First time RV buyers: The Experience

It’s been 2 years since we thought we found THE one, but did not. This past January we received a lead on a coach at a dealership in Alexandria, MN that fit our wish list. The mileage was higher than hoped, but the price fitted our budget. We called the vendor a few days thereafter to set up a tour. To our dismay, someone had already placed a hold on it, but made the trip anyway to look at it.

The dealership let us see the motorhome. It was in excellent shape and had essentially all the features on our wish list. During the visit, the salesperson reminded us we could not carry out an offer until the following week, and requested a call if it became available. We waited a week and heard the grim news the bus was no longer for sale.

Two weeks afterward, we saw another listing, this time from a broker in Grand Rapids, MI. We would not miss this opportunity and call the store right away. My better half flew to Michigan the following Monday and called me in the afternoon. The bus had everything; I mean everything we needed, including a fireplace and the larger buffet table. The cost, however, worried us. It was time to negotiate. What did we have to lose? The sales representative countered bid, and we made the transaction. The third time is the charm! We are now the proud owners of a 40 ft. Newmar Motor-coach. We could not ride it home and organized to take delivery in the Spring. Then you guess what took place: COVID arrived in the U.S. and many States closed their businesses.

Early April, we called the dealership asking when we could come to receive delivery. Since we acquired the bus before the pandemic, we could travel to Michigan to pick-it up. At first, driving through 4 states concerned us, but we loaded the jeep with food and supplies needed for a week and left Minnesota at 5:00 AM. We arrived at our destination around 4:00 PM, an-hour before closing of the showroom. The sales person met us, backed the motor-coach outside in their parking area, showed us a few things and left. We spent our first night in our new home. 


The following day, while the vehicle tow package was being installed, we received training on all the systems. Six hours later we had notes to get us started. We spent another night in the parking area and turned in action on what we learned. We found minor items that appeared not to work properly and had them corrected before receiving possession of the keys. Similar to a home, it’s important to give it a full inspection, while having easy access to mechanics. 

That evening we started writing check-lists. With the guidance and on-site experience, we improved our notes and ask questions on what we missed. We would suggest this process to any RV first timer. This is an expensive vehicle with loads of bell-and-whistle. When we left, we still did not know what we were doing, but we sure felt more confident that we could figure it out. 

A few helpful tips:

1- Know what you want and have your wish list ready to avoid missing an opportunity.  

2- This is a big investment. Ask the dealer to spend time with you before going on the road. If they refuse, think about buying from someone else. 

3- Create check lists with your own words and refer to them each time you take your home for a ride.

4- Research insurance options and look for extended warranty. Keep in mind, this is your home. If it breaks, you may be without a roof for an extended period. Some insurance covers hotel cost.

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