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Can You Buy an RV Out of State?

If you’re anything like us, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, especially when making a large purchase. If you’re in the market for an RV, it’s safe to say it’s a big purchase, no matter how big or small the RV is. When buying an RV, many shoppers go to their local dealers and see who can give them the best offer. But are they missing out on a better deal by only shopping locally? Are there rules against buying an RV out of state? And what is the cheapest state to buy an RV in?

Today, we’ll help provide some clarity to this question so you can get the best deal possible on your next RV. Let’s dive in!


Can You Buy an RV Out of State?

While you may have a local dealership you’ve been loyal to for a decade or two, you could be wasting your money not considering other options. Like buying a passenger vehicle, there are no restrictions for buying an RV out of state. The dealership will likely help you with much of the paperwork if you purchase through a dealership. It’s also possible to purchase an RV through a private sale out of state. It may require a bit more effort, but it can help you save a tremendous amount of money.

Man inspecting RV to buy
Buying an RV out of state is a great way to extend the range of options you can find.

What Are the Benefits of Buying an RV Out of State?

Whether you’re shopping for a new or used RV, there are a few reasons to consider buying an RV out of state. Let’s look at why it might be a better option for you to get the best deal.

Finding Different Brands and More Variety

While Indiana may be the RV capital of the world, there are RV manufacturers all over the country. As a result, some brands are more popular in some areas of the country than others. Expanding your search to include other states increases the number of potential RVs and brands.

It may be incredibly challenging to find if you’ve settled on a specific model or floor plan. It can often feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. However, expanding your search radius can make tracking down that hard-to-find floor plan easier. It may still take some time and effort. But it’ll be worth it if it’s the perfect floor plan for your needs.

Locating Better Prices

The RV sales market is extremely competitive, and dealerships want to move their inventory as fast as possible. As a result, you may find that some dealerships offer better deals than others. This could be due to many reasons. However, shopping for your RV out of state could save you hundreds and possibly even thousands of dollars.

Rust-Free Used RVs in Southern States

Rust is a vehicle owner’s biggest enemy, no matter what kind of vehicle. Many southern states have a much drier environment, which means not having to worry about rust. RVs of all ages can develop rust, especially if not maintained properly. 

However, if you expand your search to the south, especially the southwest, rust eating through the metal surfaces under your RV won’t be a major concern.

View through windshield of RV
While it is not always convenient to travel out of state for an RV, it does come with its benefits.

What Are the Disadvantages of Buying an RV Out of State?

While buying an RV out of state can be worth it in many instances, it’s not perfect. There are some disadvantages to this method. Here’s what you should expect during the process.

Buying an RV Sight Unseen

If you’re buying an RV out of state, it could mean traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles just to look at it. To avoid this, many shoppers will consider buying the RV sight unseen. This can be a bad decision, especially if you’re buying through a private seller. 

You must have a tremendous amount of trust in the seller. You could arrive to complete the transaction and find that the seller hasn’t been honest about the rig’s condition. If you’ve already signed the paperwork and paid for the rig, you could have just invested in a money pit.

Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for the 7 Red Flags to Look For if you are buying an RV sight unseen.

Long Distance Negotiation 

Being a good negotiator is essential to get the best deal possible in any large transaction. However, negotiating over the phone or through email is substantially different from face-to-face negotiations. While you may get some clues when negotiating over the phone, it is nearly impossible to read tone or body language through exchanges over email.

Not being able to sit in front of the dealer or the sales department at the RV dealership can be a major disadvantage. It can be easier for the dealership to play games or twist the deal in their favor.

Travel Expenses to Pick-Up the RV

If you decide to purchase your RV out of state, you can’t forget to consider the increased expenses of picking it up. Whether you drive gas or diesel, it will likely cost a pretty penny in fuel. That’s especially if it’s several hours to the dealership. However, fuel isn’t going to be the only travel expense you need to prepare for.

You’ll need to account for expenses for food and possibly even a hotel on the way to your RV. If you’re driving hundreds or thousands of miles to pick up your new rig, it’s a good idea to arrive at the dealership in the morning to have plenty of time and light to complete the deal, hitch up, and get on the road. You may need to arrive the night before and stay in a hotel for a night.

Get a good RV deal that will have you smiling by heading to the cheapest state to buy an RV in, Montana.

What Is the Cheapest State to Buy an RV? 

There’s a rumor going around the RV community that Texas, Arizona, and Florida are the cheapest states to buy an RV. However, that’s not exactly true. These states are attractive places for many RVers to settle, so there’s typically no shortage of used RVs for sale, and you can find some great deals. However, considering the whole picture, none of these states are the cheapest to buy an RV.

The cheapest state to buy an RV in is Montana. This is because it has no sales tax or personal property tax. When you’re spending $50,000 to over $100,000 on an RV, this can mean saving a tremendous amount of money. However, while they may not charge you sales tax in Montana, you’ll be in for a hefty tax bill when you register your vehicle in your home state. There are ways around this, though.

One possible way is to become a resident of Montana. If you’re not interested in packing up your things and moving to Montana, some companies can help you set up a Montana-based LLC. This allows you to register your vehicle under the LLC and avoid paying the taxes in your home state.

We don’t necessarily recommend this because you could have serious legal issues if not done right. Saving a few thousand dollars isn’t worth getting hit with tax fraud or evasion charges.

Pro Tip: Stay on alert so you don’t miss these Top 10 Easily Missed Things to Look for When Buying an RV.

Even if you buy your RV out of state, you will need to register it when you return home to your state.

How Do I Register My RV When Buying Out of State? 

When buying an RV out of state, you’ll need to register it in your home state. The registration requirements are very different based on the state. Some states will require an inspection of the rig during the registration process. Others allow you to complete the registration without physically stepping into the DMV or county clerk’s office.

They’ll likely help you if you purchase through a dealership. If they’ve been in business for any time, you’re probably not the first person out of state to buy from them. On the other hand, if you’re purchasing through a private seller, you’ll want to speak with your local DMV or county clerk to ensure you get everything you need from the seller to register your vehicle in your state.

Do I Pay Sales Tax When Buying an RV Out of State?

If you’re purchasing and picking up your RV in a state with a sales tax, you’re likely to pay that state’s sales tax. However, you’ll need to pay the difference when registering your vehicle if you purchase your RV in a state with a lower sales tax rate. This is why it’s not worth driving to Montana or Oregon (states with no sales tax) to purchase an RV if you’re not a resident of either of those states.

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Is Buying an RV Out of State a Good Idea?

Buying an RV out of state can be a great way to save money and find the perfect RV for your situation. However, you should always proceed cautiously, especially if you buy the rig sight unseen. If you can’t see the rig in person, it may be worth hiring a third-party RV inspector to inspect it and look for any potential issues. Many RVers have purchased their RVs out of state and have been extremely happy with their decision.

Would you consider buying an RV out of state? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Jackie S

Friday 3rd of March 2023

Is there really a benefit to buying out of state OTHER than getting a better sales price from one dealer to another? It is my understanding that when you buy in one state but plan to register it in your home state, you are required to pay the dealers state sales tax. MOST states will give credit if tax was paid to another state but not always. Off hand I know states like - AR, MS and WV. If you buy a car in another state - and paid taxes to that state and then you arrive in your home state (say MS) - you will be expected to pay full tax again to MS even though you may have paid tax to the purchase state. I understand there are rules if the vehicle was shipped and possession was not in the purchase state - then no tax would be due to the purchase state. Are the rules different with RV's, travel trailers, fifth wheels etc. vs motor vehicles? I am currently doing a lot of reciprocity research on sales tax of motor vehicles for out of state residents but I was curious if the rules are different for RVs.

Brandi Macias

Thursday 27th of April 2023

@Mortons on the Move, so if we purchase a 5th Wheel from Colorado and it gets delivered to us in California we aren’t supposed to pay sales tax in Colorado since we aren’t getting possession in Colorado? Just trying to understand this process never purchased out of state and can’t seem to find the trailer we want in CA.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Nope, you pretty much understand it. The only benefit is a wider selection and possibly better prices.

Erik B

Monday 9th of January 2023

While apparently I am not required to register my travel trailer in my home state of AZ, I am not suggesting that the same rules apply for a driveable RV.

Erik B

Monday 9th of January 2023

A resident of Arizona, I bought a new travel trailer from a dealer in California. The dealer mentioned that one approach would be to get a limited CA registration and pay someone to transport the trailer to the AZ border, and then quickly register in AZ. However, the dealer stated that my overall cost would be lower if I got a CA registration and then drove it home. I would then be able to keep the CA registration for a year. That is what we did, stating my AZ address on my CA registration, good for a year. The AZ MVD has multiple times confirmed that I don't need to obtain an AZ registration. It is my impression that I paid less than I would have paid registering in AZ from the beginning. On my question, the AZ MVD stated that I would even be free to renew the CA registration rather than registering in AZ, in case CA would allow it.

Mortons on the Move

Monday 16th of January 2023

Thanks for your story, there are so many things like this to consider. When we bought our truck camper in CA there is no registration since its not a wheeled vehicle.

Paul Fahy

Saturday 7th of January 2023

Some RV manufacters sell directly to customers like Escape Trailer, Casitas, and Lazy Daze Motorhomes just to name a few. Escape trailers has ambassador owners who will let you checkout their rigs. They will deliver just across the border in Washington State or deliver closer to your home.