Buying an RV is an exciting time, and that can sometimes cause buyers to miss important parts of the selection process in the fun of it all!
Every vehicle buyer has their own individual needs, so it’s important to figure out what yours are so you are truly happy with your purchase. Your campervan will be your home away from home (or maybe even your primary residence!) so you want to put as much time and effort into researching the purchase as you would a house. We want you to feel excited to hit the road, not thinking about what could have been!
Before you start looking, make sure you know what you want and need, and what to check for when you arrive at the RV dealership. We want you to enjoy your RV, so here’s our list of things to keep an eye out for when purchasing.
Choosing an RV that doesn’t meet your needs can mean wasted money and time that could be better spent on exploring! An RV is a big purchase and one that you don’t want to be left sitting in your driveway not being used.
Before you go shopping, it’s wise to have a good think about what you or your family needs, and also what you would love to have. Everyone has a different lifestyle, and what works for someone else you know, won’t necessarily work for you.
Picking something functional will make trips away more fun as you can spend less time worrying about what’s not working. Ensuring you have plenty of space, the facilities you need and something to keep everyone happy will never be a bad thing.
Like buying a car or a house, when it comes to those big purchases it’s about getting the best value for your budget - a motorhome is no different.
If you’ve got plenty of cash to put towards your RV purchase then there are lots of options available to you. Be discerning about what you need and want, and what features you’ll actually love and use often. You may choose to look at vehicles that are top of the line, but it’s worth doing your research and investing in quality vehicles from reputable dealers.
You’ll also want to have a think about how much use you’ll get from your vehicle, to ensure you’re not over capitalising on such a big purchase. If you aren’t using the RV enough or don’t care for the extra features a top model provides, you could spend that money on completing other RV upgrades, or even on your van travel adventures.
Equally, going for the cheapest campervan could mean you end up spending a lot on adding all the extras and repairing or maintaining your vehicle. Not allocating enough budget can mean compromising on your wish list. While this might get you on the road sooner, bending on things that matter to you will likely frustrate you over time. If this is the case, you may be better off waiting, saving and looking for something that will truly make your campervanning experience worthwhile.
When you own a recreational vehicle, half of the fun can be gradually updating to feel more like your own. From adding new tech and upgrading appliances or reupholstering the seating and interior. You may choose to buy a more affordable vehicle or pre-owned vehicle to keep the upfront purchase cost low and space out costs to upgrade it over time.
Financing a motorhome can be a great way to get what you need, without worrying about how to get there. No matter what your budget, it’s best to take your time researching, reading reviews, seeking out expert advice and choosing what’s best for you.
Purchasing sight unseen is a risky move when it comes to buying an RV, especially from private sellers. With an RV there are so many additional components to check, from onboard facilities to the structural integrity of the vehicle.
An RV is made to travel long distances, so it’s important you know what condition you are receiving it in. If you are buying a used motorhome privately, you should always be involved in pre-purchase inspections so you can gather all of the information for an informed decision.
There is such a thing as a price being too good to be true! Campervans for sale at very low prices may indicate problems. It may be a real fixer-upper that could cost you more in the long run, but it could be a while before you can hit the road. Do remember there may be less chance of being able to return it if you change your mind. When you buy without inspection your vehicle may not come with a warranty, meaning any problems will be at your expense.
The less risky option is to buy from certified RV dealerships as you will have guarantees on the condition of the vehicle, as well as technical support. Do be sure to check with your dealership to find out what their deposit refund policy is.
Selecting an RV with enough room for those travelling will help to keep everyone happy on the road, with plenty of space and room for living. Though RV living is a great way to spend time together, it’s important to ensure you don’t end up on top of each other, especially for longer trips.
Some things to consider when choosing a size of RV include:
It’s important to choose an RV based on your lifestyle and with enough room for the types of things you enjoy. For example, if playing board games is something you do often, you may want extra living space with a large table. If you’re a wiz in the kitchen, then a layout that has lots of bench space and a great kitchen might be high on your priority list.
Outdoor adventurers might want extra room for hiking boots, fishing rods or beach gear.
Driving and parking a large RV can take a bit of practice and patience, so it’s important to consider what you are comfortable with, along with anyone else who might be driving.
Always consider how long you will be away, and how many personal belongings you want with you on the journey. Sitting in piles of stuff, squashed up together might not provide the relaxing holiday you were after.
When you aren’t on the road, the RV has to live somewhere! Make sure to have a think about where you will store it, taking into account the size and also some cover to protect it.
A garage or storage space will help to keep your RV in good condition and out of harsh weather, but you probably don’t have a garage that’s big enough at your place. Protective covers are available for short periods but may not be a great long term solution. Renting a storage space is a popular option, but one that you’ll have to budget for.
You’ll also want to consider the security of your vehicle when in storage. Even if it’s parked on your property, it may be worth installing some extra security in the form of vehicle alarms or cameras on your property to give you some peace of mind.
Many first time buyers overlook vehicle storage and the costs associated with storing (failing to store) a vehicle. Have a plan for storing your vehicle before you buy.
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RV’s come in many different configurations, including bed styles and living space variations. Selecting a layout that works for your lifestyle and needs can make life on the road a lot easier, whether you want to minimise work such as packing beds down or having set spaces such as tables that stay put for activities. Compromising on a layout that doesn't suit your needs when you buy your vehicle may end up being a cause of frustration later when you’re on the road. Not ideal!
Other practical elements include thinking about bed positions, as having less able-bodied people climbing up and down from a high bed may not be practical.
Motorhomes come with a huge variety of layout options, with many of them customisable if buying new vehicles. Spend time figuring out what’s important to you and finding a layout for your camper that you’ll love to spend time in.
Storage space is really important not only because you will have all your essentials and holiday gear with you, but also because you will need to store it all away when you are on the move.
Loose items flying around the camper when you are travelling is a hazard, so it’s best to ensure anything oversized, sharp or breakable has a place.
Items to dedicate space for can include:
Sports equipment, camping gear, or hobby equipment such as golf clubs are best to be stored in external storage compartments, so it’s a good idea to make a list of what you will take on your trips, then check out all the storage the RV has.
Things like prams, car seats or bags of toys can take up a fair amount of room, so it’s worth deciding where you would store those items for easy access.
Keen cooks might like to check out the pantry room, and those with kids may want to ensure there is plenty of room for snacks and any kitchenware for little ones such as bottles.
Travelling over cooler months usually means storing extra blankets, and those with kids may like to bring along extra sheets.
Owning an RV is like owning any vehicle- there is maintenance involved, which is increased ten-fold if you go fully self-contained.
It’s important to consider if you have the time to perform this maintenance, so you can keep your new purchase in top condition.
You should research first to make sure you know what will be required for upkeep in your preferred model, which may include:
A running shower, toilet and kitchen sink required maintenance such as draining lines and ensuring there are no blockages. Lack of maintenance with plumbing can mean costly repairs.
An RV is a home on wheels, so you should take into account whether you have the time to clean all the facilities and the outside of the vehicle too.
Leaving repairs or servicing too long can end up costing you even more money if the problem worsens, so you should ensure you have the time and money to tackle any smaller problems quickly.