Choosing an affordable RV for your adventures can be overwhelming – there are so many motorhome choices out there these days.
While finding an affordable RV is possible, it takes time and effort to research your options.
Before you buy, you should consider these questions:
- Do you want to boondock or stay in campgrounds?
- Do you want to live in your RV motorhome full time or use it for sporadic trips?
If you’re planning to live in your RV full time, it’s important to think hard about the space. Can you live with it for months on end? Is it big enough to fit your needs?
Once you have a solid plan on how you intend to use your motorhome, it’s time to start shopping around for an RV motorhome.
In my research about RVs, I wanted to ask an expert about RV life and the costs associated with buying an RV.
My go-to person? Liz Wilcox from The Virtual Campground. A bit about Liz? She’s a full time RVer the author of Tales From the Black Tank and is on a mission to keep RVers happy and humored on the road.
Liz has some great tips on cheap campers that could suite your RV travels.
What type of RV motorhome should I pick for boondocking?
Liz: I don’t think one brand is better than the other, but the smaller the motorhome, the easier it is to boondock. A small RV is usually easier to tow or drive into remote locations and of course, uses less power.
That said, Winnebago is stepping up its game when it comes to making affordable RVs that cater to people who want to boondock.
The new Winnebago Revel seems to be the first RV built specifically for an RVer that likes to go boondocking. It comes standard with a solar power system and small cassette toilet. According to Winnebago, “Welded aluminum cabinet face frames, dual-pane acrylic windows with insulated shades, snap-in screens, and a standard solar power system all contribute to the 44E’s off-grid livability.”
Check out this video of the Winnegabo Revel, which is not cheap at over $100,000, but could be worth the money if you’re planning on living in it full time.
I also know a lot of their new travel trailers are solar ready. This seems to be a trend more manufacturers are catching onto.
[You may also like: 10 essentials for RV boondocking]
But just because you want a big rig, doesn’t mean you can’t boondock. Technomadia is proof of that! They have been RVing for 12 years and boondock a ton! They have a great solar and battery system that powers their all-electric bus! Yep, all-electric…as in no propane.
Want to find FREE camping?
Download my FREE boondocking starter guide right now:
What main tip would you give to someone who wants to buy an RV?
Liz: Even if it’s a brand new RV motorhome, hire an RV inspector to come look at it before you buy.
It might sound crazy or excessive, but it’s necessary. The RV industry is BOOMING right now. The workers cannot keep up with the demand. Sometimes, they overlook things and ship a motorhome that isn’t ready out to a dealership. Now things are really messed up.
Get an inspector to check out your rig to ensure all systems are a go, there isn’t unseen damage, and every screw is tight as can be.
If you’re buying used, I offer the same advice.
We’ve bought used twice and each time the rig looked better than it was. An RV motorhome inspector will give you a thorough rundown of the shape of the rig. This will give you a much better picture of the condition the motorhome is truly in.
Is there a certain time of year where RV motorhomes are cheaper?
Liz: A rule of thumb is to buy an RV motorhome between late August and late November. The dealers are really trying to get the current year’s models out and start selling next year’s.
Before we bought our motorhome, we were in love with a travel trailer. We went at least twice a month to look for it. At the end of summer, we started asking for “the deal.” Every time we went back, the price was lower. On a $40k trailer, the lowest offer they gave us was $27k. It was a crazy deal on a brand new rig.
We only ended up with the motorhome due to our inability to find a deal on a truck to pull the travel trailer.
What should I look for when shopping for an RV motorhome?
Liz:You must have a budget. And you’ve got to stick to it.
There are lots of RV motorhomes out there. And they’re all amazing when shopping. It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of it all and next thing you know, you’re talking to a salesman about a motorhome that’s 15k over your budget.
For us, our budget was $50k for both RV and truck. We tried for about 6 months to make our dream RV setup work. We couldn’t do it. So we bought a motorhome for well under budget.
And we are so happy we don’t have the financial strain we would have if we didn’t stick to our budget.
Here are some different types of RV motorhomes to consider:
If you want to find the best affordable RV, then you need to familiarize yourself with types of motorhomes. Check out RV Share to see pictures of the types of motorhomes you can buy. If you’re not ready to buy yet, consider renting one of the RVs listed here for a weekend or a couple of months and see how you like it.
Here are the differences between the types of motorhomes you can buy:
- Class A Motorhome. Class A motorhomes are the most expensive of the lot due to their size, length and slide-outs. The benefit of a Class A motorhome is that it’s built heavy duty, either on a commercial truck or bus chassis. They have larger wheels to handle the weight and more space, and are reminiscent of a home. The downsides are price and fuel economy. Most Class A Motorhomes only get 8-10 miles per gallon, and price points can start at over $50,000 and up.
- Class B Motorhome. From the outside, this type of motorhome looks more like a camper van. You can usually stand up inside, and there is a tiny kitchen, living room and bathroom. Class B motorhomes are smaller, get better fuel economy and are agiler. You can park them anywhere with ease, and they start at price points closer to the $40,000.
- Class C Motorhome. The Class C motorhome is easy to recognize due to its over-cab sleeping area. While smaller than the Class A and bigger than the Class B, this RV is still big enough to tow an extra car for easy jaunts around town. You can also park it in a normal parking spot. This motorhome could be a good fit for a family, with a price point starting around $40,000 as well. This couple loves their little Dolphin Class C, which has the same footprint as a Mercedes Sprinter camper van.
Keep in mind that while you can drive a motorhome, you can also opt to tow a small RV with your car.
- Travel Trailer. Travel trailers vary in size but most are well-equipped for full time living. Plus, their price points are much more user-friendly. Starting anywhere from $10,000 (smaller in size) and up, you can certainly get a great deal on a brand new travel trailer that would work well for you and your family. Check out this family of four living in a tiny 12×7 travel trailer.
- Pop-Up Trailer. With prices starting around $5,000 and up for a pop-up trailer, it’s a camper to consider for your family and your budget. Again, check out examples of the pop-up on RV Share.
Keep in mind that whatever RV you decide to buy, there are other costs associated with it as well. Maintenance, upkeep, and insurance are all items that cost money each month.
To see more on the costs associated with full time RVing, click here: How much does it cost to live in an RV?
There you have it! There are a ton of affordable RV options and cheap campers out there to fit any budget and RV lifestyle.
Remember to do your research, compare prices and make an educated decision.
Before long, you may be cruising around the country in the motorhome of your dreams.
Want to find FREE camping?
Download my FREE boondocking starter guide right now:
Kristin Hanes is a journalist who founded The Wayward Home as a place to learn about alternative living. She currently lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van, and has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire and SF Gate. Read more about Kristin here.