Need to knows when purchasing a motorhome
Author: Cathy Anderson
Buying a motorhome is a thrilling exercise. You’re on the cusp of a lifetime of new adventures exploring our great country, meeting new people and creating amazing memories with family or friends. Yet it can also be overwhelming. How much do you spend? How much room do you need? Should you buy a new or used motorhome? Here's a checklist for what you need to know when purchasing a motorhome.
1. Who’s on board
First up, you need to know how many to sleep (whether on a regular basis or ad hoc), how much storage you need, and how much room you need to groove. Are you a young family with two kids in tow, a single person with a long line of travel-ready friends, or a retired couple who might occasionally welcome guests on your ‘Big Lap’? There is a huge array of motorhome interiors and vehicle sizes, but at a minimum make sure there’s ample storage, it fits within your budget and everyone can legally drive the unit. Are there tall people in your crew? If so, pay close attention to the internal height. Want to keep the bed made up? You might need a bigger RV to allow a dining table as well.
2. Your type of travel
Consider the type of motorhome travelling you’ll be doing, whether it's short trips to explore nearby sights and visit family and friends, or going off-the-grid for longer periods. The former means you can have a relatively simple setup whereas the latter may require being self-contained - that means analysing fresh and waste tank sizes, batteries and solar panel options as well as internal and external storage. If you’re travelling predominantly on well-sealed roads, standard factory setups are fine, but if you plan to tackle gravel roads and farm access tracks then rear wheel drive is important - double rear wheels are even better.
3. Luxury vs. basic touring
Everyone has a wish list of features for their home away from home. This might include air-con, flexible bedding configuration, a separate shower, four-burner stove, washing machine, rear view cameras, a good navigation system or various other motorhome accessories. Motorhomes can literally be as lavish as you want these days (budgets permitting, of course), but if you want all of these luxury accessories, and multiple devices while you travel, you’ll need to ensure you have the ability to power them all.
4. Know your budget
Determine your budget and stick to it (or at least keep a little bit aside for that wish list...).
A motorhome is a huge investment, and you may not have the cash up front. If you need to finance your RV, get quotes from as many different finance companies so you can and work out the repayments in advance. Make sure you compare all available options on loan term, interest rate, pre approval and any early termination fees.
5. The real costs
Buying your motorhome is one thing, but do some solid research on how much your rig - and your new travelling lifestyle - will actually cost. Include potential maintenance and repairs costs, vehicle fees such as registration, insurance, as well as campsite fees and fuel costs - remember the bigger your motorhome, the more fuel it will chew up. You may need to consider storage of your RV when you are not travelling if you cannot keep it at home.
6. Second-hand or new?
This choice really depends on your budget. If you choose a second-hand route, it is a good idea to have an independent mechanic check the vehicle and always compare warranty options offered by dealers. Also it's worth considering trying before you buy, this will ensure that you are getting the exact vehicle you want, and aren't making a costly mistake.
7. Do your research
Read reviews, check out as many layouts as you can online or at shows and as mentioned above, look into motorhome hire before you buy to get a feel for various styles. Also, ask other users for their feedback via Facebook groups, online forums and members of motorhome clubs. It’s always great to get practical advice about motorhomes from the people who actually use them.