Hiring, Buy & Sell Back Contract or Outright Purchase?
Hiring a Motorhome
If your intended travel duration is for around 3 months or less then it is probably better to hire a vehicle rather than buy one.
This way all you need to do is book the rental in advance, provide the necessary documentation to the rental company and they will have the vehicle ready for you on your arrival.
However, you will pay a fairly hefty rental fee and will probably not get the configuration best suited to your needs, and if you are a first home motorhomer you may not really know what configuration will best suit your needs anyhow.
A configuration that may be suitable for a 1 or 2 week holiday may not work out for the best over a longer term or if you intend full timing.
What you may be able to put up with for a week or two may really get up your nose after a month or more.
You may pay around AUD $1000/week for a rental vehicle, depending on whether high or low season, your travel destination, duration and distance to be travelled.
Make sure you have the highest level of vehicle insurance cover with the least amount of excess you can get because chances are you will sustain some damage no matter how careful a driver you think you are.
The reasons for this are as follows:-
You probably drive a RHD vehicle in Australia and now you will be driving a LHD vehicle and on the other side of the road.
Most cars in Australia are automatic whilst the majority of motorhomes in Europe are manuals.
The vehicle will probably be in excess of 6 metres in length, 2.3 metres wide, 3 metres high and have restricted visibility.
Road rules differ from country to country – some have priority roads whilst some don’t, some have give way to the right whilst some don’t, some have dual lane main roads which suddenly become single lane roads only and as narrow as 2.5 metres wide whilst going through a village which is several hundred years old and was not built to handle vehicles at all.
Some have tunnels which are unlit, have no centre line marking and could be as narrow as 2.5 metres wide.
Many tunnels have multi entry and exits inside the tunnels.
Norway has a tunnel around 25klms in length and GPS units may not work in lengthy tunnels – in some countries you can expect to spend up to 50% of your day’s travel time in tunnels
Depending on the GPS unit you have you can expect to be led down one way narrow streets with rock or concrete walls on both sides which get narrower and narrower the further you progress.
Some streets become too narrow for you to pass through or under old bridges or arches with clearance heights less than the height of your motorhome.
The only course of action may be to reverse slowly back out much to the annoyance of vehicles behind you and your navigator who should stand outside with a hi-viz vest directing you.
Some roads have roundabouts which have dual lanes going through the middle of the roundabout, plus traffic lights, stop signs and give way signs all on the same roundabout.
Refuelling at cheaper prices such as the supermarket chains Carre-Four, Intermache etc have a cashier sitting in a station with very narrow outlets and concrete collars on the ground making it impossible to manoeuvre a vehicle the size of a motorhome.
Buy & Buy Back Contracts for Motorhomes
These types of contracts may come under several different names but are based on you buying from a dealer and paying in full before you drive away and then having a guaranteed buy back price or percentage of initial purchase price from the same dealer at a future date.
They are usually for longer periods of time than what would be considered for a rental period.
There are usually quite a few stringent clauses in the contract re countries of usage, number of kilometres travelled and condition report at the end of the contract period.
Expect to get back only a small percentage of your original purchase price – say 30 or 40% depending on the period involved and condition of the vehicle.
Outright Purchase for Motorhomes
We considered this to be the best option for us as we were contemplating touring for approximately 2 years.
If you buy well (purchase at a good price) and buy a top brand with a popular layout you should be able to recover your original purchase price or very near to it – some Aussies have actually sold at a profit.
You need to have a residential address in the country that you intend purchasing the motorhome in order to be able to register and insure the vehicle.
If you have a relative or friend in that country then that makes it a lot easier.
If you haven’t then you need to be a bit more creative.
Australians seem to be very resourceful – we have discovered the following methods employed by Australians to overcome the challenge of registering, insuring and driving in Europe:-
1 Registering a suitable vehicle in Victoria and then shipping it to Europe – Victoria does not currently require an annual vehicle inspection – they simply mail out an annual renewal reminder and provided the fee is paid then everything is ok – foreign registered vehicles can be driven around Europe.
We met an Aussie couple who have been touring Europe for 7 years in a Victorian registered 4WD motorhome with Victorian plates – their reminder notice is mailed to a relative in Victoria who pays the bill and then they reimburse them the fee.
2 An Aussie who registered a company in France and then registered the vehicle under the company name – this method costs a couple of thousand dollars but negates the need to take a UK registered vehicle back across the English Channel every year to get the MOT (safety inspection) done.
3 We have been told (but have not tried) that you can pay for a mail box in the UK which has a registered street address attached to it – cost we think around 100 GBP/annum
It could be advisable to get assistance from someone like Mike Steers at UKMotorhomefinder who will be able to save you a lot of wasted time and money.