We have bought and sold motorhomes in 4 different continents and also done exchanges giving us use of over a dozen different ones.
This is the start of our motorhome journey with information on the pros and cons of each one.
The Solifer we bought in December 1996 and sold in May 1997. It was our first motorhome and the 1986 model was bought second hand from Madisons dealer. Eriba Soifers were built in Scandinavia and this was an "A" class model. Ours was the 4-berth model. Cost £18,000 and traded in for £18,000 against our next purchase.
The layout was a rear U shaped lounge which could be made up into a large double bed. Forward of this was a kitchen on one side and a wardrobe and bathroom opposite. Immediately behind the swivel cab seats were two inward facing single seats which created a 4 person dining area. These could be used for a single bed. Above the cab was a drop down double bed so overall a 5 berth.
Buying an older vehicle as our first motorhome meant we did not have to invest such a large amount of money on our first purchase. We also thought we would have a good guarantee from the dealers but this didn't quite prove true. Often the small print of any warranty makes it difficult to use especially if you are travelling abroad at the time.
The vehicle was not a common make so any problems with it were difficult to solve.
It had a retro fitted turbo which caused many engine problems.
The drop down hydraulic bed was curved so not as spacious as it looked and not long enough for a man over 6' tall.
Most of the interior appliances etc were either small or flimsy and not suitable for full time use.
WARNING The vehicle was bought Madisons dealers. We traded in a car as part of the purchase price. The motorhome cost £18,000 and the trade in on the car was £8,000 leaving a balance of £10,000 to pay. The dealer asked if it was OK for them to write up the invoice as £16,000 purchase and £6,000 trade with the same balance of £10,000 as this would save them tax. We agreed to this but when we went back to them to try to trade up to another motorhome they would not acknowledge the original purchase price but only the lower £16,000 marked on the paperwork even though it was the same guy!
Unless you have a lot of mechanical knowledge it seems better to buy a vehicle that is still in current production and by a manufacturer that is well known in the countries you intend to travel.
Unless you are 100% sure of having visitors then buy a motorhome to suit your own needs in terms of layout etc as you will be the ones using for the bulk of the time and people who say they will visit often do not.
Many people do not buy the correct layout motorhome first time around so if you buy a cheaper second hand model you are less likely to lose as much when you change it for a design that suits you better.
No matter how much you try to figure out the design you need many things cannot be worked out until you are actually using a vehicle. Some things you will never get right due to size restriction of vehicle and there are almost always compromises.
Before deciding what vehicle to buy it is a good idea to rent one but of course rental prices are high. In Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada it is possible to pick up relocations deals on motorhomes for as little as $1 day.
Standby Cars is a great site for listing the possibilities.
Other sites offering this are