Is it an RV Dream or RV Nightmare? Our RV Dreams started back in 2015. As Lisa and I took our yearly “Long Vacation” as we like to call it, we would talk about what it would be like to live a life of travel. Seeing National Parks, spending time relaxing at the beach, or enjoying the mountains.
Being tent campers and in our 40s it was getting harder and harder to get up and moving in the mornings after sleeping on the ground. While traveling around the country we would stop at RV dealers and look at different options. Decisions, decisions…. so many RVs so many options and floor plans to choose from.
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Our RV Dreams have been a constantly changing over time. We have gone from dreaming of a Travel Trailer, to a 5th Wheel, to a Class A Motorhome, to a Class C Motorhome, and back to a Class A Motorhome now. Our RV Dreams have changed for a number of reason.
When we started talking about a Travel Trailer we mostly just wanted one to get off the ground and away from tent camping. At that point we knew we would need a trailer small enough to pull with my Jeep Wrangler or to buy a pick-up if we decided on a larger one. That set into motion what do we do? Do we sell the Jeep and buy a pick-up?
The trailers my 2 Door Jeep Wrangler could pull could only weigh 2000 lbs. That limited us greatly on what trailers were available to us. That’s when we started talking about possibly selling the Jeep and buying a pick-up. Then we could buy a larger trailer that would be more comfortable for our camping trips.
If we bought a pick-up we could get a bigger trailer so we started looking at 5th Wheel Trailers. They were so much bigger and a lot that we looked at were made for full-time living. Our dreams started changing again. We could buy a pick-up and 5th Wheel to live full time while seeing so many great places in the country. But is buying a pick-up and 5th Wheel the thing to do if we have to get rid of the Jeep that takes us to so many cool places to hike? A pick-up wouldn’t be able to get to some places we like to go especially if we had to buy a dually to pull a large 5th Wheel.
How about a Motorhome? We could keep the Jeep and pull it behind the motorhome wherever we go. OK… But what type of motorhome? Class A, Class B, Class C? So many more choices yet again. And then gas or diesel the choices seem endless.
With the two of us and our two chocolate labs we need to have some room so a Class A seemed to be the logical choice for us. We started looking at entry level Class A Motorhomes under 35 feet, the recommended length to fit into the National Parks. But we didn’t feel like they were made for full time living and we didn’t find any floor plans that we really liked.
Traveling around we stopped at many RV Dealers and looked at all the floor plans we could find. We really liked the feel of diesel coaches. They felt more livable, but the price tag…. Ouch! Even some used ones pushed our budget. Not wanting to push the budget too much, especially if we bought a used motorhome that wouldn’t have a warranty our decision to look at other options continued.
Then we stumbled upon the Thor Challenger line of motorhomes. They look and feel like a diesel but have a Ford V-10 gas engine. With a line of four different coaches of varying layouts there are plenty of options for anyone looking for a livable motorhome. Speaking of options there are no options to upgrade to. The Challengers come with all the options you would expect from a diesel motorhome without the huge price tag. Not saying the price isn’t huge, it just not diesel coach huge.
Looking through the models we decided on the 37YT. Along with that choice came more decisions… Now what exterior color, what interior color, what cabinets? Our preference is the Nassau (blue accent to match the Jeep) exterior with Glacier Park interior and Pacific Cabinets. The real trick is finding one. At the dealer the colors on the 37TB they had in stock were perfect but the floor plan with the bunk beds wasn’t for us. The 37YT floor plan that we liked was in Siesta Key, a burgundy accent color, that seemed a bit bright for our liking, and didn’t match our Jeep.
After a bunch of back and forth to the dealer and deciding if we should just go with the color they had in stock, order what we wanted from the factory, or find the one elsewhere. Initially we decided to go for the one in stock, only to find out it was sold the day before. The dealer was very helpful and told us of a couple other 37YTs coming off of the assembly line in a few weeks that they could choose to purchase. We had our choice between the two but in the end neither one had the color combination we wanted so we decided to look elsewhere.
Finding the perfect combination of type, floor plan, and colors has been a daunting task to say the least. We have looked at hundreds of Travel Trailers, 5th Wheels, and Motorhomes in our search and to finally find the model we loved decided we didn’t want to settle for something we weren’t totally happy with. So the search continued. I started searching RVTrader.com for the color combination we wanted. I found about ten throughout the country with most being too far from us on the East coast.
I found a couple Thor Challenger 37YTs in California that looked to have what we wanted. We planned a day trip to go see four dealerships that carried the Challenger line. At the first dealer we got lucky and liked the salesman and although they didn’t have one on their lot, they did have one in storage that had the color combination we were looking for. We decided right then to make the jump and put a down payment on it. Excitement and nervousness set in… We’re really doing this and things just got real started crossing our minds.
How much will our dream cost and how do we pay for it
With an MSRP of over $200,000 the Thor Challenger 37YT is like buying a home. Of course never pay MSRP on an RV. There is plenty of room to negotiate the price and from everything I read and learned through this process you should get between 25%-30% below MSRP on the purchase of a new RV. Our negotiations got us 28.6% off MSRP and a price we were happy with.
Since we are not rich we will be financing our new motorhome. The finance process is similar to the process of buying a car although they do look at a few more things it’s not as in depth as buying a home.
Do we sell or rent our home
Through the dreams of buying an RV and joining the full time RVing lifestyle many hours were spent trying to decide how to pay for our dream. Do we sell or rent the home was the biggest decision.
Do we refinance the home for a down payment? Although we have some good equity built up in our home, it’s not enough to purchase an RV outright. The thought of a first and second mortgage on the house and an RV payment stressed me out.
Do we rent the home and use the difference in the rent and our mortgage to make RV payments? We would still need to come up with a sizable down payment for the RV and we don’t have that much cash on hand for it.
Do we sell the home and use the equity for a down payment? That’s the choice we made. Use the equity from the sale of our home and put a sizable down payment leaving a very manageable RV payment. When it finally came down to it we didn’t have enough savings for a big down payment to get our RV payment where we wanted it. We could have gone with any of the methods above but the peace of mind by selling the home became a big factor in our decision-making process.
Where should we go – What should we see
Of course Everywhere and Everything is our first thought! We enjoy everything there is to do. But more realistically National Parks to start. Together we have explored nearly 100 of the 418 National Park sites. When traveling to see the National Parks though we will undoubtedly find a lot of state parks and other points of interest along the way. There are so many beautiful, interesting, and amazing places to see and things to do in this country. We’re happy to be able to get out and do as much of it as we can.
Turning our dreams into reality
Here we are with the house set to close at the end of March. Working diligently on downsizing, selling, and donating items, and putting things into storage that we can’t bear to part with just yet. We’ve come along ways with getting the house cleaned out. Hoping everything comes together at the right time and we can get the home turned over and pick up our new RV. The excitement and nervousness are a strange feeling after being in this house for nine years. It’s the longest I have lived in the same place since I was a kid. Our RV dreams are starting to become a reality.