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It’s hard to believe it’s been a YEAR since we bought our coach “Rocky”. One of our subscribers emailed to ask how we’d gone about finding our coach and if we’d physically seen it before buying. GREAT question, which reminded me of a blog post Marc wrote a year ago but I never published! So here it is…Marc’s recount of our purchasing experience – complete with the excitable energy that comes with such a big, life-changing decision! We hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane as much as we did.
The backstory – how we found our “ideal home on wheels”
After several months of intensive research and traipsing through a hundred or more RVs of all different brands, types, shapes and sizes, by late January 2014, we had narrowed down to the exact coach we wanted to buy – a 2012 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 35QBA (bunkhouse) in Rocky Mountain Brown (hence the name “Rocky”) with 7000 Watt generator, ivory leather furnishings, English Chestnut cabinetry, driver’s door, central vacuum, upgraded mattress, surround sound, extended warranty – all in our price range of under $100K. Yes, we were THAT specific and YES our coach has got it all. It really does pay to be very clear in what you want and create a vision board to make it a reality!
We found one that fit the bill perfectly via RVTrader.com being sold by a private party in Delaware, Ohio. Funnily enough, we’d seen that exact coach on RVTrader in December 2013 and although it caught our eye, we weren’t yet ready to pull the trigger. Our target timeframe was May 2014 and at that time, we hadn’t even narrowed down our choice of coach to a Tiffin. We initially were seriously considering a 2013-2014 Winnebago Sightseer 33C, but at around $115K (after negotiating HARD down from the MSRP of about $146K) it was ultimately more than we wanted to spend. Taxes and first year of registration are much higher on a brand new coach, so total cost can be much higher than anticipated.
We were happy to see “our coach” was re-listed on RVTrader.com in February, after being absent for a few months. This time we called the owner, Manuel, to discuss. It turns out he’d simply taken the coach off the market for the winter so he didn’t have to take it out of storage on cold, snowy days. Although we had a positive conversation and we were VERY interested, February was still just a bit too soon for us to make our move, and so we were straight forward with Manuel about that. We figured if it was “meant to be”, it would still be waiting for us when the time was right. In early April, we decided to sell our townhome instead of renting it out as we wanted to feel completely free during our travels. We knew our home would sell quickly which would enable us to buy the coach in May as planned. We called Manuel once again – he still had the coach but there was another fellow who had planned to go look at it on Easter Monday. We made a fast decision to have Marc fly into Delaware, Ohio on the Saturday prior to inspect and drive the coach. If it was all that we expected it to be, he would make an offer and put down a deposit. Suddenly, things were moving super fast – we were both excited and nervous at the same time!
Marc’s recount of “the big day” – written one year ago
What an exciting day! I just jumped on a plane back to Denver after a very exciting 16 hours in Ohio. Flew in last night, arriving at my hotel at around 1:00am, woke and drove out to meet the current owners of what Julie and I hoped would be our new home on wheels.
When I arrived at the storage unit, the owners – Manuel and Elizabeth – had already pulled the beautiful 2012 Tiffin 35QBA motorhome out, all shiny and looking like new, in Rocky Mountain Brown. After introductions, we started with a quick tour of the basement storage compartments and other mechanical systems. It was already evident that this rig was well cared for during her time with them. The paint shone and seeing that they had tire covers for a rig that is mostly stored indoors was a great sign. We stepped inside and the interior looked like new as well. Manuel and Elizabeth continued the tour, sharing many of the little tips and tricks they have learned that make living in an RV easier and more comfortable. Even though Julie and I had done extensive research about RVs in general and this model specifically, there were still many features and things to learn that dealers, blogs, and other private sellers hadn’t shared, which was very useful.
We had reviewed the coach photos and descriptions online but there is definitely a special feeling that happens when you realize you are in the physical presence of your potential new home. She (for some reason, our coach has always felt like a “she”) is optioned exactly how we would have done if we were buying new – and almost exactly as we had placed pictures on our dream vision board. Rocky Mountain Brown – with full ivory leather interior, English chestnut cabinets, central vacuum, the driver’s door, the big 7000 watt generator, upgraded mattress, surrounded sound – and yes, even an extended warranty! The coach had just the right amount of use for the previous owners to work out all the bugs that ALL new RVs have, but not so much as to show wear and tear. All the cabinet latches were tight and the rig felt very solid. A testament to Tiffin quality and one of the reasons we chose this coach.
After learning more about the RV, her owners and the times they spent together, we went for a short drive to get a feel for things on the road. I was very pleased that everything felt very solid, with no rattling or wind noise like I had experienced in other coaches (even new ones). As expected, being a gas coach, the RV “floats” a bit compared to what we normally drive (a Mini Cooper S) but it felt good on the road.
Ironically, at the exact time I was inspecting the coach, Julie was at a local Tiffin dealer looking at another one in Colorado. We had visited this local dealership several times over the previous 7 months and the sales guy Jerry knew we were seriously looking, but had advised trade-ins on the model we were seeking were rare. Strangely enough, one happened to come in the very same weekend I flew to Ohio, so Julie went along to check it out and see if it was going to meet our needs. As it turned out, the coach in Colorado was a 2011 (not a 2012) which meant the stovetop was not flush mounted, thus reducing kitchen countertop space – something that was high value for Julie. In addition, the color was not our first choice, and importantly, the condition of the 2011 coach just wasn’t as good as the 2012. So even though it would have eradicated the need for 2 airfares and a 3 day drive, we mutually opted to pass on the Colorado coach and proceed with the 2012. Interestingly, the Colorado dealer wasn’t very negotiable on price (it was more expensive than the 2012 in Ohio) until we told him we weren’t going to buy it. All of a sudden, he was able to reduce the price quite substantially, but by then, our hearts were set on the 2012 Rocky Mountain Brown coach. Besides, we’d recently earned a couple of free flight coupons from United (coincidence?) which would cover our airfares from Denver, CO to Columbus, OH and the idea of a little interstate adventure and road trip were quite appealing. Yep, we were more clear than ever that this was the right coach for us.
During our conversations, I could tell it was tough for Manuel and Elizabeth to be letting their RV go. In previous conversations, they had mentioned they planned on full timing for many years, but the ailing health of Elizabeth’s mom meant they had to spend more time closer to home.
Sometimes life throws you curveballs and your best laid plans need to be modified.
That is actually one of the reasons why we wanted to set off on this adventure soon rather than later – while we are young and have an opportunity like this presenting itself. You just never know what the future will hold.
Happily, we were able to agree on a price and seal a deal on the transfer of ownership. I left a cash deposit with Manuel who wrote me a receipt and we made a plan to return the following month to complete the transaction. I couldn’t have been happier! Seven months of research and solid shopping to narrow down to what we believed to be the perfect coach brought us to this moment. We sure hoped we were right LOL.
Purchasing from such a warm and wonderful couple who have clearly taken such great care of the coach made the experience so much better and gave us much confidence in our decision. Now we just needed to finalize the details in the coming weeks and return with Julie to drive our new home back to Colorado and start packing up for our adventure! Finally, it was all happening! It can feel kind of surreal when your plans turn into action and then a reality – all in a good way, though. Thank you Manuel and Elizabeth. We are honored to have as a part of our journey and we look forward to sharing our adventure with you.
One year later
After living, working and traveling full-time in our coach, we’re back in Colorado for a couple of months and it’s amazing to think it’s been a whole year since we sold our home, bought the coach and hit the road to live as full-time RVers. We can still vividly remember our feelings of nervousness, coupled with anticipation while wondering “are we doing the right thing?” Of course, that’s a natural way to feel with any major decision. But the fact that everything seemed to fall into place so smoothly – from selling our house on the first day to having “our coach” still be available at the time we were ready to make our move – all seemed to feel very serendipitous and confirm we were on the right track.
As for whether or not we were right? Yes, we can say without reservation ABSOLUTELY. While we believe we would have also been happy with the Winnebago we almost bought (thank goodness it was priced higher than we really wanted to spend) we can’t imagine it would have worked as well for us in a couple of key areas, namely:
- Office space – in the Winnebago, Marc would have had to work from the living area but with our Tiffin he was able to convert the bunkhouse into a dedicated office
- Storage – our Tiffin has around 50% more storage capacity (inside and out) and yep, we use pretty much all of it!
19 thoughts on “Flashback! Our RV purchasing experience”
Hi Julie and Marc, we are getting our house ready to sell in early Spring 2017 and we have definitely decided on a Tiffin (we think the 2016 Allegro 34PA but undecided on whether to buy new or used just yet). My question for you both is about financing. We have been told many times by dealerships that we should buy our RV before selling our home because it will be much easier to finance if we are home owners. Did you sell your home before or after your RV purchase? After if you sold it before, did you have any issues with financing as a “full timer” with no home address? Thanks! Melanie 🙂
Hi Melanie, yes I have a blog post planned for this but the short answer to your questions now is this – most financiers don’t like lending to full-timers for an RV. So it would be our recommendation to get your finance pre-approved for the new RV – and you can always have the option to buy used and spend less if you find one. You don’t necessarily have to BUY the RV before you sell your home but at least get your finance pre-approved – of course then it is a delicate balance of timing on when your home sells, how long the finance pre-approval period lasts (usually 2, maybe 3 months). We got your finance pre-approved, listed our home, it sold first day and had a short close, bought the RV and were able to rent out townhome back from the new owner for a month while preparing to hit the road. Of course, you have to be honest on your credit application – and we were – at the time we applied the RV was going to be a ‘second home’ as we planned to rent our place out. We changed our mind and decided to sell instead. But the RV finance/sale went through just fine. Also our home address is now in Texas via Escapees so while we are fulltimer swe we have never not had a home address for mail/license/tax etc. As always our information is a guide only and you should seek your own clarification, but if you can time things well and are confident your home will sell quickly – as ours did – you should be able to juggle it while you still have your home and not double up for too long.
We live in Georgetown, TX. Previously we lived in Evergreen, CO for 25 yrs.
Where do you stay when you go back to Colorado?
Evergreen is beautiful – quite a weather change from Texas! When we were back there in the summer (10 weeks), we split our time between St Vrain State Park, Boulder Country Fairgrounds and Elk Meadow in Estes Park.
We are looking at retiring in the near future, trying to decide whether we want Fifth wheel or class A. We currently have a 38′ Newmar Kountry Star Class A, it’s an oldie but a goodie but will be replaced when we retire. I like the Allegro Class A’s and here is my question to you, did you look at any FRED (front engine diesels) Class A units made by Allegro, from what I’ve read it looks like a great combination at a small premium. Thanks, Ed
Hi there, we didn’t look at any FREDs as they don’t make them anymore (we figured there must be a reason for this!) and from what we had learned it seems the FREDs listed for sale (whether on dealer lots or RVTrader) sat there for a really long time. FREDs are nothing like a diesel pusher and with the advanced technologies now in the newer gas engines this ended up being the better choice for us. Even the local Tiffin dealer confirmed this… saying the newer gas coaches are far superior to the older ones, so he guided us in that direction.
Wow, thanks for your prompt response, the fact that FREDs were only available for a limited time speaks volumes, thank you for that information. I’d like to ask one more question as you seem quite informed. What exactly are the advanced technologies in the newer gas engines that you speak about. Thanks again and I very much appreciate all of the information that you write about in your blog and I follow it regularly. Happy trails to you.
Hi Ed, Sorry we can’t answer that question in the detail it deserves – we just don’t know the exact answer – but if you do a google search or even ask an RV dealer (we spoke to a Tiffin dealer) I am sure they could give you much better information on that then we could attempt to! All we can say is we are happy with our decision/purchase and works well for us. Which is why it is so important for people to prioritize their OWN values in an RV when making a purchasing decision (eg. cost, quality, modern features, reliability, torque, towing capacity) as different rigs will be right for different people and their particular RVing needs. It is definitely not as simple as “is diesel better than gas?” Contrary to what many people may think. That would be like saying “What’s the best vehicle to buy?” When there are SO many different kinds, options, features, pricepoints. It all depends on your needs, budget, priorities. Example: A Lexus is a better vehicle than say a Ford, but you’ll also pay a premium for those extra technological/power features. Can you afford it, will you need all those bells and whistle, or will the Ford suit your needs perfectly well and make you happy to keep the extra money in your pocket.
Glad you find our blog helpful – happy trails to you too! 🙂
Pretty nice at a very affordable price, I can say that the deal is good.
I have a question. In shopping for a used RV, I would not even consider buying one that had been occupied by a smoker. I am a bit uncomfortable asking that question right up front (I don’t want to insult someone who happens to smoke). But, if someone has smoked in the RV, there’s no point in going any further (for me).
So, is this factor important to you? And, if so, how did you handle it?
Absolutely agree with you 100%! We would not consider a rig that had been smoked in either. I don’t think it’s an offensive question to ask and I am sure smokers would have to expect or be used to or at least prepared for that question. What we found is that most ads would call that out, along with the pets question (and sometimes even kids) like this: “No smoking, no pets, no kids”. But usually it referred to “no smoking, no pets”. In fact Marc has a severe cat allergy so it was equally important to us to find an RV that hadn’t been occupied by a cat as non-smokers. Same would go for a house (or car). So don’t worry offending anyone, you are entitled to learn as much about an RV as you can before wasting time, so you could ask about all three at the same time, thus taking the focus off the smoking alone, or mention you have an allergy. It always pays to have a conversation or email with sellers to ask specific questions and if you include the smoking as one of a number of bulleted questions I don’t think you will find yourself being offensive to others. Or, simply focus on the ads that specifically say “no smoking” you will find there are plenty of those. Good luck!