A good place to start your search is with a dealer near you. You'll get a better idea of colors, space, comfort, and
other touchy-feely kinds of things that are hard to get online. And be sure to take your camera and notepad to help
keep the different models and features straight. Get some sort of
Buyers Guide to expand your knowledge about RVs and their
construction. Check out an
RV Glossary to familiarize yourself with conventional RV terms.
RV shows are also a great place to see new models and features before you decide.
Don't try to buy too quickly - most people take several months to decide on what type, brand, and model of RV they want.
Keep in mind the Pros and Cons of various types of RVs.
Here are some other things to consider when buying an RV, regardless of the type:
Now that you have a better idea of what kind of RV you would like, you can begin scanning the
manufacturers to find a model that might suit your floor plan and
feature needs. Then go to one of the sites listed above and search for that make and model.
- Will the RV be used for short trips, medium duration touring, or long term stays?
Smaller RVs are great for short trips, but only the chummiest of people can use them for lengthy trips.
Touring is more comfortable with a medium to large RV, partly because a place is needed for all the 'stuff' you
accumulate while touring. Long term stays typically require a larger RV with multiple living areas to occasionally
let people have their own space and to be able to bring along the most 'stuff'.
- Will the RV be used for remote camping, RV park stays, or some mix?
Remote camping in areas with poor or no access roads is usually done better with a smaller RV. Some older national
and state parks and BLM locations are also best visited with smaller RVs, say less than 25 feet long. Always check
with the destination because some parks may have increased their length capacity. In any remote camping case,
larger fresh water and waste water holding tanks are useful along with stand alone electricity capabilities in the
form of both generator/solar and batteries. Most public parks have room for the largest vehicles, although it can
be tedious to maneuver through some parks and into a site with rigs longer than around 35 feet. Modern private parks
have full hookups so larger holding tanks and generating capability are lesser issues.
- Will the RV be used during mild weather or during all seasons?
Thought should be given to making sure holding tanks are insulated and heated for cold weather, and to having dual
pane reflective tint windows for both cold and hot weather. The thickness of the walls of the RV will provide a hint
as to how much cooling and heating will be required to remain comfortable. RVs with thinner walls - canvas to 1" - will
require substantially more heating and cooling resources to be used in cold or hot weather than RVs with 1.5" or 2"
- How many people will be using the RV concurrently?
Consider the number of seats and beds to make sure everyone has a place to relax, eat, sleep, watch TV, listen to music,
or whatever, because sometimes there are rainy days that bring everyone inside for a while. More people means more
space/beds/seats are needed.
- Does it have enough interior storage for supplies and exterior storage for equipment?
Always check inside for a place to put your clothes, bedding, refrigerated and frozen food, dry goods, utensils,
dishes, pots and pans, small appliances, CD/DVD media, and toiletry items to name a few. Check outside for storage
space for chairs/loungers, table, patio mats, satellite dish, toolbox, sewer hose, water hose, electric cord, TV cable,
extra vehicle fluids - oil, antifreeze, power steering fluid, grease, wax, etc. - and of course, the obligatory BBQ
grill. You can never have too much space in an RV but sometimes you can have enough storage for what you need.
- Do you prefer a new RV over a used RV?
New RVs cost a lot more than used RVs but carry a warranty to fix most problems, the earliest of which are discovered
by the first owner of a new RV. Slightly used RVs (2 to 3 years old) will probably have most of the initial problems
worked out and will have depreciated enough to make them a good buy, if you can get past the sometimes mysterious
rational for why a perfectly good RV is now for sale. Beware of somewhat older motorized RVs with limited mileage
as these may have been used as live in models and need to be inspected for excess internal use - on fabrics, cushions,
beds, and appliances - or they may have sat unused and missed proper maintenance service. Older RVs, despite a great
low price, require much closer inspection for structural problems, water leaks, abuse, and equipment malfunctions,
and keep in mind that they may even be denied access to some parks if 10 years old or older.
- Any other preferences?
Some prefer larger galleys with modern appliances and lots of counter space, some prefer larger lounge areas,
some prefer particular bathroom layouts, some want separate sleeping quarters, many prefer slide-outs to increase
usable space. If you like to entertain, either indoors or outdoors, you'll need a setup for that as well. There's
probably an RV built for your preferences, but it may take some time to find it in your price range.
Some sites specialize in working with owners to sell their RVs on consignment. Most of the sites shown above where
you might look to buy an RV will also be able to help you in placing an ad for your RV on their sell pages.
Some things to consider when selling an RV:
- Do you owe more than what the unit is worth?
If you still owe money on your unit, be prepared for some amount of surprise and disappointment regarding how much
it may cost to get out from under your unit. Check with your lender to determine the payoff and with
NADA on how much the unit is worth. The
online NADA Guide will also help in itemizing the most valuable features
and options for your unit when you describe it in an ad if you are selling it yourself rather than trading it in.
Despite NADA's claims to the contrary, limited research shows that the NADA 'Low Retail' price is curiously close
to the dealers wholesale/trade in price.
- Do you want to trade it in or sell it on the open market?
Trading it in is quicker but you won't get as much for it as selling it on the open market. For motorized vehicles,
however, trading it in may reduce the amount of tax paid on the new unit. Selling it on the open market typically
takes longer and as a result may not yield as much as one thinks.
- Do you want to sell it yourself or have someone else do the work?
Selling it yourself requires preparing the unit for sale, advertising, showing the unit to prospective buyers, and
dealing with the paperwork. Check around locally for a consignment dealer near you and see what they charge to handle
the sale of your RV.
If you're looking to buy an RV but you're not sure about taking the big leap, then renting an RV can help you decide whether or not you want to own an RV and what type of RV fits your needs best. Renting an RV is not cheap, but it is much less of a commitment than buying one.
Renting also allows an individual, couple, family, or group the opportunity to experience the outdoors in a special way - up close and personal. Many visitors to the US from other countries rent an RV for touring and find it more convenient than unpacking and repacking when they travel from one place to the next.
And, finally, renting an RV makes sense when there is a need for portable housing such as work assignments and emergency mobile shelter. Be sure to review About Buying to remind yourself of things to consider about an RV that will make your rental more pleasurable, as well as Pros and Cons of different types of RVs that will help you choose the type of RV to rent.