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Is this the perfect RV for full-time living?

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This is probably not the ideal RV for full-time RVing, at least, not as your first RV.

This motorhome was parked near me at a recent bluegrass rally. It's not an antique. It's almost new. It was built from scratch to look old.

Inside it's decorated like it was from the 1920s. It has a couch with a removable seat. When you remove the seat you find an antique porcelain bathtub, complete with claw feet. There is also a wood-burning stove with a glass front so you can see the fire. Well, that's what it looks like. It's electric and the fire is fake, but it looks real. The instrument panel looks like a Motel-A Ford.

Most people who are thinking about living full time in an RV go through a fair amount of stress trying to find the right RV for their full-time lifestyle. Save yourself a lot of hassle and realize that regardless of how much effort you put into your search, the first RV you buy is not going to be the right one for you--unless you're very lucky.

Three reasons why you're unlikely to select the best RV for your wants and needs when you buy your first RV

#1. You don't know much about the pros and cons of the different types of RVs.

#2. You don't know how you'll be using your RV. Will you be traveling all the time, will you be boondocking a lot, will you be staying in Michigan in the summer and in Florida or Arizona in the winter months and that's the extent of your traveling?

#3. And even if you did know the answers to the previous questions, I would consider it a sure bet that your plans will change after the first year two. For one thing, most RVers travel a lot more their first year. Then they learn that the RVing lifestyle is a lot more enjoyable if they slow down and enjoy where they are more.

That's why I say, by all means, don't buy a new RV as your first rig. A new RV will depreciate like mad the first year and you'll be stuck with it unless you're willing to take a big loss on it.

Three best pieces of advice you will ever get when it comes to selecting your first RV

#1. As I said before, do NOT buy a new RV as your first RV.

#2. Buy an RV that you can afford to pay cash for.

#3. Do your homework and search until you find a good deal on an RV that you can sell in a year or so and get your money back--and maybe even make a profit on it. It can be done.

A brief description of the different types of RVs and the pros and cons of each type for full-time living

Class A - This is the large motorhome that looks somewhat like a Greyhound bus. It has the most storage (which is important for full-time living), and you can get find some real bargains. This is partly true because most people think they are hard to drive and that they don't get good gas mileage. Neither of these statements are true.

Class C -- This is the motorhome that looks like a U-Haul truck. It has the overhang over the cab. It's ideal for weekend and vacation camping, but it doesn't have a lot of storage. It's a little easier to drive and gets about one mile per gallon better gas mileage than a Class A.

Fifth-Wheel -- This is a good choice if there are more than two people traveling. They have a lot of room. They usually have a bedroom in the front and in the back. They are a lot easier to pull and back than a camper/trailer. They sound inexpensive until you factor in the cost of a truck big enough to pull them.

Camper/trailer -- These come in all sizes, are reasonably inexpensive, and can be pulled with an SUV or small truck (depending on the size, of course). They don't have a lot of storage space.

Class B -- These look like a tall van. They can be great for one person and if you are going to do a lot of driving. They get good gas mileage and are easy to drive. They don't have much (as in almost no) storage space and they are expensive.

Truck Camper -- I would not recommend this option for full-time RVing (and especially not for more than one person). I do know people who have truck campers and enjoy it, so to each his own.

Van -- The same comments would apply to a van as to a truck camper. I know people who are happy living full time in a van. It's better suited for someone who is traveling solo. It does have the advantage of being able to get into a lot of boondocking places that larger RVs can get to.

Converted Bus -- I have friends who have done wonders with their converted bus, but as a first-time RVer, I highly recommend that you don't go this route. Later after you have more experience, if you still want to try it, go for it. Trying to convert a bus into an RV is NOT a way to save money.

Bottom line: In a nutshell, the best RV to buy is one that you can afford to pay cash for and get a great deal on. Then you can sell it in a year or so and get your money back, and buy the RV that's right for you and your lifestyle--after you know what that is.

Accept the fact that you're going to want a different RV within two years regardless of how much time you spend doing your research. Don't sweat it. Just--simplify and go. Don't analyze the decision to death. Buy an RV (at a good price) and get on the road and go and start learning.

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