Where to Buy your RV: A Comprehensive Guide

Man and woman outside a Class C Motorhome

You’ve made up your mind — you want to buy an RV. That’s fantastic!

You may even know what type of RV you want. Even Better! You’re one step closer to hitting the open road and enjoying the outdoors in your new camper.

All that’s left to do is find the exact RV you want — and buy it. Sounds pretty easy, right?

Not so fast…

Knowing where to look to find the Right RV For The Right Price can be difficult. Even if you happen to know the exact model you want, finding one for a decent price can be challenging.

Your time is valuable. You need to know the best place to buy your RV. I can help with that.

While it’s true I work for Bish’s RV, I also know that a large dealership like Bish’s is not always the best place to buy an RV. Sometimes a smaller RV dealer or even a private seller may be the best place to buy a camper.

In this article we will explore the pros and cons of the three types of RV sellers, so you can quickly choose who you want to do business with and spend less time buying an RV and more time actually camping in it.

Do you want to sell your Camper before you start shopping for a new RV?


Learn How to Shop For an RV with Josh the RV Nerd’s Guide to Shopping for an RV.

Where Should I Start Shopping For My RV?

The most popular places most people start shopping for a new or used camper are:

  • Do a Google Search: “RVs For Sale Near Me”
  • RV Trader – A Website that lists new and used RVs for Sale across the country
  • Craigslist – A Classified Ad listing service used by Private Sellers and RV Dealerships
  • Facebook Marketplace RV Classified Ads (Must have Facebook Account to view)
  • RV Dealerships (Online websites or visit their showrooms to shop available inventory)

Classified Website Listings are NOT RV Sellers

RV Trader Screen Shot
RV Trader is a Classified Ad Listing Business

Most of the websites people use to shop for RVs have plenty of listings for new and used campers, but these websites are not where you actually buy the RVs you see listed.

Businesses like RV Trader and Craigslist are classified ad businesses that make money by helping people who want to sell RVs find people who want to buy RVs.

These listing websites are a great place to compare pricing and find a good deal on a camper — because both RV dealerships and private sellers regularly use these sites for advertising new and used RVs they have for sale.

Once you find an RV you like on a listing website, you will then have to contact the person or business that is actually selling the camper. Their contact information should be included in the listing, usually giving you options to call, text or email the seller.

RV Dealer Websites

RV dealer websites, such as Bishs.com are NOT classified ad listing websites. They are websites owned by RV dealerships with up-to-date information on all the RVs the dealer has available for sale.

RV Dealer Website Special Offers

One thing RV dealer websites have that make them good places to shop for RVs is they usually have links to promotions and special offers you can take advantage of to lower the price of the camper you want to buy.

If you go to an RV dealer’s website, be sure to look for links to special offers and incentives to get the best deal possible when buying an RV.

See examples of special offers and money-saving incentives you can find on Dealers Websites

Where Should I Buy My RV?

The knee-jerk response to this question is: Wherever you can find one you like at a price you can afford.

But the price is only one of the factors to think about when deciding where to buy your RV. There are actually 5 points to consider when deciding where to buy your camper.

Family playing Game inside a Motorhome

5 Questions to Consider When Deciding Where to Buy Your RV

  • How much money can I spend? Figure out your budget for purchasing a camper. This will help you decide where to look and what kind of seller to choose, especially if you are looking for financing options.

  • Do I like getting personal attention and good customer service? Consider if you want a buying experience where the seller pays special attention to you and helps you throughout the process. The different types of RV sellers provide different levels of support, so choose the one who will give you the level of support you want.

  • Do I want a warranty and service support after I buy? Consider if having a warranty and professional help after you buy the RV is important. Check what kind of warranty options and services different sellers offer.

  • Do I want a lot of choices? Think about how many types and styles of campers you wish to choose from. Decide if having a big selection of RVs is something you really want or need.

  • What do people say about the sellers? Look into what other people say about the sellers you’re considering. Read reviews and find out if customers are happy with their experience and if the sellers are reliable. Identifying a seller with bad reviews could help you avoid a terrible RV buying experience.

By asking yourself these 5 questions, you can narrow down what’s important to you and your RV search and find the right RV seller who best fits your needs.

Buying an RV from a Private Seller

Imagine this: you’re scrolling through Craigslist when you stumble upon an ad for a “previously loved” RV. The pictures look dreamy, and the descriptions are oh-so-flattering.

Buying from a private seller is like stepping into a world of surprises. Who knows? Your new RV might come with some bonus mold samples and a collection of curtains that don’t quite match. Or, it could be a mint-condition steal-of-a-deal beauty selling for thousands less than it’s actually worth.

Buying from a private seller can be risky, kind of like those sketchy carnival games — but the possibility of a finding a screaming good deal and winning the prize can make it all worth it.

For sale sign in window of Motorhome

Pros and Cons of Buying an RV from a Private Seller

Private Seller Pros:

  • Lower Prices: Buying from a private seller often means getting a better deal since they have fewer overhead costs compared to dealerships.

  • Potential for Negotiation: You may have the opportunity to negotiate the price with the seller and get an even better deal. Private sellers typically want to sell fast.

Private Seller Cons:

  • Higher risk of hidden issues: Without a thorough inspection or expert guidance, there’s a higher chance the RV you’re buying has underlying issues that may not be immediately apparent. Some private sellers intentionally sell you a faulty RV and don’t disclose any problems.

  • No Warranty Options: Private sellers usually sell their campers “as is” and don’t typically offer warranty options, which means you’ll be responsible for any post-purchase repairs.

  • No Maintenance and Repairs: Private sellers don’t do repairs or RV maintenance. If you buy from a private seller, you will have to find someone qualified to repair RVs, which can sometimes be a challenge.

Buying an RV from a Small RV Dealer

Buying from a private seller can be a lot like rolling the dice, so if you’d rather avoid the wild side of RV shopping, a small RV dealer might be the way for you to go.

Picture a cozy little dealership with friendly faces who treat you like part of their camping family. They have a smaller selection, but they’ll go above and beyond to find the perfect RV just for you. Their customer service is top-notch.

However, small dealers don’t have the buying power to buy RVs in bulk, so their prices are usually higher than larger RV dealers.

Father and Daugther smiling outside a travel trailer

Pros and Cons of Buying from a Small RV Dealer

Small RV Dealer Pros:

  • Personalized Experience: When you buy from a small RV dealership, you’ll typically receive special attention and help throughout the buying process. They focus on you and make it a more individualized experience.

  • Knowledge of inventory: Smaller dealerships know their RVs well. They can give you detailed information about what they have and help you find the right one for your needs.

  • Helpful customer service: The staff at small RV dealerships often offer attentive and supportive customer service, making the buying process smoother and more enjoyable.

Cons of Small RV Dealers:

  • Smaller selection: Small RV dealerships have fewer RVs to choose from compared to bigger dealerships. This might make finding precisely what you want regarding brand, model, or features more challenging.

  • Limited financing options: Small dealerships may have fewer choices when it comes to financing. This could restrict your options for payment plans.

  • Higher prices: Since small dealerships can’t buy RVs in large quantities, their prices may be higher than those of bigger dealerships. This could affect your budget and what you can afford.
Bird's Eye View of a large-volume dealer lot

Buying an RV from a Large-Volume Dealer

Picture a massive showroom that stretches as far as your eyes can see. Rows upon rows of shiny motor homes, travel trailers, and fifth wheels await your exploration.

It’s like stumbling upon an amusement park for RVs, with expert RV Outfitters guiding you through the exciting maze of adventuring possibilities and financing options. This place has nearly every RV your heart could desire — at prices you can actually afford.

But beware, dear friends, this grand spectacle may come at the cost of a more personal touch. You might feel like just another piece in their puzzle as you navigate the thrilling roller-coaster ride of finding the perfect ready-to-roll camper.

Pros and Cons of Buying From a Large-Volume Dealer

Large-Volume RV Dealer Pros

  • Lots of choices: Big RV dealerships have extensive inventories to choose from, so you have a wide range of options.

  • Good Prices: Large dealerships often offer low, competitive prices due to their buying power and larger-scale operations.

  • Different financing options: Large dealerships typically have many financing options, so you can find a payment plan that fits your budget.

  • Service centers: Volume dealerships typically have dedicated places where trained technicians can fix and maintain your RV after you buy it.

Large-Volume RV Dealer Cons:

  • Not as personal: Due to their size and high volume of customers, you might get less individual attention during the buying process.

  • Fewer opportunities to negotiate: Large dealerships often have standardized processes and set prices, leaving little room for negotiation on pricing compared to private sellers or smaller dealerships.

  • Waiting longer for help: With more customers, you might have to wait longer for assistance or service.

  • Higher likelihood of bureaucracy: The size and structure of large dealerships may result in complex procedures, potentially leading to slower response times or challenges in resolving any issues that may arise.

Can Large-Volume RV Dealers Provide Good Customer Service?

Some large-volume RV dealers weren’t always so big. For instance, Bish’s RV started out in 1989 as a small family-owned RV dealership in Idaho Falls.

Bish's RV sign

As a small RV dealer, Bish’s #1 focus was customer service. We believed our business would grow if we gave every RV buyer a personalized experience and provided excellent customer service.

It worked.

Today we have over 20 stores nationwide. This allows us to buy RVs in bulk and offer a wide selection of RVs at super-low, competitive prices.

Our growth also means we have all the challenges of being a big company — like more customers to handle and the need for stricter policies and procedures to ensure all our stores have the support they need.

But we haven’t forgotten the secret to our success — authentic customer service.

If you’re interested in a Large-Volume RV dealer, and customer service is important to you, I recommend you look for dealers who started out as small RV Dealers and have a proven track record for excellent customer service.

Google Business Reviews are a great way to see what other real customers think about
their experience with a particular dealer. Pay close attention to dealerships that consistently receive positive feedback, as this indicates their commitment to providing exceptional customer service.

Which type of RV Seller is Best For You?

Private Sellers are a good fit for:

A private RV seller is a good choice for people who are looking for lower prices and don’t mind taking risks to find a great deal. Buying from a private seller can also give you the opportunity to ask questions directly to the previous owner and get detailed information about the RV’s history and maintenance.

Small RV Dealers are a good fit for:

A small RV dealer is a good option for someone who is looking for a variety of RVs to choose from, along with a more personalized buying experience. With a small RV dealer, you can get individualized attention and assistance and access to some financing options and warranties that provide added peace of mind.

Large-Volume RV Dealers are a good fit for:

A large-volume RV dealer may be a good choice for someone who wants a wide range of options and low, competitive prices. They often have strong relationships with manufacturers, allowing them to offer attractive financing options, warranties, and even after-sales services to ensure a smooth RV ownership experience for the lifetime of your camper.

Deciding Where to Buy Your RV to Find the Best Deal

Man with arm around wife with Baby on Board sign

In this article we compared the 3 types of RV sellers — and you learned the 5 Questions to Consider When Deciding Where to Buy Your RV.

Now that you are prepared to choose the best place to buy an RV, it’s time to take the next step and start shopping.

Bish’s RV has been helping people buy campers for over 3 decades. We think everyone should get out and go camping in an RV with their friends and family — even if they don’t buy their camper with us.

Your time is valuable. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help you get into an RV faster.

Our expert team of RV Outfitters is always happy to answer any RV questions you have, no matter where you end up finding your dream RV.

If a large-volume RV dealer that can save you money, has a huge selection of new and used campers, and strives for excellent customer service sounds like the type of RV seller you’d like to buy from, you can start by checking out the amazing deals available from Bish’s RV.

Drone Shot of Bish's RV sales Lot in Meridian Idaho

Want to learn more about RV Loans and Finding the Best Financing Deal? Get started by calculating your monthly RV payments and talking to one of our Finance Experts.


Watch This Before Buying Your First RV!

Greg Long Bish's RV

Greg Long

Bish’s RV Content Manager

Amateur adventurer; professional dreamer.
aka: The Bish-Blog-Guy