10 Things You Should Know When Buying an RV for the First Time

Are you ready to join the millions of households that already own at least one RV? Whether you’re ready to hit the road full-time, or if you’re wanting to relax for the weekend, RVs are a fun and cost-effective means to get what you want.

Before you spend money on your new RV, there are important things you need to know to ensure you get the RV you want. Buying an RV for the first time is an exciting experience, but it can also be confusing. We are going to help you understand more about RVs like what to look for and which RVs might be the best for you and your family.

Continue reading this article for the top things you need to know before buying an RV.

1. Your Purpose

Before heading off to pick out an RV, knowing your purpose is key. No two people or families are alike and what might work for one won’t work for another. If you get solid on what your purpose is, the rest of the process will become much easier.

Do you want to live in the RV full-time and travel long distances? Do you plan on having the RV delivered to an RV spot and using it occasionally as a getaway? Or maybe you only want to take your RV out for short trips to local state campgrounds?

If you like to entertain, you might want to have a larger RV, so it is easy to welcome more people inside for gatherings. If it’s just you flying solo, a small RV might be the perfect fit.

2. Your Budget

There are a lot of amazing RVs available for your purchasing pleasure. It’s easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of beautifully designed pull-behinds, fifth-wheels, and motorhomes. Before you start shopping, you need to set a budget and let your salesperson know what your budget is.

If you don’t let your salesperson know what your budget is, you might look at RVs that aren’t within your range. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing the perfect RV and realizing you aren’t ready to put out that much money for one.

You can find RVs for almost every price point. The bigger they are, the more expensive they are. You’ll also find that different models cost more money.

Some models are luxury models, which means you’ll put out more money, but you’ll enjoy some nice upgrades. Some luxury model RVs have more amenities than your house in some cases. Make sure you are clear about what’s important to you and what’s not, so you can stick within your budget and still get what you want.

3. Driving or Towing?

Driving or towing often comes down to personal preference. Some people want to know which is better, but it all depends on you and what you want. Here are a few things to think about when you’re trying to figure out if a drivable or a towable is the right RV for you.


When you opt to tow your RV, you might be towing a fifth-wheel or a travel trailer. The fifth-wheel goes in the back of your truck while the travel trailer is pulled behind the vehicle using a hitch.

Whether you’re towing a fifth-wheel or a travel trailer, you need to make sure the vehicle you are going to tow it with can handle the load. With a fifth-wheel, you need to consider both payload and towing capacity. With a travel trailer, you just have to look at your towing capacity.

If you have a small vehicle and you don’t want to spend money on upgrading to a large truck, you might opt out of towing and look for a drivable RV.

When you have a towable RV, you can easily set it down and unhook your RV from your vehicle. This means if you had a long day on the road, want to unhook your RV and head off to get a bite to eat with your tow vehicle. With a towable RV, you only have one vehicle engine to worry about, unless someone is following behind in another vehicle.


Drivable RVs come in a few different forms as well. There are classes A, B, and Cs. For the sake of simplicity, we are going to talk about them all as driving RVs and we can answer any questions about the differences if you have them.

RVs you drive make it easy for you to get up and go whenever you want to. There isn’t a hookup process you need to worry about unless you have a vehicle you’re pulling behind you. Even if you are pulling a tow vehicle, it isn’t complicated to get the tow vehicle hooked up and ready to go.

Another big reason people love drivable RVs is that you can get up to go to the bathroom if you need to. Even if you have to pull over on the side of the road, it is easy to find a spot and walk to the bathroom. No worries about finding a gas station or other spot that will allow you to use the bathroom.

Driving RVs are very solid and can last for years. Depending on whether you get a gas or diesel engine RV, you might find your RV outlasts your desire to camp and you can pass it on to the next generation.

4. Do You Want New or Used?

There are a wide variety of new and used RVs available, so don’t think buying used is going to greatly limit your options. You may not get the latest models that are out now, but you might be surprised at how new some people’s trade-ins are.

People often opt to buy used because they want to get a good deal on an older model RV, so they can pay less on financing. The new amenities RV manufacturers have added might not be a big deal to them.

On the other hand, people that will only buy new might require only the latest and the greatest for their RV purchase. Know who you are and what you want before you step on the lot. You might be surprised that a new RV could still be very affordable, so don’t totally put it out of your mind before you look at what’s available to you.

5. Which Floorplans Work for You

When you look at RV models, you’ll notice they come with letters and numbers. You’ll notice that BH means bunkhouse, FL means front living, and the list goes on. As you learn what these letters mean, it will make it easier for you to tell if the RV you’re considering is going to be right for you.

If you hate front living RVs, you won’t ask to learn more about RVs with FL in their name, for example. If you have a big family and you need bunks you might look for RVs that have BH (bunkhouse) or MB (mid-bunk) in their model.

The numbers you see in the model is the length of the living space. If you’re looking at a 23BH then the living space is 23 feet. You will also have to factor in the space the slides give you as you’re looking at the floorplan.

6. Slide Depth

When you are talking to someone about an RV and you hear that it has one, two, three, or more slides, that might sound like a lot. Depending on the RV you’re looking at, this could give you a great deal of room. On the other hand, you might not get as much room as you thought you were getting if you don’t pay attention to how deep the slides are.

Some RV brands are known for their deep slides while other RVs are known for having more shallow slides. Bigger isn’t always better and it all comes down to what you’re looking for.

Another tip for finding an RV that feels wide open is looking for RVs that have opposing slides. When you have slides that open up opposite of each other, it can make that area feel as big as a house.

7. Are You Comfortable?

Before you buy your first RV, you might want to try before you buy. Renting an RV and seeing how they handle and which type is right for you can be a great way to make a decision.

Most RV rental companies rent driving RVs, so if you’re looking for experience with a fifth-wheel, that isn’t likely to happen. Even if you’re not buying a drivable RV, trying out a driving RV will make a big difference in your comfort level.

The more familiar you are with RVing and RVs, the easier it is for you to drive it off the lot without a lot of worries.

8. How Long Is Too Long?

Before you buy an RV, you should figure out the max length you’re willing to buy. Some people don’t want to go longer than 35′ because some national parks don’t allow RVs that length inside the parks.

If you’re worried you won’t be able to fit in certain parks, call them and find out what their maximum length allowed is. Many parks are realizing how important it is to have room for bigger RVs.

One thing you should keep in mind is that just because an RV is longer, that doesn’t mean it is going to be more difficult to back into an RV spot if you don’t have access to a pull-thru site. Shorter RVs can actually be more difficult to back in because they turn so quickly.

9. Must-Have Accessories

When you get your RV, there are a lot of available options. The more options you try to fit on your RV, the heavier it will be in both weight and price.

Some people might not be able to live without an outdoor kitchen or an outdoor television but you might not care about those things and opt out. You also have to think about auto-leveling systems, fireplaces, oven upgrades, day/night shades, washer/dryer installation, solar, and much more.

Build your dream RV and then you can take off anything that puts you over budget if necessary. Think of your RV dream list as your wish list and then get it down to your must-haves, which will be your deal-breakers.

Make sure to look at a lot of different RVs for ideas about the type of accessories available. You never know when you might see an accessory you can’t live without.

10. Available Service

When you buy an RV, you’re going to have service needs. You want to purchase your RV from a place where you’ll also be able to get service. Whether you need simple maintenance or if you get to a place where you need some major repairs, you want to work with a deal that you can rely on.

Since this is the first RV that you’ve bought, you’re likely to have plenty of questions for the service department. Make sure you are working with people you can trust to do a good job and keep you camping.

Successfully Buying an RV for the First Time

Now you’re ready to go through the process of buying an RV for the first time. You’re more educated than most people about what to look for before buying. You’re a savvy buyer and we’d love to help you make your RV dreams come true.

Contact us today to learn about different floorplans, to get your questions answered and to get the RV that is perfect for you.

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