How To Buy a Class B Motorhome for Under $10K

#Vanlife is suddenly all the rage. First, New Yorker magazine wrote an article about the lifestyle, then Bloomberg followed up with an article talking about how hard to find or expensive the necessary vans are.

To which we say, hogwash.

We recently wanted to downsize from a bigger RV to a van for our full-time travel. We found a Class B RV for under $10K. Here’s what we learned in the process.


I’d love to build a van. Build videos like this one are church for me. All that organization and order. Size the van around your stuff, not your stuff around the van.

I’m no stranger to vehicle projects. I was into 60’s era Jeeps before we hit the road. I know how timelines can slip. It took me 6 months to rewire a complete Jeep. I watched the time it took our friends the Longneckers to build their Airstream.

I didn’t want to wait a year.

And then there’s the budget.

The big things aren’t the budget-killers. You could find a suitable starter van for a few thousand dollars. It’s all the $100 trips to Home Depot for miscellaneous bolts, connectors and brackets. Custom build projects are never cheap.

or Buy?

I could find used camper vans for $12K and under. That, we could swing.

Would a factory-built van work for us though? I saw three ways it could play out:

  • We’ll try it, hate it, sell the van, and do something else.
  • We’ll like vanlife, but not the van. We can either modify it or use what we’ve learned to start over with a custom build.
  • We’ll like vanlife and the van and have skipped over the time and money required to build.

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The HSLDA says to "follow the laws of any state you are in for more than 30 days". But what do the states say?

We contacted all 50 states, asked them how to homeschool legally while traveling there, and compiled their responses into this 45 page eBook.

No bad outcomes, there.

We decided to buy a used factory-made Class B RV.

Our maximum budget was $12K. Turns out we didn’t need to go that high.

What to Search For?

“Factory-made Class B RV” covers a lot of different vehicles, rooflines and floorplans. How to narrow that down?

I wanted something I could stand up in. I’m 6’3”, so that limited the search. I focused on Class Bs that have a taller fixed roofline including:

  • Coachmen
  • Airstream
  • Falcon
  • Fiesta
  • Okanagan

I didn’t rule out other brands, however. Other brands have a lower profiles, but they drop the floor 3-4” inside for additional headroom. These brands include:

  • Roadtrek
  • Pleasure-Way

Pop Tops?

Another option was campervans that have a “pop-top”. With a pop-top van, a portion of the roof raises up once you are parked. The raised section has a fiberglass top and canvas sides.

I liked how steathy these were when down. You can hardly tell it’s more than a basic van. They would be great for road trips - but did we want to live full-time in something that was half-tent?

I didn’t know. I kept them in my search. Pop-top brands include:

  • Sportsmobile
  • GTRV

Class B Classifieds

I used the following sources for my search:


I looked on Craigslist, but using Search Tempest to do nationwide searches.

You can find good deals on Craigslist. I found two challenges:

  1. The deals are usually too far away to jump on and see in person.
  2. Sellers want in-person buyers with cash in hand.

I called on several campervans only to lose out to local buyers.

We did put a deposit down on a Craigslist Class B in California, but turned it down once we saw it in person.

We kept looking on Craigslist. We still dealt with unresponsive sellers, high turnover, and vehicles that weren’t as described.


eBay is a natural place to shop for special-interest vehicles. I’ve purchased 3 cars off eBay in the past and had decent luck.

The Class Bs that show up on eBay are usually creampuffs. Some are older models, but in near-perfect shape. The seller puts them on eBay because they want top dollar. They often get it.

There is a specific Class B RV category, but I found campervans just listed in the normal “Van” category as well.

You can setup alerts on eBay to get emailed when a new campervan gets listed.

For our budget eBay was a great place to research models and see photos, but I never bid on anything. They all looked like they would top out above our budget.

Facebook Marketplace

I hadn’t used Facebook Marketplace before. I did find some campervans listed, but none of them ever worked out to go look at. In some cases the sellers were non-responsive. Others took a week to respond to inquiries.

Like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace is regional. You can change your search city to see what comes up in other areas.

Facebook Group

There is a specific group for Class B RVs for Sale. Group members post local findings or link to ads they find on the internet.

RVTrader is a popular choice for RV sellers. The site always features a good selection of Class B campervans.

Sellers are a mix of dealers and private parties. I contacted several private party sellers and never heard back. You’ll often find the same rig posted here and on Ebay, or Craigslist, or all three.

RVTrader also lets you setup email alerts for new rigs that match your search criteria.

Search Terms

Here are the search terms I used on all of these sites:

  • Camper Van
  • Campervan
  • Van Camper
  • Class B Motorhome
  • Class B RV
  • Van RV
  • The brand name (“Sportsmobile” etc)
  • Misspellings of the brand name (“Coachman”, “Roadtrex”, etc)
A Ford-based Coachmen recently for sale on

A Ford-based Coachmen recently for sale on

A Falcon Class B RV - you can also find these on the Ford platform.

A Falcon Class B RV - you can also find these on the Ford platform.

An ad for an Airstream B190. These vans have the largest upper bunk of any Class B, and some of the nicer interiors.

An ad for an Airstream B190. These vans have the largest upper bunk of any Class B, and some of the nicer interiors.

A GTRV pop-top built on a Ford Van.

A GTRV pop-top built on a Ford Van.

The Canadian Okanagan has the same profile as the Airstream B190.

The Canadian Okanagan has the same profile as the Airstream B190.

A Dodge-based Roadtrek 190

A Dodge-based Roadtrek 190

This Dodge-based Sportsmobile has a pop-top and awning.

This Dodge-based Sportsmobile has a pop-top and awning.

Brand-Specific Sites

I ran across a couple of brand-specific sites where I found rigs in our price range:

  • (membership required) has listings for the Airstream Class B RVs
  • The Roadtrek Chapter of FMCA has Roadtrek classifieds on their website

Friends, Family, Social Networks, etc

Class B RVs in the $10K range are out there. They are hard to find and sell quickly. The more people you have looking for you the better.

We told everyone we knew that we were shopping for a campervan. We put the word out on all of our social media channels. We were hoping to get a line on someone’s parents or grandparents selling, etc and avoid competing with other buyers on the open market.

In the end this is how we found our campervan. A reader of our mailing list has a sister-in-law who owned a Class B she needed to sell. We bought it before it ever went on the open market.

Where to Look

Florida is the best place to shop for cheaper Class Bs.

Along the Pacific Coast the street dweller and surfer cultures drive the values up. In Colorado it’s the rockclimber / dirtbagger crowd. Florida is where people age out of them and there isn’t as strong of a demand from the younger crowd.

Class B RV Scams

Be aware of scam ads for Class B RVs. I saw several of these. Mostly on Craigslist, but I also ran across shenanigans on eBay.

These don’t have to all be true, but if you see ads where more than one of these is true, it’s probably a bogus ad:

  • They are short on detail with 1 or 2 photos and one paragraph of text
  • The ad title has junk characters in it
  • The price is way low
  • The same ad/photo is also posted in another state
  • You get a response from the seller that has some kind of sob story - divorce, death, illness - that complicates the sale

Traveling to View a Class B

To shop in this price range you have to be willing to travel. We visited vans in Texas, California, and Florida.

In Texas we drove 4 hours each way to go look at one. It was in rough shape but it was our first time actually stepping into a Class B. We confirmed that we could fit and live in one full time.

We took the Amtrak to California to see another campervan. The tickets were roughly half what air travel would have cost. The van didn’t work out but we made an adventure out of the trip.

We found $45 airline tickets to get to Florida. We lined up 5 campervans to look at and flew over. We ended up looking at two, then circling back to buy the first one we looked at.


We bought the Pleasure-Way Class B RV for $7K. We immediately spent another $1500 on tires and fluid changes. Other pre-fulltiming expenses include:

  • New foam for the rear couch/bed
  • LED exterior lighting
  • New (small) electric space heater
  • New hubcaps

We still need to buy replacement smoke, propane, and CO2 detectors plus other supplies for organizing life into such a small space.

Upper Window Leaks

If you are looking at a campervan that has windows in the raised roof section (like Coachmen), take care. These are notorious for causing leaks into the unit. Either the weep holes get clogged and the water backs up, or the seal around the window fails.

Look for soggy wood rails that support the upper bunk bed. Look for replaced wood, new paint, new wallpaper, etc - basically any signs of fixes around and under these windows.

Dodgy Dodges Dodge

If you are looking at a 1990’s era Class B RV based on the Dodge B3500 platform (like many Roadtreks and Pleasure-Ways) take note -  they can be hard to drive as a result of wandering and sway.

There are several things you can do to correct these issues.  I’m listing them below so you can factor the costs into your shopping budget (or look to see if they’ve been installed already).

Wandering is due to loose steering issues. You’d see this more on higher-mileage units. If the unit hasn’t had a front-end rebuild that would be the first place to start for a fix. There is also this $120 steering stabilizer that I’ve heard good things about.

Our Pleasure-Way only had 69K miles on it and it doesn’t wander. If the winds are low and the road is good the unit drives easily.

Sway is due to wind. Wind pushes the van around and you have correct against it. Our van definitely has sway going on. It’s like driving a houseboat on the Mississippi with constant steering corrections.

Fixes include:

We’re starting with rear wheel spacers on Sally. I’ll post results once we have them installed.


The more you know about cars and are able to work on them yourself, the better you’ll do shopping for a Class B RV old enough to fall in this price range.

The nice part about buying a 1990’s vehicle is the 25 years of experience people have had with them. Any issues are easily researchable with a few Google searches. Even if you need professional help, most mechanics will be glad to see an older rig pull in. They’re just easier to work on.

Are You B-Shopping?

Are you shopping for an older Class B? Let us know in the comments. Maybe we can help.

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16 Comments How To Buy a Class B Motorhome for Under $10K

  1. Picture of Jeff JeffMay 09, 2017

    To help with handling in the wind, I’d suggest a “steering damper”.  (It’s basically a shock absorber that mounts between the steering link and chassis.)  We installed one on our ‘94 Chevy RoadTrek, and it helped quite a bit.  (The one I installed was made by Moog.)

  2. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkMay 09, 2017

    Thanks Jeff - ours actually already has a steering stabilizer.  I’ve used those on Jeeps before too - but more for wandering than sway.

  3. Picture of Elena CarlockElena CarlockAugust 21, 2017

    Great website. Looking for a used class b diesel for the mileage they get.

  4. Picture of LindaLindaSeptember 14, 2017

    Looking for a class B motorhome
    I like the Road trek
    Also need model # weight an all information to ship to Hawaii

  5. Picture of Joan GibsonJoan GibsonSeptember 29, 2017

    I have mold in my house and the insurance company denied coverage (not done with them yet but no help will be coming from them at least in the near future). I am looking for a Class B to live in while I address the issue by myself. It will take 4 or five weeks for one person to do it. I found a 28 year old Chinook for sale but it turned out to be a fraud. Very disappointing but at least I wasn’t scammed. I’m in Florida and I can find boats way below book value all day long but haven’t found any older motor homes let alone a class B.

  6. Picture of Dave WillmoreDave WillmoreOctober 20, 2017

    I am planning to retire in 7 years or so and am looking into what I want to do for travel.  Wife does not want to live on the road so I can’t sell the house and by my dream rig. 

    I have settled on a class b for the stealth and easy drive.  I want 4x4 and to be able to live more than a week boondocked.  Love the new Roadtreks and the stuff Advanced RV puts out

  7. Picture of reneereneeNovember 04, 2017

    I hope , I can find a “reasonable” class B van $5000.  or less (year 1980-1999)
    Roadtrek,  Airsteam, Falcon or Fiesta somewhere.

  8. Picture of mauryloomismauryloomisNovember 06, 2017

    Great Article!! its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. it is really valuable. thanks a lot.

  9. Picture of mauryloomismauryloomisDecember 04, 2017

    Fantastic blog! Thanks for sharing very interesting post, I appreciate to blogger for amazing post.

  10. Picture of Shari ShariDecember 30, 2017

    Thank you for sharing your research and journey to find a Class B.  My boyfriend and I are short…5’6” and 5’4” so height isn’t an issue.  I want high clearance to be able to boondock in hard to get to areas.  Not sure which Class B’s have better clearance then others.  Also, can airbags help the clearance ? Is installing airbags difficult? Can all class b’s have airbags installed or just some?  We don’t have much money so will be looking at older and cheaper.  Thanks again!

  11. Picture of Crissa BoyinkCrissa BoyinkJanuary 01, 2018


    With your heights you’ll have an easier time than we did finding a Class B to fit us.

    I recently had our 1995 Class B parked next to an newer Class B.  Ours was shorter in height. I’m guessing the other had to watch out a bit more for clearance.

    I’m afraid I don’t know about airbag installation.

    Good luck with your search.

  12. Picture of Michael Wicks Michael WicksJanuary 07, 2018

    What’s a good price for a1993 honor built class b rv in great shape

  13. Picture of Crissa BoyinkCrissa BoyinkJanuary 08, 2018

    Hi Michael,

    I’m afraid I don’t know the answer. ;)  Mike spent a lot of time just looking at Craigslist ads/Ebay/Dealer lots/Etc. so we had a rough ballpark figure.

    Good luck on your search.

  14. Picture of AdamAdamJanuary 10, 2018

    Hey man!

    This is all such great information - I love it and thank you for it. I am located in Los Angeles, California and am just embarking on my serach for an affordable Class B RV.  Curious if you’d be able to help out in any way? I’m using all of the recommended sites but my situation is I may be in better luck doing a down payments on one with monthly payments only allowing me to buy from retail/dealers. did you guys try this route?


  15. Picture of ZachZachJanuary 10, 2018

    Hi Michael,
    Such great information, thanks!!

    I’m trying to buy a class by to live in with my fiance after we get married.  I’m 6’1” and need to be able to stand up straight in whichever van I get.  Are you able to stand up straight in your pleasure way?

  16. Picture of Crissa BoyinkCrissa BoyinkJanuary 12, 2018


    Mike is 6’3” and has to tip his head/bend his neck to stand up in the center. If he wants to stand straight, he just goes outdoors. ;)

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