If you're thinking about purchasing a motorhome or campervan in Australia it's best to do some homework. It's a big decision and worth putting the time in to get it right. We've created a quick checklist of motorhome tips for beginners to help you work through some of the important things to consider.
Buying a motorhome is something a lot of people dream of doing but it can be an intimidating purchase to make. There are many things to consider before purchasing a motorhome, from the type of travel you plan to do, all the way through to what kind of comfort and space you will need.
If you're thinking about purchasing a motorhome or campervan in Australia, it's best to do some homework first to ensure you get the right vehicle for you. To help, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 things you should consider before buying your first motorhome.
First things first, let's take a look at the difference between a motorhome and a campervan so you can get a better idea of what each provides!
A motorhome is typically defined as a recreational vehicle built on a truck or bus chassis and is designed to be used as self-contained living quarters for travel. They can sleep between two and six people depending on the model.
Benefits of a motorhome
Motorhomes are a great option for families or couples wanting a bit of space to spread out and bring along creature comforts when travelling. It is quite literally a home with a motor!
A campervan is a van equipped as a self-contained travelling home and is typically smaller than a motorhome. In most campervans, there is no dividing partition between the cab and the living quarters. They usually sleep between two and three people.
One of the first things to do when looking to purchase a campervan or motorhome is to look around at pricing. Checking out different models online or visiting a dealership will give you an idea on costs, so you see what is feasible for you.
From there you can start to make a plan on whether you have the funds to purchase now, need time to save, or if you want to look into financing your RV purchase.
How much do campervans and motorhomes cost?
Prices vary greatly from smaller, more basic models to high-end luxury machines, with everything in between. There are many different factors that impact cost, and buying used or new will come into play too.
Motorhomes and campervans are a substantial investment and there are a number of ways to fund your dream vehicle, including cash, bank loans and mortgage or super redraws, as well as personal finance options.
What other costs are involved?
It’s a good idea to factor in the extra costs above and beyond the base vehicle.
Here are some ongoing costs to work into your budget:
Just like a normal vehicle, a motorhome or campervan will require a warrant of fitness check, general repairs like tyre replacements, plus additional maintenance to keep the self-contained vehicle in good working order.
Because you will have a kitchen and living quarters to maintain, you should expect to have a few extra miscellaneous costs to keep them tidy, such as cleaning supplies.
Once you have your dream vehicle you will need to make sure it’s insured. As you will be spending a lot of time on the road, good insurance cover is important as is registering the vehicle to avoid fines!
If you are travelling in a motorhome you will likely need to plug in at powered campsites at least every few days to charge your vehicle.
Remember to also take into account how far and how often you plan to travel so that you can get an idea on how much fuel you will need.
Tip: Check with your local KEA dealer as some states also include your registration fees in the total price!
With so many motorhome and campervan options on the market, you have lots of choices to make from practical elements through to personal preferences.
A few things to consider when deciding on a model of motorhome or campervan are:
This is a simple one, but one of the most important considerations! Think not only about how many beds you need, but also the type of beds that will be practical for you. Is climbing up to a bed feasible? Do you want shared beds or separate?
You should think about the size of the vehicle you are comfortable driving, and what transmission you prefer. The large majority of KEA motorhomes are automatic transmissions.
Motorhomes with automatic transmission are relatively easy to drive and you get to sit back and enjoy the view without all the legwork. Automatics are a great choice if you’re less confident driving a big unit or if there’s another family member who doesn’t like driving a manual.
If you’re likely to be getting off the bitumen, rear wheel drive is more than handy and dual rear wheels are a great feature.
Consider how much time you have for maintenance tasks, and who will be able to complete the jobs required.
It’s a good idea to think about the facilities you have in the motorhome or camper, and what you will need for general living. Are you happy using campsite showers and toilets or would you prefer to have one on-board? Are you a keen cook and want a bit more space for making meals? Do you want something spacious or smaller and cozy?
Once you are done exploring for the day, you might want to come back and watch a bit of TV or a movie. Think about what kind of tech you would like for day-to-day use (if any!)
The budget you have can certainly come into play when deciding whether to go for a new or used motorhome. If you are in position to choose, it's good to get an idea of the benefits of both.
The benefits of buying new
Another benefit is that you get exactly what you want in terms of fitout, options and accessories!
The benefits of buying used
This means that you know that they have been well maintained and serviced regularly using qualified mechanics, factory-approved parts and all the right diagnostic machinery. Plus, all servicing is backed by thl, one of the world’s largest suppliers of holiday rental vehicles.
The type of motorhome you choose should closely match the type of travelling you’ll be doing. The requirements for short trips in your own patch can be very different to long periods on the road crossing borders frequently or even going completely off-grid.
How long do you plan to travel for?
If you are planning to be away for many weeks or months, it's a good idea to consider how that will affect your trip.
If you are planning on being away for a while, you should consider how your sleeping arrangement will serve you over that time. Sleeping in close quarters for a longer time might be fine for some people, but others may prefer a bit more room!
Have a think about what kind of meals you could prepare in motorhomes and campervans. Are you happy with simple meals over a long period, or do you need a few more appliances and utensils to change things up?
If you are planning to head away for multiple seasons, you should have a look at the items you would be bringing, such as extra clothing for winter or surfing gear in summer. You may be content with minimal storage, or prefer a bit extra.
What areas do you plan to travel to?
Depending on the areas you are planning to go to, you may have different requirements for your motorhome or camper.
If you are planning to head out into the wilderness it's worth thinking about what you might need to make that work for you. Will the vehicle be able to hack the hills? Is there access to a shower and toilet or do you need one on-board? What power sources do you need?
Are you planning to head to central city areas and need something smaller, or are you going further out? Do you plan to visit Holiday parks or stick to freedom camping?
Will there be dump stations nearby? Is there access to running water or vehicle services?
Some people really manage to make their motorhome a home away from home. Mod-cons can include heating and cooling, a separate shower, washing machine, four burner cooktop, flexible bedding configuration, TV and audio systems and wifi.
Determining how lavish you want life on the road to be is entirely up to you. These days, there are some amazing accessories and upgrades like new upholstery that can make your journey a little more comfortable.
This is where you will thank motorhome manufacturers for being such a creative lot. It’s amazing how much you can fit into a relatively small space that allows you to enjoy so many daily activities. But there are limits.
Things to consider when it comes to storage are:
Think carefully about what you will want to take with you in terms of food, clothing, utensils, everything in fact. Write a list, then trim it down!
Maintaining your motorhome makes good sense. It’s a sizable investment and putting in the time to keep it in good condition pays off. Many of the maintenance tasks are things you can do yourself, while others will require qualified and trained experts.
For safety and mechanical jobs, it’s best to leave the work to the professionals. Today’s motorhomes are complicated beasts and it’s not simply a matter of lifting the hood and making a few tweaks.
Getting your motorhome inspected and serviced regularly can ensure you are on top of any issues early before they become expensive problems.
Some of the motorhome maintenance jobs you will need to do regularly are:
Jobs you should organise to be done by professionals are:
Ask your local KEA dealer about the range of servicing options on offer.
The cost of motorhome insurance and motorhome registration fees can vary widely, even depending on which state you are in, so take some time to look into what’s available.
Remember, new and used motorhomes will have different costs for insurance so that is something you should take into account when choosing your vehicle.
For all of the above and more, it’s definitely worth a chat with your local KEA dealer. Don’t be afraid to walk into the dealership and ask as many questions as you like.
The team on the ground are not just experts, they’re motorhome enthusiasts as well, so they don’t mind talking about something they live and breathe. At KEA, you’ll find a knowledgeable team who will go the extra mile to match you with your dream vehicle.
If you’re about to launch into driving a motorhome for the first time, there are tons of tips for motorhome owners to be found, but the bottom line here is research. Get all the facts you can from as many sources as possible, talk to other owners, go to shows and check out online groups and forums.
There’s a lot to think about and it can seem overwhelming. But as with any big journey, the right preparation at the beginning will see you heading out on the road with confidence.
Make sure you take a look through our Helpful Guides as there is a wealth of information. Best of all, it comes from real life motorhome enthusiasts and experts. Visit your local KEA certified dealer today to talk about what motorhome or campervan is right for you.