Are caravans a waste of money?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Are caravans a waste of money? We will discuss the price of a caravan and the basic costs of living in a motorhome. 

Are caravans a waste of money?

Considering their popularity, we’d say that caravans are not a waste of money. Yet, the answer to this question depends hugely on the type of caravan you buy, how often you will use it, the purpose for which you buy it, but also on the one’s expectations and budget. 

First, let’s see how much you have to invest in a caravan.

Cost of buying a caravan

Type of caravanPrice
2 berth$16,000-$26,000
4 berth$23,000-$30,000
5 berth $26,000-$35,000
6 berth$35,000-$55,000
8 berth$45,000-$65,000

Should I buy a new or second-hand caravan?

With a second-hand caravan, the prices vary depending on the model, its age and its condition. Count at least $1,000. A few precautions should be taken: pay attention to cracks, scratches, the quality of the tires and brakes, accessories, bedding, etc. Know how to negotiate a good price and do not rush: if you notice after purchase defects such as humidity problems, it is difficult to ask for your money back!

If purchasing a new caravan, compare manufacturers based on size, equipment, level of finish and layout. You have seen the prices for a new caravan above. If the brands are numerous and the different models are equally so, choose a caravan whose manufacturer offers good after-sales service in the event of a problem. 

Regarding the size, know that it is not the size that matters, but the layout. Modern caravans all have a shower with hot water, a chemical toilet, an electric fridge or even an oven and heating. If any of these accessories are missing, feel free to negotiate the final price.

In any case, it is essential to know the total weight of the caravan well, to know if your car will be able to tow it!

Basic costs of living in a caravan vs living in a house

Of course, in addition to the initial price you invest in a caravan, you must also add the cost of insurance, maintenance and repairs, but also usual costs. Below we speak about usual expenses in a house vs in a caravan for a family of two. 

Expense type 

Cost of living in a caravan/month

Cost of living in a house/month
Diesel$110 $250 (if you have a car) $450 for public transport
Insurance $400 to $500 per year $1,200 per year
Gas $100$72.10
Water$21 for 450L$35.49 
Maintenance $801% and 4% of your home’s value each year 
Repairs $501% and 4% of your home’s value each year 
Improvements $501% and 4% of your home’s value each year 
Parking space $150Most of the time free in front of the house
Tolls$100On average 6 cents per mile/$60 month/$0 if you don’t have a car
Campsite for 10 nights $250No need
Food $400$400
Laundry $40$40
Leisure $50 or more$50 or more

The total/month for two people living in a motorhome would be $1,461. The total/month for two people living in a house: $2,107 minus the costs for maintenance and home improvement.  This is an average, some need less to live, others much more. 

Buying a caravan is equivalent to buying a second home with the advantage that we can change its location whenever we feel like it. I don’t know many people who regret buying a house. The same thing happens with caravans!

Do caravans lose value?

Like any other vehicle, motorhomes lose value with time. More specifically, RVs lose value faster than trailers due to engine wear. To calculate the actual devaluation of your unit, you can take into consideration the suggested retail price in the National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA).

The devaluation of an RV or a caravan is more important during the first five years after its purchase. By year six, the value of the RV is about half of its net purchase price. You can see the table below for more details. 

The year(s) of a caravan    % of the price that maintains     % of depreciation
Up to 1 year100%0%
More than 1 year, up to 2 84% 16%
More than 2 years, up to 3 67%33%
More than 3 years, up to 4 56%44%
More than 4 years, up to 5 47% 53%
More than 5 years, up to 6 39% 61%
More than 6 years, up to 7 34%66%
More than 7 years, up to 8 28%72%
More than 8 years, up to 9 24%76%
More than 9 years, up to 10 19%81%
More than 10 years, up to 11 17%83%
More than 11 years, up to 12 13%87%
More than 12 years 10%90%

Buying a caravan: how to ask the right questions

To know everything about the past life of your future caravan … and possibly be able to leave with it, here are the good questions to ask the salesperson.

  •   First, ask for the price mentioned in the advertisement.
  • If the ad does not mention the general condition of the caravan, try to get some details about its exterior appearance and how cool the interior is.
  • If the ad refers to complete equipment, please clarify which equipment it is (bedding, kitchen utensils, awning, antenna, etc.).
  • Are all onboard equipment operational (gas stove, fridge, shower, etc.)
  • How many pads (7 or 13) the electrical connections have?
  • Has a gas cylinder been fitted to be able to test the various appliances (fridge, gas cooker, heating)?
  • Is there enough water in the freshwater tank to test the plumbing and proper wastewater disposal?
  • Is the caravan kept in a sheltered place?
  • Is the caravan “rolling” (frame, brakes, hitch, lighting, tires)? 

In other words, will it be possible for you to walk away with it if the transaction is successful?

Final thoughts

As we mentioned above, caravans may or may not be a waste of money, depending on your purpose. Will you be using it once a year for a maximum of three weeks? Or are you planning on travelling through the country and living like nomads? 

Of course, we went to the extremes, but the point here is to ask yourself what your goal is, how many people will reside in the caravan, how often will you use it, where will you store it when not on the road, what is your budget, and so on.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on Are caravans a waste of money?

Why buy a caravan?

The caravan has the advantage of offering travellers a large optimized interior space, comfort, versatility and freedom of movement. At the same size, it offers more available space than the motorhome.

When to buy a caravan?

When to buy a caravan –  the caravan sells particularly well during the months of April, March and May.

How to choose the right caravan?

To choose the right caravan, it is also necessary to look at two important criteria: the authorized total vehicle weight (GVWR) and the authorized total weight. The GVWR indicates the actual maximum weight added that can reach your car and the caravan.

How to buy a used caravan?

To know everything about the past life of your future caravan, here are the good questions to ask your salesperson. There are three documents that the seller must give you: registration card, sales certificate and situation certificate … There is no technical inspection for caravans.


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