Switching to full-time RV living is a significant lifestyle change, and there is a lot you need to think over and consider. One of the first steps you need to take is to choose an RV to live in.
This is the topic we would like to touch upon today. In particular, we are going to introduce you to 5 brands that we think are the best for full-time RV living. And to help you a little with choosing an RV from them, we have prepared a little buyer’s guide for you.
Let’s now have a look at those 5 brands!
5 best RV brands for full-time living with examples
Up first on our list is Jayco, quite a popular RV brand. Jayco RVs aren’t really budget-oriented, but what you can find with them is a wide selection of RVs to choose from.
Where the Jayco catalog especially shines is towable RVs, including campers, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and toy haulers. With 20 towable RV models ranging from 1,500 to 10,000 pounds and from 13 to 42 feet, Jayco does have plenty of recreational vehicles to choose from.
Jayco also offers over 10 motorhomes, all of which differ from each other in terms of price and features quite a bit. You again have a good number of options here, but there are manufacturers out there that offer a better assortment of motorhomes.
All in all, offering a little bit of everything, Jayco is a good place to start your search at.
Notable Jayco RVs:
- Jayco Jay Flight Bungalow destination trailer.
- Jayco 2020 Embark class A motorhome.
- Jayco North Point fifth wheel trailer.
Airstream is a very unique and perhaps even a controversial brand. The reason for this is the feature richness and luxury delivered with each Airstream RV. As a result, Airstream recreational vehicles are much pricier than their analogs from other manufacturers.
The cheapest Airstream travel trailer – the 16 feet 3 inches long Basecamp – has an MSRP close to $40,000, which is actually the price of many higher-end RVs. And the priciest model – the 31 feet 3 inches long Classic – costs over $150,000, which is the price of a mid-to-high-end motorhome, depending on the class.
Airstream also offers class B motorhomes, with the cheapest model priced around the same as the Classic travel trailer and the priciest model priced over $220,000.
Needless to say, the average buyer is unlikely to be able to pay such money. Furthermore, they may just consider Airstream crazy and go on with their research.
However, one thing offered by Airstream RVs that is absent from the RVs of many other manufacturers is luxury embodied in material choice, design, and amenities. You can definitely get similar functionality from a much cheaper RV, but a cheaper RV won’t be able to offer the vibe and comfort of Airstream RVs.
Most people will avoid Airstream, though they may still geek over the things that they offer. But those who have the money and who highly value luxury and comfort will probably consider buying an Airstream RV.
Notable Airstream RVs:
- Classic travel trailer.
- Globetrotter travel trailer.
- International Serenity travel trailer.
- Atlas touring coach.
- Interstate Lounge EXT touring coach.
Winnebago is similar to Jayco – it offers a little bit of everything. However, this manufacturer’s focus is shifted more towards motorhomes, unlike Jayco which had a richer selection of towable RVs.
All in all, Winnebago offers well over 20 motorhomes, most of them being class A and C motorhomes. They also have a few class B motorhomes, but the focused on bigger motorhomes types more. At least, at the moment of this post’s writing.
Remarkably, Winnebago also offers special kinds of motorhomes with enhanced accessibility. These motorhomes are designed to make access to the motorhome more convenient for individuals with disabilities.
Winnebago has a few towable RVs as well. While they are all great, you aren’t provided with as much variety as with some other RV brands. Thus, we think that Winnebago is a good option for those who want to live full-time in a motorhome.
Notable Winnebago RVs:
- Horizon class A diesel motorhome.
- Sightseer class A gas motorhome.
- Boldt class B motorhome.
- View class C motorhome.
- Minnie Plus travel trailer.
Winnebago was good with motorhomes, but Thor Motor Coach may be even better. Not only do they offer more options for you to consider, but they also boast a couple of unique motorhome designs.
With Thor Motor Coach, you have a plethora of class A, B+ (a mix of class C and B), and C motorhomes to choose from, with either diesel or gasoline engines. Aside from that, you get a few options of recreational utility vehicles – or RUVs, as Thor calls them – which basically combine the driving experience of an SUV with the visibility of an RV.
Aside from that, Thor Motor Coach offers motorhomes with garages, i.e. toy hauler motorhomes.
Thor really seems to be up for some unseen of and crazy stuff. However, what they make is functional, and if you happen to have very specific needs, Thor Motor Coach may have the solution for you.
Notable Thor Motor Coach Motorhomes:
- Vegas RUV.
- Tuscany diesel class A motorhome.
- Four Winds class C motorhome.
- Outlaw class A toy hauler.
Lastly, we have Forest River. This RV brand, just like Winnebago and Jayco, offers a variety of RV types. However, their towable RV assortment is particularly notable.
From the 90 RV models offered, only 16 are motorhomes. The rest are towable RVs of various kinds – primarily, travel trailers, but there is also a very good number of campers and toy haulers to choose from.
Particularly notable are Forest River’s destination travel trailers. The 6 models available are specifically aimed at delivering comfort for long journeys. For full-time living, a destination trailer is one of the best options out there, albeit pricey.
Forest River isn’t the only manufacturer to offer destination trailers, but their selection is one of the best, if not the best out there. Aside from that, you have many, many other travel trailer models to choose from.
Notable Forest River RVs:
- Cherokee Destination trailer.
- Cherokee travel trailers and toy haulers.
- Flagstaff Classic travel trailer.
Does the RV brand matter?
Above were the 5 RV brands that we consider the best for full-time living, but does the brand really matter?
Well, it does matter, but not in the sense that all the RVs from a certain brand are great for full-time living. Rather, the brand matters when it comes to consistency of quality across models, as well as the catalog of RV offered.
First of all, we’ve specifically picked RV brands that offer a good variety when it comes to RV living. In fact, we’ve gone for brands that offer a little bit of everything, as well as brands that are more focused on some RV type. All so that readers have a little more variety to choose from.
Aside from that, as we mentioned above, brands matter when it comes to quality. You may have never held an Apple device in your hands, but you are likely aware of the brand and the quality that Apple devices offer. And if you are currently a satisfied owner of an Apple smartphone, you are more likely to again opt for Apple rather than any other brand in the future.
This is why brands are important. However, when things come down to specifics, brands play a secondary role. What starts to matter much more is the features of an individual RV.
What matters in an RV for full-time living?
While some RV brands may have a wider and better selection of RVs for full-time living than others, it doesn’t mean that you should blindly pick an RV from them. Sure, any RV could be used for full-time living, but some RVs are much more suited for that than others.
What a particular RV model from that brand offers is much more important. And so that you make an optimal choice, we would like to dive deeper into the features that you should look in an RV for full-time living regardless of the brand.
What’s the perfect RV for full-time living?
Let’s first try to understand what would be a perfect RV for full-time living.
In our view, a perfect RV for full-time living is one that is self-contained. What we mean by that is that the RV doesn’t rely on any facilities outside. No matter where you are, a perfect RV shouldn’t limit you in anything.
Now, in reality, the perfect RV for everyone is going to be different, depending on how and where people are going to park their RV. If living at RV campgrounds, then you could sacrifice some amenities in your RV and instead rely on the facilities provided by a campground.
But for those intending to go full nomad, we think that a fully self-contained RV is the best bet. Such an RV is going to cost more, but it won’t make you dependent on any exterior facilities.
Now that we’ve got this out of the way, let’s focus on the things that one should pay attention when looking for an RV to live full-time in.
First come RV types. You probably know about the different RV classes, so we aren’t going to describe what they are. Instead, we will focus on the full-time living aspect associated with RV types.
Does it really matter which RV type to choose for full-time living? No, it doesn’t. Motorhomes and towable RVs offer comparable levels of comfort. Instead of focusing on an RV type, you should focus on your driving preferences, your budget, and what you are overall expecting from an RV.
If you have a car and aren’t intending to sell it, then it would make more sense for you to get a towable RV. You aren’t going to leave your car somewhere at the disposal of fate, right? Towing an RV comes with its own difficulties, but if you don’t want to separate from your car, then you will need to go for a towable RV.
But if you are going to sell your car, or don’t have a car and aren’t planning to buy one, then a motorhome obviously is going to be the right option. If you have the money and need maximum comfort, then a class A motorhome would be your go-to RV. But if you are on a budget, you would need to choose a cheaper class B or C motorhome.
There’s one another thing that you need to consider with RVs, that being its weight. The thing is that in some states, you need to hold a special license in order to operate an RV. We have dedicated another post to this issue, so check it out if you haven’t yet.
Things to look for in an RV for full-time living
The living room is the place where you will probably be spending most of your time. Thus, it is arguably the most important area in your RV. It’s a place where you will not only spend your free time in watching TV but also the place where you will probably be working.
Your working spot
Living full-time in an RV, you have to earn money somehow, right? Whether you are a freelancer or have a business of your own, you want to have a working place in your RV.
Mostly, people set up their working corners in the living room of their RVs. Some people go ahead and remodel their RV’s living room to make it a perfect working office, while others use whatever conveniences the RV has out of the lot.
Look around the living room of the desired RV. Does it have the amenities that would allow for a comfortable working experience? If not, can you somehow remodel the RV in order to make a working area for you?
For example, if there is enough free room in the RV, you could just bring your own working table in. if not, then you would need to look for opportunities for freeing up some space for your working corner.
Some people don’t need dinettes and simply replace them with a working table, but you could get rid of anything that you think you won’t need. It could be the RV’s dinette, its entertainment center, its tri-fold sofa, or anything else that you don’t seem too necessary for you.
Once done with your working area, you may consider other things that are related to resting and spending quality time. If you want to have an entertainment area in your RV, make sure that the RV comes with one. If you want a dinette, again look for an RV that has it.
Even if an RV doesn’t have the amenities that you need, remember that you could remodel it to make it suitable for your needs, given that you have the time and money for it.
We think that the bathroom is the second most important thing to look for in an RV for full-time living. You can live in an RV without a bathroom, but you would be dependent on exterior facilities, or you would need to relieve out in the wild. If this doesn’t sound like a good idea to you, then select an RV that comes with a full bathroom.
A full bathroom should include everything that a residential bathroom would have – a shower, a toilet, a sink, and some storage space.
Fortunately, many modern RVs come with full bathrooms, so you should have no problems with this. However, bathroom comfort is going to significantly differ from RV to RV, which is a thing that you need to keep in mind.
Some RVs come with very cramped bathrooms with wet baths that combine a shower and a toilet. Others boast residential-style bathrooms that offer a level of comfort that you would only expect at home. Needless to say, if you want a comfortable bathroom, you would need to go for a bigger and pricier RV.
You should also pay special attention to the toilet. RVs usually come with plastic cassette toilets. These do their job, but they aren’t nearly as durable and comfortable as real porcelain toilets. The good thing here is that you may actually be able to replace your plastic toilet with a porcelain one.
Having looked through hundreds of RVs, you may have noticed that the bedroom amenities are awfully similar in them. There aren’t many things to consider in RV bedrooms, but some minor features nonetheless should be kept in mind.
First is the number of sleeping spots available in an RV. Obviously, you’d want to have as many sleeping spots as family members.
Then comes the comfort level of the bedroom, which is mainly determined by the size of beds, as well as the amount of free room available in the bedroom. Cabinets, shelves, and storage area in general also play an important role in an RV. Pick whichever RV satisfies you in this regard.
The kitchen arguably is of less importance than the living room and the bathroom for full-time living. But this again is going to depend on how you are intending to manage your food preparation.
If you are going to fully rely on eating out (which most people don’t do), then it doesn’t matter what kind of a kitchen your RV has. Furthermore, kitchen amenities may be a good place for you to save some money in.
Otherwise, if you are intending to prepare your own food, then you should choose an RV with kitchen amenities that are similar to what you have at home. This is going to allow you not to sacrifice any food preparation and storage convenience. If you feel like it, you may also go for an RV that has a better kitchen than the one that you have at home.
Once you are done with everything else, consider the overall level of comfort that you are expecting from your RV.
Generally, comfort in RVs is directly connected to its size – the larger the RV, the more interior room it has and the more comfortable it will be. Simply put, if you want comfort, go for a big RV. However, you also need to consider the downsides that come with large RVs:
- Expensiveness. Large RVs are obviously going to cost more, so you would need to first and foremost consider your budget when choosing RV size.
- Comfort of operation. More compact RVs are easier to maneuver and operate.
- Weight. Needless to say, larger RVs weigh more. With towable RVs, you would need to make sure that your car has sufficient towing capacity. Plus, with any RV type, you may want to make sure to stay on the lighter side in order to avoid the need of getting a special driver’s license.
Aside from size, slideouts can also improve the amount of free room and comfort offered by the RV. Retracted when driving, they don’t pose inconvenience in terms of space. But when engaged, the slideouts provide you with more room in your RV than you might have expected from its size.
However, slideouts come with a downside – they require occasional maintenance, which you will need to keep in mind.
Believe it or not, but choosing and then buying an RV for full-time living is actually not the most difficult thing to do in preparation for an RV lifestyle. There are many things to keep in mind with full-time RV living like budgeting, earning money on the go, taking care of the RV while on the road, and not only.
The RV lifestyle is drastically different from what you are used to, so as someone who thinks about selling all their stuff to buy an RV for full-time living, you are probably feeling very anxious. This is completely alright, but you nonetheless should deeply think over your idea.
Don’t just rush to sell your home and buy an RV – there is a lot of planning to do. Aside from that, before you sell or buy anything, you need to make sure that you will be able to maintain an RV lifestyle.
Be meticulous about the RV you choose since it will become a companion of yours for a long time. But don’t neglect other things we mentioned above and do in-depth research to understand whether you really want to change your lifestyle. And if you do, research would allow you to properly prepare for the new life.