So, you’ve decided to join the crowd and purchase your first RV. No doubt owning an RV has many benefits to offer when traveling – no need to worry about hotel reservations, ability to make stops anywhere along your route, freedom to travel where you wish, ability to bring more of your belongings along with you on your travels, and the companionship of other RV owners you will meet at your multiple campground site stops. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association estimates that families can save up to 61% on their overall travel and accommodation costs when going on vacation by owning an RV.
But once you start looking at purchasing your first RV you realize there are many more options than you knew when it comes to buying a recreational vehicle. Making the final decision can feel a bit stressful and overwhelming if you’re not sure exactly what you should be looking for. We’ve compiled a few tips on things you should consider before buying an RV to help guide you in your decision and eliminate the stress of making a decision.
DETERMINE WHAT YOUR BUDGET WILL BE
With RVs coming in varying sizes, styles, and prices, it is important to first consider what your budget will be for your RV purchase. RVs can range in cost from a few thousand dollars up to a few million dollars so making an informed decision on what your budget will look like will also help you narrow down your options for RVs that may be too far out of your budget range or RVs that do not have enough features for what you are looking for.
Things to consider when determining what your budget for an RV will be include:
- How you intend to purchase the vehicle – will you buy it outright or will you finance it?
- Will you need to put a down payment on the vehicle and if so how much?
- What type of RV insurance will you need and what will the additional cost be?
- What will your fuel costs, parking, and campground expenses be?
- How will you handle maintenance on your RV and what costs will come with the maintenance?
DETERMINE HOW YOU WILL USE THE RV
Once you have decided what your budget will be for your new RV, you will want to think about how you will use your RV and what type of features you would like your RV to include. Just as much as RVs come in a variety of sizes, styles, and prices, the way people use RVs also come in varying degrees.
Things to consider when determining how you will use your RV:
- How frequently will you use your RV? Will you be using your RV for full-time living, be a “weekend warrior” going on frequent weekend trips, or using it for only the occasional road trip?
- What is your style? Are you ok with the more traditional camping style or are you more of the “glamping” type?
- How many people and pets will typically be traveling in your RV with you? What will you need the sleeping capacity of your RV to be? Make sure that the size and the features of the vehicle are going to fit comfortably with your lifestyle.
- Do you want your RV to be towable or to be motorized? Do you plan on taking your RV with you anywhere you go on vacation or do you plan on keeping it parked at your campsite and using your own vehicle for day trips?
- Where and when do you plan on using your RV? Will you be visiting large campsites or smaller campsites? Will you be going on long road trips and vacations or brief weekend trips?
DETERMINE WHAT TYPE OF RV IS RIGHT FOR YOU
With all the different varieties and styles RVs come in, they are categorized into four main types: towable, motorized, specialty, and park model. Within each category there are different features available that broaden your options so narrowing down which category of RV will be right for you will help you in making that final decision.
- Towable RVs:
A towable RV does not have its own driving engine and will require you to use your own vehicle to tow it each time you switch locations. Because of this, if you are going to choose a towable style RV you will want to first be sure to check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to make sure you know what it’s towing capacity and limitations are. Within this category of RVs, you can choose from a variety of styles including: a foldable camping trailer, sport utility, truck campers, fifth-wheel travel trailers, and travel trailers with expandable ends. This RV category is a popular option for families on a budget.
- Motorized RVs:
A motorized RV is what most people typically think of when they hear the word “RV”. A motorized RV has its own driving engine, does not need to be towed, are built on automotive frames, and typically sleep up to eight people. Another name often used for motorized RVs is “motorhome”.
- Specialty RVs:
Specialty RVs are recreational vehicles that are designed either for the mobility challenged or with special interests and hobbies in mind. Specialty RVs for the mobility challenged may include features such as lifts, ramps, roll in showers, low cabinets, and wider doorways. Specialty RVs designed with special interests and hobbies in mind include a horse trailer RV designed to transport horses, while motorbike racers may have a specialty trailer RV to transport their motorbikes and equipment from one race to another.
- Park Model RVs:
Park model RVs give more of the look and feel of a regular “home”. RVs in this category are typically much larger RVs that are designed to look like a home but still need to be connected to electricity, sewer, and water like any other RV does. These RVs are specifically designed for a longer term seasonal camping experience in which the user parks at one campsite and stays there throughout the season, treating the RV more like a vacation home rather than a mobile home.