One of the most challenging issues for many who are new to RV's or who are preparing to become fulltimers is the choice of an RV that will be right for them. Most RV owners are ready and willing to give you an opinion and most of them are going to tell you that what they have chosen is the best possible choice. While that is a good thing for them, all too often we fail to realize that the RV we find so perfect is not a good fit for everyone. I have come to believe that we who have years of experience in RV travel are both the very best advisers, and the worst ones. The reason for this is the fact that when we find our perfect RV we too often seem to believe that everyone should choose the same type of RV as we did. For that reason I do advocate that you listen to the owners of each type of RV, keeping in mind that they will be biased and so give equal weight to the advice of those with differing opnions.
The particular type of RV is probably the first thing that a prospective buyer should make up his mind about. There is no set way to approach this but I will try and point you in the proper direction. Probably the most important factors in the choice of an RV type will be the way that you will use it, the size of your budget, the number of people who will be in the RV and your own lifestyle. One factor that is often ignored by those who offer advice on RV purchases is the size of the occupants. The simple fact is that large people will need a larger RV in order to be comfortable. If you are extremely tall, the ceiling height can be critical to comfortable living. There are only a few manufacturers who allow for the tallest of people so check that factor very early in the search. If either or both of you are very heavy, that can be just as difficult to deal with. In general, motor-homes are not a good choice for couples of great girth, because they always have at least some narrow passage points.
If you happen to be folks with a young and growing family on a limited budget, I am a firm believer that the pop-up can be the very best choice of all. We raised three boys traveling in one and we consider that to have been one of our best RV purchases. With a pop-up you have the ability to tow with most smaller vehicles which can not deal with the weight of most modern RV's. They cost far less to buy, they store easily and they are not difficult to set up. We have even met one couple who have been fulltimers for more than three years in a pop-up. The point of this is that you should not overlook any type of RV on the market in your search. Another RV which should not be overlooked is the hybrid. These clever trailers are a small travel trailer that has beds which pull out with canvass sides and top to use all interior space for living. In addition they weigh much less than a typical RV of similar living space and the are easier to tow. Both of these RVs are not commonly used for full-time RV living but can be a wonderful choice for the vacation traveler with a limited budget. These are also RV's which can be towed into more difficult RV sites to reach, such as the national forest sites and even to a hunting camp. Most of us would not be willing to take our expensive rolling homes into places where these can easily go. If you plan to travel far into the back country over less than ideal roads, these are good RV's to consider.
As we start to think of living for extended periods in our RV and perhaps retirement living, most of us want more of the finer things in life and few of us want to even consider an RV that has no shower and toilet on board. That is probably the case for most of my readers so we will now consider just what is needed for living full-time or snow-birding. For either of those you will want more comfort, room to do the hobbies and activities that keep you busy when weather is bad as well as all of the tasks of day to day living. Another thing to consider for a couple is what you do when one is ill and the other is not, and also issues of privacy for those times that you just want to be alone. These are factors which can be very important when even the largest RV home is less than 400 square feet.
Storage space is always important to consider, especially for extended travel or full-time living. If the RV is to be your only home, you will need to have the room to carry all of your possessions. Part of the key to making this transition is being able to part with some of your things and to leave behind the things which you want, but do not actually need or use. No RV has enough storage to carry everything which you probably had in your house and garage. Large storage spaces and the weight capacity to carry what you store in them is important, but we have also found that accessibility to the storage space is just as important. My experience is that things which you can not see in their storage space will seldom be used and often will be forgotten. When you look at storage space, consider what you will store in it and how will you gain access to it for use. The frequency of use of and weight distribution are also important. Avoid having everything that is heavy on the same side.
Consider how you wish to travel to the store and to visit attractions as you look at RVs as well. Most motor-home owners tow a vehicle of some kind while those with larger trailers must have some type of large tow vehicle. If you are not willing to drive a heavy truck to the grocery store, it may be that you be happier with a motor-home and towing a small car. Living space is greatest for the size of RV in a fifth wheel trailer, but they always have steps to climb, usually to the bedroom. The travel trailer has the advantage of a flat floor and good living space, but it also is the most difficult to maneuver into tight locations and usually will have less storage than a fifth wheel or motor-home. A class C motor-home is less intimidating to drive than an A but it will have less storage and usually less living space for the size.
There are many theories about what type of person prefers the different types of RV, but in my experience, most such theories have little truth in them. I believe that the main reason that one person loves a class A, another a fifth wheel and yet another a travel trailer or class C is mostly in the different personalities. There are priorities of what is most important to each person as well. A motor-home will be at a comfortable temperature as you arrive at your destination while any type of trailer will need to cool or heat. A trailer has more living space but less outside storage, or less accessible storage. the class C has a cab which can't be easily used as part of the home, but it also has better entrance and exit for the occupants while traveling.
As you begin your search, start by eliminating the types of RV which just will not do for your use. Most of us can pretty pretty easily eliminate the majority of types of RV. If you are going full-time, there will probably only be four to consider, the A & C motor-homes, travel trailers and fifth wheels. As you look at the choices, spend long periods in each one visualizing just how you will use it, where you will be when you work at your hobbies, when it is raining all day, when one of you does not feel well, and all of the other things which life brings. Walk around and study each cabinet and storage space, thinking of what will be in them and how you will use it. Check out the bath room carefully. If you are not comfortable in it, you will not be happy for long with the RV. Sit on the stool, pantomime the actions of brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and everything else that you do regularly in your bathroom. Do that same thing in the kitchen. These two spaces seem to be short changed in many an RV, yet they are critical to long term happyness with one.
As you spend time in the different RV's, you will begin to find that one particular type seems to draw your interest more than the others. Alow that to happen and put your emphasis into that group. If you take long enough there will come a time when one just begins to seem right. When that happens, you have found the proper type of RV for you. Once it has happened, realize that you have found what is best for you and just smile smugly when the owners of other "perfect" RV's begin to tell you why you should have chosen what they like. Remember that the only people who need to agree with your choice are those who plan to live with you.