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Boat and RV Buying Resources

Boat and RV Buying Resources

Consumer Education Program


Whether you are shopping for a boat or recreational vehicle, the key to owner satisfaction is getting the most for your money. Read the articles provided below to learn more! 

Boat Buying Basics & Extra Costs to Consider

Have you been thinking about buying a recreational boat? Before you take the plunge into boat ownership, you’ll want to be a smart and safe buyer. The following 5 tips can help you make the right choice for you and your finances. 

1. Know Your Type

How will you use the boat? Whether for fishing expeditions, water skiing, or sailing on overnight trips, you’ll want to be sure your boat is the right fit. Think about accommodating passengers, food and drink, sporting equipment, safety gear, and possible sleeping quarters. Also consider if you plan to trailer your boat to different waterways or keep it at a marina.

2. Decide Between New and Used

Like buying a new or used car, choosing to buy a new or used boat depends on your tastes, budget, and mechanical knowledge. A new boat will have the latest technology plus a manufacturer’s warranty to cover any mechanical mishaps. Buying used can get you more boat for less money. Be sure to ask about previous maintenance records if buying a used boat. No matter if buying new or used, it’s important to buy from someone you trust.

3. Understand Pricing and Your Shopping Options

Online listings and manufacturer websites can help you easily compare models, prices, and features to get a feel for what’s out there before you start looking at boats in person. Visiting boat dealerships and boat shows can also help you narrow down your choices. Note that there are many variables in pricing – geography can play a role for different dealers and their expenses. Used boat pricing may be based on its overall condition as well as where and how it’s been used. Pictures may not tell the whole story, so it’s always best to see the actual boat when possible.

Be aware there can be several costs in addition to the purchase price, including insurance, registration, accessories, storage, upkeep, and more. You may also need a license and boater education if you’re new to owning a boat.

Buying options typically include:

  • Boat dealer
  • Boat show
  • Direct from a manufacturer
  • Online
  • Private seller

You may be able to find a good deal on a new boat leftover from the previous year. Buying a boat in the offseason or at the end of boating season could help you reel in a deal. Boat shows may offer special incentives or price reductions.

4. Line Up Your Financing

As you get closer to a boat buying decision, you’ll also want to know how to arrange financing if not paying cash. You have various financing options, similar to those when purchasing a car:

  • A loan from a financial institution
  • Financing through the boat dealer
  • A loan through a special marine financing lender

Like buying the boat itself, you’ll want to have financing with someone you trust. It’s a good idea to understand loan rates, terms, payment details, convenience, and more before applying for a boat loan.

5. Find Your Boat and Close the Deal

It’s exciting to find a boat that fits your needs and budget! Be sure to inspect the engine, propeller, inside the hull, steering system, electrical systems, and fuel tank. Check the storage compartments and hatches. If possible, take it on a sea trial (a boat test drive). If buying used, you might consider hiring an independent marine surveyor (like a home inspector) to check the boat from bow to stern. Ask about the boat’s maintenance and storage history.

If the boat passes inspection, make your offer and discuss delivery. With financing ready to go, you should be ready to hit the water in no time and start enjoying new adventures.

For many, buying a recreational boat is a dream come true. Boats are a big-ticket item however, and can come with several fees and costs after the purchase. Before brainstorming the perfect name for your new toy, consider these eight additional costs:

Trailer (And Truck)

Even if you are transporting your boat once or twice a year, you will need a trailer big enough to do so – as well as a truck big enough to haul both the trailer and the boat. The trailer has to be registered at the DMV in the state you live in, so remember to add that cost into the bottom-line as well.

Dock/Marina Fees

If you plan on using the boat in the same location regularly, you may choose to dock it at a marina that charges a membership fee or monthly rental fee. Some of them have great perks such as a restaurant or fire pits giving it a true community feel, but also more activity for your wallet.

Winter Storage

Do you have adequate room to store your boat in the winter months? Whether at a boat storage facility or at your home, you will want to keep it safe from the cold and snow or ice that may age it prematurely.


Don’t forget the price of gas when considering your boat. Make sure you know the size of your tank and the cost to fuel your boat near your travels.


You will need to do regular maintenance such as oil changes on your boat as you do a car. You will also have to dry dock it every few years to make sure the boat as a whole is in proper shape.


Like your car, your boat will need to be insured. Research the best options and consider bundling your car and boat insurance together with your home or renters insurance to get a cost savings.

Safety Items

You will want to have one personal flotation device per person on the boat. Make sure you get quality versions in the proper sizes to be prepared in an emergency. Also, a good first-aid kit, emergency flares, and a fire extinguisher are important if you will be spending a lot of time on the water.


You won’t always be able to depend on a reliable cellphone signal when on the water. It may be a good idea to invest in some nautical navigation. If you will be spending nights on the boat, you may want to consider a satellite phone.

How Do You Maintain Your Boat?

Remember that old saying: a boat is a hole in the water which you throw money into. Neglect your boat's maintenance and you'll soon find out how true that saying can be. Leave a boat alone for even a week or two, if it's in the water, and it can quickly degrade. Leave a boat out of the water too long, and other problems can develop before you can blink. Minor maintenance issues briefly ignored can turn quickly into major repair issues. The smart boat owner pays constant attention to maintenance.

Boats, particularly when they are in the water, develop problems very quickly: battery connections corrode; cables loosen; seals develop leaks.

Your first defense against this deterioration is to follow faithfully the maintenance procedures outlined in the owner's manuals for the boat, engine and other important accessories. If you've lost the manual (or it didn't come with a used boat), you can usually find these instructions on the manufacturers' websites or order manuals from online marine bookstores or technical service companies.

Buying an RV?

5 Things You Should Know

Are you thinking about buying a recreational vehicle (RV) to travel while also enjoying the comforts of home?

While being out on the open road is appealing, be sure you consider all of the costs of owning an RV. 

Here are five points to think about before you buy:

1. Narrow down your options. RVs come in many different sizes and configurations. Before you start shopping, make a list of the amenities you want such as storage, number of beds, and types of appliances. How many people (and pets) will be traveling? What type of camping will you be doing and where will you be staying?

2. Set a realistic budget. RV prices can range from between $10,000 to $300,000, depending on the age and size of the rig, and the features you choose. A newer, modestly appointed camper hitched to a truck can cost about $20,000; a fifth-wheel may be $40,000; motor homes typically start at $100,000. Shop at a reputable dealer and be prepared to negotiate the price.

3. Maintenance costs can add up. Several factors go into the cost of running your rig including gasoline, campsite hookups, and park fees. Set aside funds to pay for unexpected repairs or must-haves like new tires. Consider including the cost of storage if you’re not using the RV as a primary residence.

4. Know your tax impact. If you buy an RV, you may have to pay sales tax, which could add several thousand dollars to the purchase price. Look into whether your state and county consider RVs personal property. If so, you might owe additional tax on your rig.

5. Look into insurance. Many insurance experts recommend buying a separate policy for your RV, as well as a liability policy to protect against injury. Several factors determine how much RV insurance will cost, including your driving record, your credit score, model, make, and age of your RV, how often you plan to use it, and if you’ll be using it as a primary residence or for vacations.

Enthusiasts say vacationing by RV is economical and a great way to travel. Finding the RV that’s right for you can help you enjoy your adventures even more.

Maintaining Your RV

RVs represent a major expenditure for most families. Maintaining yours in topnotch shape will help prevent annoying, even dangerous, troubles on the road. Good maintenance also helps keep the resale value of your RV high. (If you get hooked on the joys of RV touring, as so many do, you may wish to trade up to a bigger model in a few years and resale value can be important.)