guide to buying an rv

rv trailer at side of road

hOw much do rV's Cost in Canada?

This is obviously the first question on people's minds. But the options are really varied and can cost any where from $10,000 to $300,000 depending on the style and features. A modest camper trailer pulled behind a truck might go for $20,000, while a fifth-wheel may be $40,000. Motorhome prices can start around $100,000. Used options are anywhere from half to 20% less than new prices.

Here's a report that offers some useful sample pricing of major brands:

The Most Popular Types of RV’s, Campers and Travel Trailers

There’s a lot of variety in the types and sizes of RV’s available, but they basically fall into two categories: Motorhomes or travel trailers. Motorhomes are all-in-one vehicles that you drive, whereas travel trailers are towed behind a care, SUV, minivan or pickup truck.

Prices of these motorhomes and trailers vary significantly, depending on the size, amenities and design. Well-known brands include Airstream, Coachmen, Entegra, Newmar, Winnebago K-Z RV and Keystone. Typically, the most common motorhome lengths for Class A are about 33ft, Class B is about 20ft, Class C 28 ft, and 5th wheels have a popular length of 32, 34, and 36 feet. Travel Trailers range from 20-40ft. Depending on the RV class, there are different popular lengths and style for each category.

difference between Motorhomes and Travel Trailers

According to the latest industry stats, RV travel trailers are the most purchased, as they offer several advantages over motorhomes. They cost less for the same about of space, as an engine is not required. Day-tripping is easy, as you can hitch and unhitch. Insurance cost is also lower, and there is more space to house an entire family. As well, greater selection is available.

However, motorhomes offer their own advantages as well: No towing required, ease of setting up and tearing down, more suitable for stealth camping, and an all-in-one solution that makes long-term, off-grid living easier. Also, it’s more convenient to access what you need while driving or on stops, as you are already in the living space.

Should You Test Drive and rent an RV before you buy?

With so many options available, many people decide to rent an RV and go for a test run, before making an actual purchase.

Most RV rentals include motorhomes, but you if you have a suitable towing vehicle, you can rent a travel trailer. RV rental rates vary across Canada and depend on what type of RV you want to rent, and the overall size needed for your sleeping and living accommodations, and also the season.

The most popular model rented is an average 25-foot class C motorhome which costs about $1,000-$1,200/week. Travel trailers will typically cost about $500/week.

With rentals, there are no costs for maintenance or registration. But you may expect additional charges for things like a TV, extra mileage, or fees related to wintertime RVing.

There are a lot of places offering RV rentals. You might want to check out:

Buying a New RV vs a Used One

Hint: it's just like buying a car

The choice to buy a new or used RV is much like buying an automobile. It depends on your needs and budget. Just like cars, new RV’s will depreciate once they are taken off the lot, but you will have the assurance of many maintenance free or low maintenance years. You have the choice of the best and most modern options, and a new vehicle is always nicer to live in than used.

However, if you don’t mind a pre-owned RV, you can save a considerable amount of money. But, like buying a car, you have to be thorough in checking the vehicle’s condition and maintenance history carefully. The great thing about buying used is that if you decide to upgrade or swap for a different type of RV, the resale loss is not as significant as a new vehicle. And there is always a market for used RV’s.

Most RVs are manufactured in the U.S., so depending on the currency exchange, new units can be considerably more expensive. So usually the choice the buy new or used boils down to price.

What's the best way to buy an rv?

Before you put down of chunk of good money for an RV, it might be wise to attend at least one RV show. You’ll have a chance to talk to experts who can give you advice, along with being able to see different models of motor homes and trailers. Campgrounds, RV Parks and some insurance vendors also host shows.

Your lowest risk option for buying an RV is through a dealer. Start with online research, see what’s available and then go see, feel and touch various RV before making your decision.

The RV lifestyle: Other Costs to Consider

Don’t forgot all the other costs related to owning an RV, which can add up considerably. Fuel, a suitable towing car, insurance, extended warranty and RV park rental fees. If your RV is used, you might have to add on maintenance and repairs. Your destination matters too. Gas is cheaper in the US than Canada, and RV park fees vary depending on geography and the length of your stay.

Some people rent their permanent homes on sites like Airbnb while they are away on their RV vacations, thereby offsetting costs that they would incur for their own trip. This is a great option for those on a budget.

Is a special driver’s license required for Driving an RV?

The law does not require you to have a special license to drive a motorhome under 11,000 Kgs (24,250 lbs), without air brakes. This is also true for tow vehicles hitched to an RV, as long as the combined weight is less than 11,000 Kg.

So anyone with a standard Class G Licence will be able to drive the majority of RV’s on the market. For larger units, you do need a special license and it’s best to check with your Province regarding rules on this matter.

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