Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Denver RV Show And A New Home For Us!

Now all we have to do is get rid of our old house! But let me back up.

This weekend was the long-awaited Denver RV show. We had been looking forward to the opportunity to compare models from each of our top 5-6 manufacturers. We had been able to see a couple in person, but most of the others we had only seen online. And of course everything looks better in pictures. But as the show got closer we were hearing that many of the local dealers were not participating due to the high cost. The show website, which a few months ago included every manufacturer that we were interested in, now listed only a couple. Needless to say, we were pretty disappointed, especially since we thought about going to the Tampa Supershow. But this is what we had available to us, so we'll make the best of it.

Thursday morning arrived and we were off to the Denver Convention Center. We had our notes, buyer's checklists, measuring tape, camera, and lots of excitement. The show was about what we expected. The selection was relatively small. There were probably only 3 manufacturers with a total of 5-6 models that we were really interested in. It didn't take us long to make our first pass through. We ruled out a couple of the models pretty quickly and a couple of others catapulted to the top of our list. The others were still worthy of consideration, but not really at the top due to cost, quality, or floor plans. Well, that didn't take long to whittle down our list!

The one model which really stood out was the Heartland Bighorn. We had seen one of these at a local dealer about a month ago, but it was a cold day and we didn't spend much time in it. Although we hadn't completely written off this model, it wasn't one of our top contenders either. But today we got a totally different feeling. The craftmanship was what first caught our eye so we looked a little closer and the quality seemed to be on par too. We bounced back and forth between 2 floorplans and finally narrowed it down to the one which seemed to have superior kitchen storage.

After our 3rd or 4th tour, the manufacturer rep recognized us and stopped to talk. We peppered him with questions and were pleased with most of the answers. At this point we were starting to get seriously excited. This one just felt right, but we were determined not to make a rash decision so we left for awhile and discussed it over dinner. When we returned, we went back through some of the other models, mostly looking at their quality. Except for one, which was outside our budget, none of the other manufacturers compared. So we went back to the Bighorn for one last look. We got some numbers from the salesperson and went home to sleep on it.

We knew we were already emotionally sold. This unit had all of our 'must haves' - large kitchen workspace and storage, 4-door refrigerator, rear living, fireplace, desk area, separate washer-dryer closet (to be used for the litter box), a place for the dog bed that we won't be tripping over, and large external storage. And it had most of our 'nice to haves' too - enclosed bath, ceiling fan, central vacuum, hydraulic levelers. But we were really hoping to compare to some of the other manufacturers. What if there was something better out there?

If the other manufacturers were a must-see, we'd have to travel out of state. When would we find time to do that? There's also the issue of our current motorhome that we either need to sell or trade-in. A couple of the local dealers didn't want to accept a trade, so what if we ran into the same thing out of state? The dealer at the show offered us a decent price and they're fine if we sell it outright before delivery of the new rig. Sometimes, convenience is worth a lot!

To make the deal even more attractive, the show dealer was willing to place the order with no money down and if we're not ready for it when it's delivered, they'll hold it for awhile. If the house still isn't sold, we can back out of the deal with no money lost. Sound too good to be true? That's exactly what we thought. We can order a unit to have exactly what we want at a price that we're comfortable with, they'll take our motorhome, and if we change our minds, we can back out? Really???

Well, as you've already guessed, that was just too good to pass up so we signed the papers!

This is what it looks like from the outside. Yikes! It's big (38')
Tracy ready to welcome you into our new home!

Here's the floorplan we chose.

I took some pictures of the interior, but it was hard to get enough of a wide angle to really give you a good view so I copied some pictures from the Bighorn website. Our decor is a little different, but this will give you an idea.

Looking to the back from the front door

Living room

Did we make too quick of a decision. I don't know, but niether of us have buyers remorse (yet!). Did we make a decision without investigating all of our possibilities? Yes, but sometimes if you wait too long, you lose the best. Do we feel comfortable with our decision? Yes! I think that this was the best choice for us under our specific circumstances and we're both happy. Did I mention that because we have to order it, we are getting the 2011 model? Yes, another plus!! The 2011 includes some improvements like hidden hinges on the cabinets and a nicer countertop, more storage in the bathroom, leather sofa and recliners. Like I said above, it just seemed like too good of a deal to pass up!

So back to my first sentence of this post - now we have to get rid of our old hose. Well, the house has been on the market for a week, we've had 3 showings and 1 repeat customer today. That repeat customer took a packet of instructions for submitting a contract so we're hopeful that we might hear something soon. Remember what I said last week about being fearful that the house might sell too quickly????

Words of inspiration: "Coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous" ~Doris Lessing, Nobel Prize-winning author

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Monumental Step

Our house is officially for sale! Finally!! It feels like we’ve been waiting for this moment forever, although it’s actually only been a few months. So many steps in this transition are dependent on selling our house. We need the house proceeds to buy the RV. We can’t sell the furniture yet because we need it to stage the house. We can’t commit to a potential work opportunity for the summer until we know that we’ll be able to be there in time. So this has been a long time coming and is a monumental step.

We are excited to finally reach this point, but also a bit anxious. There have been 3 houses which have sold in our neighborhood in the last 6 months. 2 of them sold within a couple of weeks and both during a slow market! Although we have come a long way in purging and organizing our stuff, we still have a lot more to do. If ours should sell that fast, things will get very chaotic very quickly. We are both still working full-time and can’t imagine how we would pull it all together. But I guess that’s a good problem to have and I’m sure we’ll figure it out. Like everything so far, it will all fall into place as it’s meant to be.

So now I guess we sit and wait. Well, not really. We have a lot planned for the next couple of weeks. Most notably is the Denver RV show next week. This is another event that we’ve been anxiously awaiting. The local RV dealers don’t typically carry a large inventory over the winter so we haven’t been able to see several models that we’re interested in. We’re hoping that there will be a good selection at the show. It is billed as the “largest show in the Rocky Mountain region”, although that could be very relative. I’m sure it will be nowhere near the size of the upcoming Tampa show that many RV-Dreamers are attending. I kind of wish we had planned a trip to Florida, but we didn’t so we’ll see what this holds. I’m a little concerned that a couple of our top manufacturers will not be present. They are not on the exhibitor list on the show web site, but I’m hoping that the website is just out of date. If not, then I suppose a road trip out of state, either to their factories or to a dealer who carries a larger inventory, will be in our near future. We really want to be sure of our decision because we don’t expect to be able to afford to trade up in a few years.

Another notable step that I haven’t shared yet is that I told my boss that I would be leaving. Tracy had told hers a couple of months ago, but I was keeping mine quiet, mostly because I was unsure of the reaction I would receive. My company has been struggling for the past year and there have been many rounds of layoffs. I was a little worried that I would be on the top of their list if they knew I was leaving anyway. As much as we’re both ready for a break from our jobs, we know that we need the income stream for as long as we can keep it. I wasn’t really planning on telling my boss until we had a contract on the house, but we came to the conclusion that we really needed one of us at home to start working on the final preparations, especially in the event of an early house sale. So I broke the news and have worked out a pretty favorable transition plan. I will stay on through mid-February and then we’ll reevaluate and may negotiate for me to stay on longer. I’m grateful that I have been able to go out on my own terms.

As we knew, January would really kick start the transition process and it has, but it still doesn’t feel real. So when does it all sink in? When we no longer own a sticks and bricks house? When we buy the RV? When we’re rolling down the road? Or will it always feel like a dream?