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Considering the RV Life? Here's What You Need to Know

They say home is where the heart is, which may be why more than 11 million Americans own a recreational vehicle (RV). The rise of remote work made RVs even more popular, and in 2021, the RV industry produced a record 600,000 RVs to keep up with growing demand.

The first recreational vehicle dates back to 1910 with the release of Pierce-Arrow’s Touring Landau. Around that same time, entrepreneur Roland Conklin designed and built the first motor home to take his family on a pioneering cross-country trip from New York to California.

 In the years that followed, RVs gained traction and new designs emerged. As motorhomes evolved, Americans fell in love with the freedom and flexibility of living in an RV. The RV made it possible to enjoy the comforts of home while traveling to new places on your schedule. Untitled design (10)

Though any means of travel is easier today than ever, RV life is as much about the journey as it is the destination. RV life is appealing because it gives you complete control and flexibility over your itinerary. For some, going off the grid and living a minimalist lifestyle are the primary reasons for choosing an RV. At the same time, many other RV owners value being able to bring family, friends, and pets along for the ride. In the other camp are owners simply searching for a more affordable way to see the world.

Signs You’re Ready for the RV Life

Whether you’re a seasoned motorhome driver or newly considering the mobile life, there are a few tell-tale signs you’re ready to adopt the RV lifestyle.

You like saving money on vacations

Even a short domestic trip can get pricey between transportation, meals, and overnight accommodations. A recreational vehicle allows you to travel at a fraction of the cost, saving you hundreds of dollars each day that you might otherwise spend on a hotel and car rental. You can also prepare your meals in your RV, which can help you save even more money.

You work remotely and want to travel

RV life can give you the best of both worlds if you work remotely and want to travel. With your RV, a Wi-Fi connection, and a computer, you can bring your work with you while you hit the road. Best of all, you don’t have to take any time off and your office view can be anything you want.

You love the great outdoors

When you have a motorhome, the world is your oyster. Connecting with nature is easy with an RV, whether you want to visit national parks or wander off the beaten path and find some trails less traveled.

You appreciate the flexibility

The RV lifestyle is the ultimate in flexibility. Since your ride and bedroom are the same, you never have to worry about finding a hotel. Tired? Pull over at a rest stop until you’re recharged. Want to leave your destination early or make a last-minute change to your itinerary? With an RV, you can skip the hassle of booking flights and hotels, empowering you to travel on your schedule.

Now that you know you want to pursue the RV life, you must weigh certain factors before making your next move. Like any big-ticket purchase, you should take your time and consider your options.

What to Consider Before Buying an RV

New vs. Used

Used RVs cost less and tend to depreciate slower than new RVs. While new RVs generally have a higher price tag, they offer the latest technology, a factory warranty, and customization options. Buying new also gives you more RV options; new motorhomes typically have more favorable RV financing terms. As a result, a used RV is more cost-effective if you’re on a tight budget. But, if you appreciate the luxury of choice and want to be the first owner, a new RV may be the better option.

How will you use your RV?

Are you thinking about ending your lease and becoming a full-time RVer? Or are you just looking for the occasional getaway with family and friends? How you use your RV will help you identify the type of RV you need and the essential features. For example, if you want to take your RV off-road, look for a recreational vehicle with higher ground clearance and weather-resistant features. On the other hand, if you aim to stay off the grid for long periods, you might prioritize an RV with larger water tanks and a built-in generator.

Try renting to figure out what you want

If you want to get a taste of the RV life or don’t plan on using your RV often, you may want to consider renting a motorhome. Renting an RV is a great way to determine which RV features are most important and get firsthand experience driving and living in an RV. Then, if you decide to buy, you can enjoy complete confidence in your decision.

Compare your options

Shopping for an RV means comparing hundreds of options and choosing the one that’s best for you. Like cars, RVs come in a variety of different styles.
  • Class A motorhomes
    Class A motorhomes are the largest RVs available, built on the chassis of a bus or truck. Many Class A motorhomes resemble coach buses, spanning as much as 45 feet in length. Class A motorhomes are often more expensive than other RVs and are usually more challenging to drive and park. Some Class A RVs also require a special license to operate, like those weighing more than 26,000 pounds.

  • Class B motorhomes
    Class B RVs, or campervans, are the smallest RVs available. These compact RVs are usually more budget-friendly and easier to drive and park, though you may have to sacrifice certain features and interior space.

  • Class C motorhomes
    Class C motorhomes are medium-sized RVs larger than campervans but smaller than full-sized Class A motorhomes. Class C motorhomes offer the best of both worlds, which is a big part of why they’re so popular among RVers.

  • Towable RVs
    In addition to the motorhomes mentioned above, you can explore the option of a towable RV. Towable RVs and fifth-wheel trailers are more affordable alternatives to motorized RVs, though you’ll need a powerful vehicle to tow the extra weight. It’s also important to recognize that some states require a special license for certain trailers, so check your state’s laws regarding trailer towing.

Tips for Securing RV Financing

RVs aren’t cheap. Maybe you’ve saved up enough cash to buy an RV outright, but if not, you’ll want to secure RV financing through a consumer loan, which can be done with many banks, credit unions, dealerships and online lenders.

Unfortunately, though an RV is a vehicle and a home, you won’t be able to use a traditional auto loan or mortgage to buy one.

RV financing is like an auto loan in that you’ll use the RV as collateral for the loan. As with other loan types, the lender will look at your credit score, employment history, and financial situation to evaluate you as a borrower. You’ll usually make a down payment, after which you’ll pay off the loan in monthly installments.

Curious about your monthly payments on the RV of your dreams? Our RV loan calculator can help you estimate how much you’ll have to pay.

Ready to Enjoy the RV Life?

RV life might be perfect if you want to see the world while working remotely, appreciate the great outdoors, and seek flexible, more affordable travel experiences. However, buying an RV or motorhome is a serious decision.

Before you choose, consider what you need from your RV, how you’ll use it, and whether you want to purchase a new or used one. If you’re a first-time RVer or aren’t sure exactly what type of RV you want, try renting first. Then, when you’re ready to buy, Seacoast Bank is prepared to help you secure financing with our RV & motorhome loans.

Topics: Financing


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