Buying a campervan or campervan rental: which is better?

Is it worth investing in a campervan? With the summer months upon us, you might have the campervan bug and be itching to explore coastal routes or mountainous landscapes whilst experiencing #vanlife but is it worth the investment? Should you opt for a campervan rental for the summer season instead? Which is better? Let’s consider whether the commitment of buying a campervan is right for you.

Pros and cons of buying a campervan

Pros:

It’s yours! Of course, the biggest benefit of buying a campervan is that you own it, you can do what you like to it (within reason) and you get to keep it, unlike with a rental. If you are planning to keep it for more than one summer season, and use it regularly, then buying a campervan can make much more financial sense.

You can customize it! As mentioned, you can kind of do what you like to it, so long as it’s roadworthy in your local area to all applicable laws. Many people love to buy a van and convert it themselves so it’s truly unique or suited to whatever purpose they have for it. Working on the road? You can add a solar panel to the roof and connect it to a leisure battery so you can charge your laptop and phone on the go. Love to surf? You can add surfboard storage inside or out. Like wild camping? You can create a huge bed at the back of the van so you can open up the back of the van and admire the morning sunrises in all the spectacular locations you are staying.

You can use it whenever you like! With your own campervan you have the freedom to use it whenever you like. Sunny weekend ahead? You can jump in and drive to your chosen destination with ease. With your own van you get to be spontaneous. If you need to hire at short notice then there’s no guarantee you’d be able to get a rental campervan without booking well in advance.

Be part of a community! Meet up with friends and likeminded owners to discuss your campervan highlights. Be part of a group that will share hints and tips to get the best out of your purchase. There are many communities to be found for specific campervan types, like Mazda Bongos, on Facebook and in other places.

Cons:

Campervans are expensive! You have the cost of the van, the insurance, tax, breakdown cover, maintenance and so on. Our Bongo cost us around £4000 to buy and we’ve had to spend at least £6000 on engine repairs and welding to keep it going and stop it turning into a rust bucket! To be fair, our van is around 26 years old currently, so you may be able to find a newer model with fewer problems, but it’s always the gamble you take when you buy a used vehicle. You never know if there’s already anything wrong with it, unless you’re a car/mechanic expert, or whether something will soon go wrong. Most people who purchase campers to use regularly, do so as a lifestyle choice and although annoying, the maintenance costs are just a part of the package. The van becomes almost a beloved member of the family and keeping it going is worth the effort and cost as it gives so much enjoyment and is used so often. If the upfront price is out of reach, whether you’re opting for a new or used van, you can look into finance options. To help with budgeting costs there are online calculators like carpaymentcalculator.net to work out car loan payments to see if they are affordable.

Where will you store it? Do you have the space to store a campervan? Also, if you aren’t planning on using it very much then you are essentially paying to store it each year with the cost of insurance, tax and maintenance, so you’ll have to make sure these costs are cost-effective for the time you do plan to use it.

Too big to use as a regular car! If you’re planning on using this vehicle as your daily runner then it will have its limitations. Fuel costs will be higher than a small car, height restrictions will prevent you from parking in some locations and there might be parking restrictions for campervans in certain places.

Here’s a handy hack to save money on rising fuel costs!

Buying a campervan or campervan rental: which is better?

Pros and cons of renting a campervan

Pros:

It could be cheaper, if you only use it for limited holidays! If you don’t like the sound of a large upfront purchase, hiring a camper can be a much cheaper option depending on your requirements. Especially if you only intend to use it once or twice a year for holidays. But, if you plan to use it monthly or even weekly then a purchase might start to look more cost-effective.

Not stuck to one type of camper! Again, if you are planning to only use a campervan once or twice per year for a week’s holiday or so, then you can have more variety with a rental. Why not try a different type of camper for each holiday?

Try before you buy! A campervan is a large purchase, so if you are considering buying one but you’re undecided, then hiring one for a holiday or short break away will help you to see if it’s right for you before making a large commitment. If you decide it’s not right for you then you could save yourself a financial loss.

Cons:

It can take time to learn how it all works! Not only do you have to learn how to drive a new vehicle, which can be a little bit daunting, you also need to learn how to use all the appliances. The amount of information you will be given when picking up the campervan can be overwhelming.

You can only book in advance! If you’re a little bit spontaneous like me and you like the idea of shooting away for the weekend at a moment’s notice then it could be tricky to find a campervan to hire. The thing we like about having our own campervan is that we can make a last minute decision on a Friday afternoon to go away for the weekend or week. We’ll just bundle all our bits into the van and go.

Might be limited by specific rental periods! Weekend hire isn’t always available. Most rentals only allow hire for at least five days at a time. This can really limit you if you are looking for a shorter getaway.

You might lose your deposit if you cause any damage! You’ll need to take great care of the camper, both on the road and the interior. You’ll need to avoid kids vomiting, spilt food and drink and anything else that will cause you to lose your deposit. This can be a big worry. At least with your own van you’ll only be responsible for your own mistakes.

Buying a campervan or campervan rental: which is better?

Final word

The answer to this question is up to personal preference. Some people like the flexibility of a campervan rental and the affordability if it’s only to be used occasionally, while others like the security of buying their own vehicle, the customisation options and the spontaneity it can provide.

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