10 things to look for when buying a family RV

Author: Your RV Good Guide   Date Posted: 21 May 2024


Thinking about taking your family holidays on the road? Looking at campervans for sale is an exciting start. But with so much to think about when it comes to buying a family RV, it can be hard to know where to begin. In this helpful guide, we’ll share the top 10 considerations to help you make the best choice for your family. From choosing the right layout to planning your budget, we’ve covered all you need to know about buying a campervan, including:

  1. Size and layout
  2. Sleeping arrangements
  3. Safety features
  4. Kitchen amenities
  5. Bathroom facilities
  6. Storage capacity
  7. Fuel efficiency
  8. Warranties and guarantees
  9. Optional extras
  10. Budget considerations

Try before you buy


1. Size and layout

One of the first things to think about when you’re considering a campervan for sale is its layout and size. Motorhomes and campervan lengths range in size from compact models around five metres long to more spacious ones up to eight metres. You'll find even larger sizes in A-class motorhomes and bus conversions. The size of your RV is crucial not only for ensuring it's spacious enough inside, but also comfortable to drive and park.

The layout also plays a pivotal role in your decision. The configuration of living areas, sleeping arrangements, and bathroom facilities can greatly affect how well the RV suits your family's needs. For instance, larger motorhomes might offer both a dinette and a separate lounge area, as well as distinct bedrooms. Others utilise space-saving features like drop-down beds that transform the living area into a sleeping space at night.



Motorhome berths 

When browsing motorhomes for sale, considering the number of berths is key to matching your family's needs. Let's explore what different berths offer:

  • Ideal for larger families, including those looking for an RV for a family of 5, the larger-sized 6-berth motorhomes typically feature separate sleeping areas, a well-equipped kitchen, dining space, and a bathroom, providing ample room for up to six people.
  • Perfect for a family of four or a smaller group, 4-berth motorhomes generally offer a fixed double bed and convertible seating areas that transform into additional sleeping spaces. These models often include a compact kitchen and bathroom.
  • For small families or couples, 3-berth campervans provide a cosy option, typically with a fixed double bed and a single bed or a convertible dinette. Compact and intimate, they're ideal for those who enjoy a comfortable but streamlined camping experience.
  • Best suited for couples or solo travellers, 2-berth campervans generally feature a cosy living space with a kitchenette, a compact bathroom, and seating that converts into a double bed.

READ MORE: Benefits of motorhome travel


2. Sleeping arrangements

When you're looking at motorhomes for sale, another key deciding factor will be how many people it can comfortably sleep. This not only involves the number of beds but also how those beds are integrated into the overall layout.

For families, having separate sleeping areas for parents and children can be beneficial. Additionally, some models feature bunk beds or over-cab spaces which are perfect for maximising space while providing a fun and cosy sleeping environment for kids.

It can be helpful to visualise how the sleeping arrangements would work in practice. Consider the ease of converting daytime living areas into night-time sleeping spaces if required, and ensure these transformations are straightforward and won’t disrupt your living space during the day.



3. Safety features

When choosing a family RV, safety should be a top priority. Modern RVs and campervans are equipped with a range of safety features designed to protect you and your family on the road. Here’s what to look for:

  • Structural integrity: Ensure the RV is built on a robust chassis and features a solid construction. Check for well-maintained safety seals on windows and doors and the presence of fire-retardant materials in the interior.
  • Driving safety: Look for RVs with advanced driving technology such as anti-lock braking systems (ABS), stability control, and traction control. These systems help maintain control in challenging driving conditions and are crucial for larger vehicles like motorhomes.
  • Fire safety: Check that the RV is equipped with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Verify that these are accessible and in working order.
  • Gas and electrical safety: Ensure all gas and electrical systems meet local safety standards. Gas appliances should have proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide build-up, and electrical systems should be protected with circuit breakers to avoid overloads.
  • Child safety: If travelling with young children, consider RVs that offer features like child-proof locks on cabinets and windows. Additionally, ensure there is a safe place to install child seats if necessary. It’s essential that the RV has designated seating areas with appropriate anchors for car seats to secure younger children safely during travel. Investing in an RV with these safety features will give you peace of mind while exploring the great outdoors with your family.


4. Kitchen amenities

The kitchen is often the heart of the family RV, providing a space where you can cook and enjoy meals together while on the road. Here are a few factors worth considering:

  • Appliance quality: Look for high-quality, durable appliances that include a stove, oven, microwave, and refrigerator. You’ll want to check that these appliances are suitably sized for your family’s needs and are energy-efficient.
  • Storage solutions: Adequate storage in the kitchen is another must-have. Check for ample cabinets, drawers, and pantry spaces that can store your cookware, groceries, and utensils without clutter. Well-designed storage solutions help keep the kitchen organised and functional.
  • Bench space: A good amount of bench space makes a big difference when it comes to meal preparation. Look for RVs with well-thought-out layouts that maximise bench space, possibly including fold-out or slide-out counters to provide extra workspace when needed.
  • Ventilation systems: Proper ventilation is crucial to keep the air fresh and remove cooking odours. Look for RVs with effective range hoods or ventilation fans above the stove area.

For more helpful tips and advice, check out our guide to essential appliances and accessories for your RV kitchen.



5. Bathroom facilities

When travelling in a family RV, having a well-equipped and functional bathroom is a must. Here are a few tips on what to look for:

  • Toilet system: Check the type of toilet installed in the RV. Cassette toilets are common and easy to maintain. Ensure the waste tank capacity is adequate for your family's needs to minimise frequent emptying.
  • Shower: Depending on your family’s preferences and needs, look for an RV that includes a shower with sufficient space and water pressure.
  • Sink and vanity: A functional sink with good bench space is important for daily routines like brushing teeth and washing hands. Look for good storage for toiletries. Mirrored cabinets can also help make the space feel larger and more open.
  • Ventilation: Good ventilation is crucial in a bathroom to prevent moisture build-up and mould growth. Ensure there is a working vent or fan, which will help keep the air fresh and reduce condensation.
  • Water heater: Check if the RV includes a reliable water heater that can accommodate the needs of your family, ensuring you have hot water whenever needed without long waits.
  • Privacy: Consider the bathroom’s location and accessibility in the RV layout, especially if you're travelling with guests or have a larger family. For more helpful tips and advice, check out our guide to everything you need to know about motorhome bathroom types.


6. Storage capacity

Good storage is another important component of a well-equipped family RV, ensuring that all your belongings, from clothing to outdoor gear, have a designated spot. Consider the following storage features to keep your space organised and clutter-free:

  • Overhead cabinets: Look for motorhomes and campervans with ample overhead cabinets throughout the living, kitchen, and sleeping areas. These are perfect for storing lighter items like clothing, bedding, and non-perishable food.
  • Under-bed storage: Many RVs maximise space by offering storage under the beds. This area is ideal for storing larger items out of sight, such as extra bedding, suitcases, and seasonal clothing.
  • External storage compartments: For items you don’t need regular access to, such as tools, outdoor furniture, and recreational equipment, external storage compartments are invaluable.
  • Check for easy access and weatherproof seals to protect your belongings from the elements.
  • Wardrobes and closets: Depending on the size of your family, having enough wardrobe or closet space will be important. Look for adequate hanging spaces and shelves for organising clothes and accessories effectively.
  • Customisable storage solutions: Some RVs offer customisable storage systems where you can adjust shelves and compartments according to your specific needs. This flexibility can be a significant advantage as your storage needs change over time.

Check out our tips on how to maximise motorhome storage space.



7. Fuel efficiency

When looking at campervans for sale, choosing a model that offers good fuel economy will not only save you money on long trips but also contribute to a smaller ecological impact.

Modern campervans and motorhomes are increasingly incorporating the latest technology to enhance fuel efficiency. These advancements include improved engine designs and cutting-edge materials that reduce overall vehicle weight. Additionally, the design of the campervan affects its aerodynamics, which in turn impacts fuel efficiency. Models designed with smoother lines and a more streamlined shape can reduce air resistance, thereby enhancing fuel economy.


8. Warranties and guarantees

When you’re weighing up new vs used motorhomes for sale, it’s worth factoring in warranties and guarantees. These not only provide peace of mind but also ensure any issues you might encounter are addressed without significant expense or inconvenience to you.

RV Super Centre stands behind the quality of our motorhomes and campervans by offering a comprehensive 12-month guarantee on any vehicle purchased – including used RVs. It means that should any problems arise within the first year of ownership, necessary repairs will be taken care of promptly, getting you back on your adventures as quickly as possible.


9. Optional extras

When purchasing a family RV, a few optional extras can really dial up the comfort and convenience factor. For example, a campervan awning can extend the living space outside, providing shade and protection. Entertainment systems like satellite TV and enhanced audio setups can make a big difference too, especially on rainy days. For energy independence, solar panels reduce reliance on mains power and help save energy costs. External storage solutions such as bike racks and cargo carriers offer extra space for gear without cluttering your living areas.

READ MORE: Top 10 accessories for first-time motorhome owners.


10. Budget considerations

When planning to buy a family RV, it's important to set a realistic budget that accounts for the range of costs associated with RV ownership. The initial purchase price will vary widely depending on whether you opt for a new RV, with its latest features and warranties, or a used model, which might offer savings upfront but could entail hidden maintenance costs.

In addition to the purchase price, consider operational costs like fuel, insurance, maintenance, and storage fees if you don’t have space at home. It’s also wise to think about the RV’s potential resale value, as some brands and models maintain their value better than others.

If financing is necessary, seek out the best loan rates and terms to fit your long-term financial plans. RV Super Centre offers a range of tailored RV financing solutions designed to meet the unique needs of motorhome enthusiasts in New Zealand.

READ MORE: Are motorhomes a good investment?


Try before you buy

A good option for those who are considering buying their first motorhome is to take advantage of RV Super Centre’s try before you buy option. RV Super Centre is part of thl who own and operate the popular maui, Britz, Apollo, and Mighty motorhome rentals across New Zealand. Rent from thl and if you buy a motorhome within three months of your hire, we'll give you up to $1,500 worth of vehicle charges back (T&Cs apply).


Find the right motorhome for your family with RV Super Centre 

Now that you're equipped with the essential information on what to look for when purchasing a family RV, you're one step closer to enjoying all the great benefits of travelling by motorhome.

Don’t wait to start making lifelong memories with your family. Visit your local RV Super Centre or browse our online range of RVs for sale to find the perfect motorhome or campervan to meet your needs and budget. Let's make your RV dreams a reality!

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