Buying your first RV? Here’s what you need to know

Tips for buying your first RV
« Return to Learn

An RV puts the freedom of the road at your fingertips. No more cramming gear into the back of your car. No more grappling with tent poles. No more cooking outside in the rain. You can pick up and go, regardless of the weather.

If you’ve never owned an RV before, it’s important to make an informed decision about what you really want. Asking yourself the following questions will help you shop like a seasoned RV owner. 


How much RV do you need?

There are a bazillion types of RVs, from motorhomes to truck campers to teardrop trailers. Each has its pros and cons, and each is tailored to a certain type of traveler. So, your first task is to decide what type of RV owner you want to be.

Do you want to be a full-time traveler or weekend warrior? Are you looking for a home away from home, or just a sleeper for casual camping? Are you an adventure traveler who needs extra storage? These factors will affect not only how much space you need but also which amenities—such as a large fridge or shower—are must-haves. Consider:

  • How often you plan on camping
  • How many people your RV needs to sleep
  • How much time you’ll spend inside the RV

You should also take into account what types of places you’d like to travel to. Some campgrounds have length restrictions, for example, and not all RVs are suitable for scenic roads with lots of hairpin turns.


What’s your budget?

Your budget will help determine how much RV you can afford, so nail that down next. Just like when you buy a car, you’ll definitely want to get pre-approved for an RV loan before you start shopping. It makes the process much smoother and helps you avoid heartbreakers like having a deal fall through at the last minute.

Keep in mind that when you apply for an OCCU RV loan, you don’t need to buy a brand-new behemoth to qualify. We finance all sorts of RVs, from large motorhomes to smaller trailers, and we offer loans for both new and used models.


Are you ready for RV ownership?

Before you buy an RV, there are some details you’ll need to nail down first—like where you’re going to park it. Keep the following things in mind as you start shopping.


Towing: If you plan on towing your RV, make sure you have a suitable vehicle with a trailer hitch. If you want to tow another vehicle behind your RV, you’ll need to choose a model that’s equipped for it.


Parking: Do you have a place to store your rig? Many homeowners associations don’t allow RV parking. If you can’t keep it at your house, you may need to pay a monthly fee to stash it at a storage facility.


Gas mileage: Most RVs combine weight with wind resistance, which is a real drag on your gas mileage—expect to get between 8 and 20 miles per gallon. If fuel efficiency is a concern, you may want to choose a lighter or more streamlined model, such as a pop-up trailer.


Maintenance: Unless you’re handy with a wrench, RVs can be expensive to maintain. In general, the bigger the RV, the more that can go wrong with it. Keep that in mind as you make your decision.


Insurance: The size of your rig can also have a big impact on your insurance bill. Shop around for the best rates and estimate how much insurance will cost before you commit to an RV.


Now that you’ve answered the essential questions, you’re ready to get pre-approved for an RV loan and start shopping!