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Caravan virgin, advice needed!

(16 Posts)
SinclairSpectrum Mon 04-May-15 10:49:50

We want to buy a caravan, looked at a few on dealers sites to get an idea and I think I roughly know what we are looking for in terms of layout etc.
We haven't had a caravan before - should we buy a low cost old one to see if we like it or invest more cash into a newer fancier one from the get go?
Are we better off waiting till later in the year to get a better price or will we be too limited in choice then?
ANY advice would be gratefully received - we have bags of enthusiasm but little knowledge...

Quitelikely Mon 04-May-15 11:16:49

Please buy a little old one before you make the leap of faith.

Check out your local gumtree.

We did and then decided not to go for the big new caravan but buying a cheapie saved us thousands!

We sold the cheapie on.

JemimaPuddled Mon 04-May-15 11:40:06

Definitely get the older cheaper one, then if you love it keep your eyes open for something new(er). Brand new caravans depreciate at an alarming rate -we bought our our now 10yo one, at 11months old at a vastly reduced prices. One owner, cooker unused and grillpan still in its cellophane grin as the original owners had bought it and hated caravanning! They'd part-exed it for a motorhome so we got a huge bargain.
Your main issue to watch for -esp if you buy privately -is damp. Get a damp meter and do not be afraid to use it. Key areas are the front below the windows and anywhere (roof etc) where two metal panels meet. Quite small percentages are ok, I'm sure a bit of googling would tell you danger levels to avoid.

JemimaPuddled Mon 04-May-15 11:45:03

this type of thing wink lots available, all £10-15 and will save you a fortune - a damp caravan is very unpleasant, a waste of money and very costly to fix.

SinclairSpectrum Mon 04-May-15 12:06:49

Fantastic, thank you!
Need a 6 berth, would love one with fixed triple bunks, what's a realistic price range for a damp free older model?

JemimaPuddled Mon 04-May-15 15:05:04

We have a 6 berth as you describe... Three fixed bunks at back but we use two of them for dc2&3 and the third is a huge cupboard. The sixth birth is a seat/table conversion which works great for our eldest (teen) ds. Would hazard a guess at between 9&11k for 4-5 ish years old but you can get up to 8 or 9 years old absolutely fine and cheaper than that. Have you got a top budget? Also build a bit of a budget for a bit later as any kind of awning is a godsend, even a porch you can keep chairs, bin, footwear etc in it. Dry grin

JemimaPuddled Mon 04-May-15 15:17:34

I'm going to sound like a caravangeek nowblush
Look up your kerbwright of your family car. That to a degree will dictate what size/weight of caravan you are able to tow. Diesel vehicles tend to be heavier and more torque so can pull a heavier noseweight (caravan towing weight) there's a whole lingo to get your head round, laden and unladen weights, sounds far more complicated than it actually is. Just look at your car manual its usually near the start. Or google grin

SinclairSpectrum Mon 04-May-15 18:53:27

Thanks geeks! Towing no prob - got a big 4x4 which can pull 3.2 tonne.
Think we may look at something at the bottom end of the market, try it for a year then upgrade.

Blistory Mon 04-May-15 18:58:53

I don't know anyone who bought a fancy first caravan and didn't spend the next few years lusting after something else/ different layout etc.

First one should be cheap and cheerful until you know the layout you need ( rather than the one you first think you need ) and you get the hang of everything.

And for any extras, try and make sure that they would be useable on the next caravan as that keeps costs down. It's amazing the extras that you lust after once you start caravanning or camping.

JemimaPuddled Mon 04-May-15 19:26:18

So true Blistory grin

The reason I suggested a porch awning is that they're usable on any size of caravan. Again they're a bit like hens teeth to find but keep an eye open for one second hand.

SinclairSpectrum Tue 05-May-15 10:11:42

Right, off to see a couple at the weekend - both 5 berth which is a bit smaller than I'd like really but there are only 5 of us plus dog. If we can get this season out of it we will look to part ex next year. Totally agree with all the advice re not knowing what you need until you try it.
The 2 we are looking at are private sales and around the 2 grand mark. Other than damp and asking if everything works as it should are there any other pointers?

poorbuthappy Tue 05-May-15 10:15:48

We bought an older van a few years ago and we love it.
We are 5, and have a 5 berth and the bed layout doesn't work for us at all but we still love it.
Apart from the bed thing the other thing we wish we'd looked out for was worktop space. Cooking is a bit of a nightmare because of lack of space but we've solved that by buying a cadac and cooking in the awning! smile

JemimaPuddled Tue 05-May-15 11:29:11

If your dc are small the five berth may work. Apart from looking up noseweights and checking the electrics etc I can't think of anything. Yy to worktop space and we kept looking til we found ours with enough cupboard space - both in terms of places to keep clothing (a top cupboard each) and more importantly many simply won't hold enough food/basic groceries for our size of family. Some have oven and grill, some don't - we have dc with food allergies and cook in the van a lot. Many folk prefer to eat out or barbecue when they're away so rarely use a kitchen. Sites often have dishwashing/food prep sinks, toilets and showers and the like, so decide what's likely to be important to your holiday lifestyle. Gut feeling like it/ don't like it is still the best to go with!

SinclairSpectrum Tue 05-May-15 13:03:18

DC are wee, all under 8. The intention is to use it for weekends mainly, the one I think I prefer comes with a full awning too.
So excited!

Fabulassie Mon 11-May-15 12:35:28

I bought a very old five-berth caravan from another poster on here. We have just got back from spending our first night out in it and we all loved it. We've done a fair amount of tent camping and having a caravan is so much nicer.

millimat Sat 16-May-15 22:57:18

I'm not sure worktop space is ever exactly great though. The layout of ours means that we now have a dinette table right buy the cooking area which doubles as a worktop.
When our dcs were younger I loved being able to close off their bedroom end at night. If meant we're had a mid bathroom but def helped them settle quicker for sleep, plus if I got up in the night I was less likely to wake them. They're now a bit older so our van now has an end bathroom which is much bigger so gives dd more privacy as a teenager.

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