Buying or renting the RV

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tomkik

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Hi,

My name is Tomek, I'm from Poland. We are going (5 Pers.) to visit US, Canada and Mexico, (3-6 months).
We will need C25 or C30.
The question is: to buy or to rent?
I am inclined to buy it due to the costs, but I don't know if I will be able to register the car.
Which state is he best for registrating the RV witout residence?

We have some friends in US and Canada, but I don't want they buy it.

Regards,
Tomek
 
Hi Tomek, welcome to the forum. I suspect that renting for that length of time would cost more than buying, but I think that the several folks on here who are actually doing the same thing can offer you a better perspective. Also, the section below called Visitors to the USA has a lot of good information for you.

There are ways that you can purchase and register vehicles, so hopefully those more familiar with the process will be along soon.
 
Hi Tomek. We will try to help, but since vehicles ownership & registration is controlled at the state level, there are 50 different answers. At a high level the 50 states are all much the same, but the details differ and can be maddening. But there are ways to do it, so rest easy on that score.

We have a section (a "board") called Visitors to the USA intended to help people like yourself figure this stuff out. We also have some European members who have already done this and should be able to help. Also, some big RV dealers who frequently have people like you as customers will know the process and can be a big help in getting it done. They may not always be the lowest priced place to buy, but their knowledge can make life a lot easier.

As for rent vs buy, the cost of depreciation is the big factor. If you buy a used vehicle you can reduce the depreciation loss substantially. There are lots of well-kept RVs for sale here, but shopping from Europe can be a challenge and you probably won't have time once you get here.

You mentioned needing a "C25 or C30". I'm not sure what that designation means to you, but here it would refer to a light duty truck with a rated load capacity of around 2500-3000 lbs (about 1200 kg). Seats for five people will limit your choices, and if they also need beds onboard that will be very limiting. Please tell us more about your travel plans. For example, will you be camping in tents, staying in RV parks, or moving from one hotel to another?
 
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You mentioned needing a "C25 or C30". I'm not sure what that designation means to you, but here it would refer to a light duty truck with a rated load capacity of around 2500-3000 lbs (about 1200 kg).
C25 and C30 appear to be the codes used by Cruise America for their 25 and 30 ft rentals (I had to google it).
 
5 people in a 25ft C class will soon feel pretty cramped and I can't imagine a 30ft being much better. Mind you, 3 to 6 months for Canada, the US and Mexico isn't going to give them much time to enjoy the stunning scenery.
 
Hi again,

I did some research, and we have decided to buy the RV in US.

Now answering your questions and adding my:
1. We are going to visit Canada/Alaska (must be) - and we are not sure which months will be better: September/October or April/Mai?
2. Mexico ist an option, maybe we won't have a time.
3. Sleeping mainly in RV and Tent (I always have a tent with me) - RV Parks, Campsites,
Walmarts, sometimes Motel,...

Now some questions to RV:
1. As you see, we will use it in cold weather (Alaska) - do they have an isulation?
2. We are using here in Europe winter tires - what about states?
3. C class will be OK for us, but you are right - above 28 ft.

We have frends in Chicago, what about registration rules in this state?

Thanks for your help.
 
Very few RV,s have insulation that will cope with winter weather in Alaska, Canada or any northern states.
April in the Rockies of Canada could still see significant snowfall and road closure delays, but lower elevations can be quite pleasant. We were in BC during April 2022 and it was very comfortable, but we were at a low elevation.
As for sleeping in a tent in wintery conditions, definitely not for me!
 
Be wary of which state you purchase your RV as sales tax varies considerably. Some states don't charge any, Oregon and Montana are two that might be worth considering.
 
April / May and September / October are both bad for Alaska for different reasons, April and May will be snow melt, slush season for much of the state. September / October is the rainy season, and the beginning of the winter storm season. We went to Alaska on a non-rv trip about a decade ago in late September, and did not see the sun for a week, it rained almost every day, and much of the tourist industry was in the process of shutting down for the season, I suspect October is even worse. If i had to pick any of these months it would be May.

Now down to your questions:

1, Most RV's are not designed for winter use, they are poorly insulated, often have exposed plumbing which can freeze, etc. There are some models that are slightly better insulated, have enclosed heated tanks, etc. Even such "4 seasons" models will be a challenge at temperatures below about 10F / -12C, my coach is a 4 seasons model, the coldest weather I have used it in is 12F /-11C, just one night at these temperatures with the wind howling burned as much propane as I normally would use in 3-4 days with temperatures around freezing at night, and had the propane furnace running over 50% of the night. Even this left my tank dump valves frozen the next morning.

2, I am sure some RV's use winter tires in the northern states, but it is not a thing where I live. Be aware a number of the western mountain states require all larger vehicles to carry snow chains or snow socks in the cooler months, typically October - May, this is required even if you don't use them. Exact terms of such laws, if they apply to private vs commercial vehicles, etc. varies from state to state.

3, I am not sure about this one, however be aware most Class C's are designed to maximize the number of "sleeping" spaces at the expense of everything else, and often have less cargo capacity than a similar length class A. A 30 ft long Class C will typically be built on a 12,500 or 14,500 GVWR (gross vehicle weight rated) chassis, where a similar 30 ft long Class A coach will be built on 16,000 to 22,000 GVWR chassis, the heavier Class A chassis will allow for heavier / sturdier components, more cargo compartments, possibly higher cargo carrying capacity, etc. Though of course there are some practical exceptions to this rule. Super C's built on commercial truck chassis can be even higher, but they tend to be 34 ft or longer.
 
RV Insulation: Yes, but not very effective. Intended for summer use, roughly 0-30 C. US Rvs are difficult to heat or cool outside that range. Non-stop heating or cooling needed.

Tires: All season types, suitable for any road, paved or not, but not for mud or snow deeper than 3-4 cm and not for offroad (trail) use.

Alaska can be chilly but won't be extreme during July & August. June is mostly OK too, but September will likely see light snow and below-freezing nights. Avoid any other times unless well-prepared for weather. I'd say April & October are out of the question.

RV size: I think 5 close friends can manage OK in a 28-31 foot class C but a tent & sleeping bag(s) will be helpful for extra sleep space. A day or evening of bad weather will be a space problem, though. There simply isn't much interior room even in a 30 foot class C.

I think you may be under-estimating the travel distances in the USA. For example, it is 5800 km from Chicago to Anchorage, AK. And once you get to Alaska, which is the size of Western Europe, even a whirlwind tour will take two weeks. Chicago to the Mexican border is 2200 km and it's another 1100 km from there to Mexico City. Plus there are a huge number of places you would want to experience enroute to either place. You could spend several weeks just touring the spectacular National Parks in the western US. Don't miss the geological wonders of Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Arches, Bryce, Zion and Yosemite.
 
1. We are going to visit Canada/Alaska (must be) - and we are not sure which months will be better: September/October or April/Mai?
Alaska is best in July & August. Any of the months you are considering will be cold and little sunshine.
2. Mexico ist an option, maybe we won't have a time.
You won't have time if you see much of the USA. If you start in Chicago it will be 2300 Km to Miami, FL, or 1500 Km to New Orleans, 3300 Km to Seattle, WA, and about the same to Los Angles. If you were to make a trip from Chicago to each of those cities and then back to Chicago you would travel 12900 Km and see very few of the major US attractions. Adding Alaska would make the total 22900 Km. If you travel 650 Km each travel day, that is still 20 days of travel and if adding Alaska it becomes 35 days of travel.

1. As you see, we will use it in cold weather (Alaska) - do they have an isulation?
In order to visit Alaska, you will need to add another 10,000 Km to the trip above. While I do think that you might be able to manage in Alaska, it won't be easy and you really do not have time to see much. We have traveled by RV for 40+ years and lived in ours all of the time for 12 years, yet there are still many things in the USA that we have not seen. To do what you are thinking and see only the major US attractions, you need to plan at least a year and to realize that you will only see a small part.
We have frends in Chicago, what about registration rules in this state?
In the USA you must have an address in the state where you plan to register, license, and insure any vehicle in order to do that. Most states require that you have an actual residence address but there are a few that will allow you to use a mail forwarding service. I really think that you could be helped by reading this article written by a countryman several years ago to get some feel for what is needed. The article is old but most of it is still valid. You can also get a lot of help from the Escapees RV Club and may find it to your advantage to join them.
 
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In the USA you must have an address in the state where you plan to register, license, and insure any vehicle in order to do that.
This stems from the simple need for the state to have a legitimate address where they can contact you if necessary. Since you have friends in Chicago, they would probably allow you to use their address as your legal point of contact. Basically you would become their tenant for the duration of your RV ownership. You might have to create some paperwork (like a rental receipt) to satisfy the state procedural requirements, but it could probably be worked out.
 
I suggest you do some serious route planning with due consideration to likely weather conditions. The tool "RVTripWizard" has a lot of features and will give you an idea of travel times which will help you be realistic on how much you can see. It also has an extensive data base of campgrounds and tourist attractions complete with reviews from previous visitors. I once had a European motorcyclist friend comment on an experience he had; he was heading out on a trip and his GPS said "Drive 780 kilometers and turn right." It was a shock to him. I think the advice to skip Alaska is well founded.

re: the motorhome - I strongly suggest you get one with slides on both sides of the living area. Also if you rent or buy diesel MH fueling up is easier as you can use the truck pumps which have much more space. Sometimes getting up to a gasoline pump in a large vehicle is a challenge. Most of the big truck stops have apps for your phone that will save you 10 cents a gallon.

For April thru October I would suggest starting in the American Southwest as it'll be hot but not awful. Then work your way north and go across the top of the country (and maybe into Canada although you'll want to check border crossing requirements) in the summer months ending in the Pacific Northwest.

good luck. sounds like a great trip.
 

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