What type of RV?Do your research. There are many different types of RVs, so put significant thought into which one will best fit your needs and budget. Do some research online, visit an RV dealer to browse or ask a family member or friend who already owns an RV for their advice.
Choosing the RV
- Are you considering new or used? While buying a new RV may have benefits, such as a manufacturer’s warranty, RVs tend to depreciate quickly. Buying used may enable you to get more for your money.
- What class of RV are you considering? RVs come in three classes. Class A is a larger, more luxurious motor home. Class B pertains to “campervans,” and Class C is attached to a truck for towing.
- How many people will be regularly living/traveling in the RV? Answering this question leads to decisions about size and floor plan.
- When you find an RV you like, test drive it on a road where you would normally be driving it – such as a highway or mountain roads. Make sure you feel confident and comfortable driving it, especially if you have never driven anything bigger than your car.
- Just like with buying a car, never buy an RV without taking it for a test drive and visually inspecting it yourself, as well as having it professionally inspected.
When you have narrowed down your choices, you might rent the type of RV you are interested in for a weekend. Take it for a test trip.
Ongoing costsAs with any major purchase, think about all of the associated expenses. Will owning an RV fit your budget?
- With an expected fuel economy of 8 to 20 MPG, you can gauge ongoing fuel costs of owning and driving an RV.
- Do you have the space, either at home or somewhere else, to store an RV? If not, you will need to consider the cost of paying for storage.
- If you decide on a towable RV, do you have the proper equipment (i.e. a truck, etc.) to haul it? If not you may need to pay for modifications to your current vehicle or the purchase of a new one.
- Will owning an RV provide savings in other ways, for example on hotel costs, if you are a frequent traveler?
- Will you need certain licensing to operate an RV? What will insurance costs be?
- What amount can you anticipate spending on maintenance? Talk to other RV owners to get an idea, as RV maintenance and repair can carry a big price tag.
Financing your RVOnce you feel comfortable that ongoing RV costs are something you can reasonably afford, talk to several lenders about financing. As with other types of loans, you can get pre-approved. Pre-approval will give you an idea of what your monthly payment will be and how much RV you can afford. It will also give you greater negotiating power when you get serious about shopping.
RV loans generally have longer terms than auto loans – some a minimum of ten years. Rate differences can result in significantly more interest paid over a longer term, so it can really be to your advantage to compare. You can also anticipate paying loan fees, tax and license.
Buying an RV is a major purchase with ongoing expenses, so it’s important to do your homework. Will owning an RV bring you enjoyment and not financial stress? If so, then maybe it’s time to buckle up and go. Whether on the open road or one campground at a time, the world is out there for you to explore.
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