When I’m not riding to work, I often ride along the beautiful Adelaide coastline. (We Adelaideians live in paradise, though the water is still a little cold!). I ride through a caravan park, and saw this Kedron van for sale. The price has been reduced by the owner already, down to $44,000. This got me thinking about the economics of caravans and the RV life.
I should say that Glenys and I own a second hand 2004 Aliner Avan which we bought a year or so ago for about $12k. It was old but in immaculate condition. We use it for weekends away in our great State and also for longer forays into Victoria. We save money but also we can take our Westie dog Duncan (many parks allow dogs these days). Duncan loves it – he seems to think of the van as a giant kennel.
Many people like to purchase vans or even pretty expensive buses for recreation, doing The Big Lap, or as an escape vehicle to the North in our winter months. Great idea I think – but what is the savvy way to do these things? Here are some tips on how to have your nomadic lifestyle and not blow your finances:
1) Do not buy new. The depreciation will cost you big time. Here is a comment from a grey nomad forum:
Not happy Jan. We have a 2yr old Jayco poptop with toilet/shower combo. Started thinking about upgrading to full van with ensuite in readiness for our big trip. Hubby rings the dealer and basically we have lost $13000 since we bought it. It is in perfect condition with extra powerpoints etc. Needless to say we will not procede (sic) at this time. Our last Jayco lost $5000 in 6 tears (sic) so we are quite disappointed.
The cost of changeover is not a problem, I just feel that depreciation is too great. I can buy an awful lot of petrol instead
I think buy something at least three years old, after the initial depreciation has occurred.
2) Consider buying privately. We actually bought our Avan from a Jayco dealer. It was a trade-in, had not been detailed at that point but we could see it was in great nick. Being a Jayco dealer, he would be keen to get it off his lot. So we made a lowish offer (over the phone) and did a great deal.
3) If you do have to borrow, avoid dealer finance or a specific loan for the vehicle, if you can. The interest rates are a lot higher than drawing from say a Line of Credit or a home loan.
4) Some park chains offer discounts if you join their scheme. If you are doing a lot of camping, this would be worth considering.
5) Free camping – we have clients that do this. Personally I worry about the security of some of these sites, but if there is a group of you, or you’re confident of the site, this can be worth considering.
6) Looking for a break from the caravan park? Consider Airbnb – you can get some great accommodation deals there. Also home swaps or even renting our your home (or an Airbnb host?) when you’re away.
7) Cook in – most long term campers cook in, and have the occasional night out for dinner.
What are your tips for the caravan life? Share them below with us in the comments section.