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Should I hire or should I buy?

November 5, 2020

In the absence of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, international travel is still likely to be a while away for most Australians. Unless you are happy to be city-bound then chances are you are going to be taking some type of road trip in the next 12 months. For some of you that may mean a road trip where you are driving your home-away-from-home. You may be asking yourself, should I buy or should I hire? We have delved into this question to help you decide.

Advantages of hiring

The obvious benefits include not having to outlay tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the purchase price of a depreciating asset. It also means you do not have to spend thousands of dollars per year maintaining, servicing, licensing, signing up for roadside assistance or insuring it either.

Hiring a camper or caravan means you can try lots of different options and match your vehicle and accommodation to your specific trip – after all no two adventures should be the same! For example, a 4WD camper is going to be much more versatile and enable you to properly experience the Kimberley Region than an on-road motorhome. Hiring gives you flexibility and saves you money as you are only paying for the time you use it for.

It seems like every second person is buying a new caravan or camper at the moment. This is great during COVID lockdowns but what happens once the world starts to reopen and people want to travel elsewhere? Unfortunately this means the market will be saturated and if you do want to sell your camper or van to pay for that overseas holiday or home renovation, it may not fetch for a good price or be that easy to sell.

Disadvantages of hiring

You must book your trip in advance, so you cannot always take those spontaneous weekends away. This is not such a major concern during some months of the year, but for example, during a ‘normal’ year RedSands books up from May to September a few months (sometimes a year) in advance.

The equipment you are hiring is not always brand new. RedSands conducts a deep clean of all our equipment between every hire, but we know that is not the case for all hire companies. We also separate our vehicles into a Premium (newer) and Standard (older) category, so you pay a little more if you want a near-new vehicle. If you are ever unsure about the type of product you will get by hiring, just ask to go an inspect one – this will give you an idea of what to expect from that company.

There may be minimum hire periods or limited drop-off/pick-up locations in regional areas. RedSands does have minimum hire periods, which vary according to the time of the year. It does mean you won’t be able to hire for a weekend. Luckily, RedSands has its own depot network in Perth, Broome, Kununurra and Darwin, providing an extensive network of locations to pick up and drop off.

Advantages of buying

It’s yours! This means you can keep it packed with your personal gear and have it ready to go for that spontaneous weekend away. If you are a seasoned traveller, you may also know what camper or van you want to suit your holiday choices.

If you are planning on doing the ‘big lap’ around Australia you are going to need your home-away-from-home, as your trip may take months to years. It goes without saying that buying makes a lot of sense in this case.

Owning your own camper or van also means you can customise it to suit your individual preferences and needs. This can also mean a lot more money gets spent on it, so partner beware!

Disadvantages of buying

Can be difficult to decide on the right ‘fit’ for you as there are so many options out there! ‘Try before you buy’ through hiring could be a good interim option if you really want to have your own home on wheels. This will give you an indication of what suits you and your family’s needs.

It would be wise not to rush out and buy a camper or van if you have never tried camping or caravanning before. There is some hard work involved and it is not for everyone. Some people just love resorts and that’s OK!

Apart from the previously mentioned issues of purchase price and ongoing overheads, the other consideration is storage. This may not be an issue if you have a big property, but if you live in an urban area, you may not have the room to store a camper on your property (also consider height requirements).

We hope this information helps you decide if buying or hiring is right for you. We have personally done both and it suited us at different stages of our lives.

Good luck!