A comprehensive guide for buying your first KEA motorhome

There are many options to consider when making a decision


10 Things You Should Definitely Consider Before Buying Your First Motorhome


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.

 

 

1. Is a Motorhome or Campervan better for you?

 

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!

Motorhomes

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

  • You have everything you could need right inside your vehicle including beds, cooking and bathroom facilities - you don’t really need to rely on campsite facilities at all!
  • There is ample storage for bringing oversized items like sports equipment, bikes or extra bedding 
  • You have spacious living areas for lounging, playing games or sitting around the table with the family 
  • You can save a lot of money on accommodation if you are travelling with multiple people that would otherwise require separate rooms 
  • There is ample space for entertainment units such as TV’s and sound systems

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! 

Campervans

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. 

Benefits of a campervan

  • It’s compact, so you can drive wherever you like just as a car can - that means easy parking and maneuvering!
  • You have a simple living area to maintain - a little less room can actually be a good thing! 
  • Maintenance is minimal since cooking and cleaning facilities tend to be more simple
  • Campervans are a budget friendly option, great for couples, independent travellers or small families 

2. What is your budget?

 

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: 

  • Maintenance and repair costs

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. 

  • Insurance and registration fees

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! 

  • Campsite fees and fuel

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!

 

 

3. What type of Motorhome or Campervan do you need? 

 

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: 

  • Bed options

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? 

  • Vehicles specs

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.

  • Practicalities with maintenance 

Consider how much time you have for maintenance tasks, and who will be able to complete the jobs required.

  • Day-to-day needs 

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? 

  • Entertainment

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!)

 

 

4. Should you buy a new or used Motorhome?

 

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

  • The latest safety specs to put your mind at ease
  • Comfortable new seats for long trips
  • Environmental factors such as better emissions 
  • New vehicle warranty 
  • Top of the range appliances like smart TV’s
  • Low kms so you get a long vehicle life 
  • Body, mechanical, electric and plumbing are all in pristine working order 
  • Excellent resale value if you plan on selling down the line

Another benefit is that you get exactly what you want in terms of fitout, options and accessories!

The benefits of buying used 

  • They’re often more affordable, which appeals to many first-time buyers
  • Great for travellers who aren’t too worried about vehicles in perfect condition - such as families with slightly messy kids! 
  • Lower insurance costs 
  • Ideal for those only wanting to travel for a short period of time 
  • You can make updates and upgrades to the campervan to suit your needs 

All of the ex-rental vehicles we sell come from well-known brands under the thl banner such as Britz and Maui and are fully refurbished by our team before sale. 

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.

 

5. Where are you planning to drive to?

 

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. 

  • Sleeping arrangements

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! 

  • Cooking facilities

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?

  • Seasonal luggage

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. 

  • Off-grid

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? 

  • City living or outskirts

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? 

  • Access to key amenities 

Will there be dump stations nearby? Is there access to running water or vehicle services?

 

 

6. What kind of comfort level do you want?

 

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. 

 

7. What kind of storage will you need? 

 

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: 

  • Hobby items - perhaps you love fishing or skiing and have oversized sports equipment? 
  • Do you want to bring the family bikes along? 
  • Are the kids or grandkids bringing extra toys along to keep themselves occupied?
  • What season are you planning to travel in, and will that require extra bedding, clothing and extras? 
  • Are you likely to purchase items on the road that require space? 

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!

 

 

8. What time do you have for looking after a vehicle? 

 

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: 

  • Draining the lines 
  • Cleaning out the fridge and cupboards before you store it away 
  • Emptying the dump tank
  • Cleaning down seat covers 
  • Cleaning the toilet and shower 
  • Washing the outside of the camper 

Jobs you should organise to be done by professionals are: 

  • Warrant of fitness
  • Servicing 
  • Specialty repairs 
  • Engine and maintenance tuning 
  • Electrical and gas system work 

Ask your local KEA dealer about the range of servicing options on offer.

 

9. Insurance and registration costs 

 

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.

 

10. Talking to an Expert

 

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.

 

Good journeys are made great by the KEA difference and that means good advice at every step of the way 

 

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.