to go to Florida. Then again, no hotels/Airbnb etc to pay for and wonder what conditions are like.

thanks for the help so far
 

ArdraF

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Also, you'll have fewer restaurant expenses because you'll probably eat in the RV more often.

ArdraF
 

JudyJB

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My Class C gets around 8-9 MPG, so what you have to consider when you are estimating costs is the difference between the MPG of the small RVs you are considering.  I am guessing it will be no more than 7-8 MPG. 

RVing is not really the cheapest way to travel, but it is certainly a more comfortable way to travel because you have to consider having your own bed, your own bathroom, a refrigerator handy fr snacks and meals as you travel, etc. 

Gas mileage should not be your biggest consideration because if you shop solely on that, you will spend more on repairs and maintenance, plus you will be a lot less comfortable.
 

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