All About the Costs of Buying and Owning a Motorhome

Beginning your journey of owning a motorhome is like unlocking a new world of freedom and adventure — with the allure of the open road in the distance.


To achieve the comfort of your very own home on wheels, you’ll need to know all the costs to expect over the time you own your RV. From the initial purchase price to ongoing servicing and maintenance, to insurance and depreciation.


At Wilderness, we believe in empowering future and current motorhome owners with knowledge. Knowledge to help you realise your dreams — of owning a motorhome and living the lifestyle it offers.


Whether you’re new to motorhomes or looking to upgrade, it’s important to understand all the costs of buying and owning a recreational vehicle — so you can make an informed decision.

What influences the cost of a motorhome

motorhome lounge layout

A variety of factors affect the cost of buying and owning a recreational vehicle. To find the ideal motorhome that fits your needs without breaking the bank, or costing a fortune down the line, it's important to get a handle on all these factors.



Mass produced versus custom-built


How you prioritise what you want in an RV will dictate which direction you go here. Mass produced motorhomes are generally:


  • More affordable — due to economies of scale
  • Built to standard specs and models — limiting customisation options
  • Delivered relatively quickly — as they come off assembly lines
  • More likely to hold resale value — particularly if they’re from a reputable brand.

On the other hand, custom-built motorhomes:


  • Are designed and constructed to your requirements — with a high degree of personalisation to better suit your lifestyle
  • May have superior workmanship — with greater attention to detail and closer quality control
  • Can be challenging to onsell — because the motorhome was tailored to suit the original owner’s needs
  • Are usually more expensive — due to the bespoke nature of building RVs this way.

Take a look at our guide on custom-built motorhomes for more detail on this kind of RV.





The design of a motorhome's interior, or its layout, shows how the living area, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and storage spaces are all arranged together.


The layout of a motorhome can significantly influence its cost. Standardised layouts are used by many of the big players to lower costs through automation, improve operational efficiencies and make the most of economies of scale.


Simpler, more traditional layouts are generally less expensive to produce as they rely on standard designs that have been slowly refined over time. More complex layouts need to be planned carefully so that the space is optimised while still being functional and structurally sound.


Find out more about motorhome layouts.





A motorhome warranty is a kind of risk mitigation — for you as the buyer, and for the manufacturer. It provides you with protection against defects and malfunctions. Expect a motorhome warranty to last between three and ten years.


From the perspective of manufacturers, the length of their warranties give an indication of their confidence in the quality and reliability of their products. Manufacturers’ financial risks are often factored into the selling price of their motorhomes.


Learn more about motorhome warranties.



Age and mileage


A motorhome’s age and mileage can greatly impact its cost. And as you’d expect, buyers are willing to pay more for motorhomes and campervans that are newer and have travelled fewer miles.


Both age and mileage are indicators of an RV’s current condition, expected lifespan and possible future servicing and maintenance costs.


Deciding whether to purchase a new motorhome or a used one may also come down to age and mileage versus cost. You may find used motorhomes on the market at comparable prices to new ones — because they have lower mileage and higher specs.


New or used

Buying a used motorhome with low mileage over a brand new one could save you money over the long term. Check out our premium used motorhomes for sale for more information on buying a used recreational vehicle.






The chassis is the foundation of any motorhome. If you buy a motorhome on a reputable chassis, it will be more likely to:


  • Support greater weight — so you can carry more toys
  • Take larger and potentially more luxurious layouts
  • Be more reliable
  • Feel safer on the road.

A dependable chassis will influence a motorhome’s value — as will its weight. If you intend to cut costs by choosing a motorhome with a lighter chassis, be sure to assess whether the payload capacity will be enough when your RV’s fully loaded.


See our buyers’ guide to motorhome chassis and construction.




motorhome servicing in workshop

A motorhome’s engine also influences the total price you’ll pay. A bigger engine will be able to handle more weight and give your motorhome more power on hills. Check the vehicle’s specs to see what type of engine your prospective motorhome comes with.


Quality engines, such as the Fiat Ducato, have safety features like:


  • Electronic stability control — helps prevent loss of control in emergencies by automatically adjusting brakes and engine power
  • Hill holder — holds the brakes when you’re starting uphill to prevent your motorhome rolling back down
  • Rollover mitigation — helps prevent rollover by adjusting braking and engine power to maintain stability.

If a motorhome manufacturer is aiming to meet a certain price point, such features can be the first to be removed.


Upgraded engines will likely have features that improve driving performance, such as:


  • Cruise control — automatically maintains a set speed to reduce your driving fatigue on longer journeys
  • Full brake control — lets you manually apply the brakes on the motorhome for optimal stopping power
  • Blind spot assist — warns you about vehicles in your blind spot, using sensors and visual or audible alerts.

Such upgrades along with the type of transmission can significantly affect the cost of buying a motorhome.


Discover the benefits of Fiat’s Ducato Series 8 motorhome platform.





Whereas most cars are built with a heavy reliance on robots, mass produced motorhomes are still hand-built across the globe — so build quality varies depending on:


  • The manufacturing processes used
  • Worker training and skill levels
  • The manufacturer’s focus on quality versus cost.

It’s not a given that the most expensive motorhomes are the most well built — or that value motorhomes don’t have high standards of build quality.


Take time to look at the care taken to fix fittings, furniture, wiring and even screws. Gaps or misalignments you can see are an indication that the motorhome may have further poor quality workmanship behind the panels — which you can’t see.


Craftsmanship is just one of many aspects that affect motorhome price.


For more in-depth coverage, read our article on all the factors that influence the cost of a motorhome.


Before you buy it

Deciding to own a motorhome is a big decision — so take your time to research and let our useful tools like this due diligence checklist help guide you through the process.


View Checklist