Family Traveller motoring editor Richard Yarrow gets top tips for buying a camper van or motorhome from Daniel Attwood, managing editor of Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly magazine (MMM).
Vehicles can start from as little as £3,000 for a second-hand model and go up to £250,000 for a factory-fresh palace on wheels.
The category you need to drive a motorhome depends on your age and the vehicle’s maximum authorised mass (MAM). This number will be part of its specification details. To drive an MAM of between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes, you need a C1 licence. For more than 7.5 tonnes it’s a C licence. The issue is complicated, but all is explained at gov.uk/driving-motorhome.
Decide if it will just be a holiday vehicle or double up as your car. If it’s dual-purpose, consider it as you would a car – look at factors such aseconomy, drivability and practicality.
Make a list of features you must have and what would be nice to have. Small camper vans rarely have a washroom or loo, so make sure you’re OK with this. If not, look at larger vehicles.
Make sure you look only at models with ‘Type Approval’ for the UK. This means the vehicle has been built to a set of rigorous regulatory, technical and safety standards.
When you find a model you like, take it for a long test drive to be sure you are comfortable behind the wheel.
Check your driveway is long and wide enough and, if not, consider a caravan storage site. Check the title deeds of your house, too. Some properties, especially newer ones, have a specific clause banning large vehicles from being kept there.
Unlike cars, these vehicles generally hold their value. It’s not unheard of for a two- or three year- old motorhome to sell for what the original purchaser paid for it. This can make it a great investment, despite the often high initial cost.
You’ll get the very latest model and a warranty for peace of mind. Buying secondhand is cheaper and can mean useful extras such as bike racks and satellite TV systems are already fitted.
Many leisure vehicles are bought by retired people using savings, pension lump sums or equity-release schemes. However, dealer finance is widely available through reputable providers such as Black Horse.