Purchasing your first-ever RV can be a bit daunting and challenging since there are plenty of options available on the market. There are plenty of factors that you should consider and keep in mind when you are out shopping for your first RV. The RV that you choose should suit your lifestyle and will make you comfortable while living on the road. Following the tips and tricks I will be mentioning below will lead you to choose the right RV for your needs.
1. Know the Type of RV You Will Buy: The Very First Thing to Think About
The first thing that you need to think about is which type of rig would be the best suited for your adventures on the road. There are three basic types of motorized recreation vehicles which are Class A, Class B, and Class C. Every type has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, you can ensure that you can find the right one for your family.
Class A RVs are usually large, bus-like vehicles and have flat noses. Class A can sleep from two to eight people and can run on diesel or gas engines. On the other hand, Class B RVs are considered vans but have all of the amenities you would see in larger campers.
Class B RVs also include beds, baths, kitchens, and living spaces. It can sleep one to two people and can be bought with diesel or gas engines. Lastly, you have the Class C RV, which is pretty easily recognizable. They have beds over the cabs and are usually built on a truck chassis.
It can sleep two to six people, depending on the model that you choose to buy. Mostly, they have a gas engine, but a few models offer a diesel option. Aside from the basic types, there are also RVs that are towable and can be pulled behind a truck or a larger SUV.
The first type is the travel trailer which are straight trailers that can range from 14 to 32 feet in length. You can sleep two to six people in these types of RV. The next type is the fifth wheel which usually has a bed on the front end with a hitch underneath it.
The hitch of the travel trailer attaches to the bed of the truck towing it and not on the bumper. Fifth wheels can be as long as 44 feet, and they can sleep two to eight people, depending on the model that you choose.
Next, you have the pop-up trailer, which is towables and part metal or fiberglass and part canvas. It makes them unsuitable for four-season campers but is great for weekend camping. These trailers run 12 to 14 feet long, and the beds fold out over the ends, extending the sleeping space to accommodate two to four people.
2. Floor Plans: Choose the Best One for Your Family
There are plenty of floor plans available in every type of RV that you may find. You choose the right floor plan by basing on your needs and what is important to you while living on the road. Check if the RV has a kitchen space, a separate bedroom, dry or wet bath, garage space, the type of bed, and so much more.
If you have kids, it is important that you check if there are spaces for your kids to sleep. You can choose an RV with bunk beds which is great when you have more than one kid. If you have a baby with you on the road, here is an article I have written about crib ideas that you can implement on your RV.
When it comes to floor plans, you have to look at all your options to see what will fit your lifestyle and needs when you buy an RV for the first time. You would need to think about how many people will be traveling and who will be traveling along with you.
Choose whether you need slides or not and how much cooking you will be doing on your RV. Make sure that you know the purpose of your trips when you are in your RV. These are just some of the most important factors that you need to think about when it comes to choosing the right floor plans.
3. Know Your Budget and Where You Will Use the RV
When it comes to RV, the price range is usually from $10,000 to $500,000 and even more, depending on the type of rig, age, and the amenities that are added to the rig. You can narrow down your choices by knowing the amount you can afford and the budget that you have to buy an RV. The most affordable type of rigs is pop-up campers and Class Cs. If you want to know about the best pop-up campers, here is an article that I have written for you.
If you are thinking of parking your rig at a campsite for a couple of weeks and exploring the surrounding area with your tow car or vehicle, the best way to go is to purchase a fifth wheel or a large Class A RV. If you are thinking of being always on the move, visiting new destinations every couple of days, then a Class B van may be the best way to go.
It will also be the best choice when you don’t need a lot of daily living space. If you are more interested in traveling off-road, then there are plenty of RVs that have all-wheel drive, and some big fifth wheels and travel trailers have garages built into them for bringing along your big ‘toys’ such as ATVs, motorbikes, etc.
4. Buying New Vs. Old RVs: What Is Best
When buying anything for the first time, it is normal for us to want the best quality there is. When it comes to RVs, brand new models can definitely give you the latest technology. You can expect a flawless finish with no signs of damage or wear and tear yet. You can get and enjoy the vehicle model exactly as it is. This is especially convenient if you happen to find the exact RV model you are looking for, which means fewer modifications. Now all you need to do is load your travel necessities and add personal touches.
On the downside, brand new RVs can be painfully expensive. The cost would heavily depend on the features and amenities included, aside from the type and the size of the RV. Brand new models, especially bigger ones, also mean high insurance premiums. You might also need to buy a towing vehicle with a towable RV if you do not own one already. This could cost you double the expense, plus maintenance fees to boot.
On the other hand, pre-owned RVs could fit your criteria as the best budget RV, provided the pros outweigh the cons. You should expect some wear and tear when buying anything second-hand, including rigs. There might also be hidden damages that the previous owner might not disclose for higher marketability. Upgrades could also be a little pricey if you are looking to keep the RV in tiptop condition throughout your travels. When looking at second-hand RVs, consider the frequency of use and how maintained (or not) it was before selling.
On a good note, pre-owned RVs make great first motorhomes if you are looking for something much cheaper than their brand new counterparts. Price-wise, RVs depreciate quickly in just a span of three to five years, which can instantly save you about $30,000. Older RVs also come with cheaper insurance. These are also easier to redesign, remodel, or restore, especially if the previous owner has been keen on maintenance and repairs.
Since RVs depreciate fast, even seasoned campers would recommend first-time buyers to get a pre-owned RV first and tinker with the interiors to their liking. Doing so could give you a better idea of what you want and do not want with an RV, both with its interior and exterior, and all at a lower price.
5. Know What Your Travel Period and Travel Habit Will Be
Before purchasing an RV, one important factor you need to consider is the travel period. You need to ask yourself if you will be traveling full-time or part-time. Traveling part-time requires less maintenance and repairs, whether you plan to travel for half a year, a couple of months, or only on weekends. You should also check the season when you would most likely be traveling, so you can weatherize your RV accordingly.
You should also look into your ideal RV lifestyle to make room for adjustments. Boondocking entails you being self-sufficient, while RV parks provide wiggle room for convenience. Boondocking requires more strategic living since you will be living off-grid, while RV parks allow you to meet other campers. Either way, you want to ponder on this to make adjustments and considerations in your daily expenses as necessary.
6. Choose the Right RV Size for Your Family and Needs
Once you have figured out how long you will be out RVing and where you will have a better idea of what rig size to get. It would help more if you could narrow down the number of your passengers, whether you are traveling alone, with another person, or with your entire family. You should also consider whether you are traveling with a pet in tow. Your hobbies or interests might also take up space inside your RV, which is something worth noting. When planned out properly, all these factors will help you filter the right RV size for you.
7. Consider the Additional Expenses that Come With the RV
Aside from the RV itself, you would also have to think about the additional expenses that go along with the RV. These additional expenses would be maintenance and repairs, insurance, and fuel. Everything is just as important as buying the RV itself. When you put these into consideration, you will have an easier way of choosing the right rig for you.
Maintenance and Repairs. As a rule of thumb, the bigger your RV, the more maintenance it requires, both on personal and technical notes. Consider your daily chores, the number of people inside, and the faulty parts that come with your RV. Monthly maintenance costs around $2,150.
However, if you are a frugal spender or keen when it comes to vehicle repairs, you could shell out as low as $100 per month. Keep in mind that RVs are highly personal properties, just like an SUV or a house, so there is no authoritative figure when it comes to expenses, only estimates. Overall, your maintenance errands depend on the type of rig you have and its amenities.
RV Insurance. The bigger your rig, the higher the insurance, as I have mentioned above. You would want to add “RV insurance” to your budget plan before purchasing so you can anticipate whether you can keep up with the monthly payment. For motorhomes such as Class A, B, B+, and C types, insurance can cost around $500 to $1,000 annually, while it is around $250 for trailers.
Fuel. The average mileage for RVs is 5,000 miles. Gas can go as low as $60 to as high as $600 per fill-up. A gallon is $2.50 to $4, and a fuel tank has 25-150 gallons, depending on the type of RV. For a rough estimate, a Class A RV can run on 4-7 mpg, a Class B RV can hold as much as 10-25 mpg, while Class C gives you 8-10 mpg. Your monthly gas cost would also depend on your driving behavior, fuel needs, and whether your RV uses gas or diesel.
A lot goes into buying your first RV. Looking for a budget motorhome would even be more challenging than opting for a brand new model. On a good note, finding the best RV for the money is doable, granted you have considered all your options. On top of weighing the pros and cons of different vehicle types, it is important to assess the maintenance needed for sustainable RVing. All these factors can help you find the best motorhome or trailer for your budget when planned properly.