Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Negotiation - To buy or not to buy that is the question!

Now that I have looked at the RV and have decided that we are interested it's important to take it for a test drive.  There are lots of things that you want to think about and testing out how it drives and handles is one of the most important. 
(We will have a complete section on how to test out all of the mechanicals on the rig in a page completely dedicated to that process)

I asked the gentleman if it could be driven on the road?  He said that he had a dealer tag that he could slap on it for a test drive.  So we all piled into the RV I got in the driver seat and down his driveway we went.

The test drive of our new home

Once on the street I wanted to test out the brakes so I pressed them hard,  They were a little squishy, but it had been sitting for a while so something to think about but not get overly concerned about.  I stomped down on the gas pedal and she had some pickup, she is a big rig so I did not expect it to throw us back into our seats.  Just wanted to listen to the motor, are there any rattlings, pinging noises.  For the most part she sounded very good.  A couple of the belts had a slight squeak and I knew that replacing those would be high on my list because it had set so long.  We drove it for about 10 miles for the round trip back to his garage, I tested out the turn signals,  (They didn't work).  Made sure there was not a lot of play in the steering and a good evaluation of the overall handling of the RV.

After parking it back outside his garage, I pulled Vicki and Glenn aside.  I asked Vicki what she thought and she said she liked it.  Glenn's opinion was that I should low ball him and see where we land, it does need a lot of work but buying a 40' RV for under $10,000.00 gives me plenty of wiggle room as well as money to fix it up.  I ran some quick numbers through my head and told Vicki that it would probably take around $2,500.00 to get it back into to Road Ready Shape, she was OK with that.

The guy had gone into his shop as he was working on another car he was wanting to flip,  as I walked up I noticed that there were (4) brand new still in the plastic wrap 19.5 tires sitting by the side of the shop.  I went inside and told him that I wanted to discuss the motorhome and we were interested.  I asked him what the deal was with the tires,  he mentioned that he had picked them up a couple of weeks ago and it was ironic that they would fit the RV and if I was interested for $400.00 more he would mount those on the RV.

At this point you really need to think of what your top offer is going to be and stick to it!  I had set my top offer in my head at $7,000.00.  This would give me $2,500.00 to fix it up and an additional $500.00 in case I ran into any other issues.  So I made him an offer, $5,000.00 including the new tires installed.  He looked at me and made a counter offer of $7,000.00.  He is at my top offer,  I want to see if I can get this for as cheap as possible, Negotiating is all a game and I hate to loose!  I explained to him that it was going to take about $4,000.00 to fix it up and get it on the road.  So I pulled out $6,000.00 and put it on the barrel in front of him and told him that is all I had.  I pulled $300.00 out and told him it was going to take that to get license for it and that $5,700.00 is my best offer.  I explained to him that if he was willing to do it, I would take a bill of sale for the RV he could install the tires and I would come back and pick it up tomorrow.  CASH on a barrel has a way of persuading an individual it works much better then a check.  He looked down at the cash hard for a moment then looked up at me,  I never flinched I made sure he felt that if he said no, I was walking with my cash.  He said, "Can you give me till the day after tomorrow to pick it up"? 

I told him that was fine,  He picked up the cash wrote me out a bill of sale for the RV so I could go get tags, I shook his hand and we headed home.  When we got in the car, I have to admit that I was totally surprised that he took the offer I made.  Vicki and I got our new home for $5,700.00 and we got a bonus, 4 of the tires are going to be brand new.  We were very pleased with the outcome of the deal.

We find a new home!

My buddy that helped me find the motorhome on Craigslist said that he wanted to meet Vicki and I to go look at it.  So I called him up gave him the address and we agreed to meet there in about an hour.  When we pulled up the dirt drive way sitting close to the fence was the Fleetwood Bounder.  The hood was opened and a battery charger attached (Not always a good sign).  My buddy arrived shorty after we got there, the owner walked over and introduced himself.  He explained that he had just picked up the rig 2 days ago from an elderly couple that had to come off the road.  They had been full-timing in it up to about 7 years ago when they had to park it due to health reasons and decided to sell it.  So I now know that this guy bought it cheap and is flipping it (A GREAT SIGN).  My wife walked in side the coach as I proceeded to check out the body and mechanicals.

ROUGH but maybe still doable!

As I walked around outside my head was saying "NO WAY" the rig had 2 awnings and one leg on each one was detached from the body.  Most of the trim that runs down between where the panels on the sides come together was missing.  There were a few cracks in the body fiberglass too, around the wheel housings the plastic fairings were almost falling off and there was a big piece of trim that ran down the left side that was hanging off.  The more I walked around it the more concerned I became.  Glenn my buddy who came with me said we should fire it up and see how she sounds, don't get too caught up on the appearance, you can fix most of this yourself.  I asked the guy for the keys,  He said that to get it started you turn it to the ON position and then he had rigged up a push button because the ignition did not work.  I sat in the seat, and tried to turn it over,  it took a bit of work but she finally started up.  To my surprise other than a terrible exhaust leak she sounded pretty good.  I looked down at the mileage, only 48,500 miles on a Ford 460. That is good and bad,  if it has set for a while then you have to be concerned with the gaskets dry rotting.  It was my turn to check out the inside.  Over the dinette was the power distribution box, a lot of wires were just hanging out, that concerned me a lot!  The rig had a very musty smell and you could tell by the thick coating of dust that no one had really been in it in a long time.  Most of the rig on the inside was in pretty good shape.  A few water stains, a lot of dirt but a very doable floor plan.  It had a washer/dryer, a built in ice maker,  in the bathroom was an installed brand new toilet, and it had a shower and bathtub.  I knew that most rigs do not have both so I found that as a plus.  The bedroom was very spacious,  big closet and plenty of room to walk around the bed,  Glen even commented that the bedroom was a lot bigger then most,  and it also had a sink and medicine cabinet in it.

The question I had to ask myself at this point was I buying a money pit?  The motor is low mileage, it needs some minor work I could tell but nothing too terrible, the body had some issues but I had the skills to fix most of that the bottom line at this point was HOW MUCH was I willing to spend to get it and HOW MUCH would it cost to get it back into Road Ready Shape? 


Friday, April 11, 2014

WOW how time flies when your having fun!

Well, it's been 11 months since our last post, how did that happen?  Simple "LIFE" what I mean is in the last year so much has happened so many great things that the blog went to the bottom of the priority list. HOWEVER that will not happen again!  I think there is a great story to tell and share with everyone.

So here we go,

Time to go shopping!

With out going too far in the weeds on how we got to the point of buying the motorhome, it's important to hit the high points.  We literally made a very tight budget and stuck to it, we saved every penny we could and picked up as much work as possible, we stashed all of the money from the Yard Sale and were able to hit our budget by late October. 

So we have just shy of $10,000.00 and we need to buy a motorhome big enough to live comfortable with our 3 pugs.  There are a lot of different avenues you can use, what we decided was to keep our eye on Craigslist.  You would be surprised at the truly great deals you can get on a motorhome or trailer through Craigslist.  I have to say that we received some help from a good friend of ours who does a lot of Shopping and "Flipping" on Craigslist.  It was mid November when my buddy called me and said, "YOU'VE got to check this rig out" he sent me the link and listed was a 40' Fleetwood Bounder Motorhome.  The asking price was $8,500.00.  It was located about 30 miles from us so going to look at it would not be a big challenge.  We called him and  it was still available, (Quick note, if you see a good deal, DON'T Wait) so we set an appointment for in about an hour to go check it out.

More to come!  Next we will go look at the Motorhome


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Well you made the decesion to RV fulltime, What's next?

The decision to go on the road full time was not that difficult of a decision for us, it's the getting there that takes the effort.  For Vicki and I when we made the decision we were living in Fredericksburg, VA, She was 44 and I was 46.  There were a lot of people that looked at us like we were crazy, "Your going to do what?" your not old enough to retire!  It's not like for most people where you have a retirement or pension and a steady income each month so it was a little scary for us but we knew if we had the right plan we could make it work.  So where do you begin?  How do you make the dream a reality?  Let's find out

The Devil is in the details!

The first thing we did was set a goal, by March 2011 we would no longer live in a house we would live in a motorhome full time.  There is so much to think about, in 10 months we have to figure out what to keep, what not to keep, what to do with the stuff that we do keep, find a motorhome, move out of the house, where do we want to go, what do we want to do?  It really can become overwhelming. However if you take a focused approach anything is possible.  We could have given ourselves more time but as my wife likes to point out patience is not one of my strongest traits.  When I decide to do something I just want to do it period, I hate waiting for anything!

So the first thing that needs to be done is make a list!  We put dates that we wanted to have things accomplished by and if money was involved we set a budget or target amount.  This helped to give us focus and keep us on track as we moved through the list.  Vicki and I began by listing out everything we could think of that we needed to get done in order to achieve going on the road full time.

The first thing that we put on the list was buying a motorhome and we wanted to have this accomplished by October, 2010.  This gave us 6 months to work on it should anything need fixing.  We knew we were not in a position to buy a new motorhome so we decided to purchase a used motorhome.  We sat our budget at $10,000.00 based on some rigs we had seen on craigslist.  For now we will focus on the second item on our list, figure out what to do with all of the household items we had.  We broke our list down by room, this made it much more manageable.  At first you want to keep everything, but that makes no  sense.  So we checked on local storage units and decided that we would only keep what would fit into a 5x10.  This forces you to make the hard choices and not keep things you don't really need.  I want to point out that the first few hours are the hardest on going through things,  but after a bit and you think through what you are trying to do and it becomes liberating.  We started going through boxes that had been packed for 3 moves, why did we keep this stuff and never unpack it in the first place? When we made the list for the rooms we set a date for each room to be completed, giving ourselves about a week for each room.  We setup a staging area for the things we wanted to keep, you find that area getting overloaded and it's ok, because your going to go through it again and again to weed out the things that you think you want to keep but don't really need to.


The Kitchen, what is going to fit into the RV?

One of the biggest challenges is figuring out what you want to keep from your kitchen.  Admit it, you probably have a bunch of really cool gadgets that you want to keep, as well as some really neat appliances, but in reality what should you take?  My wife came up with a brilliant plan for figuring this out.  She decided that we would pack the entire kitchen up!  Yes it was one of the first rooms we packed.  We only left out bare necessities, such as a couple plates, a pot, a frying pan and the bare minimum to cook with.  Everything else was boxed up, next we placed the boxed up items in the corner of the kitchen.  As we went through the next few months, if we needed something we would pull it out and it would now be in the kitchen.  At the end when we actually moved out of the house and into the motorhome, if it was in the kitchen we needed it.  IF it was still boxed up then we didn't need it in the first place.  You will be surprised at how much you don't really need!

Clothing, Goodwill is going to love you!

Clothing is another area that it seems everyone has a lot of but rv's are limited on space so how do you choose what clothes to take on the road with you.  Some of that depends on where you plan on traveling to.  We knew when we left Virginia we were going to stay in warmer climates during the winters so having a lot of long sleeved shirts and sweaters was probably not necessary, neither were our heavy winter coats.  We wanted to keep a few sweaters and sweatshirts for chilly nights and 1 winter coat for each of us but didn't want them taking up the closet space in the motorhome so we put some winter items in a shallow tub to go into a storage bin under the motorhome. Again, go through and figure out what items you have not worn in a few months and box those up first for Goodwill.  Then you can see what you actually wear over the next few months and go through the items again. Keep in mind that even if you work on the road you won't need the business wardrobe you probably have now. We're pretty informal out here.  I think when it was all said and done we made about 4 or 5 trips to drop off clothes at Goodwill.

Family pictures, Is the RV going to have enough wall space?

The answer is almost always no!  What use to be wall space in your house is replaced by big windows and I'm not sure that you want to try and hang family portraits over your windows.  So how do you deal with this?  If you do not have a scanner go buy one, you can pick one up pretty cheap or you can check for a local company that will perform the service for you.  Scan your photos into your computer or onto a USB drive, then go out and buy a "Digital Art Frame".  These too are pretty inexpensive and you can place a lot of pictures of family and friends on them and they will not take up a lot of space in the RV.  Now you can take those photos with you and put the originials in your storage unit. 


Too good to throw away, Too much to keep:

After you have decided what you are going to give away to family and friends, what is going into storage and what you are just going to take to the dump, what next?  It's time to take advantage of all these household items and get closer to your Motorhome goal, it's time for a YARD SALE!  At our  yard sale we brought in almost $2,0000.00.  That really helped to put a dent in the RV fund and got rid of alot of those boxes we had in the staging area in the living room.  We were not able to sell everything that we were going to get rid of and that was ok because it gave us a better idea of what we still had.  We did not put  items like our entertainment system, TV, couches and beds in the yard sale because there were still a few months before we were going on the road.  We planned on finding a local estate buyer to come in the weekend before we went on the road and just buy everything that was left and this really was the right deceision for us.  The company we hired came in evaluated what we had,  gave us a fair price and setup a time to pick it up.  He brought in his own crew and boxes and finished packing the house for us and took everything away.


Making Progress, but still a lot to do before going on the road.

We wanted to give you some ideas of how to down size and start working your way to the goal of being on the road full time.  Here we only scratched the surface the main take away is to take your time, plan and be willing to make the hard decisions on what to get rid of.  It really is liberating once you start.  Next time we will talk about the process we went through on buying our used motorhome.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Welcome to RV full time with us! - Inagural blog

Vicki and I would like to welcome you to RV full time with us! 
If you are thinking of joining the full time RV lifestyle there are a lot of things to consider and we are going to try and help you weed through some of those decisions.  I hope to be able to give you some insight to not only what is involved in making the decisions to become a full time RVer but help you in your adventure.  At the time of this writing Vicki and I have been on the road now for about a year.  We met in 1999 and married in 2001 while living in Fredericksburg, VA. In March of 2012 we moved into our motorhome and spent the next few months getting ourselves situated to living in an RV full time.  It really is a big transition and before going on the road full time, spend some time somewhere getting adjusted.  In most cases you will be transitioning from a house to a much smaller space and this really does take some adjustment.   

Some background on how we got to our decision!

Some very close friends in Virginia, Mike and Carol had been on the road full time for about 5 years and had just come off the road when we met them in 2007.  Over the course of several years they were always telling us of their adventures, the people they met and the places they saw.  It was really intriguing to us but we both had full time jobs working in corporate America and 1 kid still at home. So we talked about "One day" we would like to do that too. 
In August of 2008 much to my surprise the company I was working for had major layoffs and I happened to be one of them.  As you know in 2008 the economy was not that great and jobs were scarce.  So I decided to start a small company Our World Design Studio doing consulting work and build websites.  Vicki was working for a small real estate auction house and between the two of us we were barely scraping by, this went on for a couple of years.  We managed to make ends meet although it was not always easy.  We would do what ever was necessary to cut expenses and keep ourselves afloat.
In addition to working in an office Vicki is an amazing artist she specializes in painting scenes and designs on furniture and doing wall murals, but as hard as I tried could not get her to share her work with the world.  I finally got a few of her pieces into a local art exhibit which helped to convince her that her art work was good enough to make money. 
She started making more and more pieces and developing pieces with a biker theme and we decided that we could sell these at craft shows and biker rallies.  We thought that we could get a small trailer and we would get a booth at a biker rally held the following August.

The Decision to live on the road full time!

It was Memorial day weekend 2011, we were at Monroe Bay Campground in Colonial Beach VA with some friends.  It was Sunday morning and we were drinking coffee and talking about an upcoming bike rally in August.  Somehow, and still not really sure how, the conversation moved to selling Vicki's art work all over the east coast not just close to home.  Hell, if we got an RV we could get a trailer and travel to rallies and craft shows anywhere we wanted.  In addition since, my work was mainly Internet based, I could build websites anywhere as well and between the two of us would be better off.  Literally within about an hour, the decision was made, if we saved some money, did some extra projects we could buy a used RV, move out of our house and live on the road full time!  This would help with cutting expenses as we could live much cheaper on the road.  We set a goal of that within 1 year we would pull out of Fredericksburg and go on the road full time!
So now you have a little back ground on how we got to our decision and what led up to it.  But once we made the decision, what next?