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Question from Kim G

Hi Debra,

I’m looking into purchasing a Class C motorhome (as a tiny home on wheels) for full-time travel but I’m concerned with the level of toxic materials used in construction. I’ve thought of purchasing an older model so that I can do renovations with non-toxic materials but I’m not quite sure where to begin my search.

Any advice on the topic of motorhomes is much appreciated!

Debra’s Answer

Well as it happened, Larry and I were just discussing the same thing this week! So we put this on the top of our to-do list and I can give you some up-to-the minute information.

We went out looking at motorhomes at a large RV dealer so we could see a lot of options.

It sounds like you already know that you want a Class C.

We had already looked at some new motorhomes and found them to be too toxic. But then we looked at some that were 2007 returns that had been take out of rental service and each one of them was acceptable to me. So the materials were about 11 years old.

I didn’t like the design aesthetic, so we would be remodeling anyway, but it wasn’t toxic.

So if anyone reading this wants to buy a relatively nontoxic home-on-wheels, look for a motorhome circa 2007 or earlier. None of the motorhomes I looked at had any fragrance, cigarette smoke, pesticides, pet smell or other human-use odors that I could detect, so this is a viable option.

We’re going to continue our search on lots and on Craig’s List. EBay also has them but I wouldn’t buy one sight-unseen. You can’t tell if there’s something toxic from looking at a photo.


We’ve been researching all these options for almost two years now.

There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a tiny house vs a trailer vs a motor home.

The main thing that has kept us from moving forward with a tiny house or trailer is where to park it. You can’t park them on the street. You have to park them in a trailer park, which can cost $1000/month or more depending on where you are. And we’ve checked out trailer parks. Virtually all of them had people cooking outdoors with lighter fluid, the smell of which was all over the trailer park at dinner time.  

On the other hand, you can park a motorhome on the street and sleep in it for up to 72 hours. You can park them in parking lots. You can purchase unbuildable land and park them on your land. There is a lot more freedom regarding where you can put them.  

In our case, we will be parking ours on family property near Larry’s mom’s house. And then when the time comes when we will no longer need to live here, we can just drive off and still have a place to live while we establish our new home. And we’ll be able to just drive around all we want while we look for the best place to live for the next chapter of our lives.  

A motorhome just seems more do-able.   

So that’s where we are with this.  

And yes, we’ll be ripping out the interior and remodeling. Although, if we get an older model and the built-ins are real wood…that would be ideal.

This is the interior of an Airstream “Land Yacht” from 2000. After 18 years these materials would have gassed out. This one is very spacious. Sold for $30,000. A lot for a car, but not much for a tiny house on wheels.

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