Are you are planning a long term road trip through Europe? Here is a comprehensive guide of what you need to consider before making a decision on whether to hire or buy a motorhome.

You need to know the answer to the following couple of questions before you can make the decision on wether to hire or buy a motorhome for your extended road trip.

  1. What is your budget to hire/buy a motorhome
  2. How long do you intend to travel?

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Working out your Return on Investment (ROI)

The first thing you need to do is work out your ROI,  which is accountant talk for Return on Investment.

Simply put, the higher the purchase cost of the motorhome,  the longer you need to travel before buying becomes more cost effective than hiring.

Essentially you need to work out how much money you will lose buying a motorhome versus how much it will cost to hire a motorhome for the length or your trip… Sound easy?

Yes, its as simple as that!

Money - Is it better to hire or buy a motorhome for a long term road trip?
Money – Is it better to buy or hire a motorhome for a long term road trip?

FTM Insider Tip: Germany and the Netherlands tend to be the cheapest options for buying motorhomes.

Example 1: Buying a Brand New Motorhome vs Hiring

Lets do the maths for a brand new family motorhome for a 1 year trip.

Return on Investment (ROI) when buying a Brand New Motorhome

Assumptions: Motorhome purchased in Germany costing €60,000 – Adria Coral XL SL
1 years rent from Auto Europe for a family luxury (Sunlight Motorhome) .
Other costs includes: Insurance +  Registration + Servicing + Roadside Assistance. These costs can vary dramatically depending on country of purchase and are estimates only
Sales Price (what you will sell it for at the end of your trip) of €48,00 is an estimate only

Hiring a Motorhome:
Cost of Hire – 1 Year      €39,000

Buying a Motorhome:
Purchase Price:              €60,000 including 19% VAT
Other Costs:                   €  3,000
Depreciation:                 € 12,000
VAT:                                 €   7,700

Total holding costs for a new motorhome for 1 year =  VAT+Depreciation+Other costs €22,700

Break Even = Cost of Owning/Cost of Hiring = 58% of 1 year’s Hire or 7 months.

Example 2: Buying a Secondhand Motorhome vs Hiring

Now, lets do the maths on buying a secondhand family motorhome for a 1 year trip.

ROI when purchasing a secondhand motorhome

Assumptions: Motorhome purchased in Germany for €34,000 (10 years old).
1 years rent from Auto Europe for a family luxury (Sunlight Motorhome)
Other costs includes: Insurance +  Registration + Servicing + Roadside Assistance. These costs can vary dramatically depending on country of purchase and are estimates only
Sales Price (what you will sell it for at the end of your trip) of €30,000  is an estimate only.

Hiring a secondhand Motorhome:
Cost of Hire – 1 Year      €39,000

Buying a secondhand Motorhome:
New Purchase:               €34,000 including 19% VAT
Other Costs:                   €  5,000
Depreciation:                 €  4,000
VAT:                                 €  4,800

Total holding costs for a new motorhome for 1 year =  VAT+Depreciation+Other costs €13,800

Break Even = Cost of Owning/Cost of Hiring = 35% of 1 year’s hire or 4 months.

So….What does this mean?

In Example 1: Purchase and Disposal Costs of buying a brand new motorhome and selling after 1 year (€22,700) are equal to hiring an equivalent motorhome for 7 months.

In Example 2: Purchase and Disposal Costs of buying a secondhand motorhome and selling it after 1 year are equal to hiring a “Newer” motorhome for 4 months.  Most rentals are newer model motorhomes.

2018 Motorhome Accessories

Check out the 2018 Essential Motorhome Accessories

Pros and Cons of buying a motorhome

There are a few other points that you need to think about when considering whether to buy or to hire a motorhome. Below is a list of the pros and cons for buying a motorhome

Pro’s of buying a motorhome:

  • Buying a motorhome works out cheaper over the long run
  • You get to choose from a wider selection of motorhomes to suit your individual needs
  • If you buy a new motorhome it comes with a full warranty
  • You have a greater choice of layouts, makes and models

Cons of buying a motorhome:

  • Making the purchase can be difficult, especially if your a non resident in the country you wish to buy in.
  • Selling your vehicle at the end is an additional consideration
  • Older vehicles will need to be maintained
  • Older vehicles may not be allowed into many European cities
  • Value Added Tax (VAT) on an expensive motorhome is writing a check that you’ll never get back

 

Motorhome parked up at Skocjan Caves in Slovenia.
Motorhome parked up at Skocjan Caves in Slovenia on our Ultimate European Road Trip.

Other Considerations – should I Hire or Buy a Motorhome? 

For a road trip through Europe that will be 4 months or longer, buying a motorhome is well worth considering. However, these are only estimates and you’ll need to do your own maths as the outcome is dependant on:

  • The country you wish to purchase the motorhome in
  • The motorhome model/make/layout
  • The price available to you for renting a motorhome

The lowest cost option: If you don’t need a “new” or a “big” motorhome, you can purchase a second hand van for under €10,000.  A motorhome like this will not cost you a lot over time, as they generally don’t depreciate too much. This is cheap travel when compared to hiring for a long term road trip.

Some people want a newer van or a specific layout. If this is the case and you are travelling for over 4 months then think about buying.

What did we do? We purchased a brand new motorhome as we are a full time travelling family and we wanted a specific layout and options with the seatbelt arrangements.   We are currently road tripping Europe.

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