Background info: The RV we just purchased is out in California. We’ve only seen it in photos. We wanted to buy an RV out west so we wouldn’t have to do a rushed one month cross-country drive to get to Burning Man.
How We Found The RV
I won’t go through the whole “How to pick an RV” thing. It’s been done and a Google search will turn up some great advice. Essentially, it boils down to determining your budget, then picking a size and floor plan that you like. Those are probably the most important choices you’ll have to make and there’s enough out there to help with those decisions. Two tools that I found helpful in finding RVs for sale were SearchTempest and EBay Saved Searches.
- SearchTempest is a reasonably-powerful free Craigslist searching tool. If you ever use Craigslist to search for something that you’re willing to drive for, you’ll quickly realize that the city-by-city design of Craigslist can be a huge pain. SearchTempest solves that problem by allowing you to define a zip code radius to search, price range, category, and keywords. Some of the keywords we included were RV types and manufacturers, and we used separate keywords to exclude anything that wasn’t a motorhome (for example, a trailer or snowmobile) and anything that was too big for us. Once the search is run, you can bookmark the url and run the search as frequently as you’d like with one click. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good start and is what led us to our eventually purchased RV.
- If you have an EBay account, you can save your searches and have new listings emailed to you daily. For our RV search we had three daily emails, one for all Class B RVs within our price and mileage range, one for all Class C RVs within our size, price, and mileage range, and one for all RVs within our size and price range. That last search was meant as a catchall, as many sellers don’t add all the attributes / tags that they can to their items. For example, a seller might not tag their 19′ Roadtrek as a Class B, so it would be excluded from our Class B search, but the catchall search would have picked it up.
From my limited experience browsing sites like rvtrader.com and other RV-specific marketplaces, the best deals are to be had on Craigslist and on EBay. On second thought, I would bet that the best deals are really to be had by chance encounters, like seeing an RV in someone’s driveway and knocking on the door, but that’s not exactly the most reliable method.
If you’re in the market for a used RV, the biggest asset you could possibly have is time. Not feeling pressure to buy and being willing to walk away from any transaction knowing you’ll find another winner down the road is one of the most important things you can have on your side.
posted by jayhorowitz