RV Buying Guide
Posted: January 26, 2022
Categories: Buying Guides & Reviews
RV Buying Guide: Which Type of RV Is Right for Me?
Do you see yourself as a more rustic, living-off-the-grid camper? Or would you consider glamping to be more of your style? Maybe you want a toy hauler with an internal garage for your golf cart or other toys. Maybe you are asking yourself what glamping and toy hauler even mean.
Choosing the right RV for your lifestyle can be tricky since there are so many tempting choices out there. Our simple guide to buying an RV will help you navigate different types of RVs and the pros and cons of each.
Many people will have opinions on why their RV is better than some or not as good as others, but it really comes down to your lifestyle and how you plan to use your motorhome or travel trailer. Diving deeper, we will discuss other factors to consider when making your purchase decision.
When you are in the market for an RV, you may wish to rent a few different types first to get a feel for the features you desire and which ones you can live without. Check out our other blog post for tips on renting an RV.
The first thing you must decide is are you looking for a motorized or towable RV? In other words, do you want to drive your motorhome, or do you want to tow your travel trailer?
Let’s explore the pros and cons of each type as well as other things to consider when buying an RV.
Which Motorized RV is Best for Me?
There are three major types of motorized RVs. Class A, Class B – also called sprinters and camper vans – and Class Cs. These are generally the three different types of motorized RVs. But it is not always that simple as manufacturers are constantly coming up with hybrid types of these models.
The biggest difference among these models is size. The size of course determines the interior space of your RV but also determines many other factors related to your trip. For example, gas or diesel consumption, campground length restrictions, route height restrictions, (think underpasses) storage fees if needed and insurance premiums.
As you can see the larger size of a Class A motorhome, the largest of the motorized is a pro and a con. You can fit many upgrades in a Class A such as a residential refrigerator and washer and dryer, but you may find that some campgrounds will have limited or no campsites for the largest of the Class As.
A Class B motorhome on the other hand is quite a bit smaller. If you are concerned about gas prices and storage, then a sprinter would be a better choice. The con – the smaller size is much smaller. Essentially, they are the size of a van and even though you have a bathroom; the shower, toilet and sink are the same space. No, you do not shower in the sink or toilet :), but the clever RV engineers have made the most of every square inch of space inside and there are many multi-use spaces.
A Class C motorhome is in the middle of the motorized as far as size — typically, larger than a Class B but smaller than a Class A. An easy way to spot a Class C motorhome is the tell-tale “hood” that comes over the cab. That is where you will typically find a sleeping space. Of course, there are other differences such as the chassis each class is built upon which does affect the way they drive. This buying guide will skim over those details as you will most likely test drive your RV before you buy. To see more details on different types of RVs, refer to our other blog post about Types of RVs
Which Travel Trailer is Best for Me?
Towable RVs or travel trailers are just what they sound like. While you do not have to worry yourself on the motorized mechanics of these RVs, you need to decide on a tow vehicle that is competent. Understanding your towing requirements can be quite extensive so yes, you guessed it – we have another blog post on that explaining all about How to tow a travel trailer.
A huge benefit of a travel trailer is the fact that you can drop your RV off at the campground, level it up and drive away to explore the area. There are also fewer mechanical components to worry about than a motorized unit. Storage can be a plus if you have a small enough camper to fit into your garage. A con could be the amenities that are offered. While many Class As have washers and dryers, a small pop-up towable may just have a canvas roof and table that doubles as a bed.
To determine which RV is right for you consider your lifestyle and preferences. Below are some questions to ask yourself about how you plan to RV.
Questions to Consider When Buying an RV
How do you plan to use your RV? This is an important question to consider and is worth discussing with anyone you plan to go camping with on a regular basis. For example, do you need a washer and dryer? Do you need to bring along a golf cart? Do you just want to camp for free in a national park and visit civilization once a week or so? If you plan to stay in campgrounds with many amenities and will only be on the road during weekends and maybe one or two longer trips per year, then you could get by with having less amenities within your RV. On the contrary if you plan to live in your RV full time then perhaps you will want a more homelike environment with a residential sized kitchen and maybe even a fireplace. If you are a nature lover but also like creature comforts, perhaps you would like an RV with an outdoor TV and outdoor kitchen.
On one end of the spectrum, a small and very basic RV could be closer to a super fancy tent, on the other end, you could be driving a half-million dollar fully loaded motorhome. Here is a quick and limited list of some features to consider:
TLDR Your Step-by-Step Quick Guide to Buying an RV
Step 1: Decide if You Want a Motorized or Towable RV
While there are many differences here the main thing comes down to how you want to drive your RV and what you will be doing while camping. You can pull a car behind a motorhome or you can pull a travel trailer behind your vehicle. Parking, reversing and merging will likely be a challenge at first for both types, but we make safety products to help! Furrion Vision S is a great vehicle observation system that helps you see multiple angles around your RV while backing up and merging. Ask yourself your preference and if possible, test drive both.
Step 2: Determine Your Budget
Keep in mind your budget is not only the sticker price. Just like a home or car there are maintenance costs, insurance premiums, gas or diesel and possibly storage fees. Don’t let this scare you away from owning an RV but don’t forget about these costs either. If you are living in your RV full-time you will not have storage fees, but you may have tolls and campsite rental fees.
Step 3: Estimate Sleeping Capacity and Options
How many people does your RV need to comfortably sleep? There are many configurable and creative sleeping options in RVs. Some dinettes transform into beds, some have bunk beds, some have loft-type sleeping quarters and others have private master suites. Don’t forget about pets and occasional guests!
Step 4: Choose Additional Lifestyle Features
Will you be boondocking, (camping without RV hookups) or will you be in a campground? If you plan to be off-the-grid for much of the time, consider investing in solar panels and a good generator. Are you looking for a bike rack or maybe even an RV that has a garage for your ATV of golf cart? Consider a toy hauler, these RVs have a garage that doubles as a patio and/or sleeping quarters.
Step 5: Consider Renting a Few RVs
There is no better way to try before you buy than to rent an RV. There are a few different sites out there that a quick Google search will reveal. These are RVs owned by private individuals and the rental fees will vary.
Step 6: Determine Your Camping Lifestyle
Still not sure of your camp style? Here are three categories of camp styles with suggested RV types. You may fit into multiple categories, but this should provide a starting point when considering which RV type is best for you and your lifestyle.
Rustic Wanderer: For you, camping is a way to get away from it all. To disconnect and enjoy nature. You could be happy boondocking or living off-the-grid during your camping experience. While you may not desire a washer and dryer in your RV, a solar panel and generator are good amenities for you. Look into pop-up towables, small travel trailers and Class B vans.
Nature Glamper: Your style is adventurous but with some of the comforts of home. Look for features such as nice cooktops, bunkhouses for children and bike racks. Mid-sized travel trailers and motorized RVs that make you feel cozy without breaking the bank fit your style.
Rockstar on Tour: You may be a full time RVer or plan to be. Maybe you are retired and want to travel the country or maybe you are a family that has an adventurous spirit, either way a Class A motorhome cannot be beat when it comes to features. Hang stockings over your electric fireplace or enjoy your Italian marble floors. Get ready for adventures!