So you’ve looked at some new RVs and you have sticker shock. No worries! A used RV can be a better purchase in some cases. Someone else has already worked out the bugs and maybe even made some really nifty improvements (not to mention diminished that sticker price for you).

Where do you start?

First do your homework. Read other RVers stories and advice. There are a multitude of blogs, websites and online forums where enthusiasts gather.

And of course, you can rent an RV first if you’re new to the RV world to learn better what you like and what you don’t want.

Second after doing some homework is to know what you want.

Christine Bowes of American Family RV is quoted as saying:

“It’s usually that their current vehicle is the wrong size, or they can no longer handle it on the road, or whatever. That’s why we see so many used RVs on the market.”

Which RV is right for you?

You can be certain that it will be unique to your dreams and your needs. Here are a few factors to consider:

Cost: What is the budget that you’re working with to purchase your RV? Remember you’ll also need to factor in the cost of insurance, fuel and maintenance such as tires and tune-ups.

Comfort: How much space do you need? Think about how many will be traveling (and sleeping) in the RV? Remember that you’ll be spending many days together in the RV. You’ll be cooking, using the bathroom and playing (or fighting if you don’t think in advance about what you need). You’ll also be taking things with you – clothing, equipment, toys – all of which take up space.

Travel Preference: Will you be staying in parks with hookups for water, electricity and sewer? Or will you stay mostly in campgrounds where you dry camp (without hookups)? Will you be covering lots of miles often or sitting in one place for extended periods of times? Will you tow the RV or will your RV tow a vehicle that you’ll tool around in once you arrive at your destination? Oh! Remember that some campgrounds have size restrictions so you want to make sure that the RV you buy will fit within the parks that you anticipate frequenting.

Handling: Test drive before you buy. Make sure that you can handle the size RV that you want to buy. This is another good reason to rent an RV and take a short trip before buying.

Start Looking at Units

Once you have an idea of what you’re after, do an online search (RVT.com‘s classified section is a great place to start…) by¬†category, make, model, price and/or other criteria.

Be sure to look at the RV’s floor plan. You can often find a model’s specific floor plan pictured on the manufacturers website.

From the online research that you do, you’ll discover the fair value of a particular model. You can also research NADA Guides for RVs to determine the fair market value of a model but remember that the condition of the unit affects the price.

Dare to Compare

After you online shop, shop locally by identifying units in your local newspaper’s classified ads, craigslist and local RV dealers. Do comparison shop!

Get the History if You Can

Once you have located a unit that you think you want to buy and after you’ve asked the dealer or the owner a load of questions about the history and condition of the unit, you may want to consider purchasing a vehicle history report from rvchecks.com. You’ll need the VIN number for this.

Get It Inspected

If the RV you’re looking at has a motor, you may want to get an independent inspection before making an offer. If all checks out and you feel confident about the RV, its time for you to make your offer based on all your research.

Happy travels my friends and be safe!