Is a Motorhome RV a Good Investment for a Family?
A motorhome can be a great investment for a young family but you have to make sure you enter into that investment with your eyes open. It is very difficult to separate the dream from reality. Hopefully, the information here will help.
Motorhome RV Life
So, what’s the big attraction of owning a motorhome?
Holidays whenever you feel like it.
All your possessions travel with you.
Your own bed.
Your own food and cooking.
A mini version of your home that you can actually take with you.
What’s not to like?
The question of whether a motorhome is a good investment is what we were asking ourselves before we bought one. Did our calculations marry up with the actual reality of owning a motorhome?
Owning a motorhome is fantastic. We really love it and enjoy every minute we are away. Being able to stay in places that you would never get to in the comfort of a motorhome with the family is an amazing gift.
With the freedom it gives comes a responsibility to look after your motorhome and make sure it’s ready for when you are going to need it.
When we were first looking into buying a motorhome we were filled with dreams of being able to park up for the night wherever we like and be in some of the most remote locations in the UK and Europe.
After we bought the motorhome we soon learned that this would be a bit more difficult than we imagined. You still have all the fun you dreamed of but there were a few things that we never really considered.
Where to Stay
Parking in a vehicle that is 2.5m high and over 6m long it can be quite difficult to blend in and look inconspicuous. We soon learned that parking in front of houses was not really on, you can block the sun out for days by parking next to someone’s house. We were going to have to be considerate as to where we could park.
Free parking or wild camping is probably one of the most desired things about owning a motorhome but we soon realised that there were other issues like security and safety for the kids.
Some of the nicest places you can park are going to be near a road – you have to get to that place and you are in a large motor vehicle so it makes sense that you will be parked next to a road. As a result of that, some places may not be the best place to let children run about.
Granted there are places that are way off the beaten track but those places take time to find and make sure they are good to use. If you don’t make sure places are good to go you are betting your holiday time which for most people is finite.
Equally, an adventure could be good if you remain flexible as to where you will be spending your holiday.
We usually have a lot of things hanging off the back of the motorhome especially bikes and other sporting goods. Some people have electric bikes that are expensive to buy and make a good target for thieves. This makes it hard to relax if you are away enjoying an area for the day while the motorhome is in a public car park or down some lane.
Now, this has been our experience and I know a lot of people free park all the time with little difficulty. But for us with children and tight schedules, this proved a bit more difficult.
During the school holidays, the roads are busier and it’s much more difficult to find a free parking space where you can spend the night. The popular areas, in particular, are very busy and sometimes you can’t get a space and have to move on to another area. Not good if you have a van full of tired hungry kids.
Where am I going with this? Well, we found the reality very different from the dream. There are responsibilities to owning and travelling in a motorhome that we had never fully considered.
For us, the best way to deal with this was to book into campsites. It is restrictive in that you have to book in for a number of days at a place and if you don’t like it you are stuck there.
If you do like it there is a good chance you can’t stay extra time, so it is removing some perceived freedoms in that sense.
But for us, it opens up a whole new sense of freedom in that you can go away for the day and your van is quite safe from thievery or even someone hitting it while parked. You have electric hook up most of the time and access to toilets and showers, water is always close by. Campsites are generally very safe and child-friendly and so the kids can run about playing and exploring the area in safety while the adults relax and have a glass of wine or maybe even two.
Campsites have become the main method of using our motorhome. We have found a few that we really enjoy visiting and are getting to know the areas. So far we have tended to stay near to or in a national park. These offer the best facilities for us – access to a national park power and water and toilet disposal facilities- what more do you need? We all love it.
Costs of Campsites
Staying at campsites does cost. In 2019 we are paying roughly £30 per night for four of us. So a ten-day holiday will cost about £300 plus any fuel and food.
This is more than we first anticipated but for us, the cost is well worth it for the peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about the kids jumping out the door in front of a bus or have the unrelaxing noise of traffic speeding by the motorhome all night. A campsite is a real joy, especially during the holiday season.
I was shocked by just how many campervans and motorhomes were on the road in Scotland during the summer.
Out of season its a different story, there is hardly a motorhome on the road and you can get parked up in some great places. Most of the campsites are closed though, so you have to free park most of the time, the opposite of the summer season.
So this begs the question, is owning a motorhome good value for a young family?
Costs of a Motorhome.
Let’s be clear from the start a motorhome is not an investment for most people. A motorhome is a very expensive piece of machinery that has to be maintained and depreciates in value as a car would. The newer the motorhome the fewer maintenance costs you will have but there will be way more depreciation.
When you buy a motorhome as old as ours it is possible to get good ones, you just have to be careful, When they reach a certain age then the depreciation becomes negligible. If you buy a motorhome for £10000 and look after it for 5 years there is a good chance that you will get most of your money back. The depreciation has become so small it hardly makes a difference. So basically the cost of the motorhome becomes the running costs, so any repairs, mechanical work, all the things you have to do to keep it safe and on the road plus any changes you want to make for your own comfort.
The actual cost of the motorhome is more like a refundable deposit – unless you neglect the motorhome entirely.
Our first year saw us spend over £2000 to get it running sweet again. There is a to-do list as long as my arm but I don’t see the motorhome costing us any more than £1000 per year to keep safe and on the road.
This year it has cost way under £1000 but I like that figure as a contingency.
If we only use the van 5 times that will be a £200 cost plus the per night campsite stays – we usually go for at least 4 days so that costs £120 and usually £80 for fuel. So a 4-day stay would be £400 or £100 per night. That is for 4 people on a campsite for 4 nights with electric hook up and access to whatever facilities the campsite offers.
This may seem like a lot but bear in mind the more you use the motorhome the cheaper the holidays become. If we are away for 10 days then that would be £50 per night using the same figures above. So, we are forced to take longer holidays – it’s cheaper! (Any excuse really)
You get to take all your stuff with you, you can cook your own meals, you have your own space – these things alone are very valuable for us and are great for children. They love the adventure of taking your little home with you on a trip.
You do have the initial outlay of the motorhome which you will pretty much recoup if you buy an ancient example like ours. The newer the motorhome the more it will cost in initial outlay and depreciation.
My contingency fund is very high and you may not need to spend anywhere near this. For a young family being able to stay in some of the nicest locations for £100 per night is very reasonable. Of course, this is how we like to travel but you may be different and there are plenty of ways to do it cheaper but if you have restricted time campsites are great for guaranteeing you will be able to stay in the area you have chosen.
If you like long holidays then again the costs per night would drop. The more you use it the better and more affordable it becomes.
So, Is a Motorhome Good for Young Families?
In our opinion, its a most definite yes. The whole process of planning a trip, getting the kids to help prepare the motorhome for launch and then setting off is a blast. The kids absolutely love it and its always a massive disappointment when we turn and head for home at the end of the holiday.
The quality time you get to spend with your family without distraction is really priceless. Being able to spend time with each other doing things you all want to do and having a living space that’s yours and mobile is a real joy.
The younger the family the more the kids seem to enjoy it. We are getting close to the teenage years so we will see how it goes over the next few years where we may be dumped as parents. Although we would miss our kids on camping trips we are ready to embrace that part of our lives.
The costs I have put together are just an example of our costs and really just a guide, We have found that they work for us. All you have to decide now is whether you are ready to take the plunge and go for it. Being incredibly biased, I would say go for it!
August 26, 2020 @ 14:28
I’ve been researching for a family motorhome for over a year now and just found your blog. I also want a 644 or maybe a 660 if I do my C1. I was hoping that I would read this and be put off but it’s the complete opposite. We love next to Dartmoor so would wild camp (is that the right expression) a lot, I would say nearly every other weekend so would get a lot of use out of the van.
August 27, 2020 @ 14:34
You have a good plan there. Sounds like you would get good value for money from a Motorhome.
It took us a while to find our 644. Hopefully, one will come up for you soon and you can start exploring.
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Alex.