We did it! We finally chose the RV we will live in for our year on the road.
This is such a huge milestone for us. For months we’ve spent evenings side by side on the couch, engrossed in dueling laptop searches. We’ve watched video RV tours, scoured Craigslist and RVtrader.com, followed blogs, emailed inquiries. Just figuring out what kind of RV we wanted was a challenge. Class A or Class C? Diesel or gas? How long? Couch or dinette? Overcab bed?
We pinned down our must-haves:
- Under 30 feet (a requirement to get into national parks)
- Queen bed with dual access (we ruled out climbing over each other in the night)
- Outdoor shower (for dog washing)
- Gas oven (for cooking without electricity)
- Three-burner stovetop
- Swivel-around front seats
- LOTS of storage, inside and out
- At least one slide-out
- Slide windows (not crank; I like fresh air)
- Sleeps at least four (we are counting on guests)
Initially, we were drawn to the class C RVs, the ones that look like a van on steroids. They seemed less imposing and more comfortable to drive. But a friend who’s driven both insisted that the class As (bus-style) are easier to drive because of better visibility. She also pointed out how much more spacious they are inside for the same length. She directed us to the model a friend had recently bought and raved about its quality: the Itasca Sunstar 27N.
I watched a video tour of the coach and immediately emailed Kate at work, saying I’d fallen in love. (In retrospect, I could have handled that better.) But my love affair immediately turned into a ménage-a-trois. At only 28 feet (one of the shortest of the class A RVs), the thing had three slide-outs that made it feel cavernous. The storage was incredible: full bedroom wardrobe, large kitchen pantry, cabinets galore, and you could house a whole family in the exterior storage. We were sold. Except on the price. New ones were listed at $117,000. Even serious bargaining couldn’t bring that thing within our budget.
We searched for a used one, or last year’s model still new on a lot. But apparently this model is very hard to come by used, and the few used ones we saw were listed nearly as much as the new ones. So we let it go and focused on cheaper options. If you move away from the high-end brands (such as Winnebago or Itasca), you can get more for your money. Great floor plans and lots of extras. But after reading many owners’ accounts of lemons and repair nightmares, we decided we should stick with a quality brand with fewer headaches and higher resale value.
Weekend before last, we went up to an RV show in Portland, hoping to tour as many models as possible. And the only one that grabbed our hearts? You guessed it: the Itasca Sunstar 27N.
So we came full circle. In the end, we decided paying more for something that we truly love and feel like we can comfortably live in for a year is worth it. Because actually, it’s not about how much you pay for the RV, it’s about how much you get for the thing at the end of the year. Our true cost is the difference, and we think this one is a good investment.
Ultimately, we went with the same dealer our friends used up near Seattle (Roy Robinson), and we got a really good deal: $89,500. Although we’re eager to race up there and bring it home, we’re waiting until after Thanksgiving. It would just be too hard to stay focused on the things we need to do here in the house with that thing calling to us from the street. So we fly up to Seattle on December 5, and until then, we’re counting the days!