5 Things To Think About Before Buying The RV, Van or Rig of Your Dreams!

When it comes to buying the rig of your dreams, it’s easy to get caught up in the dream of your rig and ideal future situation, and make impulsive decisions.

I can attest to this based on my own personal experience of purchasing my first rig. When I bought my camper van a few years ago, I did all kinds of research by way of YouTube, and I bought my rig within one month of starting my search. Looking back, it’s easy to see how much I had missed in making a solid, sound decision. This year, I bought my second rig to start my full-time RV lifestyle, and I can definitely say I did a lot more research and made a more informed decision. With all of this being said, here’s my list of things to consider.

Here are the 5 things to think about before buying the RV, Van, or other rig of your dreams!

How will you be using your rig? (Weekends, Part-time, Full-time)

As simple as this sounds, a lot of people don’t take into account how they plan to use their rigs or how many people will regularly be inhabiting it. If you’re just going to be using your rig on weekends or part-time, you may not want anything too big, and you may not even need a full bathroom inside. And for most who are weekenders or part-time, they usually have an additional vehicle for everyday use, or are able to tow a camper from time to time. Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule, but these are just some things for you to consider in your rig buying process.


Let’s dig into some other factors.

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Where will you be using your rig? (Rural Areas, Cities or a Combination)

I pose this question a lot to newbie vanlifers and nomads, mainly because most of them have been watching tons of YouTubers emphasizing the need for being stealthy. But the truth is, being stealthy is not a necessity for everybody.

If you’re someone who wants to get away from cities, and you have the ability to, you may not even need to factor in stealth. And that keeps your options open in a lot of ways. Not needing to be stealthy means you could consider a Class A or C RV, Skoolies/Buses, Travel Trailers, and more. This also means you would most likely be staying at campgrounds, BLM lands, and boondocking, for the most part.

Now, if you are going to be staying strictly in cities or a combination of cities and rural areas, being compact or stealthy may have to be a major factor for you to take into consideration. For most, smaller buses, camper vans and Class B RVs can be great options for this. There are some adventurous people who do SUV or Car dwelling successfully as well.

What’s your lifestyle like?

I ask this question because it can make a big difference in the style of rig you end up choosing. For instance, if you are a person who spends a lot of time outdoors or outside of your rig, you may not mind if your rig doesn’t have a tall ceiling and lots of standing room. There are plenty of people who live full-time in rigs that they can’t stand up in; if they’re not homebodies or spending most of their time in their rig, it tends not to bother them. For me, even though I’m only 5’3”, I knew that I wanted something that felt roomy from top to bottom and side to side. I wanted to be comfortable and have any “guests” feel comfortable: if I had any, lol. Taking it a step further: don’t forget to ask yourself if you’re a person who doesn’t mind the idea of taking your whole home with you everywhere you go. If you don’t, then a van, bus, Class A, B, or C RV would suit your needs. However, if you like the idea of setting up your camp and having your home-on-wheels be more separate, you may be best off considering a truck camper, teardrop camper or towable RV. Being able to set up camp and leave for adventures was another reason that I went with a travel trailer this time instead of a campervan.

Van image
Van image

What are your wants and must-haves?

I think this is a really important question because it forces you to be honest, and it can give you structure in your search. If you ask yourself this question upfront, it allows you to focus your search on rigs that will actually meet your needs.

Searching for your dream rig can be a really exciting time, but it’s also very easy to become overwhelmed with all the options. Making your wants and must-haves list will help with that.

Some of my wants and must-haves included:

  • Queen sized bed
  • Separate toilet and shower
  • A dinette to work at
  • Adequate storage

Used or New? What’s in your budget?

I know most people usually like to start with this question, but I feel like it can sometimes strongly sway people’s decisions. Some people buy on impulse because the price seems too good to be true. If you’ve seriously asked yourself the previous four questions and assessed your answers, you can better avoid buying the wrong rig for your lifestyle.

So, firstly I like to ask if you want something brand new; or, are you okay with buying something used? Both have their pros and cons, and I don’t think any one answer is right for everyone.  

Pros of buying new:

  • Warranty
  • You’re the first person to use everything
  • Everything in tip-top shape
  • Ability to customize it how you want, without having to do the work

Cons of buying new:

  • Higher price
  • Potentially higher vehicle repairs depending on the make and model

Pros of buying used:

  • Cheaper price upfront
  • You may not have to build something from scratch (if it’s a van or custom build)

Cons of buying used:

  • Can cost more money to fix in the long run
  • You don’t always know if the custom work was completed up to code (in the case of a custom build)

Now that you’ve decided whether you need something New or Used, it’s time to set a budget to stick to. When it comes to budgeting, here are a few things that people tend to forget to factor in:

  • Maintenance and upkeep costs
  • Gas costs and mileage efficiency
  • Cost to repair
  • Insurance costs

My Final Thoughts

I hope that you found this guide helpful and that it can help expand your horizons on things that you may not have previously considered in your rig buying process. At the end of the day, whether your rig is for leisure or a lifestyle, you work hard for your money and you should love what you buy. I wish you the best of luck on your journey to finding the rig of your dreams!
I’d love to hear about your buying experiences, and if there are any other tips you would add to this list.

Find Toyin on Instagram @yourlifeafter25, and download her new app: Outdoorsy Black Women (@outdoorsyblackwomen on IG ; Read more about Outdoorsy Black Women in our Essential Apps section of the BIPOC Guide! 

All photos courtesy of Toyin Ajayi.

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