When most people say “RV” what they’re picturing is most likely a Class A coach type RV or a Class B, which is just basically a downscaled Class A on a light truck chassis. Most people are picturing a vehicle with its own engine and that you drive like a bus. Class As are luxurious, they’re roomy and have lots of storage. The only time you have to get out of your Class A on the road is to put fuel in it and get groceries.
The majority of full-timers you’ll meet on the road are living in Class As. Of the people who live in coaches, the majority worked their way up to living in one. In other words, they started with something smaller and then upgraded to a Class A. A coach style RV offers a wonder world of advantages but, along with all those advantages come some serious downsides.
Class As Are Expensive
For a coach style RV called a “diesel pusher” which means it has a large diesel engine in the back, prices usually run a cool quarter-million and up. A big Class A costs nearly as much as a house only it’s not going to last as long. They’re also frighteningly expensive when it comes to maintenance. Diesel mechanics are $125/hour and up. We took our diesel pickup truck in for a check engine light one time and it ended up costing $1,200. Even tires on a vehicle that size are expensive. There’s also a tendency among some places to see people who live in Class As as being able to afford the bill.
Class As Are Complicated
Imagine packing a bus full of batteries, wiring, plumbing, hydraulic levelers, an automatic awning plus all the systems you need to navigate all that on the road, and then bouncing all that wiring and hardware down the highway. Things break, important systems stop working, tires go flat and I’ve never been in any Class A when some little something or other wasn’t working. Class A owners are used to living with small subsystems and gadgets not working.
Most Class As Are Heavy
All that luxury comes at a cost in money and weight. There are some campgrounds that simply can’t accommodate a vehicle that large, there are many driveway culverts that can’t accommodate a vehicle that heavy. Many campgrounds, especially in state and national parks, have narrow roads, small campsites and 30 amp power posts, which is seriously underpowered for most Class As. Class As are living proof of the RVers formula that Room + Comfort = Weight + Expense .
New Smaller Class As
When gas was $4 and $5 a gallon, some manufacturers started making smaller Class As. I like those newer Class As and could definitely see myself in one. The only concern with a smaller Class A is remembering that it also has to tow your local car because you don’t want to unhook and drive your full size Class A to the grocery store and around town on errands. That may limit the size of your local car and your RV may struggle up steep grades even with a small load behind it.
Class As are so much like a mobile apartment that they are relatively free of most of the adjustments that you go through in the transition to mobile living. With full size showers, a full size bedroom and a monstrous amount of basement storage, a coach type RV barely qualifies as small space living. But all that luxury comes at the cost of weight and complexity, which both come with a cost in real dollars. You might decide to go that way from the start, if your budget is no object, or you might grow into it. Either way choose carefully before setting out on the road.