Once we decided that living in an RV full-time was going to be the best choice for us, now we had to decide which type of RV would work the best. Thus began the journey, and yes, we changed our “final” decision several times! We wanted to get it right!
Through our research, we learned that many new full-timers changed RV types and sizes several times in their first five years. In most cases, they downsized. Moving from a sticks & bricks home to an RV is a huge change on many levels. Moving from a 2500-3000sf home to a 300-400sf home on wheels brings many challenges in the process.
The most frequent mistake is to try and pack as much stuff into the largest RV, so you retain that “homey” feel, with as much creature comforts as possible. Pretty soon, you realize that you aren’t using a lot of it, so you downsize your stuff, only to discover that maybe you don’t need that big behemoth after all. So, you downsize the RV. Some do this 3 to 4 times before they finally settle on “the one”. Some have actually gone from a big Class A down to a Class B van! Wow! What a difference!
Jan & I have a distinct advantage in all this. Jan spent 5 years aboard ship, living out of a small locker for long months at a time. I spent 16 years at sea, mostly on submarines, and found ways to live with very little for years at a time. We have owned a tent trailer, a Class C, and a travel trailer, so we had that in our favor also.
Every time we went to the mainland, we made sure to visit RV dealers and look at, and tour, all the types that would work for us: Class A, B, and C, and 5th wheel.
Watching a lot of videos, and considering all the great advantages, we fell in love with Class B’s. Then we went and looked at one on the next trip. Nope! Not living in small spaces again! Did that, don’t want to repeat it. Don’t want a “wet” toilet, either, NOT happening! The videos made it look big. . . . . it wasn’t. The negatives completely overpowered the positives.
We looked at Class A’s. Wow, really nice and spacious. Lots of room for storage. But, even with multiple slides, it felt like – a bus. Great for some, not for us. It just didn’t “feel” like home.
Karen, Jan’s sister (her niece, really, but more like a real sis) gave us a link to The Living Vehicle (LV). We became smitten with this beauty! Modern, totally off-grid living, nice kitchen, lots of light, a fold-down deck, really cool design and layout, and made of strong aircraft aluminum. This was our #1 choice for several months. We told everyone, this is “the one”! Only 27′ ft long, and pulled with a 2500 truck. Perfect! Then, reality set in.
Jan has FM, RLS, and Gulf War Syndrome. When she hurts, she needs a comfy quiet place to sit or lay down. There are no comfy chairs in the LV, and no way to design one in. Finally, and very reluctantly, we had to admit that the LV wasn’t going to work for us. Time to re-begin the search!
As it happens, just as we gave up on the LV, I looked back over old searches, and found a 5th wheel, often referred to as a fiver, that we had actually toured, and liked. It was the Grand Design Solitude 344GK. It is only 36″ long, and, most importantly, it had a built-in desk, aka a sewing center, for Jan’s “Empress of the Universe” sewing machine (long story on that coming later from Jan, I’m sure!). It also had two really comfy theater chairs, that also had heat and massage.
Not too big, just 36″ feet long. Light, only 12,800 lb, towable by a 2500 or (preferably) a 3500 single rear wheel drive. Comfy place for Jan when she’s hurting. A great place for Jan’s sewing and crafts (oh, she’s got a lot of those!). And it really feels like a comfortable home we can spend time in.
You have probably already read how we fell into the “deal” of a lifetime on the purchase of our 344GK, known as the “Taj” in a previous post. In a few weeks we will travel to Washington, and shortly thereafter purchase the truck to pull that beautiful home on wheels.
The decision process that brought us to this point was winding, and full of surprises. I now think that Jan’s “crazy” idea was genius and inspired. We are both looking forward with anticipation to begin our new journey of surprises, meeting new people, spending long quality time with our dear family and friends, and embarking on the next phase of our lives. Who knows, we may come knocking on your door!