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Top 10 tips for buying a motorhome


  Back to: Motorhome basics

Are you ready to buy a motorhome or campervan? Before you take the plunge, get it right from the start by following these simple tips on how and where to start looking for your first motorhome.

The top ten buying tips can help you make the right choice - and get the right motorhome or campervan deal for you.

1. Do your research on the motorhome and campervan market

First of all, take your time and don’t rush into buying a motorhome or campervan – on average, most first-time buyers take up to two years before taking the plunge. While browsing the internet and leafing through brochures is a great place to start, there’s nothing like getting hands-on exposure by visiting a motorhome show. There are several Warners motorhome shows throughout the year; go to outandaboutlive.co.uk/shows to see the full list for 2022. You could also visit your local dealer. This gives you the opportunity to view the selection of motorhomes and campervans, sit on the sofas, lie on the beds, stand in the shower, take it for a test drive… all of these experiences will help you to discover your own personal motorhome likes and dislikes.

A Pilote motorhome at a show

You'll also find lots of other great features on OutandAboutLive, including:

2. Make a list of motorhomes and campervans of interest

Elddis Accordo motorhome

With so many different types of motorhomes and campervans available, the choice for the first-time buyer can seem vast. To help you find your perfect motorhome, make a list with the most important aspects of exactly what you’re looking for. Perhaps you want to tour all year round, in all seasons, which means you’ll need a winterised motorhome. If you want a motorhome for all the family and have children – or grandchildren – who’ll be coming with you, you’ll need enough berths (beds) and belted travel seats for everyone. If you plan on taking bikes or lots of outdoor equipment with you, you’ll need a good-sized garage. Making a list of ‘must-haves’ will help you narrow down the things you can’t compromise on.

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3. Choose the right motorhome or campervan layout 

The key to enjoying home-from-home comfort is finding an interior layout that works for you, starting with sleeping arrangements. Consider whether you mind making up beds each night in order to enjoy more space during the day. If mobility is an issue, climbing over your partner to get out and negotiating stairs is impractical. Ask yourself how much cooking you plan on doing, as this will help you decide if you need an oven and microwave, or if a basic hob will suffice. You want enough standing room in the washroom, and don’t forget to check there’s enough storage space for all your belongings, too. Deciding on layout is a key part of the process.

A typical motorhome layout

We've produced a guide to motorhome and campervan layouts here.

4. Try before you buy - motorhome hire

If the idea of camping appeals but you’re yet to test the water, renting a motorhome for the odd weekend or longer holiday is a great way to give it a go, with no strings attached. This helps you to get a taste and feel for the lifestyle without committing financially. There are lots of specialist motorhome and campervan hire companies out there offering a good choice of vehicles, while some dealers also offer try-before-you-buy schemes. Use their experience to learn all about fitting gas bottles, disposing of grey waste water, emptying toilets, etc, as well as picking up tips on driving larger vehicles.

We have a list of companies offering motorhome and campervan hire and rental here.

Hiring a campervan or motorhome means you can try before you buy

5. When to purchase a motorhome or campervan

If you have your heart set on a brand-new set of wheels then you would normally visit the October Motorhome and Caravan Show at Birmingham’s NEC to see all the latest models, but it's been cancelled for the last two years due to Covid. As we type this the Caravan Camping and Motorhome Show in February 2022. You'll need to bear in mind that delivery times of motorhomes that are not already in stock are likely to be lengthy. There is also a series of outdoor motorhome and campervan shows, taking place from January to October, which allow you to browse both new and used motorhomes in one place.

Potential buyers at a motorhome and campervan show

6. Location is key

It’s easy to fall in love with a motorhome or a campervan at a show or spot what sounds like your perfect motorhome on the internet, but location is crucial. Don’t forget that warranties are issued for a reason and things can, and do, break down, so there’s a lot to be said for purchasing a vehicle from a dealer near to you.

After all, you don’t want to drive halfway across the country to get a faulty fridge or light switch repaired. And remember: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of bogus online listings.

7. Get the best motorhome or campervan for you

That might sound obvious, but consider how you define ‘best.’ It doesn’t necessarily mean buying the biggest or newest, but don’t forget about the extras you might need, as the cost of these can add up. Check whether your motorhome comes with an awning, a bike rack or satellite dish, and that the cab swivelling seats, a sat-nav, and anything else you want is included, as such things are expensive to buy later on. Although be wary of adding too many options that you might not use - these will all eat into your available payload.

Danbury campervans in a showroom

8. Ask lots of questions

Buying your first motorhome has a lot in common with buying your first house. You have a good idea of what you’re looking for and first impressions don’t lie, but don’t forget to take your time, ask lots of questions and check all the details.

Good dealers encourage you to do this, so don’t feel pressured by a pushy salesperson at a show, for example. We recommend walking around a motorhome at least five times, as it can be hard to spot the wood from the trees. If possible, bring friends and family along to viewings – the more eyes, the better.

9. Check before paying

Don’t buy a used motorhome before getting it checked first. A great service is MINDER, a vehicle security and asset registration system created by the UK Motorhome Industry and HPI. All motorhomes sold since 2001 carry a Motorhome Identification Number (MIN), a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and a Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM). These help buyers to check the vehicle’s history, such as whether it’s been involved in an accident or has any outstanding finance against it. The AA and RAC also offer vehicle inspection services, too. Ask to see the service history for the base vehicle and habitation area, to see how it’s been looked after since it left the workshop. Be sure you get a full handover.

10. Read all about it and brush up on your motorhome knowledge

If you're completely new, then the first place to start is Buying Your First Motorhome magazine. This annual guide covers everything you need to know, from weights and layouts to budgets and insurance.

Reading a regular magazine such as MMM (Britain’s best-selling motorhome magazine), What Motorhome or Campervan will not only inspire you to get out and about in your new motorhome or campervan but will help keep you up to date with valuable information, such as any changes in legislation.

With a wealth of experts on hand, you’ll learn all about practical DIY projects, adding the latest accessories, taking your motorhome abroad, and much more. You can also hear about all the latest news and events on our website: outandaboutlive.co.uk and social media channels. 

Also consider joining a club like the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club. These are great for getting access to campsite networks.

Finally, if you want more tips and advice, have a look at these articles on buying a motorhome:

If you are ready to start searching for your new (or newer) motorhome have a look at the motorhomes and campervans currently on the market here.

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Every month MMM has articles written by motorhomers who have been there and done it, from great UK and European (and further afield) tours, campsite reviews, owners' reports and DIY projects among other things. MMM's tests, reviews and expert buying guides are not to be missed. MMM's technical advice is a must and includes everything from weekend jobs to longer-term DIY projects. And much more!

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What Motorhome Magazine

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Every issue of What Motorhome magazine provides essential buying advice for anyone looking to buy a new motorhome or campervan or upgrade their existing model. With a pedigree of over 30 years of offering the best motorhome and campervan buying advice, every issue of What Motorhome includes more new motorhome and campervan reviews than you will find in any other magazine.

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Want to know more about Campervan magazine?

Campervan is the exciting monthly magazine that will give you all the inspiration you need to explore the world in your campervan. Every issue is packed with real-life campervanning experiences, inspiring travel ideas in the UK and further afield, the best campsites to stay on, campervan road tests and reviews of the latest models, and much more!

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