Why Getting a Good Deal On Our First Motorhome Was So Important To Us

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Saturday 24 January 2015

Why Getting a Good Deal On Our First Motorhome Was So Important To Us

Unlike what we had read in books and online guides about the motorhome buying process, we decided that instead of worrying about particular specifications it was far more important to choose a first motorhome that was a 'good deal'. That is not to say we were looking for a 'cheap' motorhome. We were willing to consider a wide range of prices and knew that we wanted a high quality, well looked after motorhome that we could rely on. However, we felt having never lived in a motorhome before, that finding one that was fair price which gave us scope to relax and enjoy the experience without feeling too stressed if we didn't get it 'right' first time was much more important. This feeling was further underlined by the statistics we read on how often people change their motorhomes, plus the reality that in the used vehicle market there was always a that there could be unforeseen and unwarranted faults develop shortly after we bought the motorhome.

We want to be very clear that the term 'good deal' or 'good value' does not mean 'the cheapest' or 'underpriced' to us. Far from it. We had learned the hard way over the years that buying the cheapest product (whether it was a waterproof coat, pair of boots or pots and pans) often means that it will not perform well and probably need replacing very soon. That's a false economy. We much preferred to invest our hard earned money in good quality, reliable products that would last us many years and do their job well and we wanted our first motorhome to be no different. That way, whether we kept and enjoyed the motorhome ourselves or did change our minds and have to resell it, we wouldn't be losing/wasting our hard earned savings. Provided a motorhome was well looked after, fairly priced and safe, we were prepared to consider almost anything. We didn't want to be wasting time, money or jeopardising our safety down the road with running repairs and faults developing all the time.

Our Dilemma: Balancing price, resale potential and reliability

Also, we had read online and in books that people (on average) go through at least 3 motorhomes before finding the one that is 'right' for them. Essentially, just like choosing a house or apartment, until you have lived in one for a while it's hard to know exactly what matters the most to you and what inconveniences you are and are not prepared to tolerate.

For us, having only ever lived in a conventional house or flat, even with lots of research and consideration, we weren't convinced that we would ever really know in advance what we wanted in a motorhome. So, if that's the case, then we thought that instead of narrowing our search based on minor details like the position of the 'lounge', size of the bathroom, mileage etc then it was actually even more important to make sure our first motorhome was a good deal, minimising the chance we would lose money if we decided to sell or change it later on. After all, although we had made plans to tour for at least 10-12 months, we didn't really know if motorhome touring would suit us at all longer term and there was still a chance we'd be selling the motorhome within a year. This was why resale potential was very important to us as part of a good deal.

Looking back now 9 months on, the things we love about our motorhome and the things that we might consider changing are very unexpected compared to what we thought back then. Therefore, even with the gift of hindsight, we are still convinced that finding a well priced second-hand motorhome which has allowed us a taste of motorhome life whilst minimising the risk of losing too much money if we had changed our minds or didn't like it was the right approach. Also we fully expect that the longer we live in our motorhome and experience new things, the list of what we like and dislike will evolve.  But the fact remains that until we lived in our first motorhome, it was very difficult to know what was going to suit us and what features we were going to value the most.

Does the 'perfect' motorhome for us even exist?

In addition to that uncertainty over what we would like from our first motorhome, for us, buying things that were good value had been a way of life and an essential part of how we had saved over the years and this seemed even more important on such an expensive purchase.  Since motorhomes hardly ever appreciate in price (like houses), but seem to depreciate even faster than cars in some cases, the most important factor to us when buying our first motorhome was making sure we spent our money on a good deal to insulate ourselves from the risk of losing money if we changed our minds.

The difficulties of working out the fair market value of a used motorhome

Finally, since buying in the second hand market comes with little or no warranty (depending on the seller) we wanted to make sure that if something did go wrong with the engine or habitation in the first few months, that we would feel able and willing to cover the repair cost without feeling 'ripped off'. Even though we planned to have some independent pre-purchase checks done for extra peace of mind we knew there could be no guarantees that nothing would go wrong. This is why a good service history was so important to us as a indication a van had been well maintained and we weren't just looking for something that was 'cheap' so we could afford to pay for repairs. But overall price was important as we wanted to be in a position where even if something did go wrong, we could get it repaired and still feel we had made a good choice and found an overall 'good deal'.

This is why, instead of looking for the 'perfect motorhome' in terms of design and specifications, we started with much more flexibility in model, price, age, mileage etc. in search for the 'right deal'. As we've said already, that's not to say we wanted the cheapest motorhome on the market. We were prepared to pay more for a quality motorhome that had been well looked after, if the right deal came along (which it did).

Our online searching strategy and first motorhome preferences

WARNING: Although we wanted a good deal, while we were searching we also came across some deals that were just too good to be true. We've written about the motorhome selling scams we encountered.

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