Searching for RVs to Buy

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Once you’ve decided on your budget and the type of RV that you want to buy, actually finding vehicles that fit into both categories can become quite the daunting task. We’ve found that there are three primary sources for locating and narrowing down your RV selection.

Craigslist

This is my preferred stop as Craigslist is free to both post classified ads as well as view and respond to them, so theoretically you’ll get the largest selection. Depending on where you live, you might have access to only a few Craigslist sites or a few dozen, as Craigslist has expanded over recent years from only including major cities to smaller cities like Johnstown, PA or Fargo, ND. A few tips on searching Craigslist:

Also, remember that you want to actually go and look at any RV before you up and buy it just from an ad on the Internet.

Large Online RV Databases

RVzen, RV Trader Online and RVT are two examples. These sites list both RVs being sold by individuals as well as those being sold by dealers, and they often have a huge variety and plenty of pictures to go around. On the other hand, the RVs are often much more expensive than they would be if you were buying from an individual (as is the case with Craigslist, typically) and sometimes they don’t list the price at all, which is annoying and fishy in my mind. Plenty of options to sort by price, make/model or even class make these sites typically very easy to use, but I’ve also found that while their inventory is huge, many times they’re not kept up to date and so you’ll contact a lot of people who’ve already sold their RV weeks ago.

Local Dealer Websites

These sites are almost always incredibly bad. They typically look like they were built in the 90’s by a high school kid, rarely have an up-to-date inventory to display, and sometimes they just don’t work at all. However, the good part about them is that since they’re local, if you get an idea of the quality and price of the RVs they’re selling, you could theoretically take a drive out and check out the inventory for yourself. This could give you a chance to see multiple units in one place and even talk to a dealer who will likely know more than an individual selling their old RV. All of that said, however, I have yet to find even one of these sites that produced a single interesting RV.

Other Resources

What I’ve mentioned above is primarily for finding RVs online. Keep in mind that you could also turn to your local newspaper’s classifieds (though since newspapers charge to print classifieds, you’ll often get less results than Craigslist, however many people, especially older ones, don’t even realize Craigslist exists and therefore still go with the old print methods). Keep an eye out as you drive around your own city or hometown as well, as many people will sell their RVs the old fashioned way, by sticking a for sale sign on it and letting it sit in their driveway. There are also Penny Saver-style magazines that you can pick up for a couple of bucks at your local gas station, however most of these do have websites so it’s kind of redundant to pay cash for something you can’t search through when they already have a more powerful, online resource.

Table of Resources to Help you Find an RV with Pros and Cons

Resource Pros Cons
Craigslist
  • Dealing with individuals often means lower prices
  • Free and easy to use
  • Easy to contact sellers
  • Can’t sort by Class or Make/Model
  • Not always an extensive selection
Online RV Databases (example: rvt.com)
  • Largest selection
  • Easy to sort by price, make/model, class, etc.
  • Typically lots of pictures and information
  • More expensive than buying from individuals
  • Often the price isn’t listed, annoyingly
  • Inventory isn’t always up-to-date
Local Dealer Websites
  • If you see something you like, you can always drive right over to the actual lot
  • Poorly designed and often lacking functionality
  • Often very out-of-date
Local Newspaper Classifieds
  • Often have listings not found anywhere else
  • Like Craigslist, they’re being sold by individuals and are therefore often much cheaper than elsewhere
  • Usually have a very limited selection, if any