Before you buy your first RV or camper, everyone starts getting concerned about size.

Lots of people on the inter-webs talk about how upgrading and downgrading is the natural life-cycle of the RV world.  Maybe it is, but for most of us, we don’t have the money to live that kind of lifestyle.  That means we need to get it right the first time.

A few days ago I had a comment about choosing the correct size of an RV.

This article both put my mind at ease, and terrified me. Well meaning friends are trying to push me into buying a longer RV for my dog & I to begin full-timing later this year – they fear I’ll buy too small and then have to upgrade too soon. I feel that a smaller rig (below 25′) would be: easier & less expensive to drive, easier to park, and give me PLENTY of room (I have virtually NO attachment to “stuff”). Plus, as I understand it, shorter RV’s have less stuff to maintain / repair. However, I don’t want to end up needing a upgrade to soon, so now I’m a bit torn.   I would love to hear any & all thoughts on this… thanks in advance!

This is a terrifying question for me to answer.  The reason why is that no matter if you choose larger or smaller, you will choose correctly.  You will then choose incorrectly.  Finally your feelings on the subject are going to sway on a regular basis.

When you can’t find a gas station you can fit into, you choose too big.  When you need to shut yourself in your bedroom from all the other ruckus going on around you, you are grateful you didn’t go smaller.

When you are trying to boondock in a neighborhood, a class A RV is definitely a bad choice for you.  It sticks out and someone is sure to complain.  When you are in a Walmart parking lot, you are excited you have large holding tanks and a massive generator to power everything.

The only way you will really know what size for you is to live in one.  That of course may not be possible.  The next best thing you can do is just attempt to pretend you do live in an RV.

Go down to a few RV dealers, and look around.  Sit in a 18foot class C and a 38foot class A.  Imagine what it will be like with animals, friends, or family visiting or living with you.  I am not talking about sitting there for 3 minutes and thinking.  I am talking about sending the salesmen out the door and saying you need about 15 to 30 minutes to just think about it.

Even if the unit you are not sitting in is the floorpan or model you want, you will still get a good idea of what the size will feel like.

I would not get caught up in size in terms of maintenance.  A small class B van and large 45 foot class A are more similar in maintenance, then they are different.  They all use the same generators, plumbing, hotwater heater, air-conditioning, and toilets.

Even the furniture is often times super similar.  OK, the $500,000 dollar plus RV has a flex-steel couch covered in Ostrich leather, and mine has some crappy fabric from who knows where, but it is still the same couch.

I would also suggest you not let fear of driving big sizes stop you.  I was recently thinking about to the first time I ever drove on the freeway.  55mph was terrifying!  After a few laps around the town, and after a few days, highway speeds were no longer an issue.

Same with RVs.  You will get used to it.

So what are some valid points to consider when choosing a big RV or a small RV?

  • Where will you park?  A large RV is usually pretty easy to park in an RV park or campground.  A large RV is very difficult to park in a neighborhood or city environment.  If you stay longer periods of time in a campground, you will really appreciate the extra space you will have for entertaining.  If want to camp for free, a smaller size really comes in handy for hiding your RV from police and nosey neighbors.
  • Will you have another car? Having a car you can tow makes it easy to park your RV and then explore the area with your car.  In a car parking and visiting places are never an issue.  If you are not going to bring a car, then having a smaller RV will be helpful.  Fitting easily into just 1 or 2 parking spaces really opens up where you can drive your home.
  • Full-time or Part-time?  If your RV is going to be your only home, you may need all the extra carrying capability.  If your RV is just used for short amounts of time, you may actually appreciate the benefits of the simple life you will have to accept to make a small RV work for you.
  • An Understanding of Yourself: Do you know in your heart you will never be able to get over your fear of driving a large vehicle?  Fess up.  We all have things in our lives we are not willing to work on or conquer.  If driving your car is scary, then don’t get a big RV!
  • Nesting or Adventure:  Do you plan on spending your evenings outside during $5 worth of firewood daily?  Do you imagine yourself  hanging out late night in bars and restraunts meeting people?  Having a van will be awesome.  It will force you to live outside and interact with people.  If on the other hand you think you much prefer hanging out in your house most evenings, a few extra feet of space will buy you a lot of peacefulness.

I hope this article was helpful if you are getting torn on what size RV you want.  The simple truth is you will often change your mind.  The real trick is to find what you can’t compromise on, and buy accordingly.

For us, we knew we needed 2 bedrooms.  38 feet because the only size RV we could choose, because it was the only RV we could find with a floorpan that worked with us.  If we didn’t get 2 bedrooms, we would not be able to live in an RV.  That meant that for us, everything else was flexible.

What is the perfect size RV for you?

This tiny classic VW camper van is easy to hide in any parking lot. #vanlife

This tiny classic VW camper van is easy to hide in any parking lot. #vanlife

Some mornings, our table is holding so much food we don't have a lot of table space left to use for our meals.

Some mornings, our table is holding so much food we don’t have a lot of table space left to use for our meals.

Pickup truck, motorcycles, and a huge living quarters - this guy take it all with him!

Pickup truck, motorcycles, and a huge living quarters – this guy take it all with him!

Summary
Article Name
What size RV should I purchase?
Description
Before you buy your first RV or camper, everyone starts getting concerned about size.
Brent Homer
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