It's the new caravanner’s eternal dilemma: "Do we buy a new caravan, or look for something bigger and better equipped on the used caravan market for the same money?"
You can actually buy new caravans for sale in the UK for less than £10,000, but it will be a basic model. Imagine how much further that money would go on the used market.
Like so many decisions relating to the size and style of caravan, we can only offer a few pointers: the big decision has to be made by the individual. As ever, look at as many different makes and models as possible and shop around. Don't be afraid to ask advice from other owners or helpful members of caravan forums, too.
There are few things quite so exciting as picking up a new caravan direct from a retailer. However, simply towing it off the forecourt usually equates to a paper loss of several thousand pounds – just as with any new car.
There are some very good reasons for a buying a new caravan, however. Perhaps the biggest advantage – given the vast range of choice out there – is the ability to specify the exact layout and level of equipment you want.
Finding the perfect combination on the used market is always going to be a bit more hit and miss. You’ll also get a warranty – typically three years for parts and up to 10 years on the caravan chassis and exterior.
Once you’ve swallowed the initial depreciation hit, the caravan should still be worth a substantial proportion of the purchase price when you come to trade it in, as there’s a ready market for well looked after caravans.
Timing of the purchase is also an important factor – both for the dealer and the customer. Pick the right time of year to buy and you may be able to negotiate a substantial discount – particularly on nearly-new caravans which have been hanging around on the forecourt for a while.
Dealers traditionally start looking to offload stock in July and August, so a ring-around then may yield some surprising results – as long as you are prepared to be flexible over specification.
September is a good month to start thinking about ordering a brand new caravan for the following year. If you leave it until springtime and, if demand is high for the model you choose, it’s possible you could find that half the summer might be gone by the time you take delivery.
The biggest financial risk facing newcomers to caravanning is realising after just a few months’ ownership, that they have bought the wrong caravan layout for their needs.
First-time buyers need to be satisfied that they’ve done their homework on the right layout for them or risk losing a lot of money when they find they need to trade it in for a caravan with a more appropriate layout. One of the best ways to achieve this is to read plenty of caravan reviews.
The benefits of buying a new caravan:
The disadvantages of buying a new caravan:
£7500 – £10,000
Very little – only the most basic caravans from European manufacturers and maybe a one-off special offer
£10,000 – £12,500
Some compact, lightweight new caravans, but don’t expect much in the way of luxury.
£12,500 – £15,000
Good range of budget family vans and mid-market couples’ caravans. Well-equipped two-berth dealer specials.
£15,000 – £20,000
Well-equipped family tourers with the latest layouts and good towing weights. Luxury two-berths with all the kit.
£20,000 – £25,000
Flagship twin-axle luxury tourers from the big manufacturers with high levels of equipment.
No-expense-spared caravans from the mainstream manufacturers. Bespoke luxury caravans from small-volume specialists.