RV’s have been around for nearly a 100 years, yet things have changed quite a bit since those first RV’s hit the highways of America. There are countless brands, models, accessories, features, options and price points to consider. Today’s RV’s are not that much different from your brick and mortar home. They can come with bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, multiple bedrooms, flat screen televisions and more.
So how do you choose? Rest assured that you aren’t alone with over 9 million RV’s estimated to be owned in the U.S. today. Try to approach this decision like any other large purchase such as a home, car, or swimming pool.
Some RV Tips to Think About:
- Be careful not to let your eyes get ahead of your budget – Don’t buy more RV than you can afford. Start small, you can always upgrade later after you have some time in it.
- Envision how you will use your RV– no need for a 38 foot RV if you will only use it a few times a year for a night at time.
- Tax benefits – Depending on your resident state you may be entitled to breaks depending on the class of RV you choose and how much time you spend in it.
- Less is not always more – it is common when buying most auto vehicles to look for low mileage. Not necessarily a good thing with RV’s, this tends to imply that the RV wasn’t used much and that is rarely beneficial.
- Rent before you buy – This is a great way to see what you like.
Figure a RV Budget
First thing to do is get familiar with the different classes of RV’s. There is the Class A, B, C motorhomes then the towables such as travel trailer, fifth wheel, toy hauler, pop up camper, and truck camper. They vary in price from a few thousand dollars for a used trailer to well over $100,000 for a larger motorhome. Luckily, regardless of what you choose you can typically finance your RV purchase. Currently you can get a fixed, adjusted, and variable rate loan. Keep in mind that his is no appreciating asset. So choose financing wisely.
Costs don’t stop there. You will need learn about RV insurance, fuel, accessories, and maintenance. Most RV’s don’t really allow for great fuel economy. If you end up choosing a motorhome then be prepared to shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fuel for a long road trip.
What Does the RV Lifestyle Mean to You
How will you use your new RV? Weekend trips, seasonal migration, or full time? Just 1 person or 6? Is privacy a concern? The use should determine in a large part what kind of RV you purchase. The more it is used the more people tend to lean toward the larger RV’s. Another consideration is how far you intend to travel. Some RV’s are easier to get places than others. Do you have the equipment to tow a large RV? All things to think about. That being said be careful not to buy to much RV. Many first time buyers do just that.
Where do you Want to Go
You can go really anywhere you want as long as there is a road to get you there. Visit the Grand Canyon, see the Pacific Ocean, or visit Nova Scotia. The choice is yours. Most places that will let you get power and sewer for the night are going to charge you $20-60 per night. But if you want ultra swanky amenities you could find some RV resorts charging much more than $100 a night. A great resource is GoRVing, it is great website devoted to newcomers to RV’s. You can find tons of information on RV’ing and find places to visit with your new RV.
Try Before you Buy
You can have all the fun of being a RV owner without all the overhead expenses by renting. Take the lifestyle for a test drive over a weekend for just a fraction of what owning would cost. Most rental companies will let you off the lot for $500 or less for a smaller RV. Nearly cheaper than staying in a hotel. Plus it doubles as your transportation! Then you get the perks of having a bathroom in your vehicle rather than stopping. When you consider all these benefits it is no wonder why family travel in a RV is roughly half of comparable car/hotel travel.
When you rent you still have fuel costs and cleaning fees so it isn’t a real money saver in the long run. Don’t forget to get your insurance in order before setting out on your trip, most auto policies wont cover you on a rental.
Where Should I Look for My New RV
There are no shortage of ways to find your new RV. One of the most popular is online classifieds such as RVT.com, eBay.com, Craigslist.com and RVTrader.com. You can also visit RV trade shows around the country of which you can find one near you at RVIA. RV shows can be great for browsing and seeing what you find interesting. You can make a point to talk with others to get a better impression of what RV’ers are like.
You can then move on to RV dealers if you are comfortable doing so. You can visit the RV Dealers Association to find a dealer near you. We have always preferred the classified route and always had good luck.
Think critically about what you want to do with your RV, the budget you have, and who you will be with. Then “put the wheels in motion” to get out there and have an adventure you will never forget!