Ever driven past a caravanner on the highway and envied their relaxed, adventurous lifestyle?
You’re not alone. Nor are you the only one who’s been deterred by the cost!
Although it may seem a faraway retirement dream, caravanning can actually be affordable – if well planned.
Let’s explore what it costs to own a home on wheels.
Costs to Buy New
Thanks largely to warranties and enhanced customisation, buying new means peace of mind, but it’s also the more expensive option.
To set a budget, consider how you envision van life.
How many passengers? Where will you venture? How will you tow it?
Know your aims and budget going in so you’re not overwhelmed by choice.
As a ballpark, $80,000 will buy you anything from a medium, single axle van; perfect for a couple, up to a 20ft, twin axle van fit for four.
Of course, if you plan on taking your van to the end of the road, one with home comforts (like an ensuite) can cost $100,000 plus.
Costs to Buy Used
Pre-owned vans are a great way to save, and can sometimes include accessories accrued by the first owner. (Plus, you dodge some depreciation!)
Budget between $10,000 and $40,000 for smaller vans, and around $60,000 for something bigger.
Just remember, pre-loved can mean issues – always inspect in person, checking for rust, leaks, and knocking noises.
Also, ask to weigh the van – there’s no use buying something that’s not within legal limits!
Of course, new or used, some costs, like registration, maintenance and fit-out are inescapable.
Servicing and Maintenance Costs
Once you’ve got your caravan, maintenance is key to enjoying safe, worry-free trips – and retaining value for reselling or trading up.
Service costs depend on caravan size and axle type but set aside between $250 and $500 annually.
Just like your car, it’s wise to take caravans to a specialised mechanic every 10,000 kilometres or once a year, and reduce ongoing costs by doing smaller maintenance work (like lubricating parts) yourself.
Pay attention to the coupling, jockey wheel and handbrake and check for wear on tyres, rims and bearings.
Finally, buy a $100 basic tool kit to tackle unexpected small repairs when you’re travelling.
Insurance and Registration Costs
Once you’ve found your caravan, you must register and protect it.
Registration fees depend on the van’s value, weight and power, and vary between states and territories. (Currently, at under $100 annually, South Australia is the cheapest state).
Some states charge transfer duty, others don’t, and some offer 6 months rego (although that’s actually more expensive long-term than paying annually).
Like registration, insurance costs vary, depending on what you cover, and how.
Touring caravan insurance covers towed vehicles, trailer tent insurance covers vans with canvas additions (accounting for mildew and damage), while motorhome insurance is much like car insurance.
Then, there’s static caravan insurance, for immobile vans.
Make sure you account for all contents and any additional adults who might take a turn towing.
One way to curb insurance costs is by upping security. Locking devices, an alarm, and a safe for valuables all help.
Equipment and Accessory Costs
Buying a caravan is like buying a fully furnished home.
Sure, the basics are fitted, but it’s inevitable that you’ll need safety gear and want creature comforts.
Some things, like a tow ball or hitch lock, extra license plate, wheel chocks, levelling ramps, first aid kit and towing mirrors are essential.
Others, like a firepit, can wait.
The trick is to separate the ‘must-haves’ from the ‘lust-haves’ and commit to building your accessories collection over time.
You can also save money by buying smaller items second-hand and premium items at caravan trade shows.
Finance is king when it comes to getting on the road sooner and spreading out your repayments over time.
Credit One can save you money (and time) by finding you the best rate, but you can make the process smoother by knowing your budget before you begin, and ensuring your credit history is in good shape.
Paying other debts and being in stable employment will also help!
Once your van is ready to roll into your next adventure, the next cost is site fees.
Depending on where and when you go, what you tow and how long you stay, costs to park a van vary.
Of course, there are free camps around Australia, but expect to pay between $30 and $60 for an unpowered site and $60 to $150 for one with juice.
For young families, holiday parks offer membership options with discounts.
Of course, avoiding peak times (like Easter and Christmas) helps too.
All in all, if the open road is calling, but so is your accountant, take heart.
With research and the right finance, it’s possible to become one of those caravanners you once envied!
If you’re looking to upgrade your caravan, camper, boat or 4WD, get a 30 second quick quote on finance with CreditOne – Australia’s best rated finance broker.