I am so busy right now that I had to make a list of lists. Wish I were kidding. Now that I have an RV in my possession, which I managed to do in less than 2 weeks (and may have been a bad thing), I think its time for an update.
The first bump in the road was funding. How was I going to pay for this? What can I afford? Well, I knew that I’d most definitely need some type of loan. I had applied for both RV loans and personal loans. RV loans often have better terms (on both interest rates and length of loan in years), but many that I had looked at had the stipulation that you cannot use the RV as a full-time residence. One company did not have this stipulation, but the interest rate was outrageous. All the other RV loans without the stipulation flat-out denied me even though my credit was rated “Good”. Great. I figured trying to apply for a personal loan wasn’t going to be any better, so I nearly gave up as soon as I had started.
However, one sales-y loan officer suggested I have someone co-sign the loan with me. I thought convincing my father would be a task… but turns out I have his support 100%! We ended up getting a personal loan with a fantastic rate, half the rate of all the RV loans that I had looked at. I ended up with a budget of $10,000, which equates to about $200 per month for 5 years. That is manageable for me!
The next step was to look at some RV parks and their requirements. Many RV parks have strict rules about RVs, and some have a rule that your RV cannot be any older than 10 years, in some instances, 12. So, there goes the idea of flipping a vintage Airstream. No big deal though, because the newer RVs will be easier to work with in most cases, as long as I don’t pick up someone else’s mess.
I started to think about what I needed and what I wanted. I knew I didn’t want a motorhome because I wouldn’t be driving it around much, and all the extra maintenance for the engine and such was not really something I wanted to deal with. I didn’t really care for a fifth wheel, because it requires a special hitch installed into the bed of a pickup, and I didn’t want to ask anyone to modify their vehicle for me. I also don’t like the setup of fifth wheels, just personal preference. So, I looked at travel trailers.
After some browsing, I decided that I wanted as large of a travel trailer as I could find, knowing how small they will end up feeling. I knew that I wanted at least one slide-out, because they really do make a world of a difference, as it makes the trailer feel not so cramped. I looked at many different layouts, and ultimately decided that I wanted one with a bunkhouse.
Now why would I, a single person with no children, want a trailer with a bunkhouse? The answer is very simple: rip those bunks out!!! And suddenly, I have an entire ‘extra’ room! I decided that the bunkhouse might act as closet space, litter box, laundry, and a desk if I could fit it. So began my very specific search…
First, I looked on good ol’ craigslist, which proved to be encouraging. New RVs in my price and age range were popping up every day! Before I went diving in, I consulted with one of my friends whom works at an RV dealership. He gave me some really great tips on what to look for in a used RV, and what to definitely stay away from. He lives across the country, and allowed me bother him as often as I wanted to, with photos and ads, and he gave me his opinions. Shout out to Corey Clarke for being my virtual RV expert! I highly recommend that anyone doing this to make an inspection list and to consult someone like this, so that you aren’t clueless and buying the first pretty RV that you see.
The first one I wanted to go look at was a 2009 Jayco brand trailer. The photos made it seem really nice. However, the price was dropping not just every day, but every few hours. That was red flag number one. A little TOO eager to sell. When I arrived to the storage facility and saw the trailer’s exterior, it had huge bubbles on both ends where the fiberglass was separating from the walls. HUGE red flag – most likely some serious water damage. The inside was alright, not ideal with the bathroom next to the bedroom, but it could work. I started asking questions, and when I asked about the bubbling fiberglass, he said “Oh I am pretty sure that is just from the sun. You would just have to glue or tack it back down.” I thanked him and left. NOPE. If someone is going to very obviously lie to you about something so obvious, who knows what else is lurking!
So, I then went to go look at over 20 trailers at a consignment dealership. Most dealerships don’t even sell trailers below $15,000, so I was really excited to see what this place had. The dealership is called PPL Motorhomes, located in downtown Houston, TX. They were great! They are full disclosure, meaning any known repairs or issues are disclosed to the buyer.
When I walked in, the woman at the front desk had me sign in, gave me a map with details about the trailers, and told me to have at it! It was a smorgasbord of trailers, motorhomes, and pop-ups in a huge lot. This was really a lot of fun, because all of them were open, so I could just take my time to look around, take info sheets, and all without the pressure of a salesman or previous owner.
As I started to look at trailers, I quickly became discouraged. Nearly all of them had some sort of water damage that was very apparent on the ceiling and/or the walls. Some of them, all I had to do was touch the panel and water would start to drip out. Yikes! Looks like my budget might not be as generous as I had hoped. Many had been a little too “used” and smelled of mildew and dog food, had torn fabrics, and stained floors.
However, I am persistent! That next day, I went back to craigslist, checking every other hour for any updates. Then, I saw an RV type that I had never seen before. A toy hauler. A 2008 Keystone Springdale 290CT, 32′. Posted just a week and a half ago.
Immediately, I thought, “How perfect!” Not only would a giant door and ramp allow me to get furniture in and out easily, but toy haulers are also a bit heavier because they are built stronger in order to haul the extra weight of the “toy”. Also, the garage, being the same dimensions as the rear bedroom, will serve as the extra room I had wanted! It was slightly out of my price range, but not by much. With my new experience with inspecting RVs, i had the confidence going in to negotiate. Prior to the showing, I had researched on the internet for the exact same trailer for sale in other parts of the country, to get an idea of an average asking price. (For this one in particular, it was the lowest asking price I could find.)
I met with the sellers on a beautiful, hot Texas day. He had clearly just done some roof sealing because his ladder and the sealant were out, which made me a little nervous. When I approached it, it looked rather nice though. The inside appeared mostly clean and the AC was running on high and was cold. They said they only used it twice, owning for the last 5 years. All the appliances worked. The slide-out was deep. The layout was exactly what I had wanted. I did my usual pressing on the walls and ceiling, and couldn’t find any soft spots. I got up to look at the roof, down under to look at the frame, and opened all the cabinets and the fridge, looked at vents and wires. I really couldn’t find much wrong, some yellowed plastic and some ugly decor – It was perfect!
However, I had asked the sellers if they could open the awning. They didn’t know how, but then notice it is rotted out. I asked them to open one of the outside compartments. He had trouble doing that, and wasn’t even sure what the compartment was for (water heater). It was very clear that I knew more about the RV than they did. I asked them about any known issues. They pointed out a water damaged spot on the floor that I had missed, right next to the fridge. Apparently one of their sons left the fridge open and it leaked onto the floor. It isn’t very big, so I imagine (and hope) I can manage that repair. They also pointed out the rear mounted stabilizers were ripped off by the first owners, but I know this is not an expensive fix. All of this seemed like it fit the bill. I had a really good gut feeling about this.
They took my offer, only a little less than asking price, and I left feeling really confident I had found a great deal! The day came to pick it up… and this is where everything REALLY began…