Go Big or Go Home! How to Buy an RV

Happy Man with Keys to a New RV

A recreational vehicle (or “RV” for short) is a wonderful way to see a country as wide open and geographically diverse as Canada.

As Christopher Mahony, president of Go RVing Canada says, it’s a lifestyle that allows you to rediscover an inner spirit of adventure and freedom. Toss the schedule out the window. It’s more about taking an unexpected turn, leading to unique experiences and meaningful memories with family and friends.

RVing can be an escape from city life for some much-needed time outdoors. It’s also a cool way to hit the summer music circuit, or head out on a long family trip to the Maritimes.

Just for clarity – motorhomes, truck campers, travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers – are all considered RVs.

“RV people are attracted to the notion of camping, traveling and socializing,” says Jim Nolan, of RV Canada in Ottawa, the largest RV dealer in Ontario.

Your RV is a Home Away From Home

When you go RVing, you get to travel and vacation in a self-contained vehicle. You’re less likely to feel you are away from home. At the end of the day you come back to your own bed, with your sheets and pillow.

“It’s hard to get homesick when home comes along with you,” Mahony says.

And it doesn’t matter where you are travelling – there will be an RV park waiting.

Prices for new RVs range from $10,000 (for a tent trailer) to $500,000 (even up to $1 million for ultra luxury motor homes).

Shane Devenish, executive director of the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association, says the RV lifestyle is booming, when it comes to recent sales statistics. Both Devenish and Nolan agree that it’s a lifestyle that baby boomers are particularly drawn to. But it’s not just baby boomers that are getting into RVing…

Why Young People Are Embracing the RV Lifestyle

More people are also camping in a recreational vehicle (RV) or a class b motorhome.

Go RVing Canada released an Ipsos survey this year showing that, when it comes to leisure trips, 49 per cent of those surveyed intend to go RVing this year, up from 38 per cent in 2022. 40 per cent intend to RV in a campground, RV provincial park or resort, up from 28 per cent.

“RVing is definitely skewing younger,” says Mahony. “It used to be 67 per cent were under the age of 55 but it’s even more now. And you really notice it under the age of 35. That generation wants to get off the beaten track.”

The RV park in Princeton, B.C., located near Kamloops and the Washington border, by the Similkameen and Tulameen rivers, is usually 85% full from Victoria Day to Labour Day. The campsites right on the river are always occupied.

Gary Schatz, the director of economic development and tourism in Princeton, has noticed more younger people visiting national parks and some of them being new to camping. The park has recently been equipped with WiFi so visitors can stay connected.

For those who prefer to camp in an RV, whether you own or rent it, make sure you are familiar with it.

Read up on properly parking your motorhome at a private campground, making sure it’s level. Know how to safely hook up electricity and water to the camper van and ensure slide outs and awnings have clearance.

Schatz says many of the tips for first time campers also apply to RVers. He’s big on cleaning up your site after you’re done.

“We don’t expect you to sweep it up but understand that someone is pulling in after you leave,” Schatz says.

Thinking of buying an RV?

When purchasing an RV, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Know what you are buying. Consider renting different RVs before committing to buying one. It’s important to have clarity around the style of RV that will meet your needs. Drive, park and spend a few nights in a few different models.
  • Head to social media for help and advice. ca is an information resource for help on drivability, affordability, as well as FAQs and insight into RV lifestyle. RV.org is a great place to go for independent ratings on different types of RVs. There are also many online forums like Class B Forum, RVers Online or the Go RVing Canada Facebook community.
  • Do your research and shop around. Look not only for the right RV, but the right RV dealer. “Does your RV comfortably accommodate enough people and was it designed to travel long distances?” Nolan says. Make sure the sales consultant understands your personal goals. What might be right for someone else may be completely wrong for you. Go here for a list of RV dealers that are near you.
  • Consider how you want to transport your RV. For example, do you plan to tow or drive your RV?
  • Consider the layout of the RV. Like, what kind of a floorplan do you want?
  • How much storage will you need? Do you plan on travelling light or are you more comfortable bringing more items from home?
  • Identify your priorities. Do you need kitchen appliances? How many beds will you need? Are there other upgrades that might be worthwhile?
  • How will you store it? Do you have the right parking or storage space for the RV size you are interested in getting?
  • Know your budget and stick to it. In some cases, you can amortize motorhomes over 20-25 years so the monthly payments are lower. The minimum down payment for an RV is typically between 10% and 20%.
  • Remember to get RV insurance to help protect your investment and your family!

With some research and testing, you’ll soon be behind the wheel, with endless destinations and possibilities.

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