A motorhome is probably one of the most expensive things you’ll ever buy in your life. You’re almost certain to spend a minimum of £15,000 on even a second hand motorhome and, of course, the sky really is the limit when it comes to the top price. Any motorhome purchase is a big deal, but few more so than your first motorhome. There’s nothing quite like getting to know a motorhome as an owner; not only do you figure out all its difficulties, but you see all its great features too and, of course, you want your first motorhome experience to be a good one.
Without any first-hand knowledge however, it can be tough to figure out where to put your cash. So, to help you through the difficulties, here’s our guide to choosing your first motorhome and making sure it’s right for you.
Motorhome Class and Category
There are different classes of motorhome in the UK. The largest, known usually as American RV’s, are purpose built (usually in the USA) with an extremely long wheelbase and an almost bus-like structure. The largest motorhomes usually built in Europe are Class A motorhomes which use just a chassis from a van without the cab. Moving down in size terms, a coach-build usually uses a long van chassis with the original cab intact and very often an overhanging sleeping area. Smaller still are van conversions and various self-built conversions. Choosing a class is the first step in deciding which motorhome to buy and, usually, it’s based on the number of berths you need and your budget.
Size Relative to Berths
Aside from its class, the absolute first thing that you’ll notice about any motorhome is its size. Most motorhomes aren’t small and, of course, the exterior dimensions matter, but what’s most important is how big it feels inside. With motorhomes you should compare like for like; a four berth will feel different to a six berth.
Berth choice is a difficult decision and usually not as simple as you might think. The key is to be realistic about what you’ll use both now and in the future. Spending the extra money to get more berths is only a good idea if they’re going to be filled regularly, usually the extra costs from loss of efficiency and space don’t add up if there’s nobody in them.
Even when you’ve decided which motorhome size and type you need, you’ll still be faced with decisions about which price bracket you’ll be looking at. The key here is to try to account for the differences based upon the differing specifications of the motorhome.
For example, pick the cheapest motorhome in your category. Then, work out why the next model up is, say £5,000 more expensive. Is it a bigger engine, a more efficient drive train, a different interior layout or added features? If you can’t reconcile the difference, you might be paying for a brand.
The Value of Added Features
If you find, for example, one motorhome has a number of extra features that another doesn’t, it’s a very personal decision as to what you should go for. In the end, most motorhome owners like to use some sort of reversing technology, a sat-nav and an air-conditioning system. Paying for these extras up front can be worthwhile.
On the other hand, an extra microwave, a dishwasher or a power shower are matters of taste. If you can afford them, they’re nice features to have, but they’re not essential. They will generally retain some value though, so don’t be afraid to splash out.
Finance and Aftercare
Finally, what might be the ultimate deciding factor in buying any motorhome is its affordability. Considering the finance deal and aftercare packages shouldn’t be an afterthought as, in reality, it can be the most expensive added feature you’ll buy.
You should also ensure you know the running costs of your motorhome and are aware of a rough price for the motorhome insurance. Weighing in all these costs should give you a reasonable idea of the finance you’ll require to buy your motorhome.
If you’ve considered all the factors above then there’s one last thing to think about: taste. For many people, some motorhomes just look ugly or beautiful, some are desirable and some are not. Your motorhome needs to fit with your lifestyle, so even if you know one motorhome is better value than another, don’t forget to factor in the price of taste. Loving what you buy is key to your first motorhome purchase so make sure you leave a little room for personal taste!