11 most important things to know before buying an RV

11 most important things to know before buying an RV

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Buying a RV can be confusing especially when you are trying to own it for the first time ever. Here is a RV buying guide that will list out all things you should do and check before doing that transaction.

RV’s come in different sizes, features and that can get complicated to understand. The easiest way to zero-in-on is to simply map your requirements with what is available in market.

Having said that, it may sound simple but can be confusing enough to put you in a fix. With dealers trying to sell the ones that give them high commission, it is going to be a tougher task for you to trust them at times.

The good thing is that things are not hidden and you can find all information online. This article is “buying a rv guide” to help you in deciding and finalizing the deal.

There are number of things you should ask yourself before finalizing the type of rv. Number of things to look at before you buy the rv.

1. Getting the right RV type

RV Types
RV Types

First and foremost thing to decide is the kind of rv you desire. Map your requirement with what market offers. RV or campers come in different sizes and you should consider all factors before finalizing.

Depending on the number of family members, lifestyle, you should chose the rv size. Normally, a larger sized rv will mean you will get more space and privacy. Larger sized rv also mean the cost will be more. It all depends on your choice and desire. Lets see bsic RV types that you can choose from.

Class A Motorhome

Class A motorhomes normally weigh between 15000 to 35000 pounds and extend for length from 25feet to 45 feet. They can accommodate upto 10 or more people and provide good luxury. They would typically include bathroom, kitchen and all other accessories. It can be hooked to campground electricity, water sewer drainage.

Class B Motorhome

Class B motorhome are lesser in size as compared to class A. They are normally less that 25 feet in length. They give limited luxury and can mostly accommodate 2-5 people. You can also get class B rv that are capable of accommodating more than 5 people. Class B motorhomes are better off in terms of mileage as compared to class A or class C motorhomes. They would have smaller refrigerators, smaller sleeping areas and more compact kitchen area.

Class C motorhome

Class C or mini motoromes are 25 feet to 35 feet long and can accomodate upto 6 or more people. They are smaller versions of class A motorhome.

Travel Trailer

Travel trailer can be long between 12 feet to 35 feet and needs another vehicle to pull it. The vehicle needs to be of sufficient power in order to tow the trailer. Hitch is used to connect the trailer and the vehicle.

You need to consider about the syncing between your towing vehicle and trailer. Having a 35 feet trailer would need a powerful vehicle to pull it hence keep the towing vehicle in mind before buying the trailer.

Fifth Wheel

Fifth wheel too need to be towed but they are little different as compared to travel trailer. There is a basic difference between the way hitch is used. A fifth wheel needs a truck to tow it. The front end of the fifth wheel hangs over the bed of the truck. The connecting hitch is placed on the truck rear bed.

Fifth wheels are more luxurious as compred to travel trailers. They are also easy to tow and the ride is smoother than trailers. It is beacuse of these reasons they cost more than travel trailers.

Pop up camper or Tent trailer

Tent trailers are the modest forms of RV you can buy. They are smaller and weigh very little, as low as 600 to 800 lbs. With smaller interiors, it can pack minimal things possible. These are mostly suited for couples as the interiors is very compact. Many people opt for pop up campers as they cost very less.

2. Know the price variations

RV prices vary depending on the type and also the features it has. Class A motorhome are costly ones and they also come with luxury. They can cost above $50,000 and can go much higher depending on the model, luxury appliances and so on.

Class B motorhome are less luxurious and can be bought in a amount higher than around $35,000.

Class C prices are between that of class A and class B. They can cost you around $60,000 and more. You also have option of buying a fifth wheel and travel trailer which needs to be towed using another vehicle and they can cost you more than $20,000 and as high as upto $50,000.

Pop up camper cost you less among all the options. You can buy it for less than $12,000 and used one can come at less than $5000.

3. Understand your usage

You need to be clear on how much you are going to use your RV. An occasional outing in rv once during a holiday may not need you a very high quality rv. On the other hand if your plans are to just go on a traveling spree or live in a rv for months then consider for a good quality that can sustain daily wear and tear.

how is to live in a rv

It is important to evaluate your use because RV’s come in different types. Their prices also vary much. So being clear on usability will help decide what kind of RV you really need. And thus you won’t spend too much without need and sacrifice on quality and or features.

Boondocking, for example will be easier with smaller travel trailer or pop up camper. You cant really go dry camping with Class A RV or lenghty fifth wheel. Similarly, if you are going to RV in snow falling region then be sure to have a well insulated motorhome. Even hard sided trailer may not be great in winters.

4. Used RV or camper can be a good deal

This is one question most people will seek an answer to. A used RV can save you a lot of money. A new rv will come in at prices that can be as high as $600,000 and even a modest RV will cost you $50000.

On top of this, the RV depreciate a lot. On an average a 5 year old camper can loose almost 30-45% of its value. The moment you take that motorhome or travel trailer out on road, its value starts to decrease.

With a used RV you can strike a deal that can be cheaper specially considering the depreciation in RV’s. A used RV can be a good deal as long as you get the right unit, a wrong one or ill functioning RV will only put your budget in wrong path for all the repairing and maintenance.

A good research can get you a better used RV but it needs time and proper search. You can find lots of dealers who sell used RV’s and you shouldn’t be short of options. There are quite a number of things that you need to check in a used RV.

5. Floor plan is crucial too

Floor plan is the next important thing after deciding on the class of RV. Just like how one checks for floor plans in a house, it is important to decide on the floor plan for RV or motorhome.

Not all have same lifestyle thus you need to decide the rv floor plan as per your need. You will have to ask several question to yourself before finalizing the floor plan. You should do a quick check on whether you can access the bathroom easily or not, whether you can eat your lunch sitting within comfortably or not.

How much space you need in the RV, what kind o kitchen layout you would want, sleeping area, vertical space, bathroom size. How much time you will be spending in your RV, whether you want it for occasional outings or for long living and so on.

Kind of storage you expect in your RV is also a factor to consider. A better thing will be to check in person different RV floor plans rather than just going through layouts on paper or computer.

6. RV’s have special parking and Storage needs

Next thing in your RV buying checklist is parking and storage requirement fo campers. Parking of RV is a important thing you cannot ignore. They are lengthy, have bigger widths and heights. If you have a garage that is small in size then you may want to think otherwise.

Its important to keep your RV with proper cover or garage especially during harsh weathers. In fact, you need to prepare specially for storing your rv when not in use. Do think about this factor before you get one at home.

RV’s are costly and not protectig them properly can be a big mistake. Specailly when the winter comes you need to store the RV. And if you dont have that big space then you will end up renting a storage that can be costly.

7. Travel trailer towing needs special arrangments

If you had a low budget and want to buy a travel trailer then think about the other things that come in with it. Owning a travel trailer will mean you will need a towing vehicle. This again is a big thing to overlook specially if you want to own a bigger travel trailer.

Your towing vehicle will have its own capacity to tow a travel trailer and thus your trailer-towing vehicle combination should work out. If you already have a vehicle that can tow then buy a travel trailer that it can tow without issues.

8. RV maintenance is must

A RV maintenance is completely different in comparison to a car. They are big, heavy engines, which are more powerful and thus, it will have more expenses. Maintaining a rv periodically is an important thing and this cannot be avoided.

RV maintenance can be preventive, scheduled or an emergency maintenance. A preventive Rv maintenance means you do it even before any problem occurs, this will help you in long term and keep the rv in good shape.

When you buy a new rv your manufacturer will provide some maintenance which will be as per scheduled. Even after the warranty, it is better to follow some schedule for maintenance.

Emergency maintenance is something that you do when your rv breaks down or about to break down or have started giving problems. RV maintenance can be easy if you carry out some common sense checks periodically.

Also, check the manufacturers manual and carry out all the servicing as per schedule. RV maintenance can be daunting but has to be done without fails. It is a thing that cannot be avoided hence have this in mind before you plan to own a rv.

9. RV insurance cost considerations

Next point all RV owning dummies should understand is the RV insurance. It is mandatory to take RV insurance in most states if they are driven and not trailers. It also depends whether you are buying conventional insurance or go for an added extra coverage. You may have to pay anything between $150 to $20000 depending on the insurance company you opt for and the type of insurance.

RV are more susceptible to damage, ill functioning and many other things, thus you need to take full coverage to sleep peacefully. If your new rv was financed then again you need to take full coverage as loan lenders would want full reimbursement in case of any loss.

Thus, owning a rv means almost a compulsory insurance. And it will cost around $1000 to $4000 on an average for class A motorhome. Around $500 to $2000 for class C motorhome and $200 to $800 for travel trailer insurance annually.

Having said the average insurance cost it can actually be anything between $100 to upto $20000. It depends on number of factors like your RV type, age of the RV, credit score, marital status, storing conditions, Your age, gender and many others. One can also opt for Optional coverage like vacation liability, trip insurance, pet injuries and many others.

10. RV’s also have other expenses

Apart from paying hefty RV prices you also have to bear other costs like insurance, storage in case if you don’t have your own garage. Also there are lot of other RV needs. There are number of basic appliances that will be needed for living inside a RV

You may have to buy interior accessories and also outdoor accessories like grills, chairs etc depending on you lifestyle while camping. While the RV prices seem high, they are mostly listed without sales tax thus include the sales tax which depends from state to state.

11. Storing RV during cold weather can be difficult

RV’s cost you much more than a normal passenger vehicle would cost and thus protecting it should be your first priority. It needs special consideration to store it. Winters can be harsh and you need to keep your RV protected.

A snow covering on your RV can damage its roof and it will cost you high to get it repaired.

rv storage in winter

A class A motorhome can cost you in six figures and keeping it in open during such weather conditions would not make sense. Proper storing facility is a thing you cannot avoid when owning a costly RV.


Buying a new RV is an exciting thing but it can be confusing and you should be careful while making the deal. A quick mapping between your needs and the RV features is a must. Fixing your budget, laying out you desires can help you while buying a new RV.

Proper research on different brands, models prior to visiting the dealer can help you in asking right questions and getting all doubts cleared before going a step ahead. If you have any friends or relatives who already own a RV then take advice from them.

Experience can teach a lot of things which no online material or own research can tell you. If you have family with kids then talk to a family who do rving, check on things that they had issue with.

While no two families can be similar, you can always draw conclusions in general on many things. Finally, go for it if you heart feels so and enjoy the camping. Don’t forget to take good care of your investment. Even though most points we discussed here may hint at why one should not buy an RV, but dont really take it that way. There are several good reasons why you should buy an RV.

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
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