Not sure what type of RV is right for you? No worries amigo, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each. If you haven’t already read our guide on Different Types of RVs, go do that first so you aren’t wasting your time here.
Anyway, this is probably the hardest part of the whole experience but once you’re over this hump the real fun begins. Despite the numerous different types of RVs out there, you’re probably going to end up in either a Class A or a 5th wheel. Class B’s are, more or less, reserved for particularly cool cucumbers that are really ready to say sayonara to social norms. Class C’s are an awkward value proposition that doesn’t really work.
So, let’s dive in to the pros and cons, shall we?
Class A RV
- This style of RV is going to give you that iconic experience of trucking down the road in a plush captain’s seat, seeing ‘Merica through that huge windshield. It’s pretty much what everyone first envisions when they start thinking about going full time.
- Typically, you can use more of your RV with the slides in (this makes pulling over for lunch or staying overnight at a truck stop easier).
- You can finance the whole shebang like a mortgage (unlike a truck & trailer where only the trailer can be financed for 15+ years at prime + 1%).
- When you’re ready to leave a spot, you turn the key and go (this isn’t completely true, but people like to pretend it is – keep reading).
- They are usually going to come with a generator. You just flip a switch a voila, you have electricity.
- They are incredibly freaking expensive. Not only to purchase, but to keep on the road. Oil change? That’ll be $300+ dollars please. Service work? Got to find somewhere special that can put it on a lift.
- Gas mileage. They get gallons per mile, not miles per gallon. Seriously, you’re looking at about 6-8 mpg. No RV is great but Class A’s probably take the take for worst mileage.
- You are almost, certainly going to need a toad. What is a toad? A toad, also known as a dingy, is a 2nd vehicle that you tow behind your RV. Why? Because you sure as hell aren’t going to take your coach to the grocery store when you need supplies.
- Now you are maintaining TWO vehicles. Also, you cannot use just any vehicle as toad. It needs to be one that can circulate the transmission oil without the engine on.
- This is also the reason you can’t simply ‘turn the key and go’. You need to hook up your toad before take off, and, typically, you need to let the car run for a few minutes. This allows you to shift through some of the gears, if it is a manual, before you take off.
- It extends your overall length when towing, making those tight C turns, because Siri gave you shitty directions, even more fun.
- Pretty much every single Class A RV has the same floor plan. Manufacturers are pretty limited with what they can do because the engine/transmission only goes in one of two places. Also, the cockpit is up front (if you find an exception to this rule, please share).
- Unlike the automotive industry, the crash-safety standards on motorhomes are very lax.
5th Wheel Trailers
- They are far more affordable type of RV. You can get into a very high-end trailer & a very, very nice truck to pull it, for the price of a low-end Class A.
- Gas mileage is typically 12mpg+.
- You are only maintaining the one engine/transmission and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to do so.
- You have a vehicle when you get where you’re going!
- Half of your rig (the truck) won’t depreciate quite as quickly as a typical RV.
- If you roll your truck, you’re going to fair FAR better than if you roll a Class A. Yay, for airbags.
- You have far more options for layouts.
- You’re going to be driving all of those miles in a truck, not the big plush cockpit of a Class A RV.
- While you’ll usually be able to get to your bathroom and bedroom with the slides in, things like your fridge, stove, silverware drawer, etc. are often inaccessible.
- You’re probably going to have to figure out your own solution for a generator.
- Big diesel trucks are expensive. If you’re going to borrow money for a truck, expect it to take up a sizable chunk of your monthly income because you can’t finance it over 15 years.
- Making the transition into a truck/trailer means you have to go buy said truck and trailer. This makes for double the stress when shopping. Plus, you have to get the truck ready to tow a 5th wheel before you can actually pick up the 5th wheel.
What’s Wrong With a Class C RV?
Honestly, nothing. However, the better question to ask however is: what’s right about a Class C? They come with all of the same cons as a Class A, and still cost an exorbitant amount of money. Instead of that iconic driving experience of the big Class A cockpit, you basically get a poverty-spec. ford truck experience. Think U-Haul.
The upside to a Class C is seen when you’re shopping for a used one. They depreciate like crazy, and you can scoop them up for very little.
What About a Class B RV?
If you can make a Class B work, DO IT! They’re super mobile and numerous full-timers rave about them. However, if you are traveling with a significant other (or God forbid, kids), trying to work on the road is going to be tough.
- Typically, even better gas mileage than a diesel truck + 5th wheel
- You can hide in plain sight. Want to go downtown Minneapolis and party for a night? Park your Class B in a parking ramp, and home is just a quick stumble away!
- Similarly, you can take these guys just about anywhere, leaving your boondocking potential off of the charts.
- They still cost as much as a low-end Class A. Yes, $100k+ for a freaking van.
- Space. Duh. They’re small. You won’t be throwing any dance parties at your house. Unless, it’s that horizontal dancing all the young kids are doing these days. 😉
If it works for you financially, the best mix of reliability and total expense is shopping aggressively for a new 5th wheel (30%+ off msrp) and buying a CPO diesel truck. This puts you on the road with warranties for the important stuff and minimizes the depreciation hit you take because you got a great deal on the trailer and diesel trucks hold their value really well (comparatively).