Steps to take before buying an RV

Whenever a discussion around a campfire or at a party starts up about RVing the most-frequent question from non-RVers is: “How do you buy an RV and know it’s right for you?” Buying an RV sounds simple – go to RV shows, visit a dealer, or search Craigslist then make a purchase. With hundreds of RVs on the market in many types and styles, it’s hard to make the right decision. The following steps should help you make a proper decision on buying an RV:

1. Set a dollar amount you can spend on an RV. (Don’t have a champagne taste on a no-brand beer budget). If all your money will go to make payments you won’t have money left to use the RV, causing you much frustration.

2. Take your time and shop around. Don’t be rushed into a purchase. Learn about the different makes and types of RVs. Talk to salespeople and current RV owners, and do some research on the internet.

3. Ask yourself why you want an RV. This will help determine if you simply want to be more comfortable than in a tent, travel more with the family, or even become full-timers. Knowing why you want an RV will help determine the type of RV that is best for you.

4. Define your needs. Do you need bunk beds for kids? Extra storage room? A fully self-contained unit or just one with the bare-bone necessities? How will you tow it? Do you want a motorhome or trailer? Or are you upgrading? Answering these questions will help you determine what you need.

5. What kind of camping do you enjoy? If you like backwoods primitive camping, a large Class “A” motorhome is not a good choice. Do you like full-hookup resorts? Or maybe you like state or federal campgrounds. Many times the type of camping you like will determine the type and size of RV you decide on.

6. How do you know which type of camping is right for you? Talk to RV owners, visit campgrounds, go to RV shows, read RV magazines and books. Do some research on the internet. Consider renting different types of RVs for a weekend at a time.

7. Determine the number of people that will travel with you. Think of immediate and future needs. Determine the number of adults and kids that will come along. Don’t buy a large RV to accommodate the occasional guest.

8. Where will you store the RV? Can you store it at your home? Does your city or subdivision have restrictions on storing RVs on your property? What are the costs to store an RV at a storage lot? The size of your lot, restrictions on storing an RV on your property and other restrictions may limit the type and size of the RV you can buy.

9. Consider the cost of ownership, taking into account operating costs, insurance, finance charges, maintenance and camping fees. Remember to shop around for financing and insurance.

10. New or used? Generally, you can get more for your money buying a gently used unit. New units have the advantage of allowing you to order the options and equipment you want. Keep in mind that buying an older RV can be risky if the condition of the RV is unknown. You can save money by buying an RV directly from the owner but it’s important to have it inspected before you close the deal. If you are new to RVing, a gently used RV is often the wisest investment. Keep in mind, however, that some new RVs are not being produced up to the quality standards as they have been in the past. Check for recall notices from the NHTSA.

By following these guidelines you should be able to determine the proper RV for you and have many years of fun and adventure.