When we started thinking about this lifestyle change, we had no idea what kind of RV we wanted, didn’t even know to call it a rig. I have tent camped off and on since I was a boy scout and Peggy has done much the same. Her dad had a Winnebago motorhome when she was growing up but apparently didn’t use it much. I remember my Dad borrowing a popup camper once when we were kids and one of us got horribly sick (pretty sure it was me), cutting short our family camping career.
Long way of saying, we had absolutely no idea what we were getting into.
So we started reading…and reading…and reading. Holy crap there are a lot of people out there doing the same thing. I’ve been a car nut my whole life and have participated in car forums since they were BBS’s. Well wouldn’t you know, there are RV enthusiast forums out there too, go figure. And the blogs! I spent a lot of time reading several different blogs, especially on how they came to this lifestyle and how they chose their rig ( I like that word). My favorites are Technomadia, Gone with the Wynns, RVLove and The Snowmads. Why? Because these people are doing what we wanted to do. They are not retired, but have found a way to continue working while exploring more of this incredible world we live in. I have not met any of them yet but I hope to soon, and reading their (mis)adventures and successes has made them feel like friends. I can only hope to do the same.
“Buy your 3rd RV first!”
That was something we heard time and time again. From the good folks on iRV2 and many others. Apparently lots of people like to get their feet wet with something basic, inexpensive, and then once they figure out they like this world, start jumping to bigger and bigger RVs. Wouldn’t you know, doing it that way can be costly!
Considering we had decided to jump into the deep end and go straight into full-time RV life, we knew we weren’t starting small. The question was more, what would fit for us? Used or new? Fifth wheel or motorhome? So we started checking them out, online and in person. We approached it like we had approached buying our house (we looked at 100+ houses before we ever made an offer), and went to dealers, RV shows, and just walked, talked and sat down in as many as we could to get the feel.
“We are definitely buying a fifth wheel.”
Let’s get this straight. We LOVED the fifth wheels we looked at, especially models from Grand Design. They have tons of room, beautiful layouts, quality furniture and finishes, and just feel like a home. Kitchen islands, theater seating, big bedrooms, they have it all. And then there’s the truck. To pull one of these behemoths you need a supertruck, a 350 or 3500, preferably dually and with a diesel engine. I know there are smaller, lighter fifth wheels but those just didn’t trip our trigger and more importantly, have the room, finishes and quality that we were looking for. After all, we weren’t going camping. This was going to be our home!
So we test drove a supertruck. And we liked it. Peggy did the driving and I sat in the back seat, and let me tell you they have really improved the trucks. In fact, it’s hard to call them trucks any more because they are such multi-purpose vehicles. This was an F350 crew cab dually diesel, King Ranch edition and wow was it nice. Drove down the road like a cowboy Cadillac with all the luxuries you could ever want, and it could haul about a million pounds, give or take a few. It was also seventy thousand dollars! That was an eye-opener.
But still, we had made our decision.
“There’s no way I’m driving a bus.”
Just to keep an open mind, we did look at some Class A motorhomes, the monster buses of the RV world. The layouts and finishes just didn’t approach the fifth wheels we were looking at, and sitting in that driver’s seat just felt way too…much. I didn’t want to drive a bus. They were huge, difficult to maneuver, very inefficient monstrosities that clogged up the mountain roads I loved attacking in my Corvette. There’s no way I’m driving a bus!
Then we stepped into a Tiffin and had our eyes opened. There’s a whole ‘nother level of motorhomes out there, ones with the interior quality and layout we like. Brands like Tiffin, Newmar, American Coach, Entegra. But still, these things can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars! Holy crap.
Then we remembered, hey we are buying a house, a place for us to live in full-time, not a weekend camper. So we started running the numbers.
Did you know you finance an RV like a house? We didn’t. Did you know it qualifies for the federal housing tax credit? We didn’t. But we learned, and after really running the numbers we came to a realization. If you’re buying a house, it’s actually cheaper on a month-to-month basis to buy a big Class A motorhome, than to finance a fifth wheel (long term) and a supertruck (short term).
That started a whole new round of shopping. And reading. And asking questions. Can you tell this process took us more than a year?
The Newmar Ventana 3709
We looked at a LOT of motorhomes from lots of different manufacturers, and we kept coming back to Newmar. The reputation for quality, insulation, interior fit and finish, and the Comfort Drive, all swayed us, and they just fit our style better than most – classically elegant interiors, none of the Vegas bling. They also had a floorplan we really liked, perfect for two people and a dog. It has a single couch across from a big TV (we love movies), a fireplace that really heats the coach, a nice sized bedroom and master bath, and plenty of counterspace in the kitchen. Yes the 3709 hit all the right notes.
We found one we really liked at Independence RV in Winter Garden FL and since we had already looked at so many of them, we knew exactly what we were looking at online. After a few calls, we bought it over the phone, sight-unseen and un-driven. Yep. Crazy. But in for a penny, in for thirty-thousand pounds.
If you’ve read this far, I assume you want to see the pictures right? Well here’s our new home, the Cloud we are living in, pictured outside our (now former) home, and in a few other spots. We love it!