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How To Buy An RV (Beginner’s Guide To RV Ownership)

Purchasing an RV provides the buyer with several advantages: a private residence and the freedom of mobility.

Everyone dreams of traveling across the United States, but not everyone understands how to put those dreams into action.

The best way to accomplish the above and travel for long periods of time is with a recreational vehicle. 

The first step to hitting the open road is purchasing an RV.

Buyers need to have options and reliable data to assist them when purchasing their first RV.

Some buyers intend on selling their permanent homes and making an RV their single residence.

Other buyers simply wish to have the option to use an RV when they want to take a family vacation or a long-term excursion. 

RVs are diverse machines.

Buyers need to understand the gravity of the decision they are making when they decide to purchase an RV.

RVs are not inexpensive, and many buyers need to educate themselves about the varieties of models and types available on the market

Finding a seller can be a complex decision.

How should a buyer find available RVs for sale?

Should they search their local automobile dealership or seek a private seller?

Buyers need to learn about these facts to make the best decision for them and their families.

Read on to hear some RV-buying tips.

motorhomes in grass

Getting Ready to Purchase an RV

Traveling around in an RV does not suit everyone’s taste.

Buyers should familiarize themselves with the reality of being inside an RV.

Campers who seek a more comfortable outdoor experience can find cheaper options to meet their needs.

Buyers need to make sure purchasing an RV will not be excessively wasteful or unnecessary. 

Buyers need to rent an RV and test drive it so they can learn about operating basic RV equipment.

Every potential buyer should spend at least a few days and nights in an RV before they decide to purchase one. 

Rideshare programs and RVshare websites will help potential buyers find opportunities to spend time inside an RV before making a purchase.

Getting to know the world of driving an RV and living in one will help potential buyers become more knowledgeable, experienced, and prepared. 


If a potential buyer has a home filled with furniture, household items, and years of accumulated consumer goods, then downsizing may be an absolute necessity before buying an RV. 

Even if a potential buyer does not have to sell off years’ worth of belongings, they may need to adjust to the smaller amount of living space available to them inside an RV.

Many homes in the United States contain at least 2,500 square feet, but the largest RVs are usually not more than 500 square feet. 

Small home dwellers may feel comfortable with a small living space, but they may have an excess amount of household and consumer goods.

Many of these items may not be useful inside an RV.

Reducing the amount of goods one owns is always a challenge. Potential buyers need to be prepared to sacrifice household goods if they are going to downsize. 


Purchasing an RV is a serious investment in your life and your future.

The purchase price of the RV itself is not the only cost that potential purchasers must consider.

Maintaining a vehicle is expensive, and RVs have specific needs that are different from those usually associated with a car or truck. 

Gasoline is also an important expense that potential buyers must factor into their financing budget when they are considering buying an RV.

Buyers who plan for maintenance and gasoline costs have a better experience with their RVs and their lifestyle. 

Financing a new RV is typically handled by a dealership, but used RVs are not often offered with financing.

Buyers may need to qualify for secured loans through their bank or companies that fund large purchases related to yachts, motorhomes, and trailers. 

Class A Motorhomes

Class A motorhomes are the highest quality option among the many choices available to potential buyers.

These RVs are spacious and stocked with modern conveniences like kitchen appliances and bath tubs.

Many of the class A motorhomes can sleep eight passengers. 

Class A motorhomes only get 6 miles per gallon and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The best way to find a less expensive class A motorhome is to purchase a used one. 

Class C Motorhomes

Many people see class C motorhomes at camping sites and RV parks.

These RVs are smaller and less expensive than class A motorhomes.

Class C motorhomes are often spacious and capable of sleeping six passengers.

Full bathrooms, kitchen appliances, and audio entertainment systems. 

Class B Motorhomes 

Class B motorhomes are good options for camping enthusiasts searching for flexible options.

These motorhomes are smaller but also offer modern amenities in some models.

They are ideal for solo travelers or couples willing to live in a smaller space. 

Used or New? 

Potential buyers need to determine if they wish to purchase a new RV or a used RV.

RVs depreciate over time like other vehicles; therefore, potential buyers need to be aware that after purchasing a new RV its value will decrease as soon as it is driven off the lot. 

New RVs often have technical and mechanical problems.

Purchasing a used RV means these problems have likely been worked out by the previous owner. 

Used RVs do not come with warranties or guarantees, but purchasers of new RVs may receive warranties or guarantees.

However, the used RV market may be limited, and potential buyers may not find the model they are searching for on the market. 

Where to Search for RVs

Potential buyers will want to find a reputable dealership if they are searching for a new RV.

Many websites and trading forums offer used RVs for sale.

Many of these websites catalog used and new RVs and users can use filters to narrow search results. 

Many potential buyers use RV shows to look through various RVs from dealerships all across the United States.

Many people can find cheaper prices at RV shows because sellers and dealerships are competing for buyers.

Additional Notes

Experiencing life behind the wheel of an RV is an important way for buyers to understand whether they would enjoy trading their traditional home for an RV.

Potential buyers can rent different types of RVs and try them out before deciding whether purchasing an RV is a good decision. 

One additional note about purchasing a new RV concerns the extras that dealerships can include in the purchase price of a new RV.

For example, some dealerships may offer bug screens for outdoor vents.

RVs contain vents to the outside for the hot water heater refrigerator, heather, and oven.

Many pests enjoy building nests near warm vents. 

Dealerships will also offer roof vent covers.

Placing plastic vent covers over roof vents will allow the vents to stay open without damaging the RVs interior. 

If a potential buyer purchases a used RV he or she will want to use a third-party inspector to analyze the vehicle’s mechanical systems and overall condition.

Accredited inspectors charge approximately two hundred dollars to inspect the structures and systems of the RV.

It is a red flag if a dealer or seller doesn’t want an inspector to analyze the RV. 

Buying used RVs from coastal regions is usually a bad idea.

Salt water causes corrosion and some used RVs have been salvaged from serious flooding and cannot be insured.

Mold is also a problem with RVs that have been submerged in water for long periods of time. 

Reading contemporary reviews of RV dealerships is also a good way for potential buyers to inform themselves about the business practices of RV dealerships.

Purchasing an RV at the end of the month often results in a potential buyer receiving a better financial deal.

Salespeople often have quotas to reach and these salespeople may be more likely to offer a potential buyer a deal at the end of the month.

Finding the right model is one of the best things a potential buyer can do.

But once the potential buyer discovers the make and model, they need to search for models around the United States and try to save money by finding a good, less expensive offer. 

Potential buyers should understand that they must never pay full price for an RV.

Most RVs are overpriced and potential buyers need to be prepared to walk away from the deal to get the salesperson to negotiate.

Potential buyers also should not pay any extra fees on top of the purchase price of the RV.

Final Thoughts

Potential buyers need to understand that purchasing an RV is not like purchasing a home or a vehicle but both at the same time.

Not every RV is created equal, and buyers need to protect themselves by performing diligent research and focusing on how they can find the best RV for them and their family at the most reasonable price. 

These buyers also need to have their potential purchases inspected to avoid dealing with any serious mechanical issues after the purchase date.