6 Ways To Simplify the RV Buying Process – Part 1

June 21, 2018

Are you thinking about purchasing an RV? It’s not a light decision—these vehicles are equipped with a broad range of features and floor plans. It’s important to consider what will be the best fit for you and your family. O course, they are a great investment if you love to travel. You can save on hotel costs, eat your own food instead of always eating out, and never have to worry about where you’ll be sleeping for the night. If you’re on the fence about purchasing an RV, these tips will help you simplify the buying process.

This might seem like an odd place to start, but you first need to think about why you’re buying an RV. What are your travel goals? How would owning an RV help you reach those goals? This will help you narrow down what you need from your RV, so you don’t purchase one that doesn’t meet those needs.

To determine what your RV should be able to do for you, here are a few questions:

  • Where will you stay on your trips? RV parks? Will you look for campsites out in the wilderness? Some RVs are more equipped for what’s called “boondocking,” or setting up in the wilderness, than others.
  • How many people will regularly be traveling in your RV? If you have a larger family, you’re going to need more room.
  • Who will do most of the driving? If you’re sharing driving duties with someone else, you should both be very comfortable driving the RV you buy.
  • What type of trips will you be taking? Will you be on the road for a month or more at a time, or will you be taking trips that are only a few weeks long? Short trips are more bearable in smaller RVs, but if you’ll essentially be living in the RV for a good portion of the year, you’re going to want something very comfortable.
  • What type of storage needs will you have? Are you traveling with pets, sports equipment, etc.?
  • Will you be pulling a trailer? If you’re planning on kayaking, living out of your RV for a good amount of time, or hauling anything large, you may need one. Different RVs have different towing capacities, so keep that in mind.
  • Will you be staying in warmer areas or parking the RV for the winter? Some RVs are more equipped to handle the cold than others.

After you have thought about your needs, it’s time to think about your wants. Just like buying a house, you should have a list of “must haves,” and a list of “would likes” for your RV. Everything on your must-have list should be checked off. Once you’ve found some models that have everything you need, look to see which ones have the features that you would really like.

Here are some of the luxury features you might want for your RV:

  • Solar panels to help power the battery. If you’re planning on being at an RV park where you can hook up to electricity more often than not, though, this might not be so useful.
  • A tankless water heater so that you never have to worry about running out of hot water. Again, if you’re in an RV park often, you might not need this option.
  • Your sleeping arrangement. Will a small RV with a sofa that transforms into your bed be enough for you, or do you want a permanent bed in the back? The number of people you’re traveling with will certainly affect this decision.
  • Will you be traveling a lot in the winter? If so, definitely look at an RV that’s winter-ready.
  • Do you need a full kitchen or just a microwave and small fridge? Larger RVs generally have larger sized kitchens, while smaller ones may lack a stove or oven.

Now that you have a list of your wants, you need to prioritize them. Sadly, there’s probably not going to be an RV out there that has everything you need and want, while still coming in at a price that is within your budget. If there is, well, you’ve hit the jackpot!

Since that’s not likely, however, you need to go through your list and decide what you really want and what you’re willing to give up to make the necessary adjustments. Maybe it’s just you and your spouse traveling, so having a foldout bed might be acceptable. Maybe you only plan to be in the RV for a few weeks at a time, so it doesn’t have to be incredibly comfortable. You might be planning on eating out or cooking out more often than using the kitchen in the RV. As with just about everything else in life, be ready to make some compromises.

Using your list of needs and prioritized wants, along with your budget, it’s time to start looking at different models of RVs. You can learn a lot from going online and perusing the many different resources for making this decision. Many RV websites now offer full video virtual tours that walk you through the entire RV. You’ll find long lists of features each model includes, too, plus floor plans and plenty of photos. You can use this information to narrow down your search to models that meet your needs and even include many of your wants.

You should also look at online reviews by RV owners. Some have even uploaded YouTube videos within which they talk about their RVs and the things they both love and hate about them. These honest reviews and videos can be very helpful when narrowing down your list of potential models.

RV shows are a lot of fun. Even people who aren’t completely serious about buying an RV enjoy walking through them and pretending that they’re driving down the open highway. RV shows feature rows and rows of RVs, all of which you can get in, walk through, and test to see if they’re what you need and want. You usually can’t actually drive them, but you can tell if they’re the right size for you and your family.

Some RV shows are held by a certain manufacturer, while others feature RVs of different brands. This means there will be a good mixture of different models on display. There are also some sales reps around, but they usually aren’t as pushy as they would be at a dealership. They’re more on hand to answer the questions you might have about a particular model.

While you’re touring these RVs, here are a few things to check in the models that have made it to your short list of potential buys:

  • Get in the shower – is it tall enough and spacious enough for you?
  • Stretch out on the bed. Does it feel comfortable? Is it big enough?- Sit in the driver’s seat. Do you feel comfortable there? Is there enough headroom for you? Make sure everyone who may drive the RV tries it.
  • Is there any risk of hitting your head anywhere?
  • Is the kitchen/living area laid out in such a way that it feels natural and intuitive? Is there room to open the fridge without blocking the path?
  • Can everyone who will be traveling in the RV comfortably fit around the table?
  • If the RV has extended slides, ask if the rep can pull them in. This way, you can get a feel for how the RV will be while you’re traveling. That can make a lot of difference regarding how comfortable it will be.
  • Can you easily get into all of the exterior storage areas?

Basically, go through everything you can think of with regard to the three or four models you’re serious about buying. Also, take your own photos or video and be sure to ask the rep if there are any available pamphlets or paperwork to take home.

Never buy an RV until you’re certain it’s exactly what you want. If you have questions, get answers. RV owners are the best people to ask these types of questions. They will give you their honest answers because they’re not looking to sell you anything. It is also helpful to research RV blogs to learn more about the RV experience.

Once you’ve got all of your questions answered, you should be able to narrow down that list of potential models to one. Now it’s time to go to the dealership and make the purchase! Congratulations, you are on the path toward finding the best RV for your needs! Feel free to reach out to us at Fleetwood RV for more information.

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