The sales market to buy RVs and motor homes is saturated: so many choices and so many makes and models. Where’s the little boy to put his finger in the dike?
But the decision to buy a motorhome suitable for long-term, cross-border travel is not one you should take lightly. After all, it will both your home and your transport for several years, on several continents, through several seasons.
Looked at this way, it becomes clear that your RV buying criteria will differ from those you would use if you just wanted to take it on a two-week holiday a couple of times a year. Different again from the criteria you’d use if you were to hire or rent a campervan for a holiday, for the simple reason that at the end of the holiday, you can give the vehicle back.
There is no returning home from this vacation…
The Core Issues
The core issues then are these:
- where are you going to travel?
- what type of vehicle is best suited for this?
These two questions will frame your whole process of buying a motorhome.
When we unravelled these core issues, we were a little surprised to find that the motor home itself, while important, came second to the base vehicle chassis and the bed. Why? We will be sitting in the driver’s seat about the same amount of time we’ll be lying in the bed, and both of these will occupy a lot more time than sitting at the dining table.
To Buy RVs to Travel? or Holiday?
So while the floorplan is important, it is a consequence of the chassis choice rather than the key consideration.
The floorplan is important when you are holidaying.
The chassis is important when you are travelling.
If something goes wrong with some part of the motorhome while on holiday, you are usually in the country of origin and can drive somewhere for repairs. If something goes wrong with the base vehicle while travelling, you’d better have a good worldwide dealer / repair network at your service… the focus is quite different.
Our research into how to buy RVs suitable for cross-border travel turned up some great sources of advice, some of which we’ve summarised in this site. You can read Stephen Stewart’s superb site, which has been inspirational, as has that of the Goanna Tracks crew.
Our considerations are these…
The choice of chassis is driven largely by where we want to travel. As we worked through this process, we realised that the choice of chassis is the most important decision we will take.
Combined with the chassis is the type of engine and the overall fuel economy, fuel being the single largest running cost we’ve identified.
Repairs and Service
These fall into two categories: the base vehicle, for which we will need a worldwide network of authorised base vehicle service centres, and the motorhome itself, which will need to be able to be serviced by non-specialist personnel.
Linked to repairs and service for if there are no parts, there will be no service. Will we be able to find base vehicle parts worldwide? What about parts for the motorhome?
Also linked to repairs and service. Is the base vehicle warranty worldwide? For how long? What about the motorhome body warranty?
A worldwide dealer network for the base vehicle is crucial as they tend to be the authorised service centres. Some sort of association with the motorhome manufacturer will also be important.
Those four points of contact with the road. Largely determined the choice of chassis, the location and season of travel and the availability of spares.
While the choice of chassis is important, the floorplan must work with it and in many ways determines the chassis choice. Integral to the decision to buy a motorhome, the more space and payload needed, the heavier the base vehicle.
Travelling around the world by motorhome will mean shipping the van where it cannot be driven. Security while shipping is different from security while driving which is different again from security when the vehicle is parked unattended.
Used or New
Buying a used motor home is a bit like buying someone else’s house. There are many little things that can grate – and there may be no warranty on the vehicle.
Cash-down or loan? On the face of it, you can buy RVs for cash but using finance could have its advantages.
And what if something goes wrong? Can a permanent motorhome be insured? Or does “no fixed abode” apply?
The great question. What is the right price to pay when one is going to buy motorhome? What does the market tell us about buying RVs? We look at price guides and their consequences in our particular case.
Resale value is not something that we considered when we started this exercise but it is used as a selling point by the major motorhome manufacturers. Not a high priority but worth looking at in our investigations to buy RVs.