Taking the Plunge Into RV Ownership!


Guest Blogger, Christy Rogers, shares her experience of taking the plunge into RV Ownership this week!

I’ve spent that last 18 months or so walking thru the process of watching friends buy 4 very different types of RVs! It all started with a tent camping trip that was super hot! We are in Alabama, after all! After these guys helped with all of that hot, sweaty tent drama, we had a serious discussion. The three of us all love camping and traveling together. We started searching for a pop-up camper. 18 months later, my friends are settled on camper #4. A high end, 31-foot, bumper pull travel trailer. It’s the kind of upscale RV that has lots of residential quality items in it. They pull it with a Ford F-150 and they love taking it all over the place.

Having watched and participated in much of their RV planning and purchasing as well as traveling with them on camping trips (Thanksgiving weekend camping is my fave!), I’ve learned a ton about what I want in an RV and what I don’t. My taste is a bit different in some ways. The main difference is that I wanted to put an RV in a seasonal site on the lake with an annual rental policy. I have no desire to pull my RV anywhere! (This story coming in another article soon! Therefore, my desired amenities are less about travel needs and more about comfort in the RV while I am at the lake for several days at a time.

The budget was by far my biggest consideration. After I decided on a larger bumper pull style camper—initially, I was thinking an A-frame pop-up that I could move in the fall and winter to camp in but quickly determined a bumper pull was a better option—I determined my budget and started perusing the web. We went to see several older, used campers. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement!! Despite pictures and descriptions (by both private sellers and dealers) boasting “great condition” and “ready to go”, I was completely shocked by the true quality of the campers I looked at. Most were filthy and worn. They had not even been cleaned! I quickly understood that my budget was too low.

I knew early on that I wanted to buy from a dealer. I had 2 reasons: 1-they all guarantee everything will work before you leave the lot and 2-financing would be an option, thus making my budget go further. Had I personally known someone selling a camper, I definitely would have made an exception because it wouldn’t have been as risky, assuming they would be honest about everything. I made several calls and landed on a dealer that was about one and a half hours away—despite the fact there were many closer options. I liked the conversation with the guy on the phone. He was professional, conversational and interested. I cannot stress enough…many of the people I talked to at dealerships seemed like I was a bother. Not buying an expensive, new camper made me a much less attractive customer, and it showed! Mike treated me the same way I expect he would treat someone buying a $50,000 camper!

Once I met my dealer, the rest was easy. We had a budget and a list of “must haves” and “can’t stands.” “Must haves” included: slide out (although I went with a kitchen slide out that is a bit smaller than what I initially wanted); superb condition; no roof or leak issues; clean; bunks. “Can’t stands” were: too small bathroom; any work needed at all; dirty; tiny dinette. I was willing to trust the recommendations of my dealer and even though my first choice didn’t work out, (rotted slide floor that wasn’t detected until the final inspection) my second choice ended up being a camper in near mint condition despite being 5 years old. This thing was pristine!! I still can’t believe how “new” the couch is. I swear, they must have kept that thing covered all the time. I did make a couple of compromises—the slide size for example, and my bathroom is not huge—but I ended up getting a camper with more extras than I had imagined, including an outdoor kitchen! It never even occurred to me to consider that option in the beginning of my search and now I cannot imagine lake life without it! Thankfully, due to the first issue with the late detected rotted slide floor and the timing issues it caused for me, Mike was able to work with me and get me more camper for my money. I ended up with a 2013 Forrest River Salem Cruise Light 281QB. It is 32.5 feet long with a dry weight of just under 5,500 pounds with just over 2,000 additional payload capacity. The outdoor kitchen has an oversized fridge, hot and cold water and a bumper gas grill with a quick connect (that I haven’t been able to get to work yet). The inside bunks are spacious and make for plenty of storage since I usually have at least 1 empty bunk, even with guests. There is also a HUGE wardrobe for storage; another feature I had no idea I would want until I got it! The shower is surprisingly roomy. I made the GREAT decision to immediately replace the standard mattress with a Zinus Ultima Comfort Memory Foam 10 inch mattress. I also splurged and had the roof sealed and treated before it left the dealer. Now I have some time to enjoy my camper before maintenance is due.

If you’re considering taking the plunge…do it!! But give yourself some grace on your expectations! And do your homework on features. If you haven’t already, plan several visits to different dealerships to see what you really like. Take notes! And don’t rush. The rush of it all almost got me. I was on a VERY specific timeframe and the pressure was intense. I almost bought a brand new, much smaller, much more expensive trailer out of desperation. Now that I have “Martina” (my camper’s name—my boat’s name is “Reba”) all settled, I can’t remember life without her! I’m so glad I had a dealer that I liked and trusted and friends who gave me honest and experienced feedback. And now that I’m settled, I wouldn’t change a thing! Here’s hoping you have an awesome experience buying your next “Martina!”

Christy Rogers is a guest blogger and friend that has merged her love of the lake life and her boat with an annual camping spot.  She can be found on her boat or at her camping spot on most weekends with her shiba inu, Bear Rogers!  Christy has contributed previously with posts on Camping with Dogs and Camping with Friends.