How To Buy an RV: RV Buyers Guide

Buying an RV is an exciting adventure, but it can also be a daunting task, especially for first-time buyers.  With so many options available, doing your research can help you make an informed decision. This comprehensive RV buyers guide will help you navigate the process and find the perfect RV for your lifestyle and budget. 

Determine Your RV Lifestyle

white and blue bus on road during daytime by Steven Weeks is licensed with Unsplash License

Before purchasing an RV, consider your lifestyle, your camping preferences, and the costs involved. If you plan to camp with your family or pets, you’ll need a larger RV with sufficient sleeping and living space. Choosing the right RV and floorplan is essential for a comfortable experience to spend quality time with your family. 

Think about how often you’ll be camping and the type of experience you prefer. Are you a rustic camper who enjoys boondocking in remote locations, or do you prefer the amenities and comfort of RV resorts? This will determine the features and capabilities you need in your RV, such as solar power, off-road capabilities, or luxury amenities. RVs with solar power options and larger water tanks can help you stay off-grid longer, while luxury RVs might be perfect for those who prefer a world-class hotel experience during their travels.

If you plan to work while on the road, consider an RV with a dedicated workspace or office area. It’s essential to set clear expectations for yourself and your travel companions, as working while camping can sometimes diminish the enjoyment of the RV lifestyle.

Choose the Right RV Type

There are two RV types: towable and motorhome. Towable RVs, such as travel trailers, fifth wheels, pop-up campers, truck campers, and toy haulers, are pulled behind your vehicle. Motorhomes have a cab and engine and come in three classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A RVs are the largest and most luxurious, Class B ones are the smallest, and Class C falls between classes A and B in size and comfort. They can be gas or diesel powered depending on the brand and model, and feature a garage area for off-road vehicles, golf carts, and other gear.

When choosing an RV type, consider its towing capacity, the size of your travel party, and your desired amenities. Research different RV brands to understand their unique features and benefits, as this will help narrow down your search. Learning about special features and benefits some RV brands offer over others will help you make an informed decision.

Consider the Costs

RV ownership involves more than just the purchase price. When budgeting for your RV, factor in the costs of financing, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and storage. New RVs can range from $10,000 to over $300,000, with diesel motorhomes featuring residential amenities at the higher end of the price range. Used RV prices vary based on the year, make, and condition of the vehicle.

If you plan to finance your RV, many dealerships work with national and regional banks as well as credit unions to provide financing options. RV insurance is also essential, as it helps protect you against the unexpected. Keep in mind that RV insurance is more specialized than standard home or vehicle policies.

Where To Buy an RV

There are several types of places where you can consider buying an RV.


RV dealerships offer a wide selection of new and used RVs as well as financing options, warranties, and after-sales support. They have greater inventory options compared to private sellers. When shopping at a dealership, come prepared with research on fair market prices, and don’t be afraid to negotiate on price, features, and extras.

Private Sellers

Buying from a private seller can potentially save you money, but it also comes with risks. When purchasing from a private seller, thoroughly inspect the RV, request maintenance records, and consider hiring a professional inspector to assess the vehicle’s condition.

RV Shows

Attending RV shows is an excellent way to explore a variety of RV models and brands in one location. RV shows are a great way to find the perfect floorplan on the newest RVs, and the prices are often attractive. Many dealers offer special show pricing and incentives, making it an opportune time to make a purchase. Research beforehand, bring a list of must-have features, and wear comfortable shoes for all the walking you’ll do.

RV Trade-In Value – Looking To Swap or Upgrade

If you’re looking to upgrade your current RV, understanding your trade-in value is crucial. Factors such as the age, condition, and popularity of your RV model will affect its trade-in value. To get the best trade-in value, maintain your RV well, keep detailed records of maintenance and repairs, and time your trade-in strategically, such as during peak selling seasons or when new models are released.

Additional Resources for RV Buyers

As you navigate the RV buying process, take advantage of the wealth of available resources. Online forums and blogs, such as our Bretz RV & Marine’s website, provide valuable insights and experiences from fellow RV enthusiasts. Facebook groups dedicated to RVing can also be a great source of information and support, allowing you to connect with other knowledgeable RVers. Consider joining RV clubs and organizations to access exclusive benefits, discounts, and networking opportunities.

When researching RVs, be sure to read honest reviews from current owners to get a better understanding of the pros and cons of each model. Attending local RV shows in your area can provide you with the opportunity to see various RVs in person and ask questions directly to the manufacturers or dealers.

Ready To Hit the Road?

Buying an RV is a significant investment, but with proper research and preparation, you can find the perfect vehicle to suit your lifestyle and budget. At Bretz RV & Marine, our knowledgeable staff can assist you in finding the ideal RV for your needs and budget. Visit our inventory page to explore our wide selection of new and used RVs, or stop by our dealership in Idaho or Montana to see them in person. With this comprehensive RV buyers guide and our expertise, you’ll be well equipped to make an informed decision and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

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