Buying Your First RV – How to Pick the Right Motorhome for Your Family
Your first motorhome is a big decision and a large purchase, possibly the largest after your own home. It should be something you take plenty of time to choose and research carefully before you buy.
Here are some tips for buying your first RV for your family.
- Look around at other motorhomes you like and ask owners what they like or dislike about these homes on wheels.
- Try renting at least one or two or more motorhomes and see what you are comfortable with in terms of size, style and drivability.
- Talk to other RV’ers and see what are the advantages of owning over renting a motorhome.
- Decide how large you want your motorhome to be and start narrowing down your potential future RV before you buy. Spend time doing your homework from Consumer Reports to RVShare, Outdoorsy and other RV Rental and Sales companies.
- Arrange a Test Drive before you buy. For your own peace of mind and for the safety and confidence of others, be sure you are comfortable driving an RV of the size you are planning to own.
Here are other buying tips from RV Owners about how they picked the right motorhome for them.
1) Do this one thing
Get into as many RVs as you can before you buy. All the research in the world can’t replace the experience of actually being in an RV. Physically going into RVs will help you understand what you want, like and need in your own vehicle.
People tend to have a lot of questions when choosing an RV: Should I buy a Class A, B, or C, fifth-wheel or travel trailer? What floor plan do I want? Should I get a propane or electric refrigerator? Gas or diesel? What about the awning? Do I need … The number of decisions can quickly add up. Take advantage of any opportunity you can to actually get inside of an RV.
2) The best way to see a lot of RVs at once is to go where they are
Dealerships and RV shows. Visiting RV dealerships is a great way to see many RVs at once and ask questions about each model. RV dealerships are a great place to see RVs and ask a lot of questions. Some people avoid dealers for fear that a salesperson might try to sell them an RV before they’re ready.
In my experience, RV salespeople have been very friendly and helpful, and typically have focused more on answering my questions than selling me an RV right away. They understand that many RV shoppers are new to the process and may take time to make the right decision.
Another great way to see a lot of RVs, campers and trailers in one place is by going to RV shows, which are held at various times and places throughout the country. RV shows give you the chance to talk to real RV owners who are often happy to share the good (and possibly the bad and the ugly) about specific RV brands and models. Plus, RV shows are fun and really put you in the mood for your own adventure! Click here to see a list of upcoming shows around the United States. http://www.rvia.org.
3) Consider your travel plans
Before you rent or buy an RV, you’ll need to consider your travel plans — where you’re going, what you’re doing and for how long — to decide which kind of vehicle is the best RV for you. And will your plans also change over time? Do you think that now you may go on the road for 2 weeks at a time, but later you may want to go on an extended road trip for a month? Are you considering living and working from your RV? Take a good look at your plans and modify your RV choices to fit what you really will need the RV for.
4) Consider Safety First!
This is a primary concern and you should be very aware of roadworthy-ness in your new Rv. You may assume that every RV on a dealership floor is roadworthy. But with a purchase this big, you deserve proof. If you’re buying a used rig, make sure it comes with maintenance records. It’s important to know that the RV had proper care over its lifetime.
When one couple found out that their new (to them) RV had not been stored properly and that the seals were not maintained, they had to spend their Thanksgiving and Christmas completely replacing walls due to water damage
So, don’t hesitate to ask for maintenance records, check seals and inspect the roof for any signs of water damage. When the rig is confirmed roadworthy, then consider buying it.
Even in a brand-new rig, inspect everything — from seals to fans to upholstery stitching. Make the dealer go through all the systems to ensure they are working. This includes propane, air conditioner, slide mechanisms, engine (if applicable) and any other amenities that come standard with your prospective rig.
If these systems aren’t working, stop the process right there. Do not buy if you have even the smallest suspicion that the RV is not ready to hit the road!
5) Next consider comfort!
If we’re being honest with ourselves, full-time RV’ers will be the first to admit that most RVs aren’t as cushy or comfortable as the houses they left behind. For full-timers, that’s a fair trade-off for the freedom and adventure that life in an RV offers. But that doesn’t mean you should settle for an uncomfortable RV!
Find a rig that feels good to you. You don’t want to feel claustrophobic or cramped on long trips. Do you cook a lot? Make sure you like the layout of the kitchen. Do you need your privacy? Look for an RV that has doors and dividers.
Some people love the Class As because of the large windshield. They say it provides a more open feel with stellar views while driving. Others love fifth-wheels or travel trailers because they feel the most like “a regular house.”
Others love Class Cs because the seats in the driver’s cab are so comfortable for traveling and the overhead bunk gives more sleeping space without sacrificing any space.
Go to a dealership to get a feel for the different RV classes.
6) Consider priorities and lifestyle
Consider your priorities, your budget and your family’s lifestyle when you go to select your RV. Most state parks and some national parks limit the length of an RV to about 32 feet. So, if you are likely to camp in those places, you should be sure to buy a rig that will be suitable and fit easily in their campgrounds.
El Monte RV Sales also offers many Pre-Owned RV Specials. Check out our website and check back often.