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What to consider before buying an RV in Canada

There are many things to think about when buying an RV in Canada including where you'll store it, whether you plan on off-roading and more.

If you’re considering buying an RV in Canada – whether it be a typical RV, camper, trailer or other variety – there are a several factors to consider before taking the plunge. And once you get your new home on wheels, you’ll also have to think about all of the work that goes into maintaining it before and after you hit the road.

Which type should you get when buying an RV in Canada?

When you’re thinking about buying an RV in Canada the first thing to do is decide which type of RV you want to invest in based on a number of features.

One of the most important factors to consider is how much you want to spend on your RV. When buying an RV in Canada, realize that the price point can really vary – anywhere from $8,000 to over $500,000 – depending on the type of RV you choose as well as any add-ons you opt for.

Other than your budget, you should also consider what you plan to use your RV for. Is it for weekend getaways with your significant other? Then maybe a smaller, more portable, 2-person sleeper would be your best option. Is it for summer vacations with the family? Then perhaps a larger RV with more amenities is the better option.

Types of RVs in Canada

There are generally 5 types of RVs you can choose from in Canada. You can browse through the options below to decide which is the best one for your needs.

  • Class A
    • New from $60,000 to $500,000+
    • Usually 21-40 feet long, can sleep up to 8, extensive living space and must be driven, not towed.
  • Class B
    • New from $30,000 to $130,000
    • Usually 16-22 feet long, sleeps up to 4, minimal living area and must be driven, not towed.
  • Class C
    • New from $43,000 to $200,000+
    • Usually 21-35 feet, can sleep up to 8, substantial living area and must be driven, not towed.
  • Fifth wheel
    • New from $18,000 to $160,000
    • Typically 21-40 feet long, sleeps up to 8, extensive living area and must be towed, not driven.
  • Travel trailer
    • New from $8,000 to $95,000
    • Usually 12-35 feet long, sleeps up to 6, minimal living area and must be towed, not driven.

5 questions to ask before buying an RV in Canada

Asking yourself a few simple questions before buying an RV in Canada can help you find the RV or trailer that best fits your needs.

1. How much space do I need?

For a couple, a 15-foot camper may be plenty. But a family of 4 with 2 younger children might want to consider a 20-foot model that comes with bunk beds. If you plan on doing a lot of touring, you might want to go for an option with a permanent bed, as the act of having to make a bed up every night can get wearisome.

Longer RVs will also typically feature an enclosed bedroom, providing an amount of privacy. And if you want space, an awning nearly doubles the living space available by creating a covered outdoor seating and cooking area.

Once you’ve nailed down the size of the RV body you can work with, you need to visit a dealer and look at as many interiors as you can. This way, you’ll get a really good idea of the interior layout that will work best for you and your family. You may find you prefer one manufacturer over another simply because of how they position and develop their RVs and trailers.

2. Do I plan on camping a lot?

If you intend on doing a lot of camping around the country, you’ll need an RV or camper that is self-sufficient. Look for a model that has solar panels for electrical power, a large gas tank, large onboard water tanks and

3. What about off-roading?

Deciding whether to go for an off-road RV is a necessity. While you may really like the look of the off-road RVs, if you’re unlikely to ever venture over the rough stuff, you could save money by sticking to a more road-based RV.

4. Where will I store it?

You’ll need to choose a model that fits your chosen storage location, whether you plan to use a driveway or a secure parking site.

Check the dimensions of your parking space, and don’t forget to ensure you have sufficient overhead clearance if you plan to park your RV under a carport or in a shed. Also, make sure you allow for the swing of the RV or trailer’s body as you turn, since the back edge will travel in a wide arc.

If you’re planning on renting a storage space, measure it and find out how much it’ll cost each month before shopping around for an RV or trailer

5. What is the manufacturer known for?

Choosing a manufacturer known for building strong, solid RVs and trailers is key to making this investment worth it. Generally speaking, a body with fewer joints between panels will mean there’s less likelihood of leaks forming. You should also pay attention to the owner’s manual and keep the interior ventilated to reduce humidity and moisture levels.

Other plus points to look for include independent suspension, especially on off-road models, for improved handling. Make sure the chassis underneath has no corrosion and that the welds are sound.

Consider your car’s towing capacity before buying an RV

To find out your car’s towing capacity, check your owner’s manual. Bear in mind that this is the maximum weight your vehicle can haul — if you choose a trailer that weighs the maximum amount your car can tow, you won’t be able to tow it with anything in it, like food, water and luggage.

7 towing terms you should know

When researching what RV or trailer you want to buy, here are a few terms and abbreviations you may come across:

  • Curb weight: The total weight of your vehicle when empty, excluding accessories like bull bars, roof racks and extra fuel tanks.
  • Payload: This is the maximum weight you can carry, as defined by your vehicle maker. You can also calculate this figure by subtracting the curb mass from the gross vehicle mass (GVM). That figure includes everything from passengers to luggage and the trailer ball download.
  • Trailer weight: The weight of a trailer when empty.
  • Tongue weight: The force that’s applied to the towing ball. It’s usually about 9% to 15% of the trailer’s total weight.
  • Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR): The maximum your vehicle can weigh when fully loaded. The owner’s manual will contain this figure. It can also be located on a plate or sticker on the driver’s door.
  • Gross axle weight rating (GAWR): The maximum allowable weight that the vehicle’s front and rear axle are certified for. Again, these figures will be written in the owner’s manual. The figure will typically exceed the gross vehicle mass (GVM), allowing for a margin of safety.
  • Gross combined weight rating (GCWR): The maximum weight of the tow vehicle and car added together, according to the car manufacturer

Know your weigh limits

If you’re buying an RV in Canada, or you’re loading one up to go on a trip, it’s a good idea to weigh it. For trailers, this is important to make sure your car is able to tow it while fully loaded up with your gear. For towable or drivable campers, knowing the weight will help you comply with any local or provincial laws. For example, some roads will have maximum weight limits.

To weigh your RV or trailer, bring it to the nearest commercial scale after loading it up with any food, water, gear and passengers you plan to take on your trip. You can look up local commercial scales online or contact your provincial service centre for entry and exit scales you can use.

RV vs. trailers: Which should I pick?

Motorhomes tend to be the most expensive option as they can be a lot bigger than trailers because of all their home-like amenities, making them a great option for someone who plans to take to the roads full time.

Trailers, on the other hand, tend to be less expensive, making them more accessible for people on a budget. But they can also be harder to drive, and you’ll need to have a vehicle capable of towing the model you want.

Ready to take the plunge? Compare RV financing options

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Loan Amount Interest Rate Loan Term Min. Credit Score Requirements
Loans Canada Leisure Vehicle Loan
$500 - $35,000
0% - 31.99%
24 - 120 months
300
Min. income of $1,800 /month, 3+ months employed
Compare rates from 60+ lenders.
Complete a single application to get quotes from different lenders. Bad credit, CERB and EI borrowers considered. 0% APR for new cars only, used car rates start at 7.99%.
Coast Capital Leisure Vehicle Loan
Varies
Varies
18 - 84 months
650
Able to service debt payment of $300/month
Competitive rates and flexible terms.
Finance new and used vehicles from one of Canada's largest credit unions. No credit union membership required. Available across Canada except SK, QC, NT, NU, YT.
LoanConnect Leisure Vehicle Loan
$500 - $50,000
9.90% - 46.96%
3 - 120 months
550
No min. income requirement
Pre-approval in as little as 60 seconds.
Get access to 25+ lenders through this brokerage. Get your funds in as little as 24 hours.
Fairstone Secured Personal Loan
$5,000 - $50,000
19.99% - 23.99%
36 - 120 months
560
Established credit history and own your home
Secure your loan and get a competitive rate.
Fairstone offers secured personal loans up to $50,000.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Representative example: Nadya buys an RV

Nadia, who lives in Alberta, has always wanted to tour the country to see the sites and visit some of Canada’s best parks and conservation areas. She figures an RV is just what she needs, so she heads to a local dealership to check out her options. Nadia looks at a 2019 Sunset Park Sunray 169 travel trailer and decides it has everything she’s looking for. The purchase price is $22,000.00, so Nadya pays a 20% deposit of $4,400.00 and applies for an auto loan from her bank to cover the rest.

Because Nadya has a solid credit history, she is approved for a loan to cover the outstanding amount on the RV plus 5% GST ($17,600.00 + $1,100.00). Along with the cost of her loan, Nadya also pays a little over $100.00 to register her RV with the provincial government.

Cost of new RV travel trailer$22,000.00
Loan typeAuto loan (term loan)
Loan amount$18,700.00
Interest rate (APR)5.90%
Loan term5 year
Additional fees4.00% origination fee ($748.00)
$0.00 application fee (waived by dealership)
Payment $360.65 monthly or $166.27 biweekly
Total loan cost$21,639.00 with monthly payments or $21,615.10 with biweekly payments

*The information in this example, including rates, fees and terms, is provided as a representative transaction. The actual cost of the product may vary depending on the retailer, the product specs and other factors.

Bottom line

Before buying an RV in Canada, there are a few factors to consider and some questions you can ask yourself to ensure you’re choosing the right option for your needs. And you’ll also want to look into how you’ll store, maintain, and drive or tow your new camper before taking the plunge.

Know which RV you want to buy? Compare RV financing options to find a lender that can help you get behind the wheel of your dream motorhome. If you’re not certain which RV to buy just yet, try getting the experience first by renting a campervan for a while before you buy.

Frequently asked questions about buying an RV in Canada

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