RV Lifestyle: RVing on a Budget—Part 2

Last week, we started talking about RVing on a budget. This week we’re going to explore how to purchase the best RV at the best price. Getting an RV that doesn’t blow your budget starts with taking your time to consider exactly what you need, and doing your research to narrow down your RV options. Think about long term savings as you consider this; it’s not just about what you can afford today, but what you can afford to use and maintain on a regular basis for years to come. Take a look at our blog “ The Ultimate RV Shopping Guide” for great guidance on what to look for and the steps to take to find your perfect RV.

For the Best Savings, Explore Pre-Owned RVs

Some of us purchase an RV and keep it for years, building memories with our children and grandchildren. Sometimes that old RV is so loved it becomes like a member of the family. However, when you’re in the market to purchase an RV, it’s good to know that there are a lot of like-new pre-owned RVs on the market. Whether people outgrew their RV, purchased something that wasn’t quite right for them, or were ready to downsize, we see excellent used RVs come into our lot every week. The best part is that this can give you remarkable savings on spotless RVs with low miles.

There are a few keys to getting the best savings and the best value. First and foremost, make sure you go into the process having done your research ahead of time. Ideally, you should have narrowed down the styles and models you’re interested in. You should have a sense of what the going price is for those models. And you should have spent time walking through a variety of RVs so you know the floorplans and features you’re looking for. By coming into the process forearmed with this knowledge, you will be able to better negotiate getting the best deal.

We also recommend that you arrange with a trained RV service technician to look any RVs you’re interested in before you commit, the same way you’d have your mechanic look at a car before you purchase it. The technician’s job is to spot any problem areas that aren’t obvious or could cause you grief down the road.

A Smaller RV Means Better Gas Mileage & More Savings

If your RV lifestyle can fit in a smaller RV, congratulations! RV size is a big factor in fuel efficiency, which can add up to big savings.. In the 2015 Money Magazine study we mentioned last week, Darrow Kirkpatrick found that RVs less than 25 feet in length are the most cost effective. The “exact savings will depend on the nature of your travel,” Darrow said. “Low-mileage, long-duration trips are the most cost effective in an RV,” but a smaller RV can be very comfortable for a couple or small family, and will provide the most savings, no matter the distance or destination of your trip.

Another factor is going to be the weight of the RV. In travel trailers and fifth wheels, for instance, a lighter weight model means you can use a more fuel efficient tow vehicle and save those extra dollars for having fun.

With RV length and weight in mind, the most economical RVs are going to be:
Tent trailers—Also known as pop-up or folding campers
Lightweight travel trailers
Small motorhomes—Class B’s and C’s

An Up Front Cost That Can Save You Money in the Long Run: Solar

Whether you’re purchasing a new-to-you RV, or you want to make your current RV more cost effective, solar power can save you money down the road, especially if you’re heading down to the sunny Southwest. Increasing numbers of RV manufacturers are building their RV pre-wired for solar, so you may want to put that on your radar for your RV requirements. No worries, though, if your dream RV isn’t already pre-wired for you. Call up that RV service technician we mentioned a couple minutes ago and they can help you get what you need. Depending on what you want, the up front cost can be high, but the payoff can be BIG, especially if you’re considering snowbirding.

There are a number of places online where you can see what other RVers have done in regard to adding solar power to their RVs. We’ve mentioned the Gone With the Wynns Resurrecting Dinosaurs blog series before (because it’s one of our favorites), and we suggest you check out their “ Resurrecting Dinosaurs—Our RV Modifications and Technology” blog is you’re considering solar for your RV. Also spend a little time over at Technomadia.com to learn more about RV solar electrical systems. Be sure and look at their blog “ RV Solar: Is It Worth It?”

You don’t have to go whole hog on a solar system in order to see some energy savings. There are lightweight, portable panels that you can experiment with before deciding if solar power fits your RV lifestyle. Talk to our service department for more ideas.

RVing is a budget friendly way to travel and enjoy time with friends and family. With a little planning ahead and research, you can save even more money. If you have ideas about other ways RVers can work with their budget, let us know so we can share they with others. And if you have any questions, give us a call.

Photo credit: Huron-Manistee National Forests

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