In the past year, many folks have entered the RV community and bought a new or used RV. If you haven’t taken the jump yet and are considering it, here are some things to keep in mind.
Figure out Your RV Style and Budget
Determining your RV style is the first consideration. This can dictate many of the features or size you want in your RV. It also can be a huge influence on your budget. If you plan to take one or two week-long trips per year, the cost of fuel might be less of a worry. If you plan to travel weekly, it can be a huge influence and you might opt for a smaller vehicle and want to research if gas or diesel is best for your travels. Are you more of a campground or boon-docking camper? That too can influence the size and amenities you desire.
Today’s RVs come equipped with a lot of added features. Before shopping, really make a list of what is important to you and your new RV lifestyle. A washer and dryer add convenience when you travel for weeks at a time. However, if you only RV for a week or two at a time, it adds cost and takes up precious space.
Determine your must-have features, like an outdoor kitchen or bunk beds. They might eliminate certain RV classes from your search or narrow the styles you review.
Find the Best Fit
Once you figure out your budget and how you plan to use the RV, then you can determine the best size for you. There are three main categories for RVs (the links in each section will take you to a tour of one from a fellow RVer):
- Class A motorhomes are typically the largest, some going as long as 45 feet. These are the RVs where the driving area is incorporated into the RV and the chairs can often turn to become part of your living room. They are designed for the long haul and usually have decent space, fully equipped kitchens and larger bathrooms with separate shower and sink areas. They can also tow a car since you typically park them once and leave them.
- Class Bs are your camper vans or camping van conversions. They have better fuel efficiency, a designated sleeping area or an area that converts to a bed, and wet bathrooms where the shower is not separated from the toilet area. They are easier to drive and great for short road trips. Typically, since you do not pull a tow with the van, you take it wherever you go unless you carry bikes.
- Class Cs are the usually smaller motorhomes, but the driving area is more enclosed like a cab and the seats don’t usually turn around. They often have a bed or storage area over the driving area. They do also come in what is known as a Super C which can mean they can be almost as long as a Class A. They are also suitable for long road trips.
- Fifth-Wheel or Travel Trailers are the type that you tow or attach to your main vehicle, usually a pick-up truck or large SUV. Since there is no driving area in these, they often are roomier than other RVs with roomy kitchens or additional bedrooms. With these, once you park them, you can then drive your main vehicle around for errands and exploring.
Each vehicle class offers its own pros and cons so take a look at a variety to figure out which feels the most comfortable and fits your needs the most. A great option is to go to a RV show where you can see a great variety as well as all the newest bells and whistles. You will also see the huge variety that each class gives you. Travel trailers can a small pod or a long Airstream. It is important to really get a sense of what you want and like.
Take a Test Drive
We HIGHLY recommend test driving RVing before you buy. It will help you determine what is really important to you and confirm you have a good match. Pay attention to how it brakes, steers, and handles. You can do a longer test drive by first renting and taking a trip. This will help you determine if RVing is right for you and check out one or more of the classes to find what feels right for you.
When you find one you want to purchase, especially if it is a used RV, check out the condition and age of the engine and tires. Check that all appliances and the toilet work. Don’t forget to look for signs of water damage around the roof and interior. This is usually the biggest unfavorable surprise new owners find in used RVs. While it is certainly fixable, it is better to know upfront so you can consider the cost of repairs into your negotiations.
Finding Your RV
If you want a new vehicle, you can look at dealers or go to RV shows where they often offer discounts on floor models. This gives you great options and variety when looking. If you have time, you can work with good dealers to order specific models and interior styles that you would like.
If you decide to buy used, there are great sites like RV Trader that allow you to shop across the country for just the features, year and model that you want. While a trip out to personally see the vehicle before buying is a great idea, there are also local RV inspectors who will go out to look over the rig and make sure it is in working order and give you a report on any findings.
And if you are not able to drive it home once you purchase it (or any time you want to move it), you can utilize an RV shipping service to move your RV safely to where it belongs. This is helpful if you are busy or don’t have the right truck to move it yet.
We hope this helps make your dreams of owning a RV closer to reality! If you have questions or advice for someone buying a RV, put it in comments below.