So...that's a big check off the to-do list.
RV = purchased. Meet our Rockwood Mini-Lite 2505S.
Technically, it's a camper (not an RV) because we'll be towing it with a separate vehicle, not driving it. But "camper" doesn't sound right to me. This is where we'll be living, not camping. It's our home on wheels—the first home Dan and I have bought together.
But it feels strange to call it a "first home" too. That term carries a lot of expectations. What if we don't like RV life? What if it's too cramped? What if the dogs hate being left alone in it and rip through the walls in an anxiety-fueled explosion of fur and saliva?
You can see we have some apprehensions—but so far no regrets, no buyer's remorse. We're at a precipice. The whole RV lifestyle is completely new to us. We aren't fully sure what we're getting into, and the unknown has us feeling on edge but also energized.
Perhaps that's because only one of us has ever spent a night in a camper before, and that was 8-year-old me thanks to my neighbors growing up. They bought a pop-up camper and let the whole street of kids have a sleepover in it one Saturday night in their driveway. That was a fun fling (thank you, Billy and Susie), but this...this is a bigger adventure.
Vetting Our Options (aka Hello, Internet)
Dan and I have been building up to this moment for the past year. Our RV search started online, and ranged from Craigslist to Pinterest, Ebay to sites I'd never heard of.
We'd made a list of our wants:
- Two work spaces
- Ready for solar hook ups
- At least one slide to maximize space
- Outdoor shower for the dogs
- Outdoor kitchen for us
- Less than 27 ft. long
- Under 6,000 lbs.
- Separate area to contain the dogs if needed
Airstreams ranked as our dream mobiles. Historic and romantic, they're a blank canvas of design possibilities. But new(ish) ones were too expensive for us; we weren't ready to drop that kind of cash without having tried the mobile lifestyle first. Old(ish) ones either needed repairs or were customized with materials we didn't feel knowledgeable enough to handle as first-timers. That, and they didn't come with warranties.
Other highly stylized trailers caught our eye, too, (like the Jackaroo Caravan, the Jayco Caravan, or the Concept Caravan) but they were only available in Australia. Apparently, RV living is huge there, and as a result, the continent has produced some gorgeous caravans.
With our dreams modified, we altered our search from the endless possibilities of the Internet to the finite possibilities of in-person RV dealerships. We started vetting RVs in December at General RV in Huntley, Illinois. Most of our fellow shoppers were retirees looking to downsize and hit the road. We nodded hellos to these future neighbors as we squeezed past them into and out of the RVs on display.
Next, we drove north to Camping World in Wauconda, Illinois.
Set in the middle of cornfields and mere miles from an unexpected buffalo farm, Camping World Wauconda has more than 400 RVs. Over two days of touring and chatting, we learned that the Rockwood Mini-Lite series would best meet our financial and weight requirements. We also learned that saleswoman Linda travels by RV in winter and often sings June Carter and Reba tunes on stage at trailer parks in Florida.
Seven months after our search began, Linda had cast her line and reeled us in. We met her on Sunday afternoon. She loaded us into a golf cart and chauffeured us from one camper to the next, singing as we rolled through the humid July air.
We took our time in each camper, sitting at their tables and on their couches so we could feel and imagine what it would be like to live in them. By Sunday afternoon, we'd decided on two options we really liked: One was used with an open and spacious layout. The other was brand new, had a Murphy bed and a curtained off bunk/work room in the back. They were priced in the same range.
We asked each other that night which we preferred, and we both agreed: the camper with the working area. It gave us separate space to take conference calls for work, for Dan to play guitar, or for me to write whenever we felt we needed that extra solitude. It also had more sleeping space in case friends or family come to visit.
By the next evening, we were engaged in ruthless negotiations, using Dan's phone to pull up comparable campers for sale in Wisconsin and Michigan for thousands of dollars cheaper. Linda would nod in acknowledgment and then rush off to clear a new proposed rate with her manager.
We signed a deal just before 7 p.m. July 6th. Then, Linda had us fill out the SOLD sign to hang in the front window of our first home. Now the Camping World world would know who exactly this shiny, new Rockwood Mini-(de)Lite was for.