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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Budget comes first when determining if you can afford a new or used boat, RV or bike. 
  • Before buying a recreational vehicle, take a moment to consider how it fits into your life.
  • When buying used, thoroughly inspect and assess a leisure vehicle’s condition and value. 

Time to Read

6 minutes

August 4 2022

Want to get out on the water? Are you craving an adventure? Do you feel the need for speed? If you’re considering buying a boat, RV or motorcycle, it’s important to ask the right questions and make sure a leisure vehicle is a smart investment for you. Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations and what to keep in mind as you gear up to enjoy the great outdoors.


Will you need a loan to finance your new toy? Consider what payment fits into your budget to help determine the purchase price and loan terms you can afford. Don’t forget to include ongoing costs such as maintenance, fuel, storage and insurance in your budget.


Leisure vehicles differ greatly in size and complexity as compared to what you may be used to. Before making the commitment to purchase your new toy, make sure you have the appropriate license(s) to drive the vehicle. Check with your state in order to follow the proper regulations.

Lifestyle Considerations

Beyond purchasing a boat, RV or motorcycle, you need to have a plan for how you’ll own your new investment. Do you have a place to store it? How often will you use it? What ownership obstacles do you need to consider? Ask yourself these questions before you purchase your vehicle:


  • What kind of boater are you? How often do you set sail? Are you brand new to boating?  Depending on how often you plan to hit the water and how experienced you are, you may decide to rent or join a boat club instead of buying outright.
  • What kinds of boating activities will you do? Will you fish, ski, tube or just cruise? Will you set sail on fresh water or salt water? Different boats are made for different activities. Look online to personalize your search by choosing fresh or salt water, watersports or sailing, and more.
  • How many people do you want to be able to fit in the boat? This will greatly impact the size of the boat you decide to buy.


  • How often do you plan on using it? Where do you plan on taking it? If you only plan on using it a few times a year, consider buying used. If you plan on taking it far distances, you may consider buying an RV that has low mileage on it to begin with, so you can get the most out of your purchase.
  • Are you buying it because you want to save money on travel costs by staying in your RV instead of a hotel or motel? Calculate how much you would actually be saving by comparing the cost and maintenance of an RV to lodging and dining out, etc.
  • How will RV insurance affect your budget? Depending on where you live, your driving record and your choice of insurer, RV insurance can be a significant cost worth considering as you think about buying.


  • How will you be riding your bike? Are you looking for a weekend toy, or will this be your main source of transportation? Will you be traveling long distances? Answering these questions will give you more insight into whether you should aim for comfort or style.
  • Choose a bike that fits your body. People come in all shapes and sizes, and so do motorcycles! You won’t enjoy riding if the bike is uncomfortable. Give it a lengthy test drive to ensure the best fit.
  • Think about accessories and gear when considering a purchase. Motorcyclists need to make sure they’re well-protected on the road, and good gear comes at a price. The same goes for accessories, practical or just for show.


There’s nothing like a new vehicle, but your best deal could be a used model. However, before you consider purchasing a used motorcycle, RV or boat, it’s important to keep the condition of the vehicle in mind. Considering the mileage, body and drivability of your desired vehicle before buying can impact how much maintenance you’ll need to put into it in the long run.

MileageYou measure a boat’s use by hours. If a boat has more than 500 hours, you should expect to put some money into maintenance.Expect to get fuel economy between 8 to 20 MPG, depending on the RV you choose. Knowing the RV’s expected fuel economy can help you gauge ongoing costs.Motorcycle engines don’t last as long as car engines. Any bike with more than 30,000 miles may need a new engine soon.
BodyThings to look for include any rotting, the maintenance history, hull condition, cracks or nicks in the propeller, ripped seams, and color fading in the upholstery.There are multiple RV floor plans and types. There are towable RVs, in which case you’ll need the right equipment for towing. If you choose a towing RV, you need to pick the right size for your towing capabilities.Check mirrors, grip ends, foot pegs and rear turn signals for damage.
Drivability Always test drive a boat before purchasing. Pay attention to the vibration, functioning trim, response, planning, reverse, gauges and instruments.Make sure you feel comfortable driving a vehicle larger than your car. Test the RV on roads you’d normally drive on (for example, highways, small dirt roads or mountain passes).Look for flat spots in the horsepower by listening for odd noises like popping or backfiring, especially when decelerating. When you slow down, leave the bike in low gear so RPM stays high.

Ready for Your Adventure?

There’s nothing quite let enjoying the great outdoors from behind the wheel of a recreational vehicle. Whether you’re jetting across a lake, traversing our nation’s highways or enjoying the wind in your hair from the back of a bike, Navy Federal Credit Union will help you make a purchase with confidence. Apply for a Navy Federal Leisure Vehicle Loan today!

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Look at your budget to see what you can afford when it comes to monthly payments on a leisure vehicle. Don’t forget to consider additional costs for storage, insurance, licensure and anything else that accompanies ownership. 
  2. Think beyond the purchase, to what ownership looks like for you and your lifestyle. How often will you use your recreational vehicle? Where will you keep it? What other ownership questions do you need to answer before you buy?
  3. Make a decision about new vs. used, and do a thorough analysis of any models you’re interested in purchasing. If you’re buying used, thoroughly inspect the quality of the vehicle. If you’re buying new, remember to check warranty coverage.  


This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.