If you asked both my husband and me what our biggest financial mistake was we would both give you the same answer – owning a travel trailer. There are so many other bloggers or minimalists who turn to owning an RV as a means to downsize and travel the United States. I get it. It would be a dream to drive around the US and stay in different state and national parks while we explore the beauty of our surrounds. However, with the disaster of owning a travel trailer turned into for us we will most likely never own an RV again.
Early in our marriage, we thought purchasing a travel trailer was a great idea.
A travel trailer would be the ideal way to get away for a weekend and enjoy time as a family. We could take the dog with us and enjoy nature while relaxing. The travel trailer would be like having a mini house on wheels.
We fell in love with the Forest River R-Pod. If you’re curious we purchased the RP-182G model. It was the perfect size for the family we wanted to have. We chose a floor plan with bunk beds for future kids and multiple slides. The teardrop shape was both lightweight and functional.
The first year of owning the RPod we used it a lot. Our weekends were spent at a beautiful resort in Sarasota Florida soaking up the sun. Disney was one of our favorite places to camp. Fort Wilderness Resort is truly glamping at it’s finest.
We loved that trailer. We paid for covered parking (which is not cheap for an RV) in the offseason to keep the trailer out of the sun and elements. The travel trailer was cleaned regularly and we took it in for service as needed.
The following summer, just a short 18 months after purchasing the camper we decided to enjoy the weekends at the resort in Sarasota again.
This is when things starting falling apart.
I noticed black forming around the molding between the roof and exterior walls. We could wipe it away but it kept coming back. At this point, we knew something we wrong.
We brought the camper in for service to see exactly what was going on. This is when our beloved travel trailer turned into a financial nightmare. The service center discovered the air conditioner of the R-Pod was installed incorrectly. Forest River actually installed it backward! In the summer in Florida, it rains every afternoon. You can probably guess where this is going. Water seeped into the roof and between the walls of the camper since the air conditioner was not sitting correctly. The camper was filled with mold!
The roof would need to be removed from the camper and rebuilt to remove the amount of mold that was in the wood. This would cost us thousands of dollars on a brand new camper! We bought it brand new (which is a financial mistake in itself!) and it was less than 2 years old.
Forest River refused to back their product.
Forest River would not cover the repairs under the warranty and pretty much said it was not their problem. Our insurance company wouldn’t help either since the camper wasn’t in an accident. It was a manufacturer defected. We were defeated.
Surprisingly, after digging deeper into Forest River I discovered a whole forum of other camper owners who have had the same issue. Installing major components to their campers seemed to be a specialty of Forest River. The other camper owners had the same problem as us – Forest River refused to back their product.
The dealership associated with the service center gave us an option. We honestly didn’t know what else to do at this point so we gave them the benefit of the doubt. The option was to list the trailer on consignment. The problem – with the roof damage and mold the camper was severely undervalued. Even though we were about to lose roughly $7,000 by selling on consignment we didn’t think we had any other options.
To our surprise, the camper sold within a few weeks. It didn’t take long to get an offer and we were ready to move on. The way the consignment was presented to us – if they helped us sell this mold ridden camper we needed to turn around and buy something else.
Of course, as young and dumb adults we made our second biggest financial mistake. We Financed a second brand new travel trailer.
We purchased a T@B. By doing our research this time we knew we were making the right decision for our family. We fell in love with the company and everything they stood for. The craftsmanship was top notch and the campers were not mass produced. The company is based on Amish principles and built in Ohio. The manufacturer uses high-quality materials compared to most RV manufacturers.
We were so excited for this new camper and the new adventures we were about to have. We enjoyed everything about this camper and would probably still have it today if we didn’t decide to have my husband step back from his corporate management position.
Selling the T@B was a hard decision and again we lost a lot of money.
The problem with the T@B was the size of the camper. It was truly tiny. The dining table was the only bed in the camper (which was fine for us and our Yorkie) but it didn’t work well for a family. You had to find the right person to buy this camper.
We finally understood what the whole consignment thing was about and decided to sell this camper on consignment too. We listed it for sale and an offer came in. However, we were about to write a check for about $5,000.
All in all our biggest financial mistake cost us about $12,000 in debt that we carried around for years after. We took out a personal loan to cover the $7,000 from the R-Pod and used credit cards to cover the $5,000 from the T@B. Was it dumb? Yes! Would we do it again? Buying an RV – not a chance!
This financial mistake could have been avoided. However, we never understood how much of a money pit campers were. Between storing the trailers and having a vehicle large enough to tow with the campers cost us thousands over the $12,000 we essentially threw out the window. We won’t even add up how much paid in principle and interest.
Our biggest financial mistake was due to our lack of knowledge on the industry, listening to a dealership, and not understanding what our needs were.
If you plan to purchase an RV in the future do your research. Research the manufacturer as much as you can. Buy a used RV if possible – RVs depreciate a lot faster than a vehicle. Lastly, pay cash.
I hope you learned a few important lessons from our biggest financial mistake.
An RV depreciates and should not be considered an investment which is why I am saying to pay cash. This is truly a luxury item even if you plan to live in it. You will lose money when you sell no matter how nice you keep the camper. Do your due diligence before making this large of a purchase.