Motorhome renting vs. buying

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan


Motorhome The B�rstner Nexxo T690G from Wilderness Motorhome
ocean waves Beautiful sights, worth a motorhome ocean waves
Motorhome life Travelling to stunning destinations Motorhome life

Considering buying a motorhome but wondering if it’s more economical just to rent? MCD crunches the numbers

Mid-May, Jill and I visited the top part of the South Island’s West Coast. I always enjoy going through the North Canterbury’s Weka Pass district with its Central Otago-like hills. I half expect to see Grahame Sydney there, painting at his easel. Hanmer Springs shimmered in the sun and we couldn’t resist a quick sortie into the village for a morning coffee.

We had left our caravan at home and were travelling in a Bürstner Nexxo T690G motorhome courtesy of Wilderness Motorhomes. It was certainly a step up from motorhomes we had owned in the past, and that got me thinking about renting a motorhome instead of owning one. How would the numbers stack up?

Let me make it quite clear at the outset that while I’m okay with numbers, I am not offering financial advice. I am just chucking a few numbers around to get a handle on the issue. If you want to pursue these ideas, please seek the assistance of a qualified financial advisor.

Annual ownership costs

I’ll use the Nexxo range as an example for the exercise, with a motorhome purchase budget of $160,000.

The Nexxo T690G with twin single beds currently retails for $149,900 and the one with an island bed retails for $153,900. This leaves sufficient cash in hand to buy the optional extras that take your fancy—a better TV system or bikes for the bike rack for instance.

This example is over the first five years of the motorhome’s ownership. During some of that time, the motorhome is under warranty, but there are still costs associated with ownership (see table to the side).

Investment and running costs

The -wilderness

Annual rego $500, insurance $1000, WOF $100 = $1600

Servicing: One p.a. @ $800 + water tightness $200 = $1000

Tyres: 1 set/5 years $1000/set = $200 p.a. = $200

Batteries: 1xhouse, 1xvehicle $300 every 5 years = $600/5 years = $120

Loss of investment return per annum* = $6400

Depreciation average p.a., over 5 years at 10,000km p.a.** = $8540

Per annum total  = $17,660

Note that fuel costs are not included, as they apply whether the motorhome is owned or rented.

Using ownership costs as a rental budget

Having established $17,660 as the annual cost of owning a Nexxo motorhome, let’s look at what it costs to rent a Nexxo from Wilderness Motorhomes and see how many rental weeks can be bought for the same amount of money.

I mentioned the Nexxo T690G was a step up from previous motorhomes we have owned. It is also a step up from all but the best tier 1 motorhomes available for rental.

Rental companies are often categorised as being tier 1 (having the best vehicles), tier 2, or tier 3 operators. While hire rates vary enormously, depending on the age and condition of the motorhome, how well equipped it is, and how many kilometres it has travelled, the tier structure provides a rough guide as to where rental motorhomes fit, one against the other.

Rates also vary seasonally, being most expensive in summer (high season) through autumn and spring (shoulder season) and cheapest in winter (low season). And at any time, if a rental company has more vehicles in the yard than out on the road earning money, it may entice hirers with a discount.

Conversely, if demand for rentals exceeds availability, rates can increase, irrespective of the season. Generally speaking, if you need a specific vehicle to meet your needs on a specific date, you will get the best deal booking well in advance.

Having regard to the many variables associated with hire rates, here is a general guide to hire rates. These rates include the daily insurance premium needed to reduce the insurance excess to zero or close to it.

 

APPROXIMATE COSTS
per WEEK

Season

 

 

Tier 1

 

 

Tier 2

 

 

Tier 3

 

 

High e.g. Feb

 

 

$3500

 

 

$2625

 

 

$1750

 

 

Shoulder
e.g. Nov

 

 

$2500

 

 

$1875

 

 

$1250

 

 

Off-season
e.g. Aug

 

 

$1100

 

 

$825

 

 

$550

 

 

 

Rent vs. Buy

With a budget of $17,660, Wilderness Motorhomes would rent you a Nexxo T690G for approximately:

  • 5 weeks in the high season 
  • 7 weeks during the shoulder season 
  • 16 weeks during the low season

So if you are swayed by the economics, then the answer to whether to rent or to buy gets down to the time of year you prefer to go motorhoming and for how long, be it a short high season holiday, a long low season, a short break in spring and autumn, or a combination.

Another factor to consider is the quality of motorhome you are comfortable with. To extend your weeks on the road, you may consider renting a lower tier motorhome.

Try before you buy

For many though, the joy of motorhoming is being able to hit the road at any time of the year at a moment’s notice without a return date set in concrete.

However, renting a motorhome can play an important part in the buying process. Some rental companies, such as Wilderness Motorhomes, offer ‘try before you buy’ schemes.

They will rebate a portion of the rental fee if you proceed to buy a new motorhome from them within a specified period.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to find out if the motorhome you have in mind lives up to expectation.

New players

There are a couple of new kids on the block who are adding to the mix of the rent vs buy equation.

SHAREaCAMPER and Mighway are two separate companies that help organise rental clients for private motorhome owners.

Owners offer their motorhomes for rent on the SHAREaCAMPER or Mighway websites and renters follow the website instructions to contact the owners to conclude the deal.

Thorny issues such as insurance and COF/WOF have been resolved and the system is working well. Buyers are now using this scheme to justify/afford the purchase of a new motorhome.

Conclusion

There are definitely some who will see economic benefits of renting rather than buying. Other factors such as lack of storage space could tip the scales in favour of renting, not buying.

Perhaps my 11-year old grandson summed it up best after I had spent time explaining the concept of renting to him. He responded, "It seems to me that buying a motorhome is like renting one for life.

Keep up to date with news by signing up to nzmcd.co.nz's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook