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How to Buy an RV

Plan carefully to make sound RV buying decisions


A recreational vehicle is a major purchase that can cost, in some cases, as much as a house. As with any major purchase, it’s smart to do your homework before you buy to be sure you are getting the best value for your money.

Investigate your RV options
Visit the RV dealers in your area, and attend RV shows. Seeing a selection of models in one location allows you to do side-by-side comparisons on manufacturers, models, size, price and options.

Identify your RV needs
Answering the following questions will help you decide which RV is best for you:

  • Are you a Weekend Warrior or do you prefer extended trips?
  • What size RV fits your family?
  • How much money can you spend?
  • Which RV options do you need, and which can you live without?
  • Do you want an RV with its own motor, or will you tow?
  • When you are not traveling, where will you keep your RV, and how much storage space do you have?

Ask around for RV information
Talk with RV dealers and people who own RVs. Most people will be happy to share their opinions and personal experiences if you ask.

Learn which RV manufacturers have the best reputations, how various RV models hold up over time, and which RV options are especially useful -- or a waste of money.

Estimate the extra costs of owning an RV

  • When you are not traveling, where will you keep your RV? Identify RV storage options and costs in your area, as some neighborhoods have codes and regulations about parking oversized vehicles.
  • Check with your insurance agent to determine how much it will cost you for RV insurance.
  • Ask sales people and owners to tell you about RV repair and maintenance costs, gasoline and other extras, so you know what to expect. And keep in mind that, like cars, most RVs will depreciate during the first few years of ownership.

Try an RV before you buy

  • Rent the RV model you want to buy, or a similar one, and take a short trip. This test drive will help you decide if a particular model is right for you.
  • If you are not happy with the RV model you chose, plan to rent another model for your next trip. Don’t let yourself be rushed into making an expensive RV purchase.

Research RV financing options
Check with banks, credit unions, and RV dealers to identify a range of financing options. The more you know, the easier it will be to make a sound RV buying decision.

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