RV parked under the night sky

There’s nothing quite like the freedom to hop in your RV and go wherever the road might take you. But if you’re thinking about taking the leap to becoming an RV owner, here are a few considerations to help you pick the right one for you and your family.

1. The Purpose of Your RV

Are you hoping to road trip across the country, or do you plan on using your RV for weekend camping trips? How many people does the RV need to accommodate?

If you have a clear picture of how you’ll be using your RV, it will help you narrow down your options. And there are a lot of options out there. For example, an RV trailer that you haul behind a truck might be a better option for those weekend excursions. If you’re planning extended trips (or planning to live permanently in your RV), then you’ll want to look into amenities that will make your trips more comfortable

2. Motorhome vs. Trailer

Before you decide on make or model, you should consider whether a motorhome or trailer best fits your needs. Basically, a motorhome can be driven on its own, while a trailer requires a towing vehicle to transport it.

Motorhomes are obviously larger than a car, but they don’t require the driver to learn how to drive while towing something behind it. Motorhomes can often be a more expensive purchase, and they generally provide amenities well suited for extended trips.

One benefit of a motorhome which many people love is that you can tow your car or SUV behind it. This can give you the option of parking your RV at a campsite or RV park site, and then using your car to get around and explore.

Trailers, on the other hand, are great options for camping in style. It’s important to note, if you don’t already have a vehicle capable of towing, a trailer can end up being just as expensive as a motorhome once you factor in the cost of a new vehicle. If you don’t have experience driving while towing, you might consider renting a small trailer to get more comfortable before making a purchase.

3. Motorhome Options

Classes of motorhomes come in three categories: A, B, and C.

Class A motorhomes are the most expensive, but they have the amenities to show for it. They offer enough room to bring the whole family along on a long road trip. They often offer a full living room, kitchen appliances, and sometimes even a washer and dryer. They usually have at least 2 slide out rooms for more space.

Class B motorhomes can provide luxury amenities, but they’ll come in a much smaller form. Class B motorhomes are often the smallest with no slide outs; this often makes them the least expensive motorhome.

Class C motorhomes are sort of a compromise. They get better RV gas mileage than A, but not as good as B. They usually offer similar amenities to A and more sleeping room, but they don’t offer as much living space.

4. Trailer Options

There are three basic options for RV trailers: travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, and pop-up trailers.

Travel trailers are lightweight and sturdy, which means they can be towed by a greater variety of vehicles. The amenities will depend on how much you’re willing to spend. If you like to leave your trailer at the campsite and explore, this is a great option.

Fifth-wheel trailers attach on a special mount in the bed of a pickup truck, which makes it incredibly stable. If you plan on taking long road trips to a camping site or driving up the mountains, this is a great option.

Pop up trailers are the most economical choice for someone looking for a low-investment entry into the RV world. These trailers are light, simple, and perfect for weekend trips with the family. Most models should be able to be towed by a minivan.

5. New vs. Used RVs

New vehicles will come with a larger price tag, but you may make up some of the difference with a lack of repairs and the protection of a warranty. If you are looking for heavy customization or low maintenance needs, new might be right for you.

If you are confident in your ability to inspect an RV and identify potential maintenance issues, you can save a lot of money buying a used RV.

6. Parking and Storage

RV parked next to a lake

If you don’t have the space to store your motorhome at your house, you could rack up significant storage fees. Research local storage options in your area. Don’t assume you can just park on the street–look up city ordinances before purchasing.

7. Maintenance Costs

Just like any other vehicle, RVs come with regular maintenance costs. Just like a car, you’ll need to change oil and filters regularly, but you’ll also have to service your generator, inspect the roof seals, maintain the wastewater system, and more.

Also, since it’s basically a home on wheels, all the cabinets, couches, and fixtures will be bumping along the road with you. That translates to a lot of wear-and-tear, so expect to do plenty of handy-man-type repairs and quick-fixes to the RV’s interior.

8. Insurance Coverage

Don’t forget to factor in insurance costs when purchasing an RV. If you buy a trailer, your auto insurance may cover a trailer you own depending on your policy. Talk to your agent for the details of the policy.

You’ll likely have to purchase a separate insurance policy for a motorhome. Your premium will largely depend on the value, size, and age of the RV.

9. Other Expenses

Besides the costs associated with the RV itself, there are other miscellaneous expenses to consider:

  • Gas: Motorhomes have significantly lower gas mileage than cars, and trailers will decrease the gas mileage of the towing vehicle.
  • Parking/camping fees: Your nights of paying for a place to stay aren’t over. Most RV sites come with a daily fee.
  • Internet connection: If you aren’t ready to give up Wi-fi, make sure your RV can be outfitted with your desired internet connections.

10. Financing Options

When purchasing an RV, you’ll more than likely need to consider RV financing options in order to make the purchase. It’s important to know that some companies have higher minimum loan values than others, and not all companies will finance older units. 

It’s important to choose a company that offers competitive rates and terms along with a reliable and secure application process. It can also be helpful to determine what type of payment you’ll be looking at before getting into the loan application process. Check out our online RV Payment Calculator to crunch the numbers.

Even after all these considerations, I think you’ll find that the RV lifestyle is well worth it! With the proper planning and an open mind, you can truly experience the freedom of the open road.

Discover how Southeast Financial can help you finance your RV.