Taking the Leap

As you know, last week we signed the papers on our new home. With the exception of the 350 horsepower diesel engine and the four six wheels on the pavement, it’s like any other home. A kitchen, bathroom, shower, bedroom, living room, breakfast nook, too many televisions, and…turn signals. Finding it however, wasn’t like shopping for any other home.

Trying to find the ideal place to commit mobile acts of fiction is a difficult quest. Maaike and I have spent the last year searching. After countless trips to local dealers, an RV trade show, and many an evening spent at the kitchen table browsing the RV Trader website, we felt certain we’d narrowed our search to a specific make, model, and year.

As tricky as the process was, some of the old wisdom applies just in new ways.

“Location, location, location” is somehow still relevant. We opened up our search nationwide but there are a few states you should approach with caution. Northern areas or places which receive a lot of snow also receive a lot of road treatment like salt which can accelerate deterioration and rust. Look for motor homes stored in drier climates if at all possible.

Of course, an RV in any climate can be poorly maintained. Like a house, it’s a good idea to pay a qualified inspector to examine your potential purchase. It helps to find one who is both a certified inspector and a mechanic familiar with diesel engines.

Sales tax and title are considerations as well and every state handles this differently. There’s even a cottage industry in Montana all about avoiding paying sales tax on an RV. Turns out if you establish a corporation in Montana, your corporation can buy the RV there and take advantage of the state’s lack of sales tax and lower registration fees.

For those familiar with buying real estate, one bit of advice might sound counter intuitive – never buy a new RV. Unlike fixed real estate, motor homes do nothing but depreciate in value and right off the factory floor often cost as much as a traditional house. Even one a few months old will have lost thousands in value just from being driven off the dealer’s lot. Very often you can find a great deal on a practically new motor home.

But so many RVs are bought and rarely used. After spending the better part of a year with our eye on a 2015 or newer Winnebago, our final purchase ended up being a 2008 Fleetwood Discovery.

Somewhere along the endless parade of layouts and slide outs, each one had started to blend. Often we could poke a head in, hit our mental checklist of deal breakers, and move on to the next candidate.

We wanted a bunk bed above the driver’s seat for when our son visited. We wanted a living room television in a place where we weren’t twisting our necks to see it. We wanted a stacked washer and dryer.

This time, we saw the deal breakers but couldn’t step back outside.

The Discovery had none of those options. What it did have was one of the most spacious layouts we’d seen. And it was immaculate, inside and out. With only 19,000 miles, even ten years old, it hadn’t seen much use.

We called an inspector and made an offer the same week.

Even though we went a completely different direction, I know all the research and the time spent looking informed our final decision. But if I’ve learned anything from being a writer, it’s that pursuing your dreams often requires you to take a leap of faith.

Go ahead. Take the first step. Where’s your next adventure taking you?

(Image courtesy sabrina’s stash used under (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/cloud10/436425696)

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