Thursday, August 11, 2011

New or Used?

New blog follower “patticake2” asks a good question in the comments section after my last post.  She wanted to know: why buy a new rig as opposed to a used one?  It’s a great question - one of the first that all potential RV owners must answer. 

The pros and cons of new and used units are varied (and well-documented elsewhere).  But the very best reason to buy an RV someone else already paid full-price for is to get the depreciation discount.  Another good reason, perhaps overlooked, is that reusing an already existing rig is more environmentally conscious.  You know - reduce, reuse, recycle.  Those are about the only rationales I can think of to buy used.  I mean, if cost and conscience weren’t issues, wouldn’t we all buy all-new everything?  With the possible exception of antiques and wine?      

 Here's a list of my reasons for buying new. 

1)      I deserve it.  Well, that looks like an arrogant statement on paper and … I guess it is!  But I’m just being honest.  I’m 53 years old and finally realizing (i.e. really understanding) how very short this life is.  Like many, I’ve worked, lived frugally, and saved aggressively.  I’m thinking it’s time to reap a few benefits.  I want to avoid the error of eating generic oatmeal three times a day while leaving behind a hefty portfolio.  Because I am exactly the kind of person who would do something like that.        

2)      New car smell!  My former Casita was 4 years old at the time of purchase and it was a great rig but …. I look forward to sleeping on cushions that no one else has slept on and using the plumbing that no one ….. well, you know.

Our 1998 16 ft. Casita Spirit Deluxe

3)      Warranties.  We usually shop used – homes, clothes, cars.  Every wonderful 4-legged family member we’ve had over the years was a recycle.  But I want my first couple of years with the rig to be, if not trouble-free, then repair cost-free.    

4)      Casitas hold their value.  The manufacturer states that their fiberglass trailers depreciate, on average, at the rate of $500/year.  The used market prices support that assertion. So I can save 2K by getting a used 2008 as opposed to a new 2012 - not much of a savings.  I hope to use it for the next 10 years.  Then I'll retire and maybe get a bigger rig.  If that depreciation rule-of-thumb is accurate, I can sell the Casita after a decade of ownership for $5,000 less than I paid new.  Not bad. 

5)      Reason #4 notwithstanding, what I really hope is that I will use the trailer on into retirement.  If one amortorizes the original cost over say, 20 years, the expense of buying new is further mitigated.  This trailer will outlive me.     

6)      I get the trailer I want when I want.  I was able to order the floor plan and options that were important to me.  I was also able to make a few special requests – no exterior graphics, no towel bars in the bathroom, no spice rack in the kitchen.  Casita just started offering the under-cabinet mounted TV/DVD player (which I may never use).  It’s pretty spiff.   I won’t be able to pick the trailer up till mid-December and I know it will be ready when I am.  All shiny and everything!

7)      The pilgrimage to the Casita factory in Rice, Texas.  Thousands of owners have made the trek to this place that’s located on the outside of nowhere to pick up their new eggs.  It’s an adventure!  You get to: tour the factory, receive an in-depth orientation from the technician, eat at the legendary Collins Street bakery, and spend a couple of nights at American RV Park for a shake-down with the guidance of the Casita-savvy campground owners.  It’s a tradition that just sounds like a lot of fun.  And a good excuse for a road trip! 

 Speaking of which: rvsue and her canine crew are on the eve of their departure for Rice.  She has been planning this leap into full-timing for years.  If you appreciate funny and engaging blogs, go there immediately!!!   


  1. All good reasons. If we were buying a Casita I would go for the new as well. But husband want big, and big comes with big price tag when new. We need to have the deprecation discount. Now if we can only find that perfect motor home, in perfect condition, that someone didn't use much and is desperate to sell!

  2. Merikay,

    I agree. If I were buying larger and spending more $$$, I would buy used too.

    You are in a great position in this economic climate. There should be plenty of barely-used rigs and sellers desperate for cash. I mean this in the nicest way: you are a circling shark!

  3. Casita is the only trailer I would recommend buying new, for the reasons you gave.

    However, the mfg is fudging quite a bit on the resale value, in my experience. I have been looking at used Casitas for the last 10 years, and the depreciation, at least in the asking price here in Texas, hovers around $1000 a year for the first 5 years, and a little less thereafter.

    That's still a good deal. But it's no dam miracle. Since all campers tend not to be used much and reside mostly in driveways, used is usually the way to go. Less advantage to do so with Casitas.

    That's figured on the asking prices. The selling price is apt to be a bit less.

    The main reason to get a new one is that the equipment has been upgraded quite a lot over the years, especially recently. Casitas started as a really low weight low rent operation, mostly for weekend style camping. When they started adding weight and features it was quite a while before they upgraded the rolling stock to match. Until they went to the 15 inch wheels, for instance, there was a regular pattern of tire troubles due to overloading on the 17 foot models. That seems to have abated, at least in the forums.

    Getting rid of the DC run option on the fridge now makes a dead battery less likely. The higher clearance keeps you from scraping as much. The shower drain doesn't seem to gurgle and spit as much. The converter/charger is better at not burning up batteries, though I don't think they've gone to a real 3 stage charger yet. That would probably cost them another 25 bucks a unit, to go Progressive Dynamics, but it's $200 to switch out yourself.

    And so on. It's still too darn hard to check or expand the battery. They ought to be on the tongue. And they ought to find a rational person to pick out the fabric scheme on the cushions. They arrive new looking like someone threw up on them. OTOH, they have generally avoided the nightmare swirly full length decals and striping on the outside that many manufacturers seem to favor.


  4. I like your logic! Especially number one. And if you are able to get a roadtrip out of buying new, what other reasons matter?

  5. Gosh...I lost a whole comment! So hard being a newbie! Thanks for responding Kim!!! Really appreciate your comments and all the others! Wish I could AFFORD new...if I could, I'd go for it too!!! Bob, how "recent" would you go back to get most of the "improvements you mention for a 16 or 17' Spirit Deluxe? My other problem is finding used eggs near Birmingham. Alabama! Hard to travel sooo far to be disappointed! Any advice on that too would be helpful!

  6. I bought my RV used but my Volvo brand new so that I could pick it up in Sweden!! I like that you get to stay on the premises and learn about your new Casita before taking off. That would have been quite helpful for me and I think would have helped lower my stress.

  7. To answer the question from Patticake, here is a partial list of Casita manufacturing changes by year.


  8. Thanks, Bob, for your insight! And for the link to the Casita forum - a good source of information for any current (or prospective) egg owners.

    patticake2: oddly enough I found my first Casita in Birmingham!

    JerryC: good to hear from you! I hope you will be back on the road soon (and that I'll get to meet the two of you at some point).

  9. In a previous post you said, "I’m sure all this planning-stage stuff makes for humdrum reading." Far from it for me. I love reading about what considerations folks use to make the decisions they make.

    I plan to be full-timing in a couple of years I'm considering going vintage and spending the time to rebuild, a casita, or a class B. I'd be interested to know why a casita is the right choice for you.

    Blogger doesn't like me today so am posting anonymously, but am LG61820

  10. Wow...the next best thing I'm finding is if one can't camp next to the coolest, nicest folks in the world --- (that would be CAMPERS!) can now blog with them! How cool! Thanks for every ones input about new vs used and Bob for posting the link about the changes in them by year! ironic you got your 1st Casita in Birmingham...just a way of God telling me to be patient!!! I'll just have to live vicariously through you folks and catch up with you when I can buy my own!! Happy trails! patti

  11. i completely agree with you about buying new...especially on the warranty angle. even if you have a problem with it (like we did with our AC earlier in the summer), it's all covered. plus, some used RVs sell for as much as the new ones, so it's a pretty good deal, I think.

  12. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kimbopolo! If it were me, I'd probably purchase a new one. Some people find it more reassuring and rewarding if they were the first owners of something, be it a house, a car, or a camper. Anyway, which did you end up buying?

    Christina Hamilton @ Mount Comfort RV


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