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The Costs of Owning a Caravan

The Costs of Owning a Caravan

Having a caravan of your own that you can travel the world in is a privilege. Some would even call it a luxury. Hence, people assume that caravanning is quite an expensive hobby, especially if they're first-time buyers or flirting with the idea of upgrading to a much newer model. After all, if everyone could afford the cost of owning a caravan, then surely we'd all have one.

However, the running costs for caravans are very similar to what it would cost to own another family car. In fact, if you already own a car, then budgeting for a caravan is a walk in the park for you, because you're familiar with the servicing, insurance, and tax requirements for your soon-to-be tow car.

But let's address this extremely common question with a simple break-down of the cost of owning a caravan, to make sure it doesn't break the bank:

Caravan Price
Like all assets, caravans don't come free. In fact, top-spec models can set you back £25,000 or more. But if you're looking for a decent, no-frills classic caravan to get you from A to B, you can snag a £2,000-£3,000 bargain with a bit of research. But be prepared to add spare part purchases and occasional repairs to the cost of owning a caravan, if you're hoping to buy an older model.

Tow Bar
After you buy a caravan, the first thing you need to do is tow it away. So, you need to fit a tow bar on the tow vehicle, if you don't already have one. The price will depend on the type of vehicle you're using. If it's still under warranty, you'll need an authorised dealer to fit the tow bar for you, so you don't void the warranty. In this case, you're likely to pay upwards of £1,000. For a locally fitted no-frills tow bar, you'll be looking at a few hundred pounds instead, so it's worth comparing quotes from two or more garages.

The fortunate few can set aside a safe space to store their caravans indefinitely. But circumstances change, so bear in mind that you may need to pay for storage at some point. The cost generally depends on the type of security a storage company can provide, but you should expect it to be a three-figure sum. A CaSSOA accredited storage site, for instance, is likely to charge up to £700 for features such as: personal key fobs, key deposit systems, security guards, monitored gates and fences, and number plate recognition systems. But that cost is offset by a lower insurance premium, in some cases. A site with limited access and security features in place is likely to charge half or even a third of that.

Caravan insurance isn't mandatory. But having spent a small fortune on the caravan, you need to protect it. So, afteryou fit your tow bar, you need to sort out your insurance. Ideally, you should ask for insurance quotes before you buy the caravan, to make sure that it's within budget. Regardless of your timing, though, you'll find that the insurance premium will vary quite a bit from one insurer to the other. The rates depend on the make of the caravan, the value, the specifications, the valuables you store in it, the security features (alarms, locks, windows), the storage site, etc. You will also normally be required to fit a caravan wheel clamp and/or caravan hitch lock. You could be looking at as little as £150, but odds are you'll pay three to four times as much if it's a newer model built to a high specification.

Add your caravan's anniversary to the calendar, because you'll need to service it annually to make sure it's roadworthy and in tip-top condition. While you're at it, add servicing expenses to the cost of owning a caravan. Set aside a couple of hundred pounds, at least, if it's a single axis caravan, and up to twice as much for a twin axle. Also, bear in mind that the cost will rise with age and brand.

Just like a car, a caravan will depreciate in value at a rate of about 15% per year, so you could think of it as another hidden cost of owning a caravan. Some caravans hold their value well, but others will be practically worthless in a decade. So, do a bit of research before you buy, if you intend to sell it.