Kurt Verlin
No Comments

5 Things to Consider When Choosing an RV

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Buying an RV is an excellent option if you want to spend more time on the open road. But as there are many different types of RVs to suit many different lifestyles, choosing an RV — the right RV — means you’ll have a much better time if you know what to look for.

So how do you decide what to get? The following are five of the most important things to consider when choosing an RV.

Related: The best time to buy an RV is now

Types of RVs

2016 Jayco Eagle
The Jayco Eagle is a fifth-wheel towable RV
Photo: Jayco

All prospective RV owners should know about the major different types of RVs. These include motorhomes, camper vans, fifth wheels, and more. There are many types and it can get a little confusing making sense of them all, so we recommend checking out our comprehensive overview of all the major different types of RVs before moving on.

To keep things simple, there are two types of RVs you should know about right away: motorhomes or towable RVs. If you don’t already own a tow-capable vehicle, you’ll either need to acquire one or get a motorhome. Given the potential cost involved in upgrading your ride, it’s definitely something to take into account early on.

Related: Maintenance tips for RV owners

Intended lifestyle

2016 Jayco Octane
Consider a toy hauler for off-road adventures
Photo: Jayco

When choosing an RV, ask yourself what you intend to do with it and how often you intend to use it. For example, it doesn’t make much sense to invest in a large and luxurious fifth-wheel RV if you only intend to use it once or twice a year for brief camping trips. A mobile and easy-to-store RV, like a pop-up camper, would better suit your needs in that case. If you want an RV to use as a base of operations for off-road adventures, you should consider a toy hauler, which includes a garage where you can transport four-wheelers.

Ultimately, an RV is a tool. If you have nails to drive, you need a hammer. If you only want to hike all day and have a warm place to spend the night and a toilet to use in the morning, a Class B motorhome or camper van may be just what you need. Decide the function your RV needs to serve then choose an RV that best fulfills it.

Related: Is RV toilet paper really necessary?

Necessary amenities

2016 Jayco Senica interior
It’s nice, but does a solo camper need all of this?
Photo: Jayco

Modern RVs can be extraordinarily luxurious. It’s not uncommon to find Class A motorhomes and fifth-wheel RVs with residential-grade kitchens, king-size beds, roomy walk-in showers, remote-controlled features, plush seating arrangements, and high-tech entertainment systems.

But if luxury-on-the-go isn’t your style, you’ve got options. Most RVs are offered with a wide variety of floor plans, packages, and features — features that, ultimately, you may not need. After all, the most well-equipped RVs tend to be the largest ones, so if you don’t have a family to bring along, many of those features may end up superfluous.

It’s easy to get excited about the many cool toys your RV could have, but these toys could ultimately be used for little more than making a bigger hole in your wallet than necessary. Take a hard look at how you intend to use your RV and prioritize the features that you need for your lifestyle before adding the ones that seem like they’d be nice to have every once in a while. Your budget will thank you.

Related: 5 tips to RV with your cat

Budget and running costs

2016 Jay Series Sport interior
Even smaller RVs can have all the necessary amenities
Photo: Jayco

Your budget may be the most important consideration when choosing an RV. After all, RVs represent a major, long-term investment that requires attention and capital long after the initial purchase. It goes without saying that choosing the right RV, like choosing the right car, is impacted by the amount of money you are willing to spend on one. But compared to a car, it also costs significantly more to operate and maintain an RV, which requires fresh water and a source of electricity. You also need to factor in storage solutions when the RV is not in use. Keep these running costs in mind when deciding how much you’re willing to spend on the ticket price.

Related: What to consider when buying an RV cover

Renting options

2016 Jayco Pinnacle interior
On a budget, renting makes this kind of RV luxury more accessible
Photo: Jayco

If you think your RV trips will be infrequent, you might want to consider renting an RV instead of buying one. This will help you save money as well as remove the guilt that may come with buying an expensive vehicle and not using it enough to justify the cost. The RV lifestyle is great — but you don’t have to own an RV to experience it.

Related: Non-obvious interior features to look for in an RV

It’s easy to get carried away with your dreams of living on the road. But buying an RV is not unlike buying a vehicle and a home in a single purchase. Do your homework first to ensure you come away with no regrets.