Used RV or New?
When we were getting ready to jump off the deep end into full-time RV living, there was no question that we were going to buy a used RV. We didn’t want to start off in debt after we sold our house, therefore we wanted to pay with cash. But, if you have a stockpile of cash that is just burning a hole in your bank account, then, by all means, buy top of the line new. If you are like us regular people, then buying used is a viable option and can be just as reliable.
I would follow these tips when buying a used RV (these pertain to a 5th wheel, which is what we bought):
- Buy from a reputable dealer.
- Look up the “Blue Book Price” for the model of RV you are looking at.
- Ask all the questions about major systems on the RV: AC, Ceiling, Plumbing, Slide Motors, Awning Motors, Refrigerator and all appliances, tires, and anything else you can think of.
- Look through every inch of the RV, turn everything on, ask if there are maintenance records.
- Play hardball and negotiate a little with them if they are somewhat over the value of RV.
- If you think you need to, hire an RV inspector to inspect it for you.
If you are not handy with electrical, plumbing, or carpentry, don’t take on a fixer-upper. RV electrical is really left up to the professionals since an RV’s electrical system is a little different than the electrical system in a sticks and bricks house.
Did the Cash Fall Out of the Sky?
No, we picked it off our money tree in the backyard. Don’t you have one of those? Haha, I wish we did. Here is the sitch we found ourselves in: we put our house up for sale thinking that we were going to downsize into a smaller property. The property we found was held in an estate in which one member would not sign. So, here we were with the impending sale of our house and nowhere to go. We had toyed with the idea of REALLY downsizing and living in an RV and we took this as the green light signal to go for it. Consequently, we had 4 weeks until the sale of our house to find, purchase, and set up the RV in a park. Travel was not an option for us since my husband still has a full-time job and our youngest is attending a local college.
Show Me the Money
Ok, so I’m going to skip some of the mundane details of searching for parks and RV’s. Let me just say, it was a daily event driving to parks, RV dealerships, and even some shady private sellers. That is why I recommend buying from a reputable dealer. I am not saying all private sellers are shady, but if you are just starting out, it is best to buy from a knowledgeable dealer.
Here is a secret that I learned about getting the cash to buy our RV before we got the proceeds from the sale of our house: turns out you can take out the money from your 401K for the purchase of your primary residence. I know, I know – a lot of financial experts just cringed at what I said. But, we had no choice and that is what we did. We made sure that we requested enough to have the amount we needed to pay for the RV after taxes were taken out. Just FYI, 401K companies act like it is their own personal money you are taking, so they don’t like to let it go without some “persuading”. Fortunately, it worked, we got it, and we were able to purchase our RV. Do I recommend everyone do it this way – no – but just know it is an option if you find yourself in that situation.
Recommendations if You Buy a Used RV
- Insure your rig
- Purchase an extended warranty
We did not get anything extra from the dealership because we had a set price in our mind that we wanted to pay and not a penny more. Their extended warranty plans and roadside assistance plans all seemed to add on several thousands of dollars. No offense to the salespeople, they are just trying to make a living, but I am a die-hard bargain hunter and can’t be easily persuaded into giving up money. We did find a good extended warranty plan through Good Sam’s Club that we paid about $477 for a year and we also ended up purchasing our insurance for the rig through them, too.
I did opt for a $500 deductible for the warranty. They had other options down to $100, but then the premiums went up considerably. I figured $500 was doable for us if we had a major repair. We have used the warranty to replace our black water tank and a broken flange on our toilet. It seems that the previous owners had attempted to patch the tank and the patch eventually started leaking – GROSS! So it was worth every penny of the warranty to have a professional do the work. I was happy with the whole process and the warranty company was great to work with. They paid, no questions asked and we even got to choose who we used to do the repair. It was awesome! So if you are looking into extended warranties and insurance, check out Good Sam’s. We have had a good experience with them.
So What Should You Do?
You ultimately need to do what is right for your family and your own situation. But, we have found our used RV to be just the thing for us and we are very happy with it. We are extremely happy not to have a trailer payment! Just know if you buy used, if you do your homework and due diligence to protect your investment, you will be just as happy. Maybe even more happy if you can pay cash and not accrue any more debt.
I don’t receive any monetary payment or endorsement, but we bought our gently used trailer at Holiday World and were completely satisfied.
Here’s to the simple life!