Costs of RVs
RVs can range in price from under $5,000 for a basic foldup trailer to more than $500,000 for the most luxurious Class C motorhome. Within each class of RV, you'll find wide variations in price. The final price will depend on a variety of factors, including:
Size of RV: Travel trailers can range in size from 12 to 35 feet. In general; the longer the trailer, the higher the price.
Manufacturer: Some manufacturers build for the luxury market, and some build for the budget market. The differences are usually found in the type and grade of carpeting, quality of cabinets and woodwork, and standard amenities. Products by higher-end manufacturers, such as Airstream, hold their value well and will depreciate less.
Number of slideouts: Slideouts add additional living space, but they also add to the cost of construction due to the added weight and electronics needed for the slide mechanism. It is not uncommon to see up to three slideouts on the bigger trailers and motorhomes.
Options: Every year, RV manufacturers come out with more options for their products. From satellite dishes to washer/dryer combinations, an almost endless list of options is available. While they may be tempting, they can quickly add up and put the final price out of your budget.
Appliance upgrades: Many manufacturers will offer appliance upgrades, such as the addition of an icemaker to the standard refrigerator freezer, or a convection oven rather than the standard oven. Once again, this is something you will need to consider. Look back at your travel style. If you plan on cooking outdoors most of the time, an upgraded oven may be unnecessary.
Optional floor plans: Most manufacturers provide a wide selection of floor plans in their most popular sizes of trailer and motorhome. If you are a family with more than one child, you should look at models that feature a bunkhouse sleeping arrangement. You get more sleeping space in less floor space, saving on length, weight, and price.
Besides driving up the price of your RV, optional accessories can drive up its weight. Excess weight reduces fuel economy, increases engine and tire wear, and can even be downright unsafe. Choose optional equipment carefully and leave off anything you really don't need.
Quality of construction: It usually goes without saying that quality will come with a higher cost. Shop around and look at all the RVs in your price range, and buy the best-quality RV you can afford. Check the consumer reports, the RV magazines, and the Web sites for RV enthusiasts for reviews. Don't be afraid to crawl underneath the vehicle to look for signs of shoddy construction.
Tow vehicle: If you do not have a vehicle capable of towing the travel trailer you purchase, you will need to add the cost of a new vehicle to the final price of the trailer. Depending on the price of the tow vehicle, you may decide that a motorized RV (motorhome) would meet your needs.
Model year: RV manufacturers, just like automobile manufacturers, bring out new models every year. When the new models come into the showrooms, the unsold rigs from the previous year are often reduced in price to help them move out. Find out when the new model year arrives and look for your RV then. You may save yourself a lot of money by buying last year's model.
If you own a small or compact car that you plan on using as a tow vehicle, you will probably be limited to looking at a foldup trailer. Don't be discouraged: Foldup trailers are great for the beginning RV owner. They are generally easy to sell when you are ready to move up to a larger rig, and they hold their resale value if well cared for.
Dealer: Buying an RV is a lot like buying a car: It pays to shop around. If you live in an area with several RV dealerships, you can comparison-shop over a few days to get the best price on what you want. If you have some time and access to the Internet, you can comparison-shop online. It may be worth your while in savings to order an RV from a dealer in another city and travel there to pick it up. You may also be able to use a lower quote from an out-of-town dealer as a bargaining chip with your local dealer. Most RV dealers are willing to negotiate the price. Getting the initial sale can mean a customer for service, after-market purchases, and future upgrades.
Factory buying: Some RV buyers have bypassed the dealer completely and bought directly from the manufacturer. Savings are impressive, but not all manufacturers offer this option. The one downside is that you will have to go to the factory to pick it up yourself and financing options may not be available. For cash buyers, this could be either a windfall or an opportunity to upgrade and stay within their budget.