“Okay, I want to do this. Where do I buy an RV?”
Another excellent question, one that has several answers, dependent on you.
- What is your budget?
- What size home do you want to live in?
- Do you want to travel daily, or sit parked somewhere for longer periods of time?
Some people have a huge budget, and can afford brand new, with all the bells and whistles. Others cannot. I most certainly have never been one to afford the newest and best. I bought my campervan for $500, it needed brakes and a new muffler to pass inspection, and then an alternator a month later.
I’m going to focus on those who don’t have a large budget, and are buying used. Just like I did.
Let’s say your budget is $2000 cash. You’re pretty limited on what you can get (unless one falls in your lap like mine did), and it’ll always be older, and probably have some work that needs to be done.
Start looking online. Use Craigslist, and Kijiji (Canada only), and search their RV and Camper sections. Sort by lowest price to highest. The only filter you should use is to filter out the wanted ads. Don’t sort by what type of RV you have an idea about wanting as you’ll miss out on so many that you may not have thought of.
Every ad is someone looking to sell, and even if they don’t say so, they’re motivated to sell. Make offers, just don’t be a low balling loser. No one likes being insulted. If you see an ad for something that is overpriced, move past it. I recently saw a 1979 campervan for sale, it was completely gutted and bare on the inside, meaning you have to rebuild it entirely, and the seller wanted $3000 for it. That’s about $2000 overpriced (based on it’s age and condition), and you won’t be able to make an offer that isn’t a low ball and have that van be worth your time.
Not only can you make an offer, but don’t discount the fact that some sellers are willing to trade, and others are willing to allow installments. I traded my campervan for a 25′ holiday trailer, and I bought my current RV in installments. Both were found on Kijiji, both were asking cash, not trade. The seller of the holiday trailer noted that the trailer was just too large for him and his wife. I messaged them, said I had a campervan that would be better for two people for their weekend excursions, and asked if they would be open to a straight across trade. They were, and we traded. I ended up just giving a family member the trailer, as I found the RV a short time later, and it worked better for my family.
I bought the RV on installments and when I found it, I believed it was just what we needed. I messaged the seller, told him that I was willing to buy, but I couldn’t afford to pay fully upfront. I asked him if he would be willing to allow me to buy it in installments. I laid out what I could afford and how long it would take to pay it off in that first message. The seller responded that he would accept my offer, but naturally, I couldn’t take the RV until it was paid off. Don’t expect to hand a seller a third of the price and drive away. They’re protecting themselves as well.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you enter into an installment plan, make sure that you get the bill of sale up front, with the payment plan listed. This protects you from having the seller accept your offer, and while collecting money from you, selling it to another. Never ever exchange money without proof of purchase. If the seller is unwilling to build that bill of sale, walk away.
If you are able to, get the actual pinkslip for the RV, not just the paper bill of sale. It can save you time, believe me.
Then, you need to (depending on your location) get an inspection, then register and insure your unit.
Extra note, if you are in British Columbia, Canada. There are new rules in place which I wasn’t aware of when I moved here. Firstly, if you buy off a seller that didn’t register, and cannot produce the previous owners pinkslip, you’re going to need to request ICBC (the provincial insurance company) do a vehicle records search. This includes all documentation about the vehicle, and a notarized letter explaining why you are requesting the search. No vehicle can be registered in BC without a “continuity of ownership”. You will also have to pay an additional 15% tax on your unit based on what you bought it for. Regardless of if it was bought privately. Stupid, I know. That was an extra, nearly $400 for me that I was not expecting.
They don’t call this province “Bring Cash” for no reason.
Once you have found, bought, inspected (if required), registered and insured your new home, you move onto the next step. What to do with it. That’s in the next post of this series, stay tuned!