Why We Didn't Buy Our First Motorhome from Overseas

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Saturday 24 January 2015

Why We Didn't Buy Our First Motorhome from Overseas

In our search for the best deal on our first motorhome we did even consider expanding our search internationally. Based on prices we could see online there did seem to be some cost savings available by buying overseas and importing a motorhome, which did seem to be better value in certain European countries such as Germany.  Plus, in addition to seeing the prices online and reading other people's experiences on forums/blogs, Esther's parents had personal experience of the process and costs of importation from Germany which helped us make an informed decision about whether it would be worth it for us.  We even ordered a free importation guide/pack from DVLA.  However, although we had a flexible budget, we did eventually decide that in our price range any purchase price saving didn't sufficiently outweigh the increased hassle and other costs of importation practicalities.

Why getting a good deal on our first motorhome was so important to us

Saving money on the purchase price simply by buying in a different country was certainly an attractive prospect. We'd even read on other motorhome blogs how people had bought overseas, used their motorhome for tens of thousands of miles and then sold it in the UK for the same price they had paid for it. i.e. they had completely avoided any depreciation costs during their tour. Esther's parents, for example, had bought a used Hymer motorhome in Germany several years ago and the current selling prices of the same make/model and age in the UK would still have allowed them to get their money back (including the importation costs) if they had wanted to sell it today!

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

However, as with any purchase the potential cost savings increase the more you are willing to spend. For example, we bought a camera in Andorra during our adventure. The prices in the stores there are much lower than UK RRP as it has very different tax laws and the more expensive the camera the greater the absolute saving is. Similarly, when we started looking at motorhomes overseas we soon realised that the potential cost saving to us with our lower budget range was going to be much less than some other people we had read about, who had been spending in excess of £35,000 on some blogs but saved close to £5000.

The unseen factors determining the price of a used motorhome

But there was still a small cost saving to be made so we did consider it and the associated importation costs. Registering a motorhome in the UK is one stage of the process, getting new number plates etc. plus carrying out any necessary modification such as changing the headlamps to dip left, making sure it a MPH speedometer and potentially adding a rear fog light. There are more detailed guides online by people who actually bought abroad which I would recommend if you are interested.

For us, after considering the relatively minor savings in our price range, offset with the importation costs, we then considered the actuall hassle of flying overseas to collect and return with the motorhome. For us, given that we had never owned a motorhome before and weren't even certain if it would be a way of life that suited us the prospect of choosing a motorhome from so far away just seemed too daunting. Esther's parent, who had owned several motorhomes before, knew exactly what they were looking for in a motorhome so when they saw the perfect motorhome for sale in Germany had less doubts about committing to the purchase. For, however, it was all just a little too risky, especially given the common experiences we had in the UK that motorhomes were often very different to how the advertisements portrayed them.

Also, if we had gone through the hassle and expense of importation, any cost saving on the purchase might have been cancelled out by the reduced re-sale value of a left-hand drive in the UK if we had changed our mind within a year.  Whilst for our proposed European tour a left hand drive would have been value to us, as it was our first motorhome purchase and we were not sure how long we would keep our motorhome or what we really wanted from our first motorhome, resale value/desirability was at the forefront of our decision.

So, in the end we decided that buying overseas just wasn't for us.  We did continue to use international sites such as mobile.de to compare and establish market prices of equivalent motorhomes in the UK, but we didn't feel there was sufficient benefit to justify actually buying our motorhome from overseas this time.

We may, in the future, consider doing so especially as we now have a much clearer idea of what we are looking for in a motorhome and we would always encourage other people to consider it as well. The best advice we would give is that you have to weigh up the specific pros and cons in your own price range and motorhome likes and dislikes and then make the decision.

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