We bought an RV! After years of talking about it, and months of searching - we actually did it! That’s right, Tim and I are officially tiny home owners, and we couldn’t be more excited! At first, we weren’t sure what exactly we were looking for. Initially, we considered buying a cargo van and converting it, but I had a serious issue with the fact that our adventure-mobile wouldn’t have a bathroom. Another concern was that, if we ever had to leave our fur baby in the vehicle, she wouldn’t have air conditioning or proper ventilation to be safe. So the van conversion idea was off the table.
In true hippie fashion - we considered buses, but quickly ruled that out too. They were too expensive and labor intensive to convert. Eventually, we decided that a small RV would best suit our needs. We could have space, air conditioning and a bathroom. What more could a girl want??
Searching for the Perfect RV
Once we decided that our ideal type of tiny home on wheels was an RV, the search was on! To start the hunt, we chose the 3 main characteristics that were most important to us:
After we decided on these 3 things to guide us, we used several different tools to search for listings. The two most useful resources were Facebook and Craigslist.
On Facebook, we searched marketplace listings within 300 miles of our house - which yielded a lot of high quality listings and quick responses from sellers. I also joined any RV sale groups that I could find (there are quite a few!). These also function as forums and can be very helpful if you’re new to the world of RVs.
Craigslist was also a very effective search tool for us. While the interface is not as easy as Facebook, and there are way more scams - this was ultimately how we ended up finding the RV we bought.
The way that we made Craigslist work for us was using a separate search engine that searches all of Craigslist, instead of just one area. This option definitely required more of a concrete idea of what we were searching for, but proved to be a very effective way of finding listings.
There are many different websites you can use to do this but the one we used was www.searchtempest.com.
Ballin' on a Budget
For us, price was the most important factor when considering potential motorhomes, because like most millenials - we're ballin' on a budget. Since we are not planning on using it as our primary residence, we chose to go with something that we could afford to pay cash for.
We also considered that anything we bought would likely require about $2,000 for repairs and remodeling.
The budget that we decided on was $5,000.
Obviously this is not a huge amount of money when considering a house on wheels, so it limited our options mostly to RVs that were between 20 and 35 years old.
Initially, we were weary of postings too far under the $5,000 mark, because we assumed there would be damage to go along with the discount. We soon realized that was not necessarily true, and actually ended up taking home our RV for $2,900.
What a steal!
The second most important criteria for choosing our RV was size!
Since there is a seemingly infinite amount of options to choose from, it was very difficult to even know what to look for!(I wrote about this in a previous post, check it out here!)
Our goal was to buy something small and compact. This would allow us to park pretty much anywhere, including some city streets. While traveling, we don’t plan to bring a car with us -- so having the ability to drive around town and park in regular parking lots is really important. This will allow us to have more flexibility, and fun while traveling!
Another reason that we wanted to buy a small RV is to save gas! Most motorhomes are notoriously bad on gas, typically getting between 6-11 miles per gallon. While traveling we will have limited income, so saving money wherever possible is something we’re very committed to.
We searched for everything available in New England and New York, but kept our eyes open for two main classes of RV.
Class B RVs, also known as camper vans, are very compact. They are typically the size of a cargo van, and are ideal for everything from stealth street-camping and boondocking. Initially this was our ideal choice, but two main things deterred us. The first was price. They hold value much better than other types of RVs, making it hard to find options in our price range.
The primary factor that led us in another direction was the lack of space! We liked the idea of having an RV that was extremely compact…until we went inside of one. I don’t know about you, but we have a lot of stuff. Even when I’ve committed to packing light, I still end up with 3x more than I need.
We eventually settled on searching for the smallest Class C RV that we could find. This is the type of motorhome with a loft bed over the cab.
When considering the single most important feature of an RV, we wanted something that was mechanically in great shape. We both follow enough people living the full time RV/Van dream on social media to know that it is super common to run into mechanical issues if you’re traveling for an extended period of time.
While these issues are common, they’re pretty much impossible to plan for, and always extremely inconvenient.
We wanted to find an RV that would run reliably above all else, so we started looking for a name we both trust: Toyota.
Both Tim and I have owned various Toyota models and have never been disappointed. So when we saw that Toyota not only made motorhomes, but mini motorhomes - we were sold.
After some research, we found out the the engine featured in these RVs is known as one of the most reliable engines ever made! Another added bonus is that it’s not uncommon to get over 200,000 miles out of these motorhomes.
(That’s a lot of road trips!!!!!!)
Meet Our New Toy Home!
After some obsessive searching, we finally came across a 1985 Toyota Coachmen motorhome located about 5 hours away in Farmington, Maine.
It was listed for $3200, and had only 84,000 miles on it. In the recent years, the previous owner had remodeled the interior and stocked it with new bedding, linens, and even toothbrushes!
The deal seemed too good to pass up, but finding the time to take a 10+ hour road trip was difficult with our work schedules. Luckily, my boyfriend’s parents are the shit and drove up there for us, checked it out, and drove it home that day!
Mechanically - our RV is a perfect specimen. The only minor complaint is that since the engine is only a 4-cylinder, she runs very slowly.However, since we will only be using this vehicle to see all of the beauty our country has to offer - we're not in a rush anyway.
My favorite part of our new motorhome is definitely the size. Coming in at only 22 feet long, it's very similar to the size of the camper vans that we were initially looking at - but with a much more open floor plan.
Time to DIY!
Since the interior had already been partially remodeled by the previous owner - it is definitely more aesthetically pleasing inside than it would have been with the original 1985 brown color scheme. (Who ever thought this was a good look? Was everyone blind in the 1980s????)
However, even with the the walls and cabinets being refinished, there is still a lot of work to be done inside. We plan to completely repaint, reupholster and remodel everything we can.
The bathroom especially, needs some extra TLC. Currently, there are two shower curtains stapled to the walls, a broken toilet and a carpet covering the shower drain.
The 3 major things that need to be replaced are the refrigerator, air conditioner and toilet. This will cost somewhere between $1200-$1600, similar to our prediction early on. We're also very interested in repainting the exterior if budget and time allow it before we take our maiden voyage.
We’re beyond excited to begin this journey, and to get involved with the RV/Van community!