The Ultimate RV Motorhome Buying Guide

Purchasing a motorhome is much more than a mere acquisition; it’s the gateway to a lifestyle brimming with freedom, adventure, and endless possibilities. Here at Elite RV, we don’t just sell motorhomes; we live and breathe the very essence of the motorhome lifestyle. 

As specialists dedicated solely to motorhomes, we understand that each adventurer has a unique story and distinct needs. Whether you’re a seasoned RV enthusiast or newly charmed by the charm of the open road, our guide will provide you with in-depth, practical knowledge that transcends the basics. 

Our expertise is not just about technical specifications or features; it’s about understanding the heartbeat of the RV lifestyle. You’re choosing a companion for your journey through breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable experiences. 

Identifying Your Dream Motorhome

Before you set foot in this exciting world, it’s essential to align your choice of motorhome with your unique lifestyle needs. 

Motorhome Classes

Each motorhome class has its distinct features and serves different travelling styles and needs.

  • Class A: These are the largest and most luxurious, often resembling buses in size and comfort. If you’re planning extended trips or full-time living on the road, Class A offers spacious interiors, complete with full-size amenities. They’re perfect for you if comfort and space top your priority list.
  • Class B: Also known as camper vans, Class B motorhomes are ideal for agility and flexibility. If you love the spontaneity of short weekend getaways or are a solo traveller, these compact units offer efficiency without sacrificing essential comforts. They’re easier to navigate through tight spots and require less maintenance.
  • Class C: A balance between A and B, Class C motorhomes provide more living space than Class B but are more manageable than the vast Class A. They often come with an over-cab sleeping area, making them suitable for families or groups. If you’re seeking a blend of comfort and maneuverability, Class C could be your sweet spot.

Assessing Your Space and Layout Needs

Now, how do you determine which class aligns with your travel habits? It’s all about assessing your space, layout, and amenity requirements.

  • Space Needs: Are you travelling solo, as a couple, or with a family? The number of people and the amount of time you’ll spend inside the motorhome significantly influence your space requirements. Class A might be more suitable for larger groups or longer stays, while Class B is perfect for solo or duo travellers.
  • Layout Preferences: Consider the interior layout. Do you need a separate sleeping area? How important is a full kitchen to you? Motorhomes come with various floor plans – from open-concept designs to more compartmentalized layouts. Walk through different models (virtually or in-person) to feel which layout resonates with your living style.
  • Amenity Requirements: Lastly, think about the amenities. Do you need high-tech connectivity for remote work? Is an entertainment system vital for your relaxation? Or perhaps, eco-friendly features like solar panels are crucial for your travel philosophy. List down the amenities that matter most to you.

Smart Budgeting for Your Motorhome

Firstly, you need to grasp the full spectrum of costs associated with owning a motorhome. It’s not just the purchase price; think about maintenance, insurance, fuel, and potential financing costs. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Purchase Price: This is your initial investment. Motorhomes range widely in price, depending on size, features, and whether they are new or used.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance is crucial for your motorhome’s longevity. Include costs for routine servicing, repairs, and replacements of parts like tires and batteries.
  • Insurance: Don’t overlook insurance. It’s not just a legal requirement; it’s peace of mind. Insurance costs can vary based on the value of the motorhome and the coverage level you choose.
  • Fuel: Consider fuel efficiency, especially if you plan long trips. Fuel costs can add up quickly!

Balancing Quality and Cost 

Finding the right balance between quality and cost is key. It’s tempting to opt for lower-priced models, but they may have higher long-term costs due to maintenance and fuel inefficiency. On the other hand, the most expensive models might offer features you’ll never use. Follow these tips:

  • Assess Your Needs: Understand what you truly need in a motorhome. Do you really need the latest model with all the high-tech gadgets, or would a slightly older, reliable model serve you just as well?
  • Research: Spend time researching different models, their reliability, and common maintenance issues. Look for models that strike a balance between initial costs and ongoing expenses.
  • Consider Resale Value: Some motorhomes hold their value better than others. If you plan to upgrade in the future, consider the resale value of the model you’re purchasing.

Financing Your Motorhome 

If you’re considering financing, shop around for the best rates and terms. Be aware of the total cost of the loan over its lifetime, not just the monthly payments. Sometimes a slightly higher monthly payment for a shorter term means less money paid in interest.

Insurance Tips 

Insurance is a complex field, and it’s important to get it right. Look for policies that offer coverage for the unique aspects of RV life. Also, check if your policy covers contents, breakdowns, and towing.

Must-Have Features vs. Nice-to-Haves

Choosing the right features in your motorhome can be as exhilarating as it is essential. It’s about striking a balance between your dreams and practical needs. Here, we’ll discuss the must-have features versus those nice-to-have luxuries, helping you prioritize based on utility and value.

The Essentials

Engine Performance and Efficiency: The heart of your motorhome is its engine. Look for reliability and fuel efficiency. Remember, a powerful engine is not just about speed; it’s about handling the weight of your home-on-wheels effortlessly, even in challenging terrains.

Safety Systems: Safety should never be compromised. Essential features include anti-lock braking systems (ABS), rearview cameras for easier maneuvering, and stability control. If you’re eyeing a pre-owned model, ensure these systems are in top-notch condition.

Living Space and Comfort: The layout of your motorhome should fit your lifestyle. Essential considerations are sleeping space, kitchen facilities, and bathroom amenities. You want a space that feels like home, ensuring comfort in your travels.

Deciding on Luxuries

After covering the essentials, it’s time to look at those extra features that can enhance your motorhome experience. These include high-end entertainment systems, solar panels for off-grid power, or automated levelling systems. While they add comfort and convenience, they should fit within your budget without overshadowing the must-haves.

Prioritising Features

When deciding between must-haves and nice-to-haves, consider how often you’ll use each feature. For instance, if you plan to travel frequently in varying climates, an upgraded HVAC system might shift from a luxury to a necessity. Conversely, if short weekend trips are more your style, you might not need the most advanced navigation system.

The New vs. Pre-Owned Dilemma

Should you invest in a brand-new model or opt for a pre-owned treasure? It’s a decision that can shape your RV experience, your wallet, and even your lifestyle. 

Pros of Buying New

  1. Latest Features and Technologies: With a new motorhome, you’re getting the cutting-edge in comfort and convenience. Think modern appliances, advanced safety features, and the latest entertainment systems – all shiny and unused.
  2. Warranty and Peace of Mind: New motorhomes come with comprehensive warranties. This means less worry about unexpected repairs and more time enjoying your adventures.
  3. Customization: Buying new often means you can customize your motorhome to your exact specifications. From interior layouts to specific features, you can tailor it to fit your dream.

Cons of Buying New

  1. Depreciation: Like most vehicles, motorhomes depreciate – and it’s fastest in the first few years. Buying new means you’ll feel this depreciation more acutely.
  2. Higher Initial Cost: Unsurprisingly, a new motorhome comes with a higher price tag. This can be a significant factor, especially if you’re balancing a budget.

Pros of Buying Pre-Owned

  1. Cost-Effective: Pre-owned motorhomes often come at a more affordable price, offering more bang for your buck.
  2. Slower Depreciation: Much of the depreciation has already occurred, so you’re likely to face less financial loss in terms of vehicle value over time.
  3. Character and Testimonials: There’s something about a motorhome that’s already seen some adventures. They come with character and, often, a history you can learn from the previous owner.

Cons of Buying Pre-Owned

  1. Unknown History: Unless you’re buying from a trusted source, the history of the motorhome might hold some surprises – from hidden damage to maintenance issues.
  2. Potentially Higher Maintenance Costs: Older motorhomes might need more upkeep, and without a warranty, these costs will be out of pocket.

Tips on Evaluating Wear and Tear in Used Motorhomes

Now, if you’re leaning towards a pre-owned motorhome, here are some tips to evaluate its condition:

  1. Check for Water Damage: Look for signs like discolouration, a musty smell, or warped materials. Water damage can be a costly issue to fix.
  2. Engine and Mechanical Health: Go beyond the basic check. Look at service records, ask about replacements and repairs. If possible, get a mechanic to inspect it.
  3. Appliance and System Check: Test every appliance and system. This includes heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems. Any malfunction can be a negotiating point or a deal-breaker.
  4. Assess Cosmetic Details: While cosmetic issues are less critical, they can tell you a lot about how the motorhome was maintained.