Buying An RV: The Only How-To Guide You’ll Ever Need

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Introduction to Buying an RV

There are many things to consider when buying an RV, and the decision between new or used can be a difficult one. The good news is that there are some key considerations that will help you make your choice. In this article, we’ll discuss used or new, questions to ask, what to look for before you sign, and everything in between.

Buying an RV: Guide
Buying an RV: Guide

Is Owning an RV Worth It?

Owning an RV is only worth it if you plan on using it. This is a very subjective question to answer. It really depends on what you want to use your RV for. If you are looking for a luxury getaway that includes all the amenities of a home, then owning an RV could be worth it.

Owning an RV for camping purposes is a luxury purchase for most unless you are a full-timer. If you can afford to purchase this type of item for recreational ventures, and it enhances your outdoor experience, it can definitely be worth it.

There are many vehicles available for purchase that range in style and price depending on what your needs are. Whether you plan to travel with the whole family or just a romantic getaway for you and your significant other, the right RV is out there. There are used vehicles to brand spanking, new ones in all price ranges. You just have to know what you are looking for and what time of year to buy.

When Is The Best Time To Buy An RV?

Buy an RV in Winter
Buy an RV in Winter

Just like buying a car, some months are better for purchasing RVs. If you want to save a bit of money, knowing what time of year to buy an RV can be better for your wallet.

Winter is typically the best time to buy a new RV. Manufacturers are able to offer more discounts and incentives for storing their inventory in storage facilities. The prices on used RVs also tend to dip at this time of year as well, so if you’re looking for something that’s already been broken down into its most basic parts then winter is the way to go.

Should You Buy an RV From an RV Dealer?

RV dealer
RV dealer

This question is more about personal preference. You will hear answers on both sides of the fence to this question. Some people prefer to purchase RVs from personal parties in order to save money and not pay dealer prices.

Some people prefer to pay dealer prices in order to feel safe and walk away knowing that their purchase is covered. If you purchase a vehicle from a dealer, you have the option of buying a warranty (this includes used RVs). This gives the purchaser a sense of security.

Should I Finance Or Pay Cash when buying an RV?

Financing an RV
Financing an RV

The answer to this question is easy. Cash always wins. If you have the cash, you should always purchase the RV in cash. Because RVs, like cars, tend to depreciate in value so quickly, it is wise not to finance.

With such a high purchase price already, loans for recreational vehicles are generally pretty strict, requiring a down payment and high fico scores. They also tend to have large payments and higher than average apr’s making them terrible options for consumers. Banks do this because they are higher-risk loans due to depreciation and high rates of default.

Unfortunately, many don’t have that type of cash on hand. Financing becomes the only option. Use a credit union when financing. Shop around and make as much of a down payment as you can. This will help in reducing the length of the loan term and create a favorable apr. Plus, you won’t have those pesky monthly payments.

What Are The Different Types of RVs Available?

pop up camper
pop up camper


This is the most common type of RV, and it’s also by far the largest and most expensive. This type of RV is a drivable RV.

Fifth Wheel-

These are also very large towable, but they have a truck that pulls them. This type of towable connects to a truck with a fifth-wheel hitch in the truck’s bed.

Toy Hauler-

These are larger type towable fifth wheels that have storage for toys or other outdoor activities like skiing. They’re a good option if you don’t want to buy an enormous motorhome with tons of space inside but still enjoy taking your outdoor toys with you.

Travel Trailer-

Travel trailers hook to a truck by ball hitch on the bumper. They are smaller than a fifth wheel. They come in many sizes and some have slide-outs making them very versatile and popular.

Tear Drop Trailer-

These are also towables that have a small pop-top. They’re the most popular type of trailer because they can be hooked to any size vehicle and towed by anyone who has a driver’s license.

Pop-Up Camper-

A pop-up Camper is a trailer that is not attached to a vehicle. It’s towed with an electric hitch or if you’re choosing one without the pop-up, it can be pulled by any type of tow vehicle like an SUV, truck, or even small car.

** If you are not sure about which type of RV that you want to purchase, you can always rent an RV or multiple RVs prior to purchase to get a better feel for what you are looking for. Outdoorsy is a great place to rent campers from.

Inspecting A Used RV: What To Look For?

When looking at a used RV you need to be prepared. Here are a few things to be aware of. Make a list of questions to ask and look for before your appointment so that you don’t overlook or forget anything.

Ask about History: When inspecting a used RV ask about the RVs trip history, its mileage, its age, where it was parked, how it was maintained, and any service it received. Was it in any wrecks? Did it receive any warranty work? Was it repaired for any damage? When it was stored, was it covered?

Features: What are its features? How many air conditioners does it have? Do the slides work? Did they add any upgrades? Have them demonstrate all of the features.

Tires: Take a look at the tires. Look at the tread. The last thing you want is to drive off the property and have a tire blowout. Ask the last time they had them replaced. Is there a tire pressure monitoring system? Check tire pressure.

Do an Exterior Inspection: Check for water damage. Open and close all awnings. Check outside of slides when they are opened and closed. Look under the RV for any damage.

Check inside floor and edges for damage: Look for damage or signs of mold.

Check all vents and windows for signs of mold: Be sure to check for water damage and signs of mold. Be extra careful in bathrooms and near ac units.

** Pay for a professional inspection

What to Consider When Purchasing A New RV?

Depreciation– All new RVs will lose value as soon as you move them from the dealer lot.

Dealer Markup– Dealer will price the vehicle so that they will make money. Be aware that you are paying a premium price for a new vehicle.

Delivery Fees– Know that you are likely paying a fee for having the vehicle delivered to said facility.

Warranty– If you have a warranty on the vehicle that goes beyond the manufacturer’s warranty, you will likely have an additional fee. The manufacturer does offer a standard amount which is a benefit of purchasing a new vehicle.

Things To Ask The Dealer When Purchasing A New RV

white and brown rv trailer on brown sand during daytime

Cost– Be sure to ask any questions about how the dealer arrived at the final “out the door” cost you are being charged for the RV you are purchasing before signing any contract.

Features– Make sure that you understand all features associated with the RV you are purchasing before leaving the dealership or signing anything.

Warranty– Be sure to have a copy and ask any and all questions that you may have about the warranty or warranties that you are obtaining on the recreational vehicle you are purchasing from the dealer.

Financing– If you have obtained financing from the dealer on your new RV, be sure that you understand the details and terms of the financing agreement before signing ANYTHING!!

Walkthrough– Before driving your new RV off the lot of the dealership, make sure that they give you a thorough and complete walkthrough that includes every single detail about your new vehicle!! You certainly paid for it!

Pros of Buying A New RV

Buying new
Buying new
  1. Newer Technology: A brand new RV will have the latest technology that allows you to navigate and find your destination with ease.
  2. No Resale Value: A newer model of an RV is typically not worth as much when it comes time for resale since there are so many more options in this area that people can choose from.
  3. Get The Floorplan That You Want: There are many options to choose from. You will likely be able to find many styles, options, and colors.
  4. No Wear and Tear: Since it is brand new. There will be no damage and no wear.

Cons Of Buying New

  1. Higher Price: A brand new RV will come with a higher price tag. You may have an increased monthly payment or higher down payment.
  2. No Bargaining: There is no negotiating the price of a newer model as it has already been set by the company and there are so many more to choose from.
  3. Higher Insurance: You will pay a higher premium on your insurance on a newer vehicle.

Pros of Buying a Used RV

  1. Lower Price: The price of a used vehicle will be much more negotiable and much lower than the newer models.
  2. Option to Renovate: You may be able to find a used vehicle that needs some renovation. If you buy it, then the cost of fixing up your new home will come in at a much lower price when it is all done.
  3. Lower Insurance: When buying anything pre-owned there is always less insurance needed and generally cheaper rates as well because the risk factor is reduced.

Cons of Buying Used

  1. More Wear and Tear: When you buy a used RV there will be wear and tear from the previous owner’s use.
  2. Buying Other People’s Problems: You never know what hidden damage awaits after you purchase from a previous owner. It could be very costly. It is highly recommended to pay for a professional inspection prior to purchase.

Things To Consider When Purchasing A New or Used RV

Things to consider
Things to consider

There are many things to consider when purchasing an RV, both used and new. You want to make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row before you sign any paperwork, hand any money over, or drive away. It is a very large purchase. One that can come with big regrets if you don’t think things through and prepare for all of the details of ownership prior to your purchase. Here is a list of some of the things to be aware of before you make your big decision.

Cost: The cost of buying an RV can range from a couple of thousand dollars to many hundreds of thousands depending on the type, size, year, and features of the vehicle you choose. Make sure that you are aware of what type of impact this will have on your bank account and future before making your decision. Can you really afford this type of investment?

**Always search multiple dealers to compare. Comparing many dealerships assures that you get the best deal and best price. You can also compare financing with different banks to make sure that you don’t pay higher interest rates making your purchase more affordable all around.

Storage– A recreational vehicle takes up lots of space. Will you be able to store this at your home? Will you be living in it full-time. Where will you park it? Do you already have arrangements set up? Did you find a place to store it? Did you factor in the cost of storage?

Campsites– How many months or weeks per year do you plan on camping? Did you factor in the cost of campsites?

Fuel– Fuel for RVs is fairly expensive. Diesel is higher. Make sure that you are prepared to add this fee to your budget.

Maintenance Costs– Prepare to add monthly or yearly maintenance costs to your budget as well. Tires, cleaning products, emergency fees, and more. It is important to plan for these items and keep a small fund available in your bank for the maintenance of your recreational vehicle.

Registration– Annual registration and inspection fees will be due for your RV. It is important to add these fees to your budget as well.

Repairs– Unforeseen things happen when you travel. You may want to keep an account for “just in case” situations.

Insurance– Insurance will be required as soon as you purchase your recreational vehicle.

Conclusion: Buying an RV

Whether you are buying a used or new RV, there are many factors to consider before making your purchase. Buying an RV is more than just the cost of the vehicle; it also includes storage costs and maintenance fees for example. Even if you’ve already decided on a type of camper, these tips will help guide you through each step in the process so that you can make sure nothing falls through the cracks during this big decision. What are some other RV purchasing tips? Let us know in our comments section below! We would love to hear from everyone who loves camping as much as we do!

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