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Rig Life Times


W0GER

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I've been lurking on the forums for a little while. Lots of great information and contributors!

 

My original plan had been to move to full-time at age 60, over 10 years in the future, so plenty of time to plan; however there may be an opportunity for me to move this up to age 47 (starting next year)! One thing I'd like to get a better idea on is how long a NEW good quality Class A Motorhome (Newmar Dutch Star, Tiffen) will last (assuming good maintenance and care).

 

Under my original plan, I allocated that I would have a single rig for 15 years (from age 60 to age 75), then retire to a small condo. With the possibility of being able to live full-time for almost 30 years (from age 47 to 75), I don't think one rig would hold up that long, even under the best of conditions.

 

Knowing that these "properties" depreciate rather than appreciate, I was thinking it might be good to trade every 8 or 9 years, as trading prior to 10 years of age, the unit would still have good value and be easily financeable by the purchasers. But buying new 3 times (over the next 30 years) would be a lot of depreciation, not sure that I'll have the luxury ($$) of that.

 

So my questions:

  1. How long (years) to most full-timers keep their rigs before upgrading to a newer model?
  2. How long (years) do most rigs hold up (assuming good maintenance and care)?

 

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We bought our coach new and it's now 13 years old and looks and works great. Another friend that's next door to us right now is traveling in his 15 year old rig. I don't know if I would go 30 years on one coach, but two would do just fine. A well build DP will last for a long time and the chassis/drive train will outlast your needs. Buy something that's built well and take good care of it. The two coaches you mentioned are good choices and I would add Winnebago to the list.

 

Maybe consider buying a rig that's two or three years old so someone else takes the major depreciation hit and you get a good deal. If you do that you could buy a new used unit every 7-8 years and do just fine during your 30 years of traveling. Ideally you could pay cash for the units and selling a higher end DP at age 10 shouldn't be an issue. I know lots of folks that bought 10-15 year old high end DP's and love them. At that age the price would be low enough that someone could pay cash or get financing if they need it.

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We bought our coach new and it's now 13 years old and looks and works great. Another friend that's next door to us right now is traveling in his 15 year old rig. I don't know if I would go 30 years on one coach, but two would do just fine. A well build DP will last for a long time and the chassis/drive train will outlast your needs. Buy something that's built well and take good care of it. The two coaches you mentioned are good choices and I would add Winnebago to the list.

 

Maybe consider buying a rig that's two or three years old so someone else takes the major depreciation hit and you get a good deal. If you do that you could buy a new used unit every 7-8 years and do just fine during your 30 years of traveling. Ideally you could pay cash for the units and selling a higher end DP at age 10 shouldn't be an issue. I know lots of folks that bought 10-15 year old high end DP's and love them. At that age the price would be low enough that someone could pay cash or get financing if they need it.

 

X2 on the above. Welcome to the forum.

 

The only thing I would add is if you 'are' able to go at 47.. DO IT, but start slow. Maybe a year or 2 with several extended trips to get a feel for the life and check the 'fit'. I wouldn't sell off your home and just dive in (actually.. I wouldn't ever recommend selling real estate). It would also give you time to become completely familiarized with all the inter workings of an RV. You WILL have breakdowns and equipment failures on the road. Plan on it. If you're not able to diagnose and do DIY repairs it can be a very costly (aka, eat your budget alive) and frustrating experience.

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There is really no valid answer to your question. The vast majority of RVs are traded because the owner wishes to move up or down in size, or want a different floor-plan, or a host of other possible reasons. It may be that they choose to replace it as we did, not because it was worn out but because it had reached the point in time where appliances and such are starting to need to be replaced an because the time is coming for some of the more expensive maintenance needs. Most RV roof materials at some point need to be replaced or resurfaced in some way and that is both time consuming and costly, but it is still just normal maintenance, even though the age is effected by care it was given. A water heater tank will begin to lean in time, but how long depends upon the water quality that passes through it. A furnace will eventually need to be replaced due to burn out of the fire box, but the time depends upon the amount it is used so can't really be predicted. Batteries and tires are needed as a matter of course and can be very expensive, depending upon the number of them. Tires are usually considered to be aged out somewhere between 5 & 10 years of age.

 

If you look around, it is pretty easy to find restored or remodeled RVs that are well past 20 years of age, but most require some serious work to keep them in top condition for that many years. If you go high enough up the "food chain" you will find RVs that may last more than 30 years like Prevost or Newell, but even those require things like new carpets, new appliances, tires, batteries and all of the other things that simply wear out.

 

Given the brands of RV that you suggest, I'd see no reason to believe that you could not easily use one for 15 or more years but as you go past 20 years the number out there falls off pretty steeply. New versus used is a completely different issue. There are some who buy used and get a jewel, and others who get junk. Most of us need professional help to be sure of a sound RV that is used and even then that point when maintenance becomes too much for your preference will be reached much sooner. The idea of moving more often can work, but you need to realize that even that gets to be more of a chore with the passing years. One of the biggest deterrents for us to change RVs when on the road was the headache of moving from one to the other.

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Horizon36, Yarome, and Kirk -- Thanks for the excellent insight!

 

Thanks for the recommendation on Winnebago, I had previously looked at some of the Winnebago 40' motorhomes, but didn't like the floor plans as much as Dutch Star. However, I will add that to the list of motorhomes to test-drive before making a final decision.

 

For the next 10-15 years, I will still be working full-time (as a remote employee). My plan is to throw the dart at the map, take some time off from work and journey slowly to that destination checking-out sights along the way. Once I reach the destination I plan on being there for about a month or two. During this time, I will work during the week and explore on the weekends. Then the cycle starts over again. To ensure I have a place to land, I will have several destinations planned out in advance and tentative reservations made.

 

The opportunity that has presented itself includes selling the house, as I don't want to remain in Houston, TX. Back in my 30's, I lived in a 1,000 sqft loft that was completely open except for the bathroom -- there was no storage except for in the kitchen and bath, as such I never really acquired a bunch of stuff.

 

I am still struggling with the new vs used debate. As of now, I am currently leaning heavily towards a new coach so I know what maintenance has been done, how it has been driven/parked and cared for. Especially if I am going to live in it for 15 years. On the other hand, buying used does have several advantages - less depreciation, bugs worked out, etc.

 

I've always taken good care of my real estate properties and vehicles. Applying the same logic as Kirk presents, the only time I changed vehicles is when I wanted something different, so it makes sense that same logic would apply to the motorhome. I fully expect, just as any other mechanical equipment, that there will be failures; but in my experience I usually catch some glimpse of an early warning so the failure is not a complete surprise.

 

Based on my initial budget (including MH maintenance), it appears that full-timing would be significantly less expensive than moving and buying a new house for 10-15 years before launching into the full-time lifestyle. By going fulltime next year instead I will miss out on some real estate appreciation but that doesn't make up for the amount that I can save by living fulltime in a MH. So I don't have any apprehension of diving in.

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On the other hand, buying used does have several advantages - less depreciation, bugs worked out, etc.

Unless the reason it was sold was an inability to work out the bugs. And now it is out of warranty so you are on the hook for whatever it needs which could cost more than the depreciation. I prefer to buy new so I know what bugs needed to be worked out and how well that was done. And any deep dirt in the rig is my own--I never have to wonder what went down that toilet before I owned it like someone who found their blockage was caused by something a previous owner dropped. As always, YMMV.

 

Linda Sand

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I prefer to buy new so I know what bugs needed to be worked out and how well that was done.

That was pretty much how we thought also. In my opinion, depreciation is very overstated by those who advocate used. Now I do admit to somewhat limited knowledge and am no expert, but we have now owned six RVs over more than 35 years, 3 new & 3 used, It is true that depreciation dogo down over the years in amount as it typically runs about 10% if the current value, The only reason the first year numbers run so high is that they are based upon MSRP which almost nobody pays, The real depreciation has to be baisced upon the actual price paid for the RV, which very few people disclose, if they even know accurately the numbers, Sales folks are very skilled at manipulation of those numbers and if there is a trade-in involved it can be very difficult to pin down. What I can tell you is that using NADA after one year our motorhome lost 11% the first year compared to purchase price. I tracked it for the first 4 years in that way and the average was 8.73%/year. If you take the price if our coach when new and subtract the price we received when we sold it after 14 1/2 years (15 model years) figures out to have averaged just 5.5% of of the original sale price year, While deprecation is not linear, the effect of it is. Real depreciation is the difference between the used value last year and the used value this year but the effect is the difference between what you pay and what you get when sold, divided by the number of years you owned the RV, That first year the numbers are larger as it is about 10% of a larger number, but unless you plan to sell the RV, there is no financial effect at all.

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Welcome, Roger. We're fulltiming in a 1993 Foretravel. There are people fulltiming in older coaches, too. The first key, as you have figured out, is to start with a high quality coach. The second key is maintenance.

 

New vs used is always a point of discussion. The general advice is that you should buy the first few coaches used, since you will be trading them fairly soon. The argument is that most people don't get it quite right the first time or two (or three) so they don't have as much invested each time, and each time they get closer to what they want/need.

 

We have some friends who bought a popular brand of DP brand-new for their full-time adventures. Less than a year later they traded it even-up for a 10-year-old Foretravel because they could see that their popular coach wouldn't stand up to full-time use. Look carefully at construction details (drawers, cabinets, etc.)

 

Now, what's your plan for downsizing? That can take a year or so, since you really have to look at every single item and decide whether it is something that you have to take with you, whether it should go to a family member, whether it should be donated to someone/someplace, whether it should be sold (auction or yard sale), or whether it should just go into the burn pile.

 

During that time you can research coaches. Why are you looking at motor homes? Don't get me wrong - it sounds like that would be a good choice for you, but have you considered travel trailers or fifth wheels? Do you want/need slides? If so, how many? Join the owners forums for every brand you are considering. Ask questions there about the suitability of the various coaches for your needs. Get used to the idea that you will be towing something. If you go with a MH you will tow another vehicle for your daily driver. Check http://www.remcoindustries.com/Towing/Store.php to see if your current vehicle can be towed (assuming that you want to keep it if it is). If you go with a TT or 5'er you will need a truck. If you want/need one anyway that would be a logical way to go.

 

A DP can usually tow quite a bit, but do pay attention to the numbers for the hitch.

 

Enjoy the research, and don't let a sales person rush you into buying something. Check out http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/ to get an idea of what fairly new coaches are selling for.

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Hello everybody,

 

This matter interest us a lot, but we're planning on a 5thWheel, not a motorhome.

 

Our idea is to buy a new diesel Class 3 pickup truck (because we checked and saw that the depreciation is much smaller, ditto the "bugs-to-be-worked-out" issue), and a 5-to-10 years-old 28-33ft 5thWheel.

 

We plan on keeping the truck for as long as it will last (10-15 years, we believe) but to trade the 5er after 4-5 years for a model more adapted to our needs (which we think we will only be sure about after a few years of living in one).

 

Can you folks see any holes in this plan? What brands of 5thWheels and pickup trucks would be reliable/durable enough for this to work?

 

Cheers,

--

Vall & Mo.

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Can you folks see any holes in this plan? What brands of 5thWheels and pickup trucks would be reliable/durable enough for this to work?

No plan is really right or wrong, since the entire success depends upon who is carrying it out. Your reason for the fiver choice is really at question, if that it really the only reason. While quality control is weak in the RV industry, to say that one type of RV is less problem than another is only some people's impression while it very easy to find others who believe the exact opposite. What works best for any given couple is more a matter of the personalities and priorities of those occupying the RV than anything else. The perfect RV,(class A, class B, class C, fifth wheel, travel trailer, etc.) is totally in the mind of the owners. There are some RV manufacturers who have a better track record of quality control than others, but there is not one manufacturer who is so good that they have never had an unhappy owner and neither are there any RV manufacturers so bad that they have no satisfied customers. When it comes to used RVs that 10 to 15 years old, brand name means very little, other than the fact that some brands are seldom found to still be serviceable by that age. In any RV which is that old, condition and maintenance history is everything.

 

Neglect and abuse will destroy even the best RV in that many years while superior care and maintenance will actually improve the lower quality ones over time.

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What I did was buy the materials from the RVCG and follow his advice on buying a rig. Their advice was to get a high quality rig 5-7 years old as the the best bang for the buck. That is exactly what we did. We shopped for months trying to find the best coach for us. We only looked at coaches that were rated high quality construction and excellent handling. We bought a 6 1/2 year old coach for less than 30% of the new price. And that is less than 30% of the paid new price not the list new price. The dings in our purchase were 1. It was driven mostly to NASCAR races by a private party and had 85,000 miles on it. 2. The previous owner was a nincompoop.

 

Only #2 has mattered. I had to fix a lot of things. #1 has been no big deal at all as I can't think of anything that has worn out due to the miles.

 

Our coach is now 13 years old and is in beautiful condition. The paint looks great. It drives easily and is very quiet going down the road. It came with a big motor and goes up big hills effortlessly. A few months ago one of my friends who had a 6 month old Tiffin was parked next to me. He said to me, "Why does your 2002 coach look better than my 2014 Tiffin"? It's because my coach is a number of layers of hand rubbed clear coat and his does not. My coach has Sikkins yacht paint on it and his does not. Our coach came with the highest quality of materials throughout and very well made stuff last a long long time.

 

And that is what we did. We have no intention of trading in on another coach any time soon. Why? The only one I would not mind having is a Prevost.

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Now, what's your plan for downsizing? That can take a year or so, since you really have to look at every single item and decide whether it is something that you have to take with you, whether it should go to a family member, whether it should be donated to someone/someplace, whether it should be sold (auction or yard sale), or whether it should just go into the burn pile.

 

 

David,

 

I don't have a lot of stuff. All of the large stuff (furniture) will go to family members. Over the past 5 years I have had a series of work moves (Denver -> Seattle -> Denver -> Houston -> Spring, TX), with each move there was a lot of downsizing and donating old stuff to various organizations. Over the next several months there will be another round of looking at stuff and figuring out what can be sold, donated, or pitched.

 

Roger

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Bob & Barbara

2002 Affinity 42' tag

2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

2012 Airdale Terrier

 

 

Bob and Barbara -

 

Your setup looks close to what mine eventually will be:

20xx Dutch Star (maybe)

2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

20xx Airdate Terrier

 

How does the terrier like the travelling?

 

Roger

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Roger,

 

Our Airedale likes to travel by RV a lot. So did our previous Airedale. Neither have ever caused us problems like chewing on furniture or such. We have left Frazier as long as six hours in the motorhome when we went to a wedding. No problems. Of course we try to take him with us when we leave the RV as much as possible.

 

Bob

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  • 2 weeks later...

My full-time house is a 1975 Winnebago Brave class A. That was their cheap model that year.With proper care a rig can last indefinitely. My original dodge 440 is still running strong. I have modenized all the on board systems. But the core rig is still the same. If I was you I would buy a Winnebago and keep up the maintenance and drive it forever.

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