All posts by Amber

Reality Sets In

After we spent the weekend in the RV we were happy to be home, in our comfortable space.  It made me think about how this RV experience feels a lot like when you bring your new baby home for the first time.  You go through your pregnancy and you can’t wait for that new baby to get here.  That day finally arrives and you are excited and totally in love, but then you go home.  Everything is new, you have no idea what you are supposed to do.  And then there is the poop! You know that eventually you’ll figure it out and it will be awesome, but right now you are thinking what did we do. No turning back now.

We were definitely outside of our comfort zone this weekend, trying to figure everything out. The weekend was stressful but I think we handled it in stride.  We made it through, but Sunday night when we were sitting in our comfortable bed we were both questioning this whole RV thing.  The idea of it was very exciting, we couldn’t wait for the day to get here so we could try out our new “baby”.

Much like having a baby, this is a totally life changing experience. No turning back.  I think that is kind of the point, though.  You grow when you are challenged and get out of your comfort zone.

Which one is it going to be?

Now that we have decided that a Class A would be the best for our family and situation, we need to figure out which brand would offer the best quality in our price range. Chris took to the internet to research reviews, complaints and other RVers experiences.  After a few weeks of research we zeroed in on Winnebago.  From what we read, it seemed like Winnebago had less issues with initial quality than other brands.

Our goal was to try to stay under $100k, but we knew that we might need to go a little higher to get something that would work for us for the long term. RVs are depreciating assets, so starting too small and then needing to upgrade in just a few years would be too costly. When we started looking at prices, we noticed that they varied widely from dealership to dealership. That got us wondering if the RV buying process was similar to the car buying process. From what we could gather there seems to be a 30% mark-up from dealer invoice to MSRP.  The other challenge in determining price is all of the available options and upgrades and very limited information on the cost of upgrades.

We decided to head back out to the dealership Memorial Day weekend armed with all of the information we had to look at some Winnebagos.  We wanted to see a 2016 Vista 31BE and a 2016 Vista LX 35B.  The 31BE had an MSRP of about $113k and based on our assumed formula dealer invoice would be $87k. The 35B had an MSRP of $151k and assumed that the dealer invoice would be about $116k. The dealership had already listed “discounted” prices which looked to be $4000 over invoice. We wondered how much negotiating room was left.  Another thing that influences what kind of deals car dealers are willing to make is manufacturer incentives and floor planning.  As each month comes to a close, dealerships get more aggressive in order to reach sales targets so that they get additional incentives or “kickbacks” from the manufacturer.  Floor planning is short-term financing that dealerships use to finance the inventory on the lot.  If they have new inventory coming in, they are more motivated to “move” the vehicles that are sitting on the lot.  These are just a few reasons that the end of the month and end of the model year are great times to purchase a vehicle from dealer stock.

We looked at the smaller 31BE first, it was nice and would work for our family.  It had one slide that was the length of one wall. It was well within our budget at the dealer’s sale price of $92k. Next we looked at the 35B, it had a lot more room with an additional 4 feet of length and 2 more slides.  The 35B was fully loaded with all available upgrades, but at the dealer sale price of $120 it was still way over our budget. At that point we asked our salesman, Bob, if there was any room in that sale price to get us closer to our budget.  We decided to go to lunch and talk it over and to give Bob a chance to talk to the sales manager and see what could be done.

After lunch, we came back, and to our surprise, they came down an additional $5000. He worked up some finance numbers with an assumed rate of 4.99% and $10k down. After looking at everything we felt that it would work in our budget, so we headed off to talk to the finance guy.  We completed an application and waited for an answer from the bank.  It was a Saturday, Memorial Day weekend, so we weren’t sure if we would get an answer that day.  After 20 minutes or so, we had an answer, 5.49% with $13k down.  At that point, we decided to take a break.  This was such a big decision and we just want to make sure we are not getting in too far over our heads.

Over the next 24 hours we went back and forth, should we buy this one, should we stop.  Of course, we got a call Sunday from the Finance manager to check in with us.  Some how, they managed to get the rate down to 4.99%, we still were unsure.  So Monday, our salesman, Bob, called. They couldn’t come down on the price any further, but they could offer us $1500 in Visa gift cards to offset the increased down payment amount. With that, we said yes! We went in on Memorial Day and signed all of the paperwork.
IMG_7144
We are now the proud owners of a Winnebago Vista LX 35B!!!

Finding the right RV for us

We started really talking about looking at RVs in early 2016, we were watching all the shows about RVing. In April we made the decision on a trip back from Disney to stop at a big RV dealer along I-4. At that point we had NO idea what we were looking for. Class A, Class C or Fifth Wheel.  So we asked to look at all of them.  We made it clear that we weren’t buying that day and were just gathering information.  So we looked at a Class A Gas and a couple of Class C’s, one in particular was a Minnie Whinnie.  After looking we went home to do some more research and see what our budget could handle.  Over the next month or so we talked ourselves out of doing this and talked ourselves back into it. Not the right time, need to save more money.  Or if not now, when? Our son, Christopher, is young and still likes hanging out with us and Chris has a job that he can work anywhere as long as he has internet.

We are not campers.  I think that the last time I went tent camping I was maybe 6 or 7 years old.  It rained the entire time and my mom and I slept in the car.  The only other camping I did was with girl scouts when I was 10 and we slept in cabins.  We are not what you would call “roughing it” kind of people.  So in looking at an RV, comfort and amenities were at the top of our list.  We also did a lot of research on quality, we wanted something that would last and hold up well if we decide to do this full time.  We needed space, somewhere Chris could work and bunk beds or a bunkhouse for our son. We also wanted a kitchen with some counter space, which is hard to come by in many RVs.

After all of our research we were torn between a Class A (32-36 feet) and a Fifth Wheel with a bunkhouse.  We have a 2016 CR-V that we purchased in November which obviously would not be suited for towing anything and, as we discovered, can not be towed behind a class A.  The choice between the two was a difficult one.  In a Fifth wheel, we could have the most overall space, including a full bunk room for Christopher. The downside is that our travel time would be spent confined to a vehicle rather than having the more open space in a class A coach.  The other con was the cost of the truck that we would have to buy in order to tow the size of Fifth Wheel that we want.

One of the pros of a Class A is that everything is self-contained. No hooking up to truck, you can grab a snack from the fridge while cruising down the road and just have more space during your driving time.  The biggest con is price, since it is all one unit, you are paying for your living space and your vehicle.

Since we would have to purchase a large, expensive ($50K+) truck to tow a fifth wheel, a class A just made more sense for our situation.