In addition to considering types of RVs and corresponding purchase prices, you should consider many other things like RV financing, new or used, dealership or private party, size, tow vehicles, maintenance costs, storage costs, favorite campgrounds, etc. In this article I’ll briefly go over the general types of RVs and other considerations.
What is an RV?
According to Wikipedia, a recreational vehicle, often abbreviated as RV, is a motor vehicle or trailer which includes living quarters designed for accommodation. Typical amenities of an RV include a kitchen, a bathroom, and one or more sleeping facilities. There are two broad types of RVs, motorized and towable.
What is a motorized RV?
Motorized RVs are vehicles that have living quarters that are built on a motorized chassis. Types of motorized RVs are: Class A (looks like a bus), Class B (looks like a tall work van), Class C (looks like a Class B on steroids, usually built on truck chassis).
What is a towable RV?
A towable RV is simply an RV that you tow with a truck or other vehicle capable of towing. Types of towable RVs are: 5th wheel campers, toy haulers, travel trailers, tear drop trailers, pop-up campers.
RV Cost Differences
New motorized RVs are typically more expensive to purchase, typically starting at $50,000 up to $150,000. Luxury Class A motorhomes can cost $500,000 to over $1 million. Whereas, new towable RVs can start as low as $15,000 and go up to over $100,000. And, because of the significant cost difference, insurance is usually more expensive for a motorized RV than a towable RV. Note, these are numbers I saw related to new RVs, you may be able to find significantly cheaper prices if you consider buying a used RV from a dealership or private party.
In terms of maintenance costs, motorized RVs have engines that you have to service, like cars, in addition to the systems like water heater, plumbing, HVAC, etc. Motorized RVs require oil changes, minor services, and major services, engine repairs, etc. Towable RVs don’t have engine maintenance, but you still have to maintain the brakes and tires.
RV Dealerships Vs Private Parties
Buying a new or used RV at a dealership has many benefits you may or may not consider important when you buy an RV. RV dealerships can facilitate financing on the spot, offer an extended warranty, and usually have service departments for repairs. Also, dealerships offer many types of RVs for sale so you can evaluate which RV is best for you and your family. The main drawback when you buy at a RV dealership versus buying from private party is that buying from a dealership may be more expensive because a private party doesn’t have to pay for overhead like a dealership does. Buying a new RV versus a used one from a dealer or private party may lower the risk of getting an RV with material problems too.
Cost is typically one of the most important considerations when purchasing an RV. So, you’ll want to visit some RV dealerships to view motorized and towable RVs to see what they offer in terms of amenities, check out purchase prices, and obtain some financing numbers (if you’re using financing). You should include typical maintenance costs and storage costs (unless you’re keeping your RV at your home) into your financial analysis to buy an RV.
Keep in mind that RV loans typically have longer financing terms than auto loans, I believe they go up to 15 year terms if you qualify and desire the longer term so your monthly payment could be lower than if you were obtaining a 4 or 6 year loan to purchase a car. It’s also a good idea to get pre-approved for a RV loan by your bank before you talk with RV dealerships so you have some financing numbers to compare to the RV dealership’s financing numbers.
Storing your vehicle may also impact your decision to buy an RV. If your home situation does not allow you to store your RV at home (HOA restrictions related to RVs, condominium with parking restrictions, lack of space on your home’s lot, city/county laws, etc.), then you’ll want to incorporate the cost of RV storage into your analysis to purchase an RV. Based on when I looked for RV storage for my travel trailer, storage rates ranged from $75 up to $300 per month depending on storage facilities amenities and length of your RV.
Towing a Car
Note, when you travel in a motorized RV, may need to tow another car if you plan on leaving your campsite to go to nearby stores, restaurants, attractions, and activities. Why? Once you get set up at your campsite, you’ll typically connect your RV to electricity, water and sewer lines. And, usually you’ll deploy your stabilizing jacks and you’ll unload your gear like area matts, outdoor stove/barbeque grill, camping chairs, lights, etc. So, typically you won’t want to drive your RV to get around and if you have a large RV you may not be able to park it anywhere except at the campground because of its size. So, you’ll need a car to get around the campground and to nearby amenities and activities if desired.
If you go with a towable RV, you’ll need to have an adequate tow vehicle. What I mean by this is that you’ll want to assess if your current vehicle can comfortably tow the towable RV you’re considering. You’ll want to review your vehicles owner manual and discuss any questions with your vehicle’s dealership. If your current vehicle can not tow your ideal towable RV, then you’ll need to include in your financial analysis getting a tow vehicle that is suitable to tow your ideal towable RV. Once you view some towable RVs at the dealership and get a better ideal about what towable RV you want, you’ll be able to better identify what type of tow vehicle you’ll need. Some RV dealerships even sell tow vehicles based on what I’ve seen on the internet, but in my region I didn’t see this option at the dealerships I visited.
Another consideration are the campgrounds you enjoy visiting or the campgrounds you anticipate visiting. Why is this important? Because some campgrounds have no hookups, partial hookups, and full hookups (water, sewer, and electricity connections) and this may impact things like drinking and grey water tank size. Also, campgrounds typically have different maximum pad lengths at campsites. For example, if you buy a 30 foot RV, but your favorite campground only allows RVs up to 25 feet, you won’t be able to visit that campground with your RV.
I hope you learned something new about RVs and some considerations for choosing an RV from my article “Types of RVs and other considerations.” Good luck with your RV search and happy camping!