Question: Dear Luise: We are waffling between buying or renting a Winnebago Motorhome, long-term. We have read with considerable interest your suggestion that RV neophytes rent various and sundry rigs before making a selection. Great plan! We are in a bit of a different situation, and are looking at the pros and cons of owning as opposed to renting, as a lifestyle approach to RVing. We have no plans to ever be on the road full time but would probably be out and about maybe a maximum of two months in the summer and two in the winter. What we are wrestling with is whether we want to give up most of our garage space and install a garage heater to set ourselves up with our own unit, or whether it would be easier and better to just rent and be free of all of that. We are not particularly limited financially, so it’s more about convenience. Thanks, Ted and Bertha
Answer: Dear Ted and Bertha: As you know, one couple will tell you that owning is the only way to go and will give you endless documentation to support that position, and someone else will take the opposite stand just as vehemently. I’m just another voice in the wilderness.
If it was my dilemma, and I could find the garage space or had a camping club storage lot, I think I would get my own. It’s just a personal preference of mine to decorate and furnish; I’m a nest-builder. No matter how well maintained rental RVs are, they are often driven and used thoughtlessly by people who are not particularly interested in their long-term performance and life-expectancy. They often live a hard life and it shows both on the surface and mechanically.
There is, to me, a wonderful benefit to being able to have my kitchen fully furnished, my cupboards stocked with staples, my closets full of casual, vacation wear and my favorite books and CDs in place. It feels familiar and comfortable to me and I can hit the road in very short order. I also like to know the sound of my own engine, so I know what sounds are not quite right. I like exclusivity where black-water holding tanks are concerned, and a familiar sense of how my own particular rig handles.
It may be wise, after you have rented a while and know what you want, to take into consideration the often-ignored issues of convenience and familiarity that can only be had with ownership.
Yes, renting for four months is a big-ticket item. But so is long-term depreciation over the years. Garage space, as you have mentioned, must be given over, and even a garage heater installed. I believe it mostly boils down to sentimentality. Are you a sentimental couple? Or can you travel in the more sterile and clinical atmosphere of a Winnebago Motorthome that belongs, essentially, to someone else? Look closely within, know yourself and I bet you’ll find the answer. Both will work!