No ads have been saved yet.
Your last viewed and saved ads will appear here
Buying a motorhome is a big commitment for anyone. Whether it be your first foray into the world of leisure vehicles or you’re looking for your next upgrade, it can still feel just as overwhelming. There is so much choice - how will you know which one is perfect for you?
We understand how you might feel, so we’ve created this buying guide to break down your decision into bite size chunks, guiding you through the process so you feel informed enough to make the big decision!
We’ll start right from the beginning, from setting a budget and pointing you in the direction of where to browse, and take you right to the end when you’re doing your final checks and looking to insure your new set of wheels!
Setting a budget
New or used?
Where should I look?
Different types of motorhome
Choosing a model
Important checks

Setting a budget

A good place to start is to decide a price bracket in which you would like to spend. While it’s easy to get hooked into the luxury of some of the top of the line motorhomes, it’s good to be realistic. Setting yourself a budget saves you from the disappointment of getting your heart set on a model that you can’t afford. 
The motorhome market is huge, with some modest models ranging from around £3000 to the luxury homes which can reach as high as £300,000 pounds! So there is definitely scope to cover most budgets. 
When setting a price bracket this early in the search, it’s important to allow for some flexibility. The market can be very tempting with a whole host of added extras, layouts, features and technology available to you so it’s good to set a budget that can be flexible as and when you need it to be.
It’s important to bear in mind that the cost of the motorhome won’t be the only fee that your new motorhome will incur. You may need to allow for insurance, fuel, installing security measures, accessories and any repairs or servicing your motorhome will require. You don’t want to blow all of your money on the motorhome and not have any budget left for anything else further down the line.

New or used?

Now you’ve decided how much you’d roughly like to spend, you can begin to really understand what that figure will get you! There are now two different routes you can go down - buying a new motorhome or sourcing a used one. 
Buying a new motorhome will come at a higher price but this will all be worth it when you’re driving away in it for the very first time, or having your first snooze in the comfort of its bed. You’re the first owner so everything is brand new and in excellent working order, and even if it’s not, you’re likely to be covered by warranty for any issues you encounter.
On the other hand, buying used generally means you can get a bit more for your money so it can really help you stretch your budget a little further. The standard of modern motorhomes means that buying used doesn’t necessarily mean a downgrade in quality so don’t be put off by the label of ‘Used’. They are built upon commercial vehicle chassis that are specifically designed to allow for thousands of miles of travels and are very robust. This means that even if your vehicle has had previous owners it is likely to still be in great condition to whisk you off on your travels.
You may be worried about the mileage of a used motorhome. However, thanks to the improvements we’ve seen in engine manufacturing over the years, they are now a lot more reliable and therefore can continue to work efficiently for a lot longer. Regardless, you’re not likely to see as high a mileage on a motorhome as you would on a car, as these are often used considerably less and so the engine is likely to still be in good condition.
As with most of these decisions, it all comes down to personal preference. Some people will rather have a motorhome that’s fresh from the manufacturers whilst others are on the hunt for a bargain! 
We’ve laid out some pros and cons for each:
Pros of buying new
  • Some people just want to buy new - and who can blame them? The first drive behind the wheel, the first nestle in the bed, the first meal in the kitchen. It’s nice to have that feeling of being the first!
  • Customisation - you can often make final design decisions on your motorhome such as the upholstery colours, the inbuilt technology and the paintwork. This allows you to create a motorhome that is perfectly suited to your individual taste. 
  • Manufacturer warranties - A new motorhome will offer you peace of mind as all new models will come under manufacturer warranty, meaning if you encounter any issues you won’t have to stress about paying for it to be fixed.
  • No wear and tear - your motorhome is delivered fresh to you so everything will be sparkling and new. 
  • The latest technology - your motorhome will be fitted with the latest kit, ensuring you are up to date and ready to hit the road in style.
Pros of buying used
  • Getting more for your money - motorhomes tend to go through their biggest percentage of depreciation over the first few years of use. Therefore by buying used you could get your hands on a motorhome that’s only a few years old and still have all of the mod-cons for a lot less than the previous owner bought it for when it was new. 
  • You have more freedom with prices - when buying new, you’re likely to be tied to manufacturer pricing, however when buying used there may be more wiggle room for negotiations.
  • More choice - you can only buy new motorhomes that are currently being manufactured and brought to the market which could limit your choices, whereas when you’re buying used you can have access to motorhomes from any year, in any model so there’s more options to suit you.
Cons of buying new
  • New motorhomes will come at a premium, so you will be paying considerably more than similar models on the market that are second hand.
  • You will have to pay VAT which is an added expense.
  • Depreciation - when you’re time with this model is eventually up and you’re looking to sell your motorhome, you’re likely to see more of a drop from your original investment than someone who bought a used motorhome. This is because brand new motorhomes go through their largest period of depreciation over the first few years whereas slightly older models tend to retain their value more steadily. Selling your vehicle obviously might not be at the forefront of your mind when you’re only just buying it, but it’s something to keep in mind. 
  • Less choice - most manufacturers and dealerships that offer new motorhomes will only offer the most recent models or ones that are still being manufactured. Older models may not be restocked and therefore you’ll only have the options of what is currently on the market.
Cons of buying used
  • With the risk of stating the obvious, it’s been used! The bed has been slept in and the appliances have been used, as well as the chance there are signs of wear and tear. This won’t be an issue for some but could have an influence on your decision.
  • Damage, faults and general wear - as we’ve said previously, in the age of modern motorhomes a used model doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s old and worn out but there could be some pre-existing issues such as scratches or dents to deal with. However, depending on the severity of the problems you could always use this to try to negotiate your buying price.
  • Lack of customisation - you are less likely to find a model that is fitted out to your exact taste so you may have to do some work to it to get it to fit your style and needs.
  • If you’re looking for a specific model, it can be hard to find something that is exactly the same if someone is not currently selling it.
  • Warranties - although with some used purchases you will get a warranty, it may not be as long or extensive as a manufacturer provided one, and through private sellers you may not get any form of warranty at all. This could prove costly if you were to experience any issues with the motorhome once you’d bought it. 
Top tip: If you’re a first time buyer, it could be sensible to buy something within your budget second hand while you’re deciding if motorhoming is for you. This way, you can test out your love of motorhoming without the worry of depreciation. You won’t lose as much money if you decide it’s not for you and need to sell the vehicle. But also, if you decide you love it, you can sell it on for a similar amount and invest in a newer or brand new model with the knowledge you learnt from your first motorhome. You’ll know what you liked from your original home and how you think it could be improved to suit you - which will help you in the process of finding a new one!

Where should I look?

As first time browsers, it can be overwhelming all of the different places you can search for your new motorhome, whether it be dealerships, manufacturers, online marketplaces, private sales or motorhome shows. 
In this section, we’ll run through all of the different places you can buy and why each of them could be right for you!
Online Marketplaces
Here are Caravans For sale, we may be bias but we think that online classified marketplaces such as ourselves are invaluable when it comes to finding your next set of wheels. There are thousands of motorhome listings present on our site at any one time, giving you a massive range of new and used models to choose from.
You can easily narrow down your search using our category filters where you can specify everything that’s important to you, such as make, model, number of berths, reg year, price and location. This makes it simple to find all of the active listings that fit your needs!
It’s not just private sellers you can find on our site, we also have a large number of dealerships who advertise their current stock through our website. This means you still have a choice whether you’d rather go down the private sale or dealership route.
Another benefit is the fact that new motorhomes are being listed each day meaning that if you can’t find anything you like, you won’t have to wait long for something else to come along.
Start browsing on Caravans For Sale.
Motorhome Dealership
By buying from a dealership, you’re guided by an expert from start to finish. The dealership knows the industry and will be able to give you all of the information you need to choose the model that’s right for you.
Motorhomes purchased from a dealership are likely to be in good or brand new condition, as well as being recently serviced and often available with a warranty. This can alleviate any worry you may have about your vehicle having issues as you can be confident that the dealership have done all of the important checks and will also be there for you in the future if you run into any problems. Even if you don’t intend to add a warranty to your purchase, it’s always good to ask if there’s one available as if they are reluctant to offer one, it could show signs that they expect issues with the motorhome.
When finding the right dealership for you, it can be a good idea to get a personal recommendation from someone you know has had a good experience or use communities like the Caravan Club to find reputable dealers. This will allow you to be confident which ones are worth their salt and can be trusted with your custom.
Private Sales
Buying from a private seller is likely to help you to save a bit of money - there’s less likely to be any additional fees and you’re not paying dealership prices. You might also be able to make a good deal if you’re up for negotiating, as the seller is not tied to any fixed pricing. 
You can find private sellers in a number of places, including online marketplaces, classifieds and social media platforms.   
When buying from a private seller, it’s important to thoroughly inspect the motorhome for any damage and check that it’s not a stolen vehicle before you enter into any negotiations. You need to make sure that the motorhome is as advertised and your seller is legitimate before you part with any cash. Do not send a deposit before you have seen the actual vehicle in person. 
If a private seller cannot provide service records, you should ensure that you get it serviced before you take it on the road. Remember, there is no warranty from a private sale so any costs from here on out will be your responsibility. It might be a good idea to get an expert to give it a check over before you complete the sale.
When buying brand new, it can be a good idea to first take a look at what the manufacturers are currently advertising. You’ll be able to see all of the latest features in all of their current models and get a better idea of what you want. 
Buying brand new will come at a premium, but when going through a manufacturer you’ll be able to personalise the final touches to your motorhome such as choosing the upholstery colour or adding extra gadgets. This is great if you want a vehicle that is perfectly suited to your tastes and needs. You’ll also receive a long warranty, which will mean your motorhome is covered for any issues going forward. 
If brand new isn’t in your budget, you can still take a look at some manufacturers as sometimes they will offer refurbished models at a lower price!
Industry Shows
If you’re new to motorhomes, going to a show can help to immerse you in the community and let you get a feel for all of the different types of models on the market. Most manufacturers will be there on display so you’ll be able to see a lot of your potential options all in one place. This makes it easy to start understanding what you like and don’t like. 
These shows happen throughout the year so keep an eye out for one happening near you!
If you come to the show to buy rather than just to browse, it can be a great opportunity to snap up a discount. Dealers and manufacturers often run promotions throughout these events to make more sales so it can be the ideal time to commit. You should bear in mind however that if you’re offered a great price by a dealer that is based far from where you live, it could be a long journey to get any fixes you need under your warranty or if you have to visit that specific dealership whenever you need a service. This could add on substantial amounts of time and cost to the transaction which may make the deal less appealing. 

Different Type of Motorhome

Do you know your over-cab from your A-Class? If not, don’t fear, in this section we’re going to run through the different shapes of motorhome and what that means.
Coachbuilt motorhomes are the most popular type as they are often high spec and provide a lot of interior space, making your vehicle feel more homely and spacious. There are 3 different types of coachbuilt:
Over-cab > Also known as Lutons, over-cabs are generally larger in size as they offer additional living space that extends over the drivers cabin. They often include great facilities such as a permanent washroom and toilet compartment, making the most of the additional space. They usually have between 2 - 6 berths, with a double bed usually present in the over-cab area. 
Low profile > A low profile shape is similar to the over-cab but rather than a double berth, the space above the drivers cabin is used for storage. The low profile shapes tend to offer better handling and fuel consumption.
A-Class > An A-Class motorhome is top of the range. They are constructed from the chassis up and offer more space and comfort than the previous options. Due to its wider size, it can usually accommodate a drop down roof bed and swivel cab seats. 
There are also 3 types of conversion motorhomes. They are:
Fixed roof >  The fixed roof motorhome has a low height that allows them to be easily stored away in the garage. This low height does mean limited standing space and usually only 2 berths. Facilities are minimal but this can be a great option to get a taste for travel. 
Elevating roof > This is similar to the fixed roof in terms of layout however an elevated roof allows for standing room. They can offer extra sleeping space in the roof section.
High top > A high top offers a bit more space and luxury. It has a permanently raised roof, giving you standing room of generally 2m and can sometimes have fitted showers or toilet rooms.

Choosing a model

There are so many makes and models on the market, so how do you know which one is best suited to you? 
There are plenty of elements to bear in mind when making your decision so we’re going to run you through these in this section. By choosing what you want from each of these elements, you should begin to really start building a profile of what it is that you’re looking for in your motorhome. From there, it will be a lot easier to find models that fit your needs.
Let’s start by asking yourself a few key questions:
Who is going to be travelling with you? 
This will have a huge bearing on the size and layout of the motorhome you end up with as you’ll need a seatbelted chair for every passenger and enough berths for everyone to sleep in. 
In 1991, it became compulsory for all passengers to be wearing a seatbelt when the motorhome is travelling meaning that they are not able to be moving around the vehicle. You will therefore need to be able to provide belted, forward facing travel seats fo all of your travel companions. If there are more than two of you travelling, you’ll need to look at vehicles with a rear dinette or full rear lounge.
Be sure to ask how many travel seats are in the motorhome as all 4 berth vehicles don’t necessarily have 4 travel seats. Look for the term ‘beds equals belts’ for confirmation that there is the same amount of travel seats as there are berths. 
Some models will also offer rear foldaway travel seats but these can take up valuable storage space and may not always be of the best quality for long journeys. 
As well as this, it’s good to know the number of regular travellers you’ll have to help decide on the number of berths you need. This will determine what size of motorhome you need and will have an effect on the layouts you can choose from. 
Will you be using your motorhome for other things?
Some people choose to lessen the impact of the investment by picking a motorhome they can utilise in every day life. This will have an impact on the size of the vehicle you can go for. 
If you’re wanting to use it for transporting large or heavy objects, you’re going to require a model with large, storage areas. However this will mean you’ll need a larger space to store it and it may be harder to handle in car parks etc. 
Some people will opt to trade their car in and travel only in their motorhome. This would probably require you to choose a smaller model so it’s more convenient for day to day life. Imagine trying to find a parking space suitable for a vehicle that’s over 7 metres!
When are you likely to be travelling?
If you’re planning on taking trips throughout the whole year, it’s important you check the insulation. Many new motorhomes are fitted with Grade 3 Insulation which makes them suitable for year round travel.
Look out for motorhomes having a double floor as this is the best form of  insulation and it also provides extra storage  space, however it can be more expensive.
How would you like your beds to be positioned?
A fixed bed is something that more and more people are choosing to have in their motorhomes. Fixed beds can come in various different forms each with their own benefits.
  • Transverse bed - this will usually take up the least length as it is a double bed positioned across the very rear of the motorhome. This can be a good space saver however bear in mind you may have to climb over your sleeping partner to get out of it as it's not accessible from both sides.
  • French bed - this is a double bed positioned in the corner, placed lengthways against a side wall. Similarly to the transverse, there is less access to get in and out of the bed.
  • Island bed - this is a double bed that is usually fixed to the centre of the space, allowing both parties to be able to get in and out with ease.
  • Fixed singles - these often run down either side of the motorhome, this is a great space saver and can be the perfect berths for children or adults who’d rather not share!
  • Fingle single, island and transverse beds can also sometimes be positioned on raised flooring to create more room in the garage below. This will usually mean you will need to climb some steps to get into bed. Some models will offer adjustable bed height so this could be a good thing to look out for to make it easier. 
Some beds can now drop down, you'll usually see this with transverse beds either over the cab in an A-Class model or above the front lounge. 
If you’re not looking at fixed beds, you may see other options such as beds that pull out or are created out of the lounge area. Try to pick one where the cushions are already in place during the day as you will otherwise have to use valuable storage space to store them.
How much are you planning to cook?
You may have visions of throwing together a gourmet 3 course meal to kick off your holiday, but being realistic, how often are you going to cook anything more than a simple meal?
Most motorhomes in the UK will have an oven fitted as standard. You’re also likely to need a mains socket for a kettle / toaster / microwave and a roomy fridge to store all of your provisions. Many motorhomes will be able to offer you additional items but we think that these are the key features to look for.
If you’re ordered a new motorhome, making sure you have an oven installed can increase your resale value further down the line.
If you are planning on cooking and eating in your motorhome often, you should also think about where you plan to enjoy your meal. Will a small pedestal table be sufficient or would you rather opt for a larger foldaway version?
What type of washroom do you need?
If you’re looking to buy a larger van for longer trips, you’ll need to think about washrooms. Some people will be happy to simply utilise the campsite facilities, however if you don’t want to have to rely on external amenities then it’s important to choose a washroom that works for you. 
Do you need an awning?
The joy of a motorhome is the ability to get up and go, which is why sometimes awnings aren’t as popular with motorhome owners. They can take time to put up and take down, which you may not want to do and they can be quite bulky to carry, especially if you’ve only got a small vehicle.
However, they can provide much needed extra space, giving you an extension of your living area. This could be a welcome addition to a motorhome with a smaller lounge area. So it’s a good thing to bear in mind when buying - if you don’t want the hassle of an awning, look for a motorhome with a more spacious lounge area.
Drive away awnings can be super helpful as they can keep your pitch occupied while you’re out and about for the day. Simply put it up and it will stay upright while you’re gone.
How comfortable is the cab?
Remember, you’re likely to be sat in this area the most - long journeys to the sites, the day to day trips to activities, even just to pop to the shops! You have to make sure that the cab is comfortable and set up well for longer journeys.
This is a problem that caravanners don’t have as they can just get settled into their cars but this is a whole new space for you to get used to - so make sure it works for you!
Think about: air conditioning, airbags, cab blinds, the comfort of the seats - and even where the drinks holders are! 
As well as asking yourself these questions, there are also a few more things to bear in mind:
Weight is a really important thing to pay attention to when choosing a motorhome. First, you need to make sure you’re covered to even drive a vehicle this heavy! Certain weights may require specific driving licenses so you’ll need to be sure that your license is acceptable.
You need to take into account the payload of the vehicle. This means how much extra weight are you adding to the motorhome when all of your stuff is in it! 
If you passed your UK driving test on or after 1 January 1997 you will only legally be able to drive a vehicle with a maximum weight of 3,500kg. This means that you may not be able to choose one of the bigger and heavier models on the market, without taking an additional driving test that would entitle you to drive anything up to 7.5 tonnes.
It’s also important to remember that larger motorhomes weighing over 3.05 tonnes when unladen are subject to lower speed limits 
It’s easy to get carried away and think that bigger means better - but there are plenty of things to bear in mind in regards to size. For example, will it fit on your drive? How many people do you need it to carry? Are you looking to take it abroad, where ferry companies charge by length?
More compact campervans are becoming more popular, offering elevating roofs so that they can still be used day to day and fit in regular car parking spaces but with the ability to add extra space when necessary. While coachbuilts or A class models will offer you a lot more room permanently. Choose what you think will be most convenient and suitable for you and your needs.
It’s important to think about these things when making your decision as you don’t want any nasty surprises further down the line.

Important checks

Once you’ve chosen your model and you’re ready to view it, there are a few more checks you should make to ensure that this motorhome is right for you.
You should check:
Are there any damp issues?
If a motorhome is damp, it can be a long and expensive process to get it repaired. These problems can sometimes be hard to spot so you need to make sure you give it a thorough check over.
Read our damp guide to understand what signs to look for.
Does all of the equipment work?
You should test out all of the equipment such as the kitchen appliances and water, as well as testing out how easy it is to put the beds up and take down, or to set up the lounge area/dining area. This will give you a better idea of what day to day life in your motorhome would be like and also makes sure that it works for you!
Is the motorhome stolen?
If you come across a motorhome at a price that seems too good to be true, it possibly is! Make sure you get a full service history and look for any signs of tampering on entry points and the VIN number. Check the registration details and history, as well as any outstanding finance before handing over any money.
Are the tyres in good condition?
Five years is the maximum safe life for tyres, whatever the mileage. This is because tyres will always worsen with age, especially when they’re carrying a large load such as the weight of a motorhome. 
Make sure they’re in good condition to save yourself from a dangerous blow out while on the road. If they’re not up to scratch, you may be able to use this negotiations to save yourself some money!
Has it got a complete service record?
Motorhomes are recommended to have an annual service and this could be a requirement for the warranty to stay valid. You should check that it has been regularly serviced and is in full working order. There is a lot of equipment in a motorhome that could go wrong, so it’s important to get it all checked out by an expert.
Have you taken it for a test drive?
Before you hand over any money, you should take it out for a test drive. Remember, you’re going to be in the cab area for long periods of time so it has to be comfy for you. Check it drives nicely and that you feel you can drive it safely on the roads. 
In this guide, we’ve run through most of the key things you should focus on when picking a motorhome. If you have any more questions, send us a message and we’ll help you out!

Abbie Rogers
Marketing Executive
Published on 19-10-2020
Abbie is a member of the Caravans for Sale marketing team. She will provide weekly content covering a range of topics including advice, how to guides, travel blogs, technical advice and latest news.