Why has the perception changed in the customers about small RV? In the last years, some of our advertisers, told us that the large manufacturers of RVs, were incorporating to their portfolio of models, a line of small RV units to satisfy a growing number of customers.
In RV shows and fairs we are seeing more small RV models, some are concept models, but others are real models already in the market and they are taking orders for them from individual customers and RV rental companies.
The new small RV models are more efficient now in the fuel consumption, they are very easy to drive due to their lower weight and currently the floor plan design has improved at a point, that these small RV have all the expected amenities of their larger counterparts.
The main attribute of the small RV, is that, similar to many class B RV, it is based in a chassis of a major manufacturer (such as the Mercedes Benz Sprinter) and adapted as RV by another company, as Forest River RV division does.
The small RVs have the bath and the toilet inside the same room, this feature is called wet bath or wet room. My family does not care about this, but for some people this is a big no-no. Make sure that you consider this in your decision if a small RV is for you or not.
In some small RV models, there is no bed, and the bed is in an alcove above the driver. This happens in class C RVs. We have an article analyzing this feature for class C RVs.
Cons of Living in a Small RV
- People love to come and stay with you now that could be a really good thing but it can also be a not so good thing because people want to come and stay in your awesome small RV and get a taste of your lifestyle. Who can blame them? But you get a lot of people who want to do it on a regular basis and you are living in a small space there are not walls to divide rooms so if you have a partner especially not much is going to happen if you know what I mean.
- Things tend to break a lot because you are moving around, you are shifting, you are in different locations and things fall and break.
- If you do not feel comfortable with basic electrical, basic plumbing, basic woodworking, then I do not think that living in a small RV is for you.
- Living in a small space, as in a small RV, with someone else, means that sometimes it can get a little annoying because you are bumping into each other all the time you have to see each other all the time which can mean more problems in the relationship.
- You have to be very conscious of the amount of what are you using in terms of electricity or how much propane you are using because you do not want to run out when of these supplies if you are in the middle of nowhere. Consider that small RV models have smaller storage tanks than larger RVs.
- If you are towing your RV, there is more wear and tear on your vehicle when you are towing an RV that is thousands of pounds of weight, so you have to do more oil changes, you have to fill up gas more often, and you will have to change your tires more often. More maintenance activities and higher expenses as well. This applies mosty when the small RV is a popup camper or a travel trailer, for example.
- You are going to have to find experts that specialize in small RV units, which can be a huge pain like when we had to get our propane lines checked. We called around and only one technician at a twenty was willing to do it because he was certified to operate and work on RVs. Not any gas technician will be willing to come to help, as they consider that RVs are tricky and the principles and techniques they use are oftentimes not applicable.
- You are constantly cleaning because living in a small RV means that it gets dirty more often because there is less room for dirt and dust to move around
- If you plan on being in any cold climates or you do winter RVing then you will have to winterize your RV otherwise your pipes will freeze and burst. So it is a whole other set of problems with winter RVing. However this applies also to larger RVs as well.
- Towing a small RV can do a lot of damage on the RV. Think that it is like a constant 7.0 earthquake for your RV, so things shift, things break. We had cracks in the ceiling and cracks in our countertop. We always have to fix things. This happens also with larger RVs.
- Mold and mildew are constant issues in a tiny space as the one you have in a small RV. Every time you exhale, every time we are using the hot water, the shower, we get a buildup and condensation, which may cause mold and mildew. Moisture is a constant issue in a small RV.
- Space is incredibly limited in a small RV. For example, our stovetop only has two burners. We could not even fit four burners. We only have one pot and our fridge is like one-third the size a regular fridge so we cannot store a lot of food, and we have to cook in small batches and lose more time.
- Dumping is the least glamorous thing about RV life, when you have to dismiss the grey water and fecal waters. Larger RVs have larger storage so this activity is done less often than in a small RV.
- In a small RV, you have to be a lot more aware of your water usage especially if you’re not connected to a hose, as the freshwater tank is not large in a small RV. Be surprised how fast you can run out of water in a small RV: hot water….a luxury.
- If you have people who come over and want to spend the night, space is very limited in a small RV. Sometimes you can find places and accomodate people in a larger RV.
Which Features Should be Available in a Small RV?
- These models will be almost always a class B RV or a class C RV. Class C RVs have normally a bit more storage capacity and in my experience, bigger freshwater tanks.
- In a four wheels small RV, you do not need to think in a towing car and do not have to worry about the camper weight or towing capacity.
- RV insurance is cheaper in the case of these small RVs. In their calculation algorithm, the insurance companies have a parameter based on the available square meters.
- In a small RV you will have a wet bath or wet room, what means that the toilet is inside the same room with the shower
- You have to be smart to find space available. You will not enjoy too much storage space or a toy hauler, but you can have a strap in the roof for a paddleboard or for a kayak, for example. You will need a bicycle rack that you have to buy and install in the back of the small RV.
- If you are looking for a small RV is because you do not have children, most surely. With children you would be better with a class C RV. If you seldom take someone with you, do not buy a larger RV just for the extra space you will not need frequently.
- The chassis that is the base for the small RV has to be from Mercedes Benz, such as the Sprinter line, revamped in 2019, or Dodge. Both have huge presence in the United States, completely serviceable across the country. If you are in the European Union, mostly Mercedes Benz, Renault and Volkswagen, should be the make for the chassis. These companies have an important presence and all mechanics can work on it.
- No beds in most of the small RV floor plans. The actual bed is a sofa that is pulled out or the bed over the drivers seat in the class C RVs with alcove. It can be also a Murphy bed that is vertically pulled out from the wall when you need it.
- Diesel is mandatory. You will be driving through maintains and normally long distances. Help the fuel efficiency choosing always Diesel and they are also more friendly with the environment.
- Small RVs have few options in terms of style and design. There are some concepts with pictures below, but in general, the best models will have standard designs and a relatively minimal floor plan.
- If you choose class B RVs, they will generally look like a van, and you can park them in the streets and sleep anywhere without drawing too much attention to your RV and the fact that you are parking there.
Visiting a Dealer and Test Drive
In all the related articles, I cannot stop stressing how important is that you do a proper visit to the dealer and a thorough test drive before purchasing a small RV.
I have a complete article where I go step by step with fourty points to check, as a checklist, before buying your RV. Most of these 40 points, apply also to the purchase of a small RV.
Sit in the RV for about an hour and simulate that you walk inside, that you sit with your laptop computer, envision how you will be deploying your activities in the available floor plan. Spend some time at the dealership and never buy in the first visit. I recommend you to concentrate your efforts in class B RV and class C RV models.
Small RVs That You Must See To Believe
This is a Japanese model, and I understand we do not have it available in the United States
This small RV models were originally rented by UHaul in the early eighties. The company changed the strategy and concentrated in other core businesses and sold these units to the public instead of these unexpensive RV rentals.
These very tiny and small RV units were originally white with an orange stripe. The chassis was fiber glass and the design was licensed from a company called Burro. A dealer told me that Casita owns now these designs.