By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.
11 RV Buying Tips You MUST Know | 2020 Update
Buying an RV is a big investment. Whether you buy new, used or vintage, there are challenges that affect your RV buying journey.
Today we’re sharing 11 tips to help you find the best RV for the most reasonable price. However, we’re not doing it alone. We’ve asked our full time RVing friends to share their knowledge and experience. Together, we’ve created this awesome RV buying resource.
If you find this article helpful and want to dive deeper, check out the RV Buyers Bootcamp in Tampa, Florida (January 11 2020).
Let’s dive in!
#1 Decide if you want to drive or tow
This is a big decision, but it’s a great first step in the RV buying process. Towing an RV means you’ll need (in most cases) at least a half ton truck. With a 5th wheel, you may even need a dully.
Having a big truck will be great for power & storage, yet cumbersome for piddling around town.
On the other hand, a drivable RV is very convenient. You’ll be able to have access to your home while you’re driving…we think that’s pretty cool. The downside is that you’ll need to tow a small vehicle behind you. Having two engines means more maintenance and more money.
Nick from Mapped Out Money says:
We travel full time with two cats and two dogs, so we wanted to minimize the possibility of the RV being in the shop and having to figure out what we were going to do and what we were going to do with our pets. So, we only wanted to have one thing with an engine and then tow our RV.
#2 Floor Plan First
Before you get too deep into the RV buying journey, figure out what type of floor plan you want. Do you want a large kitchen? Do you want multiple bath rooms? How many slides, if any, is ideal?
These questions will guide you to your ideal RV.
Floor plan options vary greatly from different RV styles. While you may think you want a Class A, your ideal floor plan may only be available as a 5th wheel.
#3 Micro Research
Everyone who shops for an RV does a certain amount of research. In fact, by reading this article you’re furthering your RV buying research.
However, we want you to dive deeper!
Do the micro research. Find out who builds the RV frame. What type of appliances does a specific RV use. Are the drawers joined by dovetail craftsmanship or simply stapled together?
Lisa from Alway on Liberty encourages this method of research. She says:
Research the manufacturer. Find out the quality of their products…the frame, the cabinetry, the components is a big thing!
#4 Read the owners forums
Owners forums are a gold mine for your RV buying research. You can find basic owner forums on Facebook. Most of these are full of owners griping about the quality. While its good to see the issues, the more productive forums are stand-alone webpages like Airforums or Grand Design Forums for example.
These stand-alone forums dive super deep into every aspect of the RVs and have active owners providing useful insight.
Dan for Always on Liberty says:
Read the forums! They will give you a lot of information on the durability of the RV you’re looking at and things like that.
#5 Attend Rallies and RV Shows
The best way to get “a feel” for an RV is by touring it! On our YouTube channel we provide lots of walk-through videos for potential RV owners. However, there’s no better way to view an RV than an in-person tour.
You’ll realize very quickly if it will be a good fit. Is the bathroom big enough? Can you comfortably sit at the dinette? Is there enough natural light coming in?
RV shows give you the perfect opportunity to tour hundreds of RVs.
#6 Slides In Test
Don’t just tour the RV with the slides out. Once you’ve narrowed down your potential RV list, give it a tour with the slides in.
This will quickly let you know how much access you’ll have to your RV during travel days or while camping overnight at a Walmart.
Can you access the fridge? Can you access the bathroom? Can you sleep in the bedroom with the slides in?
Don’t overlook the “Slides In” test!
#7 Be Prepared to Walk Away
You have control of your buying journey! Make sure you remember that. Even if you invest many hours into negotiations, if you don’t get the deal you want, walk away.
Dan from Always on Liberty states is perfectly:
If you don’t get the deal you want of the floor plan or RV you want, take your checkbook, take your business and go somewhere else until you get what is best for you.
#8 Hire a Professional RV Inspector
Just like buying a sticks & bricks house, you should contact a professional inspector before making your purchase.
Even if you know the basic systems of an RV, quite often an RV inspector will be able to address potential problem areas of an RV that might otherwise be overlooked.
Ben from Grateful Glamper adds:
Little did we know, we weren’t the inspectors we thought we were. What we ended up having to do was call an RV tech. They are more than happy to come out and do an inspection for you for a fee.
Pro tip: hire an inspector independent from the dealership you’re negotiating with!
#9 Be Realistic by Creating a Checklist
In the very first stages of your RV buying journey its important to create a checklist of what you need and what you want.
This will help curb your expectations and, when it’s all said and done, it will help you pick the perfect rig.
Liz from Freeway Flippers says:
Make sure you’re realistic about what you want out of a full time RV. When we first started we were researching what everyone else suggested…but really we didn’t sit down and create a checklist about what are our wants and needs. Had we done that, we might have saved ourselves the stress of having to upgrade after four months.
#10 Expand Your Search & Be Willing To Travel
No matter where you’re located in the US, the right RV may be a few states away. If you’re willing to travel and purchase your RV out of state, you can potentially save thousands of dollars.
Additionally, buying an RV that hasn’t been exposed to rain or salt water can have a substantial benefit, too!
Cass, from Tails of Wanderlust, bought her RV on the other side of the country and saved a lot by doing it.
I looked up the best Airstream dealers in the country and the next day I literally just called all of them. By doing that I actually saved about 10% over the price they were quoting me in Idaho.
#11 Trust Your Intuition
The RV buying process is fun & exciting…making it easy to let emotions get in the way of the right decision. Try to remember to trust your intuition.
I was tempted to buy each and every RV I toured. Thankfully, my wife was able to ground my enthusiasm…leading us to choose the perfect RV.
She intuitively knew what would work and what wouldn’t!
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