So, you’re thinking about buying a motorhome? That’s great! The UK has a tonne of great outdoor camping spaces to explore and you are sure to make many great memories in your new recreational vehicle.
However, buying a motorhome is not as simple as pick a random photo in the catalogue and set off to hit the road. There is a lot to think about and a huge variety of options out there. Different motorhome owners have different needs. So, before you make your purchase you need to be sure the motorhome you buy will be the best option for what you need it for.
In this motorhome buyers guide, we cover everything you need to think about before buying a motorhome. From budget to bathrooms, we go through all the details you need to consider. Right, let’s get started.
Why Do You Want to Buy a Motorhome?
Before buying a motorhome, the most important thing to think about is what you are going to use it for.
Do you want to go on family camping trips? Stealth camp in cities? Are you going to be living in it, or using it for weekend getaways? Are you going to be travelling alone, or with your spouse, 3 children and the dog?
Knowing how you are going to use it can help you determine what features you need. The more people travelling, the more space you will want. If you are only going away for the weekend, you will not need the space to store all the clothes, shoes, and activity gear you may need on a longer trip.
So, sit down, think about how you plan to use your new motorhome, and what are the must-have features it will need.
Weight, Length, Space
It is never recommended to buy a motorhome bigger than what you need. Having more space sounds great, but in reality results in higher costs, higher toll chargers, and in some cases can make it difficult to reach remote areas that you want to camp in.
A motorhomes MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass) will be included in the vehicle details. You need to have a clear understanding of what that means. This weight is the maximum weight the vehicle can carry and includes the weight of the vehicle plus the cargo, water and fuel.
You will also need to think about whether you have a license to drive the vehicle you want to buy. In the UK, if you obtained your license after 1997, you will need to take an additional test to drive a 3.5-tonne vehicle.
3.5 tonnes sounds like a lot right? Well if you are a family, needing a larger motorhome, you will quickly find out that many vehicles come close to the 3.5-tonne mark without any additional cargo, fuel or water in them.
Motorhome Buyers Guide to Sleeping Arrangements
How many people will be using your motorhome? How many beds are you going to need? Do you need separate sleeping areas? These are all important questions to ask.
Once you have determined the number of sleeping spaces you need you can then think about whether you want fixed beds or not.
In motorhomes, it is common to have beds that convert into sitting areas. This helps maximize space but can be annoying having set up your bed every night and put it away in the morning.
However, fixed beds are an option in larger motorhomes and even some smaller ones. But you sacrifice sitting areas. At first, you might think you won’t miss the living area as you will be out enjoying activities every day.
Unfortunately, in the UK you will experience many rainy days on the road. You will probably find there are some days you want to sit down with a book and a glass of wine and with a fixed bed you will have less space to do this.
How Big Does Your Motorhome Bathroom Need to Be?
Motorhome bathrooms can come in a wide variety and accommodate various needs. Like any aspect of a motorhome, where you gain space in one area, you often find you lose it somewhere else.
There are some key things to think about when considering bathroom size.
- Will you be in your motorhome long term? Or for small weekend getaways?
- Will you be remote camping or staying in campgrounds with additional bathroom facilities?
- How many people will be staying in your motorhome?
When buying a motorhome, you will notice that end bathrooms are significantly bigger. If you are going away for a longer trip (months, or even years), having this extra space in your bathroom may be a comfort you don’t want to sacrifice.
In addition, if you are travelling with teenagers, or multiple children, more space in the bathroom may make life a little easier.
However, if you are going away on short trips, or are planning to stay at campgrounds that have their own bathroom facilities, you may find having that space in other areas of your motorhome more valuable.
Buying a Motorhome: What is Your Budget?
Budget is a big factor in buying a motorhome. Before you start looking, set yourself a max budget and don’t go over it.
When browsing motorhomes, or speaking to salespeople, it is easy to get sucked into the fancy features of this motorhome or that motorhome and be tempted to go over budget – Don’t.
You may find something that you love but can’t afford. In this case, you can either save up some more and wait to buy it, or look for a cheaper alternative or the same model second hand.
Many people opt for buying a motorhome on finance. It’s a big chunk of change and finance options can help you get to your dream of being a motorhome owner much sooner. However, it is important to set yourself a max that you are willing to borrow and a max that you can make as a monthly repayment and not exceed this limit.
On top of buying a motorhome, you also need to think about other places you will be spending money. For example, where will you store your vehicle when you are not using it? Do you have space on your property, or will you need to rent a storage space?
Another area where you will be spending money is on motorhome breakdown cover.
Having a breakdown cover is highly recommended. Some insurance will provide it as part of their package, but you can also purchase it as a stand-alone policy. Even if it is included in your insurance, make sure it covers everything you need.
You never know what can happen on the road. If you run into an issue, especially on a short trip, you want it fixed as soon as possible. Having the peace of mind that your vehicle will be taken to a garage to be looked at, and you are covered for a hotel while you wait can take a lot of the stress out of the situation.
When looking at breakdown cover it is also important to think about where you will be travelling. If you are going to Europe you need to look at policies that will have you covered in Europe and will get your vehicle back to the UK if needed.
Buying a Used Motorhome
Purchasing a used vehicle can save you a bunch of money, that you can then use to take it on more trips. New motorhomes are more pricey but there are some fallbacks and things to consider if you are going to purchase a used vehicle instead.
Our top tips for buying used are:
- Look carefully for signs of mould in the vehicle: Mould is something you want to avoid at all costs. Look up and down the walls and carefully inspect corners, sometimes you can even smell it.
- Check the ceiling: Look for brown spots that indicate water damage or leaking. The last thing you want is to be on your first getaway and wake up in the middle of the night with water dripping on your face because it’s raining.
- History check: Check MOT history on the .Gov website and you can also do another check for finance, theft and more on Autotrader.
- Think about mileage: Too few miles (under 10,000) can indicate that it is a troublesome vehicle and hard to drive. Too many miles and you may be paying for repairs on the engine after only a few weekends away.
- Buy from a trusted dealer: Private sales can be more troublesome. With a dealer, you will often get some kind of guarantee about the vehicle you purchase. You can also check dealer reviews online which will help you find a trusted salesman that will not try to sell you a dud vehicle.
Taking Your Motorhome For a Test Drive
You won’t only be living in your motorhome, but you will also be driving it. In your hunt to find a motorhome, test drive as many vehicles as you can.
Every motorhome handles differently. Taking a few for a spin will help you decide what you like and what you don’t like in a larger vehicle. You will often also be doing long-distance drives so it’s important to check the seats are super comfy and that the dashboard of the vehicle works how you want it too.
Other things to think about that concern driving are:
- Are there cupholders?
- What is the stereo like?
- Are the headrests comfy?
- Where can you safely and comfortably set up your phone or satnav?
Try Before You Buy
On top of taking a motorhome out for a test spin, you may want to think about taking it out for a test holiday. If you are pretty set on a model you want to purchase you can look into renting that model for the weekend.
Taking a motorhome out before you buy it will help you get a feel for life in the vehicle before you make a financial commitment.
You can use the experience to learn about all the day-to-day things you will be doing in your motorhome. From changing gas bottles to emptying toilets, cooking in a small kitchen and seeing how comfy the bed is. These experiences will help you reaffirm that you are making the right decision in your purchase or may send you back to the showroom.
To Sum Up
Now you have your motorhome buyers guide, you are ready to start searching for your home. Remember to be open-minded but also have a clear list of must-haves and willing-to-compromise-on. You want to make your purchase and have a wave of relief wash over knowing you have made the right decision, not a feeling of panic wondering if you have made a mistake.