Buying a motorhome for the first time – everything you need to know


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When you’re buying a motorhome for the first time, it requires careful and advanced planning so that you can properly budget and afford this undertaking. Motorhomes embody the very essence of freedom, allowing you to take the comforts of home on the road.

Whether you are yearning for weekend getaways or long-term adventures, buying a motorhome can be your ticket to a whole new world of exploration. However, dipping your toes into the motorhome market for the first time can be slightly overwhelming. Let’s walk through the essential aspects you need to consider to make an informed decision.

We’ll explore the typical down payment price point for a first motorhome (around £3,500-£7,500), why you should buy after the camping season ends, and what add-ons and supplies to stock your motorhome with. We will also divulge the types of repairs and inspections a new motorhome will require, how long these vehicles last, and how you can save money throughout your first motorhome purchase

Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of buying your first ever motorhome. 

Buying a Motorhome For The First Time – Getting Started

Before plunging into the buzzing market of motorhomes, it’s crucial to build a strong foundation to streamline your purchase journey. From setting a budget to pinpointing your exact needs, this section will guide you through the preliminary steps to ensure a smooth and successful buying experience.

Setting a Budget

Begin your motorhome journey by evaluating your financial standing and understanding how much you can comfortably invest in your mobile home.

Consider additional costs such as insurance, maintenance, and potential loan interest rates if you plan to finance the purchase.

A well-defined budget will act as a beacon, guiding you to options that are financially sustainable, without compromising the joy and comfort of your travelling home.

How Much Should You Spend on Your First Motorhome?

When buying a motorhome for the first time, your budget is extremely important. The downpayment and the monthly costs are some of the most essential aspects of price to consider. 

Motorhomes can cost anywhere between tens of thousands of pounds and hundreds of thousands of pounds. The average new motorhome cost is way over £50,000, but you don’t have to set your budget that high when you’re just starting out.

Since you have other costs to consider, such as stocking your motorhome, doing repairs, and more, you should craft a budget closer to what is realistic for you.

How Much Money Do You Have to Put Down on a Motorhome?

It’s important to consider the downpayment price when you purchase a motorhome, as well. You may get away with just a 5% or %7 downpayment on a new car loan. However, a motorhome downpayment is going to be closer to a minimum of 10% or even 20% if you want to lower your interest rate and have a more manageable monthly payment. 

For example, on a £37,000 first motorhome, a downpayment is going to probably be close to £5,500. That’s something to keep in mind when setting your budget for what kind of first motorhome you can actually afford from the onset. 

New vs. Used Motorhomes

Just as you would when buying a house or car, you’ll need to decide whether a brand-new or used motorhome suits your needs and budget best.

New motorhomes come with the latest amenities and technology, offering a modern and luxurious travelling experience. They are also likely to have warranties for peace of mind.

On the other hand, used motorhomes can be a more budget-friendly option, with the potential to find a well-maintained vehicle with many, if not all, of the amenities of a new model.

Remember, sometimes, a well-loved motorhome comes with a character that new ones can’t quite match. Weigh your options carefully and choose what feels right for you.

Determining Your Needs

Before you venture out to make a purchase, sit down and list out the essential features and facilities that you envisage in your ideal motorhome.

Consider factors such as the number of people who will be travelling with you regularly, the kind of places you intend to visit (urban areas require different amenities compared to remote locations), and the duration of your trips.

Think about the sleeping arrangements, kitchen facilities, bathroom amenities, and the kind of motorhome storage you will need. This step is like tailoring a suit; the better the fit, the more comfortable and enjoyable your journeys will be.

Key Features to Consider

When choosing a motorhome, understanding the key features that align with your lifestyle and preferences is vital. This part of the buying process is particularly exciting as it shapes your forthcoming adventures. Here we will explore essential features like size, engine performance, and amenities that could potentially be your deal-makers or breakers.

Size and Layout

The size and layout of your motorhome will be pivotal in determining the level of comfort and enjoyment you experience on your travels. A larger motorhome can offer more space and luxury amenities but might limit the places you can visit due to size restrictions. Here are a few aspects to consider:

  • Sleeping Quarters: Ensure the motorhome has enough berths to accommodate your family or travel group comfortably. Consider the arrangement of sleeping areas; for instance, would you prefer fixed beds or those that convert into seating areas during the day?
  • Living Area: Think about the living space. Would you like a dining area that can host friends, a seating space with a table where you can work remotely, or are you looking for cosy nooks where you can curl up with a book?
  • Kitchen Setup: Depending on your culinary preferences, your kitchen should be equipped to handle your cooking adventures. From a full-fledged kitchen with an oven and stove to a simpler setup, choose what suits your culinary style best.
  • Storage: Adequate storage space is a godsend, especially for long trips. Consider motorhomes that offer ingenious storage solutions to store your gear, clothing, and other essentials without feeling cluttered.

Engine and Performance

The engine is the heart of your motorhome, dictating the pace and quality of your journey. Here are a few facets to scrutinise:

  • Engine Size and Type: Depending on the size of your motorhome, you’ll need an engine powerful enough to carry the weight efficiently, especially if you plan to traverse hilly terrains. Diesel engines are commonly found in motorhomes due to their fuel efficiency and torque performance.
  • Fuel Efficiency: As motorhomes are heavier than regular vehicles, fuel efficiency becomes a significant consideration, especially for long journeys. Research and opt for a model that offers a good balance between performance and fuel economy.
  • Emissions: Given the growing emphasis on environmental conservation, you might want to consider the emission levels of your prospective motorhome. Modern engines with lower emissions are not only eco-friendlier but might also save you money on road taxes and congestion charges.

Facilities and Amenities

The facilities and amenities in a motorhome can turn a good trip into a great one. Here’s what to look for:

  • Bathroom Facilities: Depending on your preference and the nature of your trips, your motorhome should have bathroom facilities that align with your needs. From simple setups with just a toilet and sink to luxurious bathrooms with showers and even bathtubs, the choice is vast.
  • Entertainment Systems: Consider the entertainment facilities onboard. Would you like a television with a satellite connection, or are you happy with a radio and a good set of speakers?
  • Heating and Cooling: For year-round comfort, ensure that the motorhome is equipped with efficient heating and cooling systems to keep you cosy in winter and cool in summer.

Additional Features to Enhance Comfort

Going beyond the basics, think about additional features that can elevate your travel experience:

  • Outdoor Features: Some motorhomes come with outdoor features such as an awning to extend your living space outdoors, an external BBQ point, or even an outdoor shower to rinse off before entering the motorhome.
  • Safety Features: Look for motorhomes equipped with modern safety features like reverse cameras, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), and even GPS to aid in smooth and safe travels.
  • Technology Integration: In this digital age, having motorhome Wi-Fi connectivity and USB ports can keep you connected even on the move, making it easier to work or stay entertained during your travels.

Considering these key features while choosing your motorhome will ensure you find a vehicle that aligns perfectly with your vision of the ideal road trip, blending comfort and adventure seamlessly.

What Is the Best Time to Buy Your First Motorhome?

Just as there are seasons for buying cars that are more beneficial than others, there are certain times of the year when it’s better to go motorhome shopping. New motorhome buyers should seek out opportunities when supply is high, and demand is low. 

This typically falls towards the end of summer or soon after, when most people are done camping for the season. The supply of motorhomes is usually higher during this period because there aren’t a lot of people shopping for motorhomes as winter approaches. 

In contrast, most people don’t recommend looking for a motorhome in peak camping season (summertime) or just before summer, as there will be more competition for a good deal. 

buying a motorhome for the first time

Where to Buy

When you’ve weighed all your preferences and are ready to take the plunge into motorhome ownership, the next crucial step is identifying where to make this significant purchase.

The avenues are many, each offering its set of advantages. Let’s guide you through the maze of options available in the UK market, helping you find a route that best suits your needs and preferences.

Authorised Dealerships

Venturing into an authorised dealership can be likened to stepping into a candy store with a wide array of brand new options to choose from. Here’s why you might consider this option:

  • Wide Selection: Dealerships offer a broad selection of models, allowing you to explore various options in one location.
  • Professional Guidance: You’ll find experienced staff at hand to guide you, offering advice based on your specific needs and preferences.
  • Warranties and After-Sales Service: New motorhomes from dealerships usually come with warranties and a promise of reliable after-sales service.
  • Finance Options: Dealerships often have finance options available, helping you spread the cost over a period of time.

Private Sellers

Buying from a private seller can be compared to a treasure hunt, where you might find a gem at a great price. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Potential for Lower Prices: Private sellers might offer lower prices compared to dealerships, giving you the opportunity to find a bargain.
  • Personal Experience: Buying from a private seller allows you to hear first-hand experiences and maybe even some valuable tips for your motorhome adventures.
  • Negotiation Leeway: You might find more room to negotiate the price with a private seller, especially if they are keen to make a quick sale.

Online Platforms

In the digital age, online platforms act like a vast marketplace bringing options from far and wide to your fingertips. Here’s why this might be your go-to option:

  • Convenience: Online platforms offer the convenience of browsing multiple options from the comfort of your home.
  • Broad Spectrum of Choices: These platforms list motorhomes from various sellers, giving you a wide spectrum of choices in terms of price, make, and features.
  • User Reviews and Ratings: Many platforms feature reviews and ratings, helping you gauge the credibility of the seller and the quality of the motorhome on offer.

Motorhome Shows

Motorhome shows are akin to festive gatherings for enthusiasts, offering a vibrant atmosphere to explore the latest in the market. Here’s what to anticipate:

  • Latest Models and Innovations: Motorhome shows are a hub for the latest models and innovations, offering you a glimpse into the newest features and technologies in the motorhome world.
  • Expert Advice and Workshops: These shows often feature workshops and seminars, offering insights and advice from industry experts.
  • Special Show Discounts: You might find special discounts and offers exclusive to show attendees, giving you a chance to snag a great deal.

Tips for a Wise Purchase

Regardless of the avenue you choose for your purchase, here are some golden nuggets of advice:

  • Pre-Purchase Inspection: Consider getting a pre-purchase inspection to ensure the motorhome is in good condition, avoiding potential costly repairs in the future.
  • Documentation Check: Ensure to check all necessary documentation, including ownership papers and service history, to verify the legitimacy of the sale.
  • Test Drive: Don’t skip the test drive to get a feel of the motorhome, ensuring it meets your expectations in terms of drive comfort and handling.

Taking time to research and explore these avenues for purchasing your motorhome will stand you in good stead, helping you secure a vehicle that promises many joyous adventures on the open road.

Embarking on the journey of buying a motorhome is not just about picking the right vehicle; it also entails navigating the legal and insurance landscapes to ensure a hassle-free and secure ownership experience. Let’s walk through the critical elements you need to consider in this aspect.

Navigating through the legal considerations is a critical step in the motorhome buying process. It’s akin to setting the rules of a game, where being well-informed can prevent future hiccups. Here’s a rundown of what you need to be aware of:

  • Ownership Transfer: Ensure the smooth transfer of ownership by completing all the necessary paperwork, which includes verifying the V5C logbook and ensuring the vehicle’s identification number (VIN) matches the documents.
  • Roadworthiness: Before sealing the deal, confirm that the motorhome has a valid MOT certificate, which attests to its roadworthiness. It is a legal requirement for motorhomes over three years old in the UK.
  • Weight Restrictions: Be aware of the weight restrictions that apply to motorhomes. In the UK, driving a motorhome with a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) over 3.5 tonnes may require a category C1 licence.

If you’d like to know more about which license you need to drive a motorhome in the UK, check out our blog post here – Can I Drive A Motorhome With A Car License?

Insurance Considerations

Securing the right insurance is akin to putting a safety net under your significant investment, offering protection against unforeseen circumstances. Here’s a closer look at the factors influencing insurance considerations:

  • Type of Insurance: Motorhome insurance is a specialised product, differing from regular car insurance. Consider the different types of coverage available – Comprehensive, Third-Party Fire and Theft, and Third-Party Only, and choose one that suits your needs and budget.
  • Insurance Premium: Factors like the motorhome’s age, make, and model, along with the driver’s age and driving history, can influence the insurance premium. Shop around to get quotes from various insurers to secure a competitive rate.
  • Additional Coverage: Consider additional coverage options such as breakdown cover, which offers assistance in case of a motorhome malfunction, and contents insurance to protect personal belongings inside the motorhome.
  • No Claims Bonus: If you have a no-claims bonus from a previous vehicle, check if it can be transferred to your motorhome insurance to potentially lower the premium.
  • European Cover: If you plan to venture across the continent, consider an insurance policy that includes European cover, ensuring protection even outside the UK.

What Should I Know About Motorhome Repairs and Parts?

If you’re buying your first motorhome, you might not be aware of all the things that can go wrong with these vehicles. Since they typically accommodate some sort of running water, electricity, and other features, they require more maintenance and repairs than a regular car would. 

When it comes to buying a motorhome, you need to pay attention to any issues that may be cause for repair, especially if you buy a used motorhome. Specifically, watch out for hazardous material, damages, malfunctioning parts, and more. 

How Do I Do an Inspection Before Driving?

If you buy a used motorhome, you need to look out for issues that are unsafe and will cost a lot of money to fix. This includes mould issues, which are most common near the bathroom and kitchen area of a motorhome. 

You may also encounter mould near the doors, windows, and any areas where moisture from outside can get in. Do a thorough sweep of your motorhome before buying to inspect for the presence of mould. 

You should also determine what type of motorhome tyres your motorhome comes with and whether or not they’re high quality and new. If they aren’t, you may end up putting in more money to replace them soon after buying the motorhome. 

You should also inspect for well-functioning parts, such as brakes, windshield wipers, mirrors, electricity sources, faucets, doors, and more. You may even consider hiring someone to do an inspection for you before you buy a motorhome and take it on the road.

It’s a small investment to make so that you have peace of mind that you aren’t getting taken advantage of by a used motorhome dealer. 

Tips for First-Time Motorhome Buyers

Venturing into the world of motorhomes for the first time can often feel like stepping into a new realm filled with exciting possibilities and adventures waiting to unfold. However, it is also a journey that requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a smooth ride.

Here are some essential tips to consider that will guide you like a trusty compass, helping you navigate through the initial stages of motorhome ownership:

Understanding Your Needs and Preferences

It’s essential to map out your needs and preferences before you start, considering factors such as:

  • Purpose of the Motorhome: Are you looking for a weekend getaway vehicle or planning extended road trips? The intended use can significantly influence the type of motorhome you should consider.
  • Size and Layout: Determine the size and layout that would suit your needs. Think about the number of people it should accommodate, the type of amenities you desire, and how much space you require for a comfortable journey.
  • Budget: Set a realistic budget that encompasses not only the initial purchase cost but also other expenses such as insurance, maintenance, and fuel.

Research is Your Best Friend

Before you set sail into the motorhome market, make sure to do thorough research:

  • Market Analysis: Conduct a detailed market analysis to understand the different types of motorhomes available, their features, and price ranges.
  • Reviews and Testimonials: Dive into reviews and testimonials from other motorhome owners, which can offer invaluable insights and firsthand experiences.
  • Forums and Communities: Join online forums and communities where you can connect with other enthusiasts, seek advice, and share experiences.

Test Drives are Essential

Before making a commitment, it’s crucial to test the waters, ensuring that your chosen motorhome meets your expectations:

  • Multiple Test Drives: Don’t hesitate to take multiple test drives to get a feel of different motorhomes, noting how each one handles and the comfort levels they offer.
  • Seek Professional Inspection: If you’re considering a used motorhome, it’s wise to seek a professional inspection to evaluate the vehicle’s condition and identify any potential issues.

Negotiation Skills Can Be a Boon

As you navigate through the buying process, honing your negotiation skills can be a great asset, helping you secure the best deal:

  • Market Knowledge: Armed with market knowledge, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate a fair price.
  • Flexibility: Be open to exploring various options and be willing to walk away if the deal doesn’t feel right, giving you a better stance in negotiations.

Preparation for the Journey Ahead

Once the purchase is made, it’s time to prepare for the adventures that lie ahead:

  • Essential Accessories: Invest in essential accessories that enhance your motorhome experience, including comfortable bedding, kitchen essentials, and outdoor furniture for those lovely picnics amidst nature.
  • Safety Measures: Ensure to equip your motorhome with necessary safety measures, including a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and a set of basic tools for minor repairs.
  • Documentation and Legalities: Make sure to have all the necessary documentation in place, including ownership papers, insurance, and any other legal requirements.

What Is the Life Expectancy of a New Motorhome?

In general, you can expect a decent motorhome to last about as long as a car would – around 200,000 miles. Most people can get a solid 20 years out of their motorhomes when bought in new condition. However, if you buy a used motorhome, its accident history, repair history, and mileage will all affect how long it lasts under your care. 

Your persistence with regular maintenance will also go a long way in making your motorhome last longer. Motorhomes are more than just a car; they require attention year-round so that they stay in shape, kind of like a real house would. 

Final Thoughts

Buying a motorhome for the first time is indeed an exciting venture. While the process may seem daunting, following a structured approach can ease the journey.

Remember, the goal is to find a motorhome that resonates with your dream of the perfect road trip, offering a harmonious blend of comfort and adventure.

So, take your time, do your homework, and soon you’ll be on the road, exploring the beauty of the UK and beyond in your very own home on wheels.

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