Choosing and buying a motorhome

Thinking of buying a motorhome or camper van? Then read on. 

In this blog I’ll discuss what you may wish to consider before laying out the cash on your dream motorhome.

If you read the many facebook posts or forums on the subject, some people will advocate having a caravan over a motorhome. Others will swear by having a motorhome instead of a camper van or a campervan instead of a tent. Some will vow never to spend money on any of the above when they can stay in a hotel. So who’s right? I suppose you could say all of them, some of them or none of them!

You see the first thing to clarify is that there is no right or wrong. Rather it’s about what’s right for YOU at the right time in your life journey. I say this because your needs and desires will change at different stages in your life.  Are you a solo traveller? A couple? A family? You can see that what you demand from a motorhome may change too, such as the style, the length, the layout and the accessibility.

“What one thinks is right is not always the same as what others think is right; no one can be always right.”

Roy T. Bennett
Motorhome v Camper van

Motorhomes vary in size but tend to be coach built, that is to say that they may use a standard cab of a van (the front bit) but the back part (the main bit you live in) is built from scratch. A camper van tends to be based on the complete vehicle; the cab and the rear, but these are modified or adapted in a way that converts them into a useable living space.

Motorhomes tend to, but not always, have more room, space to store things and live in due to the size of the vehicle. Camper vans although smaller can be better suited to using in towns and cities, easier to park both at home and away. So already you can see that there is a trade off. This trade off is present in every aspect of every motorhome or camper van in one way or another. 

Prioritise and Compromise

It truly is a case of ying and yang. You gain something but in return you have to give something up. When I purchased my motorhome I would have liked to have had a rear lounge, that would have been one of my preferences. I also would have liked a large rear garage to store Bikes, BBQ’s, chairs, junk and other stuff that I’d probably never use in a million years.

The problem is that there are very few motorhomes that have a large garage and a rear lounge. This is due to the practical design that often means the space at the rear of the motorhome has to be higher at the back to accommodate the garage. Usually in this instance you will find rear (raised) beds as a layout. So again it’s a case of which is more important, the lounge or the garage? If you choose the rear lounge you do so in the knowledge that you can’t store your bikes internally and you have to ask yourself the question, is there space elsewhere to store the BBQ, table, chairs, junk and other stuff you’ll probably never use in a million years? Conversely if you choose the garage, will you have enough day to day living space in the motorhome?

It’s here where you have to Prioritise whats important to YOU. Remembering there is no right or wrong and accept you will have to Compromise by losing something else.

Consider making a list of things that important to you under the following three headings to help you prioritise.

  1. Must – Things that you definitely cannot do without. This could be anything that’s important to you. For example one of my “musts” was Alde wet central heating. Yours might be something obvious like a usable shower. Whatever it is it’s your choice. 
  2. Should – These are things that you feel your motorhome should have but it isn’t as critical as the things in your “must” list. An example may be that you want your toilet separate from your shower so you’re not standing or sitting in the shower tray when using the toilet.
  3. Could – These are things which you would like to be in the motorhome but they’re of less importance to you. In other words it wouldn’t stop you buying the motorhome if they weren’t there. Examples might include a microwave or a TV. Again these might be critical to you so you would put them in your “must” list.

It will be entirely up to you how you prioritise but be realistic. You can’t put everything in the “must” list otherwise you’re probably going to spend a very long time looking and may be disappointed at the end of it!

Remember there is no right or wrong. 

Look, look and look again

Part of the fun of buying a new motorhome is the fun of looking and dreaming about your future adventures. Take your time and explore all the different vehicles with different layouts. Checkout the internet, look at pictures, read reviews and take it all in. Think about whether your chosen  layout is practical for your needs and aspirations. What would work? What wouldn’t? Visit Motorhome shows, visit dealers and look around. Go inside the vehicles and explore, sit down and imagine how you would use it. Take your time and enjoy the experience.

Pricing

Once you’ve decided on the motorhome of your dreams it’s now time to get the best deal. Look on line using google, auto-trader and other sites at the exact model and year and take into account any extras that may be fitted. It will save you having to fit them later at a greater expense. This will give you a good idea of the price you should be paying for that particular model. New motorhomes differ greatly in price from £20,000 to in excess of £260,000, so when comparing make sure you are doing so like for like.

Often dealers may include deals that contain additional accessories that may save you the expense of fitting them after purchase. Cost them sperately though and do your research. You may be able to buy the same vehicle at a lower price and have the accessories fitted and it could still save you money! Don’t be embarrassed to haggle it may well save you a significant discount on the retail price possibly saving a few thousand pounds.

Other things to Consider

There are other things to think about too, such as do you hold the correct driving licence for the motorhome you want? Will you buy privately or from a dealer? Where will I park or store the vehicle? How much will it cost to insure? Will it be new or used?

Remember though, you could and possibly will drive yourself crazy. After all this you will have to make a decision. Remeber my comments at the start of this article, there’s alway a compromise somewhere along the line. At this point if you’re still happy then go for it! 

These are some of the questions you will need to answer before you embark on your purchase. See it as part of your motorhome adventure and another step to achieving your dream. 

 

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