Best RVs to Live In
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If you plan for your recreational vehicle to be your full-time home, rather than your home away from home, you probably don’t want a pop-up camper. You want an RV that’s sturdy enough to stand up to daily wear and tear, and large enough for the things you’ll need for the long haul. That’s why we sorted our picks of the best motorized and towable RV models and brands according to five “personality types,” one RV for most categories. Of course there are many more to choose from — we’ll help you make an informed decision on the best RV to live in for you and your family.
- For homebodies
- For frequent travelers
- For adventurers
- For the budget conscious
- For the luxury-minded
- Choosing an RV
- The bottom line on the best RVs to live in
If you plan to spend a lot of time indoors, you probably want as much space as possible in your RV. And if you plan to stay in only a couple places each year, say, one campsite per season, a large, towable RV trailer might be the ticket. That way you could park your RV, detach your vehicle and drive to the grocery store without taking your whole home with you.
2019 Airstream Classic
Airstream is well-known for the quality and durability of its products. The Classic towable RV has such a “residential feel” – it even comes with a doorbell. Four floor plans are available: two that are 30 feet long and another two that are 33 feet long. The extra three feet means a bigger bathroom, a media center with a 60-inch projection TV screen and an extra $14,500 on the MSRP.
For frequent travelers
Rather than having to hook up your RV up every time you hit the road, motorized RVs might be more convenient for frequent travelers. Driving your RV instead of towing it also grants passengers access to all the living spaces as you travel.
But it’s worth noting that motorized RVs are typically more expensive than the towable ones. Add a diesel engine and the price jumps higher, though these engines tend to be more powerful, more durable and get better fuel efficiency.
2020 Winnebago Forza Diesel
With five floor plans ranging from 34 to 38 feet long, the Winnebago Forza offers features intended to remind you of home, including a fireplace. The powertrain has a 340 horsepower Cummins ISB 6.7L engine and front and rear air suspension.
If you want to do more than sedately drive down the highway, there are RVs built to go off-road. They can take you over a mountain and through a river to park beside a waterfall.
With a heavy-duty Ford F-550 chassis and a 4×4 turbo diesel powertrain, the LTS has a mileage range of 900 miles, holds 85 gallons of water and comes with a 12,000 watt-hour battery bank and solar charger. All of those features are combined with a luxurious interior offering amenities like leather couches (yes, plural), a king-size memory foam bed with a skylight for stargazing and a wine rack.
Note however that the entire vehicle from tip to tail is only 29 feet long. So this RV is best for people who want to spend most of their time outside.
For the budget-conscious
While it is possible to find new, towable RVs for less than $20,000, those are usually meant for the occasional vacation, not full-time residency. It’s important to purchase an RV made from the resilient materials your budget will allow. After all, this RV might be replacing your brick-and-mortar house. There are quality used RVs out there, but if you have your heart set on new, here’s at least one budget-conscious choice.
2020 Grand Design Solitude 2930RL
Even though it’s the least expensive option on this list, the fifth-wheel Grand Design Solitude has plenty of features, including stainless steel appliances, a “stealth” AC system designed to be quiet, a walk-in closet with washer-dryer hookups, a big-screen LED TV, as well as a 12-year warranty on the roof.
For the luxury-minded
If budget isn’t really a problem, or even a consideration, consider having an RV made-to-order. Rather than choosing from modular available options, you add what you want and don’t have to get what you don’t want. High-end, luxury features that you could add — again, if budget is no object — include a rooftop hot tub, right across from a personal helicopter on the other end of the rooftop deck. Yes, on the roof of an RV. (The helicopter retracts into the RV enough to be considered street-legal height.) It could provide an escape option if you are stuck in traffic.
For an RV company that could build your custom home, check out Newell or Hemphill.
Choosing an RV
There are many choices to make when buying an RV to live in — here are some of the biggest decisions you may face along with the pros and cons of each. Our recommendation is that three (or four or more) is a crowd when living full time in an RV, but many larger families make an RV their everyday residence.
|Large: 30+ feet||Smaller: under 30 feet|
Motorized vs. towable RVs
Diesel vs. gas engines
There is little sense in buying an RV if you won’t be able to enjoy it because you’re stressed about paying for it. If you have a budget, stick to it.
If you want to finance your RV, shop around for a loan just as you would shop around for an RV. You could fill out an online form at LendingTree and get up to five potential RV loan offers from lenders, depending on your creditworthiness.
What are your must-haves in your new home? Consider making a “needs list” and a “wants list.” Either list could include things such as:
- Four-burner stove and oven
- Washer and dryer
- Full-size refrigerator
- Flushable versus composting toilet
- Large shower
- Large water holding tanks for boondocking
You’ll be putting a lot of wear and tear on your RV home as you use it everyday. Consider getting an RV made out of durable materials. For example, aluminum rather than fiberglass siding; dual pane windows for temperature and noise insulation; furniture that’s sturdy with good fabric or leather; and cabinets with quality latches.
Look for space efficiency. Does the floorplan make sense? Is the amount of space given to each area appropriate for how you will use the area? For example, if you cook a lot, it might be nice to have a larger kitchen area. If you don’t cook, then you might want a larger couch instead of more countertop space.
Does the space feel large? Overstuffed furniture and curtains with valances can make a space feel more claustrophobic. Window blinds, slide outs and large windows can make a space feel more open.
Types of RVs
Choosing the right type of RV or RV class, is important. There are several types of RVs, but here’s a quick rundown.
- Class A – Usually the most expensive.
- Pros: Large; nice amenities.
- Cons: Poor fuel efficiency; more expensive to repair.
- Class B – Also known as campervans, these are vans made to be RVs.
- Pro: They’re compact.
- Con: They’re compact.
- Class C – Built on a pickup chassis.
- Pros: More affordable to buy and maintain than Class A.
- Con: Smaller than Class A.
- Fifth wheel – The largest type of towable, it extends over the bed of a pickup.
- Pros: Tall ceilings; better turning radius than other towables.
- Cons: Usually the most expensive towable; can only be towed with a pickup.
- Travel trailers – This type of towable RV offers a wide range of lengths, features and configurations.
- Pros: Many options and prices from which to choose.
- Con: Often smaller than fifth wheels.
- Pop-up trailers – An RV which you set up the top portion like a tent.
- Pro: Good for weekend trips.
- Con: Not designed for long-term continuous use.
The bottom line on the best RVs to live in
Get an RV home that suits how you plan to live in it. With so many options, sit down and figure out what you’re looking for and your approximate budget.
No matter what options you choose, as a (future) full-time RV-er, your RV should be made from quality, resilient material that will withstand daily use from being on the road and being lived in. Many RVs are made from lighter materials for the sake of fuel and cost efficiency. Avoid those as they can cost you more in the long run, given you’d probably have to replace the whole RV within a relatively short period.