It was a Sunday afternoon in July that I succumbed to the inevitable.
After camping in a cold and uncomfortable tent at a music festival, worn out by dragging my daughter’s buggy through thick mud, I thought it was really time that I turned the style up a notch.
And by turning up the style, I mean camping with a bit more comfort – that is, I plan to buy a campervan, or what some refer to as a motorhome.
After some serious research I’ve now started carefully saving the pennies each month.
Volkswagen – synonymous with the classic VW camper – has spawned an entire sub-industry of companies that convert its commercial vans into habitable homes. But the German automaker has itself launched several iterations of its new VW California campervan.
Complete with all the latest gadgets, a brand new California can cost more than £50,000 for its top of the range model. Mercedes also joined the market a few years ago with the Mercedes Marco Polo which can get even more expensive.
But let’s not forget the never-ending range of towable caravans and larger motorhomes from the likes of Hymer and Fiat. There’s now even pop-up tents that unfold from your car’s roof rack.
While it might not be the “ideal investment opportunity” that I’m telling my friends and family it is, there appears to be some serious value retention in these vehicles.
A VW California camper that’s nearly two years old can fetch around the same price as a brand new one – presumably because you don’t have to wait for the company to make it to your exact specification. Even a camper that’s four or five years old can still fetch over £35,000 if it’s been looked after nicely.
Some of the loans available also underline this fact. One campervan conversion company in the UK says finance can be from two to 10 years, provided that the vehicle is no older than 17 years at the end of the term. Yes, that means you could get a 10 year loan to buy a campervan that’s already seven years old.
And demand doesn’t look like it’s going anyway anytime soon. The European caravan industry saw a robust gain of 10.6 per cent in new registrations last year.
And in the US, shipments of RVs are expected to hit their highest level ever in 2017, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, marking the eighth consecutive year of gains.
In the UK, Volkswagen told me that just under 900 new California models were sold as of the end of July, up 50 per cent for last year.
So if you’re hedging your bets against the property market, then moveable homes could be the new alternative investment you’re looking for.