Caravan shopping on a budget

Even on a budget, it's possible to snag a great caravan for a bargain.

The first step is to determine two things: your budget, and the kind of caravan or camper you need. Only you know how much you can afford to spend on a caravan. As for the type of caravan, some questions to consider include:

  • How much living space do you need?
  • What are the essential features you must have?
  • Will you be taking long or short trips?
  • What environments will you be travelling in?

For a full breakdown of the pros and cons of different recreational vehicles, check out this post on how to choose a caravan. Once you have an idea of what you need and how much you can spend, consider the following when shopping around:

Stack of Australian dollar and two dollar coins on a reflective surface with out of focus person in the background.


If you love cooking, you’re probably going to want a caravan with a proper kitchen. On the other hand, if you’re perfectly happy living off takeaway, you may want to prioritise a comfortable living area or larger bathroom.

Other amenities to keep in mind include conventional ovens, showers, and washing machines.

New vs used caravans

The best bargains are likely to be found in the secondhand caravan market. New caravans lose value faster than secondhand caravans, making them more expensive upfront, but the value of a warranty may make up for the price difference. No point in saving money on the purchase price only to spend it on expensive repairs. If your caravan will get heavy use, a new one may make more financial sense overall.

If you go the used caravan route, do your research on prices. Look into the average prices for caravans of a similar size and condition. This will help you determine whether you are getting value for money.

You’ll also want to make sure to find one in good condition. Always arrange for an inspection before buying. Check for signs of water leakage, check the door and window latches, ensure electrical fittings and appliances are in working order, test the brakes, and inspect the annexe or awning for any signs of damage. If you want to put your own stamp on a used caravan, here’s our guide to updating an old caravan.


If a caravan has a hitch that does not suit your tow vehicle, you may need to spend extra money having to alter either the hitch or the tow vehicle.

Caravan weight

Ensure that your tow vehicle will be able to tow the weight of your caravan, otherwise you may need to invest in a new tow vehicle.

Don’t forget to contact RACQ to arrange a caravan inspection before you buy.