Buying Your First RV?
Written by Teresa Harrington on January 10, 2018
So you’re thinking about buying your first RV. Whether it’s for traveling the country and becoming a full-time RVer, or being able to go on adventures on a short notice, you’ve entered the market and are browsing around. Mind you - this is not a small investment by any means. This is why you have to figure out exactly what you need and why.
Look for the Right RV
Because of the many different types and sizes of RVs, purchasing the first one could be overwhelming for some. Some of the considerations you must make before purchasing include:
- Class A or Class C RVs. These RVs are on a chassis and have a cab. They are the most expensive type since you don't need a tow vehicle.
- Class B Camper vans. Camper vans are the arguably the most economical type of RVs out there. They are perfect for a small family of four.
- Travel Trailers. The travel trailers hooks to a tow ball at the back of the truck. You do not have to modify the truck for a hookup in the bed. However, they cannot be towed with a bumper hitch. You'll have to add a hitch that is welded into the frame of your truck to safely tow a travel trailer.
- Fifth Wheels. A fifth wheel attaches to a hitch in the bed of your truck. You'll have to complete the modifications to the truck before hauling.
- Tent trailers. A tent trailer may be towed by smaller vehicles, but still require a trailer hitch that is welded to the frame as opposed to a simple bumper hitch.
If you’re unsure about what exactly you need and prefer, you should consider renting some of these options to help make your decision.
Before you actually start looking at RVs, you should have a list of features you would like. This will make it easier to narrow the choice selection down even further.
- Space. Whether you are a family of two or you plan on going RVing with children, you will need enough space so that you don't feel crowded. Choose RVs with or without slides and separate bedrooms. Bunkhouses are great for children. However, bunks may be a bit crowded for adults. Also, if the only full/queen bed is the bed that converts to a table, you'll need to decide if you want to put up the bed every day.
- Toys. Choose a toy hauler if you want to haul your motorcycle, four-wheelers or other items that take up a lot of space and would require a trailer.
- Appliances. If you plan on cooking larger meals, you may want to choose a model that features at least three burners on the stove. Some RVs also come without an oven, so if you plan on baking, make sure an oven is on your list. The size of the refrigerator is another consideration. You may want a larger fridge if you have more than two or three people in your family or if you are going to be living in the RV full time.
- Seasons. Not all RVs are designed to be efficient in the cold. If you plan on camping in the winter or are going to be RVing full time and plan on being in cold places, you may want to consider a “winter package” with better insulation and other cold-weather features.
- “House” RVs. Many RVs now come with residential type appliances and furniture. Though this usually adds to the cost of the unit, if you are going to be living in the RV or if you plan on taking many vacations, you may want to find an RV with residential appliances and furniture.
- Weight. You must also consider the weight of the trailer. Some manufacturers make lightweight trailers that could be towed with a half-ton truck. The larger RVs will need a larger truck, especially if you are going to be towing through the mountains.
The price of an RV is a huge consideration. Motorized RVs cost more and require more maintenance. However, your tow vehicle will also require maintenance. Another cost consideration is whether you'll have to buy a new tow vehicle that is large enough to tow the RV you want. Compare the cost of a travel trailer or fifth wheel with the cost of a motorized RV to find out which way suits your pocketbook.
Also, don't forget to add in general maintenance such as maintaining the heating and cooling system, tanks, appliances, the exterior and the interior of an RV.
Once you’ve decided which type of RV you want, along with specific features, you should be able to narrow down your choices considerably. But wait - the process isn’t over yet! You now get to check out all the fun floor plans that fit your space needs. Once you have the perfect plan, then you’re ready to make the official purchase. Good luck!