RV Recommendations

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Mister Imperceptible
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RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Mon May 07, 2018 6:45 pm

Hell is other people.

After a series of episodes I might detail when I finally get around to making another personal journal entry, I have exhausted the last of my patience with sharing living space.

I live in the Northeast where winters are cold (we just had the second coldest April on record I think). I had dismissed RV living on these grounds, but the roommate/landlady difficulties plus someone telling me they spent a week in the Adirondack mountains in -40 Fahrenheit temperature in an insulated Mercedes Sprinter without issue has inspired me to rethink the issue. If nothing else, I can get an RV, try living in it for the summer, and retreat indoors for the winter if necessary.

I live in one state (parents’ basement) work in another state 200 miles away. I also have some former and potential paramours in the Southeast. An RV would allow me to move whenever I wish, without restraint, without breaking leases or buying/moving furniture. If I had spent the last year and change in an RV instead of in hotels or temporary arrangements with unbearable people, the RV (at least I the range I am looking at, around $20k-ish) would have paid for itself already. :?

I have a high income and need to not be complacent that the income will last or that future investment will provide historical returns. I have to continue to press the advantage. I’ve been playing in easy mode but I need to be more anti-fragile. Weekends at home with the parents at age 31 is unbearable.

I greatly admire C40 and the barebones types, Bryan et al. I still work in a corporate environment with a need to wear button down shirts and not smell. I have a tendency to perspire PROFUSELY. The wet nap option is likely not for me.

A collection of notes from a pair of Southern good old boys I work with:

Class C easier to drive, lower to the ground, easier to get out of (Class As generally have only one door)

Class A potentially worse gas mileage, more depreciation, better deal on a 10+ year old Class A?

11+ years old in some states may provide lifetime registration? (I have read South Dakota is a great place to register). Find a place with no emission test or need to re-register.

8.6 Chevy beats V10 Ford....”and I’m a Ford guy” says the advising party. Those are the predominant gas engines.

Diesel vs gas? Gas engine costs less, but diesel gets better gas mileage, is more reliable, and has way more torque (but less horsepower....torque is what you want anyway...I am going to be towing a Honda Civic.)

Diesel engines: (best in order)
Mercedes Sprinter 3L diesel
Ford Transit 3L diesel
Mercedes (3)
Cummins (1) but cost more to repair, but you may not experience this for half a million miles
Caterpillar (2)
Ford (up until 2003, you could get a great diesel engine, 7.3L) 6L stay away, 6.7L is ok, you’re going to half to replace parts and is notorious for having issues
Chevy (Durham X made by Fuji and Allison transmission) are solid

Chevy does better by outsourcing their components

Dodge Cummins Diesel is a good engine but you don’t see them in an RV, more in a truck.

2 wheels on the back on each side is a major plus because it allows you to overcome a flat tire, and is easier to drive. Twice as much lateral support.

Automatic leveling jacks allows you to sleep on a level but it may be difficult to find a used one for sale with that feature.

How big are my Grey/Black/fresh water tanks? Typically black and grey together match my fresh water, but I don’t want too little of any. 80 gallons of fresh is good to have and could sustain you for a week off the grid.

You MUST have a generator if you are off the grid. If you have a diesel rig it may be good to have a diesel generator so as not to have an extra tank, but diesel costs more. 4kW minimum generator.

Need an air conditioner (2?) not to sweat balls.

An “RV queen bed” is not really queen sized.

Make sure you get some memory foam mattress because RV mattresses suck. Replace the old mattress because it’s gross.

35 feet is the sweet spot size.

(End notes)

I want to be mobile. I don’t know if trading in the 2016 Civic getting close to 40MPG for a truck and a fifth wheel is the best idea. I want to know I can do this before I change everything. I anticipate plopping down the RV near where work is located. I’m sure I can find Walmarts/rest stops/casinos and avoid paying campgrounds. Having something I can bring a rational female companion to would be nice. I have no problem shitting in a bucket with a pool noodle on top but this might be a turnoff to she who would otherwise be the future Missus Imperceptible. I don’t care to be Instagram worthy.

One of the good ‘ol southern boys recommends something along these lines, but says I might be able to offer $15k cash instead of the $25k asking price. I have no problem writing the check, but I want good value and something that retains its resale value. Something along the lines of JLF’s old Georgie Boy, around 10+ years old when depreciation has already done its work:

http://www.interstatervsales.com/invent ... -Pierce-FL

Laura Ingalls
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Laura Ingalls » Mon May 07, 2018 9:24 pm

You need to actually sleep, cook, drive, and at least pretend to get ready for work in an RV before committing to anything. I think RVing is great, I am positive about your plan but will point out several things that are contrary to my personal experience.

1)I would never attempt to weather any weather as cold as mentioned in an RV without winterized plumbing.

2)South Dakota does not offer any lifetime registrations for any vehicles that requires registration.

3)If I was single I would have zero problems going home with fella that lived in an RV. I would be super creeped out if said RV was parked at Walmart vs a county park or a private campground.

4) If I am an anomaly about being creeped out by Walmart, I think a week on 80 gallons per week of water is conservative if you are cooking real food, washing dishes, flushing a toilet, and doing all the stuff you would do in a stick house.

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by jacob » Tue May 08, 2018 7:19 am

I have some non-specific RV recommendations on the FAQ on the blog's homepage. This mostly relates to size and shape. Methinks you're making the standard noob mistakes of thinking you need/want something way bigger than you actually need/want.

If you want to your RV and yourself to survive in the northeastern winter or anywhere snow is more than a myth, you either need a insulated and winterized brand (Arctic Fox) or you need to do your own winterization (see campingworld for supplies) and burn a ton (almost literally) of propane. I've seen RVs in Wyoming (December) and they had Amerigas tanks outside the size of compact cars). Keep in mind that the inner and outer walls of an RV are something like 1/4" plywood.

classical_Liberal
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue May 08, 2018 8:20 am

Your post seems to read as if the real problem is roomates and landlord BS. Maybe something to do with the hassel of moving regularly. There is also a component of wanting to be mobile and seeing more of the US in a slower travel mode. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I found myself in a similar situation a couple years ago. I've never FT'ed in an RV but I have done more than exhaustive research on the subject. The bottom line, even with a gargantuan 35ft RV and no budget restrictions for driving, generator, heating/cooling, etc; you are not going to have to comforts of a stick house if living "off grid". Navy showers are a must, limiting electric is a must, and if you have to move around regularly to camp cheap/free its a hassle to keep setting up a camp site. While I think a smaller set up is great for exploring North America on the cheap, its generally a poor alternative for a daily working stiff who just wants to avoid hassle of roommates and landlords (if parking long term in a mobile home park you still have landlord anyway). There are a few exceptions to this in unbelievably high priced housing markets like bay area.

My solution to this problem was to build a life around frequent moving. Small studio or one room apartments are available is most housing markets at reasonable rates, often these are old houses converted to multiple apartments at a time zoning regulations were manageable. The upside of these more nontraditional rentals, it is usually small management companies who don't care much about what you do, as long as you are one of the few people interested in this type of housing who pay rent on time. Short term, mo to mo or 3 mo leases are usually negotiable. Purchasing small, one person movable furniture (think TV trays, small chairs, foldable mattress on floor, small kitchen carts, self contained sound systems such as Zvox((I'm a music lover)), etc) makes moving a snap. Only a couple hours on each end, not much more time than setting up a camp with a gigantic RV. You get all the comforts of stick, plus highly mobile and inexpensive. If you want to adventure to more remote areas when off work, buy a used minivan on the cheap and retrofit it to your desires. The minivan is dual purpose because you can move your minimalist household items from place to place as well. Obviously, an ERE'er would never use a vehicle for daily errands or commute :D .

Augustus
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Augustus » Tue May 08, 2018 9:43 am

My advice is rent one for a month and see how you like it. I thought I'd love RVs, then we rented one, and it was one of the worst experiences ever. The RV wasn't so much the problem, as driving the RV in traffic, and parking the RV in a city. Driving an RV when people are constantly cutting you off and making you slam on the breaks causing all your possessions to fly around is ridiculously stressful. If I ever reconsidered RVs, I'd be using them somewhere rural with a small car or something to do most of my getting around. Good luck finding a place to camp anywhere near city centers, which rules out easy biking or walking to work if you work in a city.

One thing I have been looking at is a nice camper, or possibly trying to do a van conversion. Some campers even have showers I think. A camper on a good truck would be MUCH easier to move around. You could probably stealth camp a lot easier too. Van conversions seem like the best option IMO, super stealthy, you can get them loaded with everything you need, but they're expensive is the downside if you hire it out. Then just get a nice gym membership so you can shower and find spots near said gym. Dealing with waste water is annoying anyways. Shit seems to splatter everywhere...
Last edited by Augustus on Tue May 08, 2018 9:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Tue May 08, 2018 9:52 am

I have a Civic that gets me around.

I’m working full-time, but still need to get back “home” (again, 200 miles away from work) for many weekends, weddings, birthdays, housekeeping, etc. This weekend, for example, I have a dentist appointment and Mother’s Day.

I am a consultant so my work situation is fluid. Been with my current client for 16 months but I don’t know if I’ll be here another 16 months or 16 more days.

I wouldn’t be driving the RV to work, or even back home necessarily if I know I’ll be staying with parents. The Civic is my commuter. But I also want the option to go back to my home area and not stay with my parents.

Having the mobility to take a weekend and go anywhere would be nice.

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Sclass
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Sclass » Sun May 13, 2018 12:20 am

Do your homework on the Mercedes vans before you buy one. I come across a lot of articles about their issues as I maintain my three diesel sedans. The powertrain shares components with the E320 CDI and E350 bluetec. I have held off buying one of these cars because of engine, transmission and electronics problems I’ve read about.

Different years have different engine and transmission combos. Some are much more reliable than others. They are not all the same as far as reliability and durability go.

The sprinters are nice but just saying, do your homework because this can get expensive.

Sounds like a fun lifestyle. I’ve always wanted to convert an Isuzu box truck and go traveling. Just a Dream I’ll never get to.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Sun May 13, 2018 7:20 pm

Can you get a Planet Fitness membership for showers/bathroom use? $10/month and they seem to be all over the country. I can't really comment on living and working out of one, but I've also done extensive research for the purpose of slow traveling around North America (a la C40).

I'm leaning more toward a small camper behind a light pickup, or a slide in camper on a larger pickup. Also, like C_L's suggestion of the minivan. We grew up always having Astro's for my dads job and that one gutted with a raised bed could provide the space needed, and just use shower/bathroom facilities externally.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Mon May 14, 2018 2:12 pm

@2birds

As stated I fully admire the cargo van or mini-can route and anyone who is making due with something less expensive while slow traveling like C40.

I think I need something that has shower and bathroom because I’d rather not be checking in constantly to use public facilities. (Although interestingly enough I signed up for a Planet Fitness black card on Sunday.) Maybe I’m too much of a bitch pampered by Western Civilization. A few extra thousands of dollars for this convenience is something I wouldn’t mind parting with. (I’m currently flush with cash as I consider the asset market to be overvalued.) The way I see it, this will save me a lot of time and aggravation, and the van is a store of value, albeit a depreciating one. I might even be able to deduct it from my taxes as a business expense, thereby turning a small profit if I turn around and sell it. Either way, I will stop sinking $1200 a month into lodging, so I don’t want to waste $1200 a month whilst looking/studying/outfitting. I’m more inclined to jump in with both feet.

I’m really mobile, I spent this past weekend in 3 different states, so the merits of a 5th wheel might be lost on me. Family and friends, work, women I date, they are spread around everywhere. I can pay someone to move it for me, but 3 times in as many days and at a moment’s notice? I like autonomy and for this reason also I’m inclined towards something that moves itself (and can tow my Civic). Perhaps less optimal than pickup truck + 5th wheel. But I like my Civic and I’ve never been a truck guy.

@sclass

I’m already thinking for the price of a Sprinter I can just get a Class A or C.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Mon May 14, 2018 2:45 pm

I suppose I could get a 5th wheel and pay to have it towed as needed over the summer. If I find at summer’s end that the 5th wheel is satisfactory, I could then think about trading in the Civic and get a pickup truck.

I know all the driving around is very un-ERE, but it’s specific to my situation. I get travel compensation benefits and they like the pull the rug out from underneath people when they hear that consultants move out of the hotel in favor of renting locally. I like being able to say “FU I don’t live here, don’t think about touching my lodging/per diem/mileage compensation.” Also, there are state income tax considerations. I would prefer to be off the radar of local governments. Either way, I really do NOT want to sign a lease, even a short term one.

The more autonomy, the better. It begins with not having a lease, continues with not having landlords or roommates, continues still with not requiring someone to tow something around for me, and having my own shower and toilet is a perhaps un-ERE cherry on top.

Really the pickup truck and smaller camper is most ERE of the potential options (for my situation specifically), and simply getting a Class A or C to compliment the Civic is a compromise. The nice thing about this compromise is that it only requires I buy the RV. To really optimize I would have to sell one vehicle and buy two. Perhaps I am allowing myself to be weighed by inertia.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Mon May 14, 2018 3:40 pm

Let’s say I get something at $20k. After tax deductions it may only cost me $15k. June-October, and perhaps November before retreating indoors is $6000 or $7200 in saved rent if my current rent expense is eliminated. Half paid for, in just one summer.

I want to optimize, but not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Hmm....

2Birds1Stone
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Mon May 14, 2018 6:51 pm

I think you are assuming that there will be no costs associated with the RV on top of the purchase price, that would not exist in your current rental situation. A used RV is bound to cost money to maintain, service, transaction costs, etc. Just something else to think about.

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Sclass
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Sclass » Mon May 14, 2018 7:06 pm

Wow, I just looked up what a class a and class c. Those are huge. Like a bus. Some of the vehicles had room for dirt bikes and atvs. I wonder if you could park a Smart car or Fiat in there. Certainly a well outfitted motorcycle would fit...but you may have climate to deal with.

Sounds fun. I saw some guys in San Jose with smaller campers with bumper mounted motorcycle racks. It looked like a nice system...park the home, run errands on the motorcycle.

Edit- omg, people are putting smart cars and fiats in these things. Many YouTube videos. Looks easier than trailering a Civic.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Tue May 15, 2018 12:38 pm

@birds

In my current rental situation, there are many insects, paper-thin walls with a hard drug addict in the other bedroom, and he insists on being my friend even though his conversation consists of mostly incoherent mumbling. It’s a tax on my time and energy. Also, he’s behind on his rent and he seems to think I should help him out. This hasn’t been said, just inferred.

The landlady fed me a story about needing me out this weekend so they could have pest service, but last night the I heard through those paper-thin walls the drug addict on the phone asking a friend if he could stay over this weekend because the landlady is planning to AirBnB out the whole place. This same landlady insists on charging me $1200 a month even tho the drug addict is only paying $750, because “I can afford it.” (A little case study of resentment on the part of people being asked to pay more for the same thing because they are responsible/successful....this is why socialism doesn’t work.) I don’t think the landlady is a bad person, but she is a single mother of 4 and is resorting to whatever tactics she feels is necessary because she is desperate. She has lied and been manipulative in the past; for example, I was told the whole place was unoccupied, not that someone was taking hard drug cocktails in the other room and that I would be sharing a bathroom with that person.

All this because I don’t want to get my own place and sign a lease.

At my previous lodging arrangement, I shared a rather upscale two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo with the leaseholder, an engineer and someone you might hope to expect is a reasonable person. He insisted on charging per night instead of monthly, under the pretext that I could “come and go as I please” when in reality he wanted to maximize his income from the arrangement. Within a month he increases the rate by $10 a night, then moved to a more expensive condo ($300/mo) within the same complex and decided to charge me an additional $10/night (essentially passing the entire increased cost along to me). When I recommended against moving and balked at paying more, his reply was “I’m not negotiating, I’m telling you what is happening.” Also, the guy was an intolerable extrovert whose pastimes were going out to the bars drinking and getting into pissing matches at work, and then belaboring me for hours with stories I didn’t care about. Another tax on my time and energy. This dude was somehow shocked when I left.

Apparently, people get the impression that I go to work so I can just give them more money.

I have no problem sharing space but people seem to make a point of being intolerable.

Again, all this because I’ve avoided getting my own place and signing a lease.

I looked at a place where they do month-to-month rentals and the lack of privacy is appalling. No less than 3 persons’ rooms were unlocked and barged into so that they could be shown me.

I would rather deal with the manager at Cracker Barrel than have one more roommate or landlord. I like the idea of being able to say “Go fuck yourselves, everybody” and just driving away. The more autonomous, the better.

Augustus
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Augustus » Tue May 15, 2018 9:53 pm

Rent one. My preference would be to let someone else deal with waste. Emptying tanks is naaasty.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Tue May 15, 2018 10:37 pm

Renting could only be for a trial run. It stabs my ERE heart not to just buy and own the asset, amortizing the cost.

I’m not afraid to get dirty. California is going to make you soft, Augustus.

Augustus
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Augustus » Wed May 16, 2018 11:38 am

I'm not sure that you appreciate the reality of living in an RV yet. RVs are best when they stay parked for long periods. You hook up the waste tubes once, and don't touch them, because fear of getting dirty aside, I don't know ANYONE who ENJOYS that part of it. It's fermented, warm, well mixed pee and poop. It's been sitting in a tank sloshing around getting nice and ready for you, fumes have been building up and jet out once you open it. You put on your puny disposable gloves, but of course it spatters around and does not stay confined to the tube or the dump hole. Since you generally move in the morning, you're doing this right before or after breakfast. YUMMY!

If you rent, you get a chance to try it before you buy it. I would definitely choose truck+camper over RV. But I would RENT first to see what's the best setup in practice. You wont know until you have tried both setups.

I would gladly outsource that part to a gym. Not having to deal with waste is a win. If you're going to tout ERE, it's much more ERE not to be running your own mobile plumbing set up. Take a shit in the woods. Be a man.

Laura Ingalls
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Laura Ingalls » Wed May 16, 2018 12:42 pm

Mister Imperceptible wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 3:40 pm
Let’s say I get something at $20k. After tax deductions it may only cost me $15k. June-October, and perhaps November before retreating indoors is $6000 or $7200 in saved rent if my current rent expense is eliminated. Half paid for, in just one summer.

I want to optimize, but not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Hmm....
Are there any seasonal rented RV parks near your present work location?

Go drive around and see if anyone wants to sell (or even better)their current RV and his/her already paid for spot.

Super confused about your reference to tax deductions. You are not going to get a mortgage tax deductibility on a $20k RV. I can’t under normal circumstances recommend borrowing money for such a purpose.

2bird1 stone is right RVs will have your spot rental or else you are going to have to deal with the paper thin walls and druggy neighbors in the Walmart parking lot.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Wed May 16, 2018 12:56 pm

@Augustus

I do not disagree. I’m trying to walk a fine line. I have no problem making the forest or a bucket my toilet, but this conflicts with the dating life. I would like to remain palatable to an attractive and gainfully employed woman. Being able to offer a restroom after a hot and sweaty round of fun is better than offering a bucket. Maybe I want too many things at once. Hell, maybe I should just get a tent.

@laura

I will not be borrowing any money. I am a 1099 and I think I can write off the RV as a business expense for work-related travel. I can pay for it, and perhaps get a better deal, using greenbacks.

There are some campgrounds too, I will investigate further.

Laura Ingalls
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Laura Ingalls » Wed May 16, 2018 1:45 pm

I have slept in a tent, showered in the campground shower, and got dressed in “business casual” attire and headed to work no problem.

I am going to reiterate what I said upthread I think you are going to find a bigger pool of mates that are going to dig tent sex in the state park than would find Boon-docking at Cracker Barrel even if you have 100k in a nice 5th wheel and shiny desiel truck. Both sound better than your current arrangement ick

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by luxagraf » Wed May 16, 2018 3:45 pm

I've been living on the road for the last 18 months or so, here's my two cents on a couple things:

There is no such thing as the perfect rig. I have an RV, there are times when I wish I had a separate tow vehicle I could use to run to the store, but then I watch trailer/5th wheel people trying to hook/unhook/backup/navigate railroad tracks and so on and I think, I'm okay with an RV. An RV capable of pulling a car, now you're talking. But I'm one of those people who has certain aesthetic standards so I had to go get a vintage RV.

Buy used. For the love god do not ever buy a new RV.

Emptying the black tank is not a big deal. I've done it every couple of days for the last 18 months, never spilled, never had any problems at all. And don't be one of those guys putting on rubber gloves at the dump station, you'll look like an idiot. It's just black water, wash your hands when you're done. It's no different than changing a diaper.

You are massively underestimating the amount of money and more importantly, time, it will take to maintain an RV. Maintenance is neverending. Everything leaks, RVers who tell you they don't have leaks are just telling you they don't know where their leaks are. No matter what you get it will leak and you will have to track down the leaks, fix them and any damage that happened before you became aware of them. Every electronic system in your rig will break, the only question is when. the fewer you have the better off you are, I have none and save myself massive headaches because of it. On the downside, I have to light my hot water header by hand every time we stop, but I can live with that slight inconvenience in exchange for the convenience of a system that can't fail. Except that you do need to check your propane system for leaks every now and then, exp if you're driving it a lot (everyting rattles loose eventually).

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Wed May 16, 2018 4:16 pm

@luxagraf

Thanks for the fine input. I would be looking at buying something 10 years old, never mind new.

I honestly don’t know how much driving I would do in the RV, the Civic would do the yeoman’s share of driving (to work, to the grocery store, on dates, etc.). The RV would be more like a mobile HQ.

@laura

Already looking at these:

https://montanacanvas.com/product-category/wall-tents/

Laura Ingalls
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Laura Ingalls » Thu May 17, 2018 8:01 am

I was thinking more of two person backpacking tent (Big Angels, Marmot) from the clearance page of Sierra Trading Post :lol: Less than $150 and about 5lbs.

The wall tents are cool, but are you going to get one plus stovepipe in a civic?

Curious if you have ever camped?

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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by C40 » Thu May 17, 2018 8:46 am

If you're somewhere with cold winters, one of those thick/durable tents with a stove would be nice. If it's not all that cold, you just need enough room in there (I'd say get one you can stand up in, have a table in, etc.)

You'd have to sort out where you can stay. Are you near BLM or National Forest land? How strict are the rangers there about making people moce? (there are some areas where a lot of people live in their camper permanently on those types of public land - so many that it has become a problem and the rangers get strict about making people move on after two weeks... in some areas of public land, you could set a up a tent and live for years without issue).

Staying in campgrounds is of course a possibility, but in some areas they can add up to cost as much per month as a cheap apartment.
Last edited by C40 on Thu May 17, 2018 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: RV Recommendations

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Thu May 17, 2018 8:48 am

@laura

I’ve camped, never longer than a week. But I was younger and spryer. So if it’s going to be a longer time I want to be able to stand up, stretch out, and perhaps even endure the cold Northeast winter.

A colleague spent a week in -20F temperatures in that tent. Said with the stove it was 100F inside.

I’m sure there’s a way for me to do it and not spend oodles of money.

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