Are you in the market for a new RV but feeling overwhelmed by the numerous options available? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are some solid tips to keep in mind as you start RV shopping. Plus, we asked experienced RVers “What’s something you wish someone told you about your RV before you purchased?” – you may be surprised at what they say!
Determine your needs: Before starting your search, make a list of your must-haves and prioritize your preferences. The main factors to consider are:
- What size are you comfortable driving or towing?
- How many people (beds) do you need to have room for?
- Where will you store your RV when not in use? (Some neighborhoods have HOAs that won’t allow campers over a certain length to be parked in driveways)
- Kitchen facilities – do you plan to do lots of cooking or are kitchen appliances less important to you?
- Bathroom(s) – how many do you want/need?
- Entertainment systems – TVs, stereos, outdoor hook-ups.
Set a budget: RV prices can vary significantly, so it’s crucial to establish a budget before you begin your search. Don’t forget to factor in additional costs like insurance, maintenance, and storage fees.
Consider the layout: The layout of an RV greatly impacts your comfort and convenience. Are you looking for a front or rear kitchen? Would you prefer a separate bedroom or open floor plan? Think about how the layout will suit your needs and lifestyle.
Inspect the construction: Quality construction is essential for the longevity and reliability of an RV. Check for solid construction, durable materials, and reliable components. Pay attention to the roof, windows, doors, and flooring to ensure they are well-made.
Assess the towing capacity: If you plan to tow your RV, make sure your vehicle has the appropriate towing capacity. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines and consult with a professional if necessary to ensure a safe and smooth towing experience.
Research the manufacturer: Take the time to research the reputation and customer reviews of different RV manufacturers. Look for companies with a track record of quality craftsmanship and excellent customer service.
Inspect the storage space: RVs often have limited storage space, so it’s important to assess the available compartments and cabinets. Consider your storage needs for camping gear, clothes, kitchen supplies, toys and personal items.
Test all of the amenities: One of the perks of owning an RV is the range of amenities available. Test the kitchen appliances, bathroom fixtures, heating and cooling systems, and entertainment options to ensure they meet your expectations.
Consider maintenance and repairs: Find out if there are authorized service centers near your location and research the availability and cost of replacement parts. Also, check if there is a warranty or service plan available for the RV you are considering.
Take a test drive: Lastly, don’t forget to take a test drive! Get a feel for how the RV handles on the road and how comfortable it is for you and your passengers. A test drive will also give you an opportunity to address any concerns or questions you may have.
Ready to start looking at the sales lots? Check out these real-life tips from experienced RVers when we asked:
“What’s something you wish someone told you about your RV before you purchased?”
“Make sure to have a walk-around bed and especially NOT one with 3 sides. An island bed makes all the difference!” – Gage M. “That you should sit on the toilet and close the door to see if you fit, or stand in the shower to see if you fit.” – Baldwin C. “Have slides brought in so you can see how available bathroom and refrigerator are when you don't have everything extended.” – Danette S. “Whatever size you think your family can live with, it won’t. Get bigger!” – Paulene W. “Always have a Private RV Inspector do the Walk Thru before you buy.” – Maudie S. “Walk the roof to check caulking and look for any cracks or hairlines before taking delivery. If they won't let you get on the roof, walk away.” – Stafford F. “Check the roof before you buy!! Next time they bring me a ladder or I walk.” – Allyn B. “Put extreme emphasis on roof inspection and slide-outs. Run that slide out in and out till your fingers hurt then do it 10 more times more before buying.” – Wesley P. “Do not get a fold up or two piece mattress. The bedroom is great with 2 slides out, but it is a pain to make the bed.” – Petra R. “Have lots of windows on the curbside (passenger side). When you are inside RV, you want to be looking view side out (Passenger side). That's where your side door lets out onto your RV patio area. The driver's side of the RV will either be facing other campsites or the street where you'll just see cars and trucks.” – Rex B. “Don’t fall in love with a floor plan first. Research the builder and the lines available THEN settle on a floor plan. Peace of mind and no surprises are worth the $ invested in an inspection.” – Leo G. “Don't buy one with a Murphy bed. It's a pain to lift it every day so you can have a couch.” – Blaine D.
"The stock mattresses suck! A wall against the foot of the master bed makes the inside seem smaller and is a pain changing the bedding." -- Rosalie M. “Don't trust when they tell you your tires are/look good. Go by the DOT date on the tires- they're only good for 5-6 years at most.” – Johanna S. “Dealer lies about MPG for motorhomes...ask on RV Facebook groups their actual MPG before buying.” – Clara M. “Don't buy a trailer that is at your tow vehicle's upper limit for towing or payload.” – Clint G. “Don’t buy the extended warranty - its not worth it.” – Bob L. “Don’t go crazy buying stuff to fill it. It is not like your home & you will find you don’t need much to have a great RV experience. Go with the basics & maybe a pen & pad or record on your phone what you needed while out. Then buy that stuff.” – Patrice W.