What did we look for when shopping for our RV, and what would we change? We get this question almost as much as the question “how do you spend so much time together?” Ha! So I’m going to break it down for you and answer your questions.
What RV do we have?
We have a 2016 Grand Design Solitude. Model 369RL
What did we look for when shopping for our full-time RV?
Our top priorities were customer service, quality, and warranty. There is only a handful of manufactures that do not void the warranty if you live full time in your RV. If you can’t find this information out before purchasing your RV, please ask to see it in writing. I can’t stress this enough. Some dealers just don’t know.
What features were important to us when shopping?
As silly as this sounds, in our old RV (weekends and vacations only) the sink was so tiny, and so tucked up under the medicine cabinet that washing our face got the whole area wet, not to mention ourselves. Most RV sinks are so small, and we just wanted a regular-sized one.
Our top and most important thing to us was that the bathroom not be blocked by a slide. So if we wanted to stop at a rest area and use our own bathroom without leveling and sliding our slides out to get to it, we could. We actually didn’t look at any RV’s that didn’t have the bathroom accessible.
Bathroom storage ~ We walked through so many RV’s, and the standard RV’s had one tiny bathroom cabinet. When we walked into our Solitude 369RL I believe I heard angels singing. The bathroom cabinets were as deep as the shower and took up the whole wall. And still, they then gave me drawers under my sink.
We did not want these inside the floor. Another silly, possibly petty pet peeve. We have a Lab, and we just loved that Grand Design placed their heating vents upright, under the kitchen island, bathroom cabinet, and stairs going up to the bedroom so that the warm air blew across the floor, not out of the floor. Therefore no slobber, food pieces, or hair are getting in my vents from our dog.
Our pantry is just one of a kind. It’s as deep as the slide and has 3 very large, very deep drawers that pull out. I understand a lot of the newer Grand Designs don’t have this feature, or it’s much smaller, and I’m so thankful ours came with this larger one. This is a huge plus in my book. We certainly don’t overfill it, but it really helps that we can stock up just a little if we are going to be outside city limits for a long time.
I know most people want a residential refrigerator in their RV’s nowadays. We actually did not. Our plan was to boondock more than not, and we liked the option of having a refrigerator that uses propane. 2021 update: Our Norcold Refrigerator was leaking ammonia and we purchased a new compressor that does not use propane. We run our refrigerator on electricity only now. So far it’s worked out great! The new compressor we bought and installed, uses much less electricity than a typical residential refrigerator.
Storage / Storage and more Storage ~ No, we aren’t hoarders! And actually, there are several cabinets in our RV that are pretty empty. But we wanted the option. We live in our RV. We downsized from a 2200 square foot home, and we have pretty much just the essentials to live. But we also wanted to keep some luxury items. Like our bread maker, our blender, our juicer, our Instant Pot and yes, I carry a full-size homemade ice cream maker. We have 2 very large overhead storage areas plus a big pull out desk under our TV. Another feature I understand GD did away with inside the newer models. We wanted to bring games, and we love Geocaching (if you don’t know what Geocaching is, see our blog here about that).
What would we change?
All the things below we know we can add/take out/revamp. But if we could buy the perfect RV, these things would have been changed/added/removed.
Ceiling fan ~ Our old weekend RV had a ceiling fan and we loved it. Our Grand Design has a wonderful Fantastic Fan that really cools it down and circulates the air in here wonderfully. But there is just something about a ceiling fan circulating the air that was really nice.
Dimmer Switch on the LED lights ~ I call them runway lights. They are so bright that it’s annoying. If you turn them off, it’s too dark. So I wish there was a happy medium.
Bigger dining room table ~ We did unbolt ours, and turn it, and get rid of 2 chairs, but we are shopping for a longer table/desk at the moment. There is still so much room we can utilize with a longer table, and not be bumping the side window or each other while trying to eat. 2021 update: We did end up buying a student desk that was much longer and filled the area better. It also gave us much more room for eating and working. We also bought two new chairs which are very comfortable.
Dishwasher ~ Our RV came with a dishwasher. We hope someday to add a “soda/wine/water” fridge in its place. Yes, I use the dishwasher when we are hooked up to a pedestal. We boondock 99% of the time and in 2018 have spent $38 so far in camping fees. So the dishwasher is a waste of space and just doesn’t get used. But oh how we’d love a little wine fridge. 2021 update: We did it!! We love it! We removed the dishwasher and installed a beverage refrigerator. This runs on electricity and it keeps our main refrigerator free from soda, beer, water, etc. This was one of our favorite mods!
Under RV Storage ~ Our under “basement” storage would be so great to have a pull-out tray. Having to remove bins to find something in the middle is frustrating and time-consuming. We know we can add one, but we live on a tight budget. It’s on the list.
What did we change?
Our RV is a work in progress. We purchased it new, and it had most of what we wanted and needed. We very simple people and live a minimalist life. So we don’t need a lot! Here are a few modifications we did make.
We can’t stress enough that it’s important to have clean water! Please visit our blog below to learn all about our Clearsource water filter. Healthy water is our #1 priority for ourselves and our dog.
Read our blog here: The Best RV Water Filter
Please don’t only rely on the filter your RV came with. Here’s some nasty we pulled out of our drinking water in just 90 days. OH and we also filter our entire house. We don’t want this stuff in any of our pipes either.
Mattress topper ~ We found our RV mattress very comfortable. Who says that? We do! But we did add a foam mattress topper, and we truly crawl into bed at night and remark about how much we love our bed. 2021 Update: We’ve been sleeping on the same mattress now for 4 years. We still very much love it!! We have discussed getting a new mattress, but it’s not a priority. I hear so many people complain about the RV mattress’ but with our topper, we found it to be very comfortable.
Cup holder re-vamp
We were having an issue with our cup holder. We added a little table to hold our coffee cups. You can see our video below. You can also order the cutting board we used here.
Added Solar ~ This is actually a huge game changer for us. Please read our solar blogs below:
- How To Properly Size a Solar Charge Controller.
- Sizing a Solar Panel Array to Fit Your Needs
- RV Solar – Picking the Right Battery Bank
- RV Solar ~ Inverter Options
- Thinking About Solar? Calculating Your Needs
Also join Justin’s DIY Solar group on Facebook here.
Another change we did was on our screen door. We added both a handle and also a screen protector. Our Lab had a bad habit of putting her head through the screen door. We purchased both of these in 2017 and in 2021 we are still using them, and very happy with both! (Click pictures for Amazon links)
We think it’s very important that you look at all your options when purchasing an RV. Everyone’s needs are different, but we hope we gave you some things to think about when shopping for your RV. Whether you’re living and traveling in it full time, or you’re taking vacations and weekend trips. Don’t have buyers remorse. Make sure you look at the things that are important to you. Just like you would with a regular home you’re buying.
Below are some related blog posts about our RV – We hope you find value in our content.
- The Best Tips for Organizing Your RV Stuff
- RV Accessories for the Bathroom
- RV Accessories for the Kitchen
- What To Do With Sentimental Items When Downsizing
- What To Do With Photos When Downsizing
- The Best 30+ RV Hacks!
- The Best RV Modification We Made – And it Was Under $25
- Our Top RV Kitchen Gadgets
- Simple DIY RV Renovation
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12 thoughts on “Our RV ~ What We Looked For When Shopping for an RV”
I noticed and love most all the features of you rv that you mentioned. The one that I over looked was the vents and yet I can definitely see why you love them. Sweeping the floor and avoiding the vents is an inconvenience and dust and dirt accumulates in ours continuously. I love your cup holder up grade (it screams JUSTIN, he is very handy). Thank you for sharing all this info with us. I love following you both it’s not just insightful it’s great to know you are enjoying yourselves
Thanks Candace! 🙂 YES, it was all Justin on that cup holder, but it was me who “needed” it. 🙂 He is so handy. I love having someone who can pretty much do anything and fix anything. 🙂
You will absolutely LOVE your Solitude…we have a 2018 Reflection and couldn’t be happier. Took it from Maine to Texas and back last winter without a “hitch”. We, too, did some of the improvements you have done for our own comfort. We are impressed with the Grand Design line. Enjoy!
Yes, we do love our Solitude! We’ve had it almost 2 years now. 🙂 It’s definitely home!
Just found your blog. We own a 369RL as well and I am a geocache, too!
Awesome!!!!! Welcome! 🙂 Maybe we can hang out as twins sometime? Are you full-time in your RV?
I have a solution to make getting bins out of the middle of “basement ” storage: Drill two holes in end of the bin/box/etc. about 8″-10″ apart. Thread medium strength rope through holes. Place a large washer on rope and tie knot making a handle. Tie another piece of rope on handle and stretch it out so it will be long enough to reach to door after pushing box to middle with an old broom handle, etc.
. Use duct tape to label what is in the bin and tie a loop handle on the end near the door. Now you can pull it to the opening without having to climb in.
Great idea! Thanks for the tip! Have you done this? Would love to see pictures!
Just found your blog, and love all the info as we are thinking about full timing soon. Our fifth wheel looks like a very similar setup! It’s funny you mention getting rid of the dishwasher, we have both a dishwasher and mini wine fridge in our island and I talk all the time about ripping the wine fridge out because in my mind, it’s just another power suck, but I would never get rid of our dishwasher lol
Hi! Sorry for the late reply! With just the two of us our dishwasher was just taking up space. Plus, since we boondock almost 100% of the time, we just didn’t find we were wanting to run the dishwasher and use that much water. And our wine fridge is mostly used for soda and water, and we LOVE IT! It was seriously the best decision we ever made in this RV. 🙂 We have plenty of power for both refer’s so it worked out great. The sun takes care of it for us. The sun didn’t care to take care of the water we were wasting while using the dishwasher. Ha Ha Ha Safe travels! 🙂
What year is your rig.
Hi! It’s a 2016. Let me know if you have any other questions.