If you’re a fan of camping, visiting state and national parks, and taking road trips, an RV could be a great choice for taking trips with family and friends.
Buying an RV can be a sizeable investment and can prove worthwhile if you use it frequently. Experts suggest buying an RV is a better choice than renting an RV if you plan to use it more than 20 days per year.
With an RV, you could be on the road (pun intended) to making lasting memories. We’ve put together a few guidelines to help as you decide on the right RV for you.
1. Decide which RV option is best for your situation
RVs come in a wide variety of sizes and styles. A few popular options include:
- Motorhomes – a motorhome is likely what you envision when you hear “RV.” It’s a drivable RV and among the easiest to set up on your campsite. If you’re planning to use it frequently, the added convenience and comfort can be worth it.
- Travel trailers – these RVs don’t have their own engine and are pulled or towed behind a truck or other vehicle. They carry lower maintenance costs and vary widely in size and length.
- Fifth wheels – a fifth wheel requires a heavy-duty truck with a special towing package to pull it. They are closer in size and amenities to a full-sized RV.
2. Pick the best option: new or used
Are you planning to buy a new or used RV? Here’s what to keep on the top of your mind for each:
If you’re buying new:
Before you start shopping for a new vehicle you may want to create a priority list of features. Start your search with online research, then get a good feel for the options that are available by going to a local dealership or RV show and checking out different models in person.
Generally, interest rates are lower when financing a new RV and you can get the features for which you are looking or need. Another benefit of buying new is the option to get the manufacturer’s warranty.
If you’re buying used:
Plenty of used RVs still have a lot of life in them. Also, used RVs can cost significantly less and could save you money through lower registration and insurance costs.
If you’re considering a used option, evaluate the vehicle carefully and check the mileage, if applicable. Even the features that seem cosmetic matter because neglect of these items may indicate neglect of items you cannot see.
Ask for any past maintenance records and ensure internal systems (like microwave, heating, and air) are in good working condition. And, evaluate the benefits of any upgrades the previous owner has completed to make the RV more comfortable and travel-worthy.
3. Consider affordability
An RV can be a sizeable investment, from the cost of the vehicle itself to the various expenses that come with maintaining it, paying for campsites, and more. Factor all these expenses in as you decide which option fits both your budget and lifestyle. (Tip: If you’re planning to secure a loan, check out these special rates specifically for RVs.)
If you are new to RVing, consider starting with a smaller option, then trade up as you become more comfortable with RV camping.
4. Determine when and how you’ll use your RV
The type of RV you choose depends on whether you are planning to live in the RV, or travel frequently, how many people will travel with you, and which cities and campsites you intend to visit.
If you will use it year-round and in colder climates, you may want to consider a 4-seasons RV. These RVs are well insulated and include added safety measures to ensure your water tanks don’t freeze in very chilly temperatures.
Do you plan on having the whole family go out on excursions together? Make sure you have enough sleeping space for everyone! If you prefer to frequent private campgrounds, you may also need to consider the maximum length of RVs allowed in your favorite spots.
5. Plan for storage and security
Where will you store your RV? If you’re able to park your RV in your driveway, in your garage (if it’s a smaller RV), or on your property, you can monitor it from home and ensure it’s protected.
In some areas, cities and homeowners’ associations do not allow RVs to park on neighborhood streets or lots. If that’s the case where you live, you’ll need to secure a storage facility. Many self-storage facilities provide RV storage, so you can choose an indoor or outdoor space and can ensure it’s well-protected and monitored.
Choosing an RV can take a lot of time and thought. Once you’ve picked the perfect option, though, you’ll be well on your way to adventure, exploration, and great memories. The sooner you seal the deal on that perfect vehicle, the sooner you can start heading out on California’s open road!