How to buy an RV – Motorhome, Travel Trailer, or Fifth Wheel

How to Buy an RV – First of a series, When to purchase

NOTE: I originally wrote this “How to buy” series in Jan. 2016, I’m updating it (the written narrative ONLY, not the videos) in November 2020. When I created the videos (in 2016), I was working in sales for an RV dealer in Casper, Wy. and some comments may refer to my position at that time. I’m now out on my own, offer my own Concierge RV Buying Service and I’m fully independent of any RV dealer. Enjoy…

I’m starting this post on the last day of January 2016. Where I am the snow is about 3 feet deep in town – and deeper on the ski slopes nearby! Yes, I’m an RV’er, yes, I live in my RV all winter (lots of videos on my channel about RV living in the winter!), and yes, I love it!

how to buy a RV
Winter gives me plenty of time to contemplate how to buy a RV! (this was the camper I had at the time, )

My goal here in this series of articles is to inform, offer insights, provide you with unbiased advice as I am not tied in with any individual RV dealer. I used to work with an RV Dealer and the great temptation is to match a buyer to one of the RV’s on that dealer’s sales lot. No more for me, when my Concierge RV Clients hire me to work with them, my ONLY goal is to assess their needs, recommend the right campers for those needs (within their budget), and then proceed to negotiate the best price for them within the distance from their home they’re ok with.

How to Buy an RV…

With that out of the way, I’m going to “build” this post over the next few weeks (it ended up being a total of 5 posts) by adding short “how to” videos – each designed to address some aspect of How to Buy an RV (of any type – towable or motorized.)

I’d like to start with timing… because RV prices can vary by thousands (or more for expensive units) from the “high season” to the “low season”. Join me in my video below to get my thoughts on WHEN is the best time to buy a camper.

Summary – and a few additional thoughts…

  • Timing can impact pricing on RV’s by thousands of dollars
  • In the north, the slow season is November through February/March
  • When RV’s can be had near cost in the winter, your trade-in is also valued lower (and LESS inventory is available) Here also is some sage advice on trading in your camper.
  • Dealers are motivated to move “old” inventory – right now that is the 2020’s (and in a few months, believe it or not, the 2021’s!) – note: because of covid, few (if any) 2020’s remain in stock
  • The new model year units typically arrive in June and July from many vendors (Note: covid has caused ’21’s to trickle in)
  • The corona Virus has upended timing for ’20-’21 as dealer inventories are depleted and good campers are often hard to find – BUT – deals ARE there to be found. I personally believe that as we head into 2021, more campers will “appear” and better pricing can be negotiated (at least during the winter months ending in March. What happens after then will depend upon the virus, the state of our economy, and frankly the stability of our nation. (Nov. 2020 update)
Thoughts about how to buy a RV... and great places to stay!
Thoughts regarding how to buy an RV… and great places to stay!

How to buy a camper Series

There is much more to share on the topic of “How to buy an RV” – and additional videos with tips and insights linked below. Topics to be presented include – buying a new vs. used RV, selecting the type of RV that is best for you, where to buy (and why), what to look for when selecting a unit (eg – features, design/engineering, manufacturer reputation), what to expect after you purchase, what kind of vehicle you need for your towable RV, negotiating to get the best price – and being realistic.

best rv accessories
Got a RV? Click the image above to see my recommendations for important RV Accessories

Got thoughts? Care to share? Please use the space provided below! 

Also, while you’re here you may wish to visit our RV Across America home page and see what else is new. Our home page is organized by “tiles” – each dedicated to a topic of interest to RV’ers. As a full time RV’er for 4 years now, I’ve been steadily adding content! Feel free to contact me if you wish to contribute content to our site, or discuss how I earn a living while traveling (another hot topic!)

Want a “guide by your side” as you move towards RV ownership?

A few years ago, I started a Concierge RV Buying (and Selling) Service designed to provide you with unbiased advice and ensure you get the RIGHT camper for your needs and budget at the BEST possible price. When you visit my page, please do take note of the exceptional reviews my service has received.

Click HERE to access Part 2: How to Buy a RV – New vs. Used

Like the content? Want updates as I create them? Join me here…

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20 thoughts on “How to buy an RV – Motorhome, Travel Trailer, or Fifth Wheel”

  1. Hi! im from San diego, California and is trying to get a 5th wheel; but im moving to Norfolk Virginia in May 2019. I have a 2004 Chevy Silverado 2400 Duramax HD. so im having a hard time deciding when to buy the camper. is it better to buy in december since its the end of the year, or around march or april? is it gonna be cheaper in California or Virginia or about the same? we have a budget of 25k-45k, please give us an advice

    • Jai,

      I think the most important question is – when do you NEED the 5th wheel? Since you’re not moving until May 2019, do you need/want one for use in California? Will traveling with it cross country HELP or HINDER you? I think those are the key questions to focus upon at the moment then I can perhaps be of more value to you. If your budget is up to 45000., are you planning to buy new or used? (I’d recommend used) and… what are your needs? How many does it have to sleep? How will you use it? (live in it? travel occasionally? have kids? stay at rv parks or take it into the “backcountry”?)


  2. Does your timing strategy apply to Outdoors RV products? I’ve been watching prices and inventories from a few of their dealers and I’m starting to think that, because of demand, their dealers don’t have much excess and may even run a backlog which requires pre-ordering. I’m specifically looking at one of their Black Rock / Backcountry models and right now there are only a few listed on RV Trader. Any advice specific to ORVs?

    • Tim,

      You’re correct to note that Outdoors RV is having trouble keeping up with demand. That leaves dealers waiting on trailers and treating each one in inventory like gold. That said, winter IS approaching here in the northwest and business is slowing down. As to Blackrock – not sure how many dealers have jumped on board with those models. Here in Casper, I have a Creekside 20FQ that just came in that I can deal on. It is on the Creekside line, so it will have a few amenities that you won’t get (and perhaps don’t want) on the blackrock line, but it is among one of the smaller, no slide, affordable options. Let me know if this model may work for you.

  3. I have enjoyed your feedback so far as I begin my search for a 5th wheel toy hauler.

    I am interested in learning more about some of the functional systems in an RV. How does the water system or any system, i.e. electrical, waste, etc work? Are there upgrades or improvements I should look for when I buy? Are there options when I buy, i.e., upgrading the generator? Are their upgrades to stoves? refrigerators?

    I will be loading by Kawasaki 1600 Vulcan into my 5th wheel. What should I be prepared or concerned about?

    This is my retirement plan, so I want to be very knowledgeable about what to expect.

    • I suggest you review my videos and posts on along with others. The only toy haulers I recommend in good conscience are Fuzion and Seismic (pricey). I will have a post about Fuzion coming out soon. To learn about specific systems, youtube can be your resource. Fuzion uses a better foundation (chassis and other design factors) than most other toy hauler manufacturers. You’ll get an Onan5500 gen, there is no need for “better”. Stoves and refrigs are standard rv design, most often made by Norcold (refrig) and magic chef for the stove (or equivalent). To carry your Kawasaki, you need d-rings that are welded to the frame which Fuzion does, and most others don’t do! Hope this helps. Al

  4. It’s interesting that the timing can impact the price of a fifth-wheel by thousands. I am wanting to purchase a trailer, and it’s important to me not to overspend. I’ll have to look into when the best time for me to buy would be. Thanks for the post!

    • Tyler, if you’re in Wyoming (my bet from the website you listed), the answer is we are leaving the deep discount season. In a few weeks, dealers will have plenty of buyers and as such, less incentive to discount deeply.


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