Motorhome or campervan- which is better?

motorhome or campervan differences and which is best to buy

If you’re looking to buy a motorhome or campervan, here’s a guide on which one might be better for you- and why!

So, you want to buy a motorhome. Or a campervan. Motorvan? RV? Travel trailer?

When you first start researching vehicles and looking into the world of ‘road vehicles with beds/ toilets’, you’ll find LOADS of terms.

And many of them are used incorrectly or differently, depending on where in the world you are.

I know, I know- it’s frustrating.

But grab a cup of tea (and a biscuit) and let’s dive into whether or not a motorhome or campervan might be better for you- and why!

Buying Motorhome checklist

Motorhome or campervan- what’s the difference?

We’ve already covered differences between a motorhome and a caravan, so today I’m going to look at motorhome and campervans.

Firstly, if you’re not sure what the difference is between them, then I’m looking at it as:

Motorhome: built on a van chassis but the body is wider and taller than a standard van. There often used to be a divide between the driving/ living space (especially if there was an over-cab bed), but many modern motorhomes don’t have this- our motorhome doesn’t.

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Campervan: Built on a van chassis to a standard size- such as a VW- but have been converted inside for living. They are often (but not always!) thinner, shorter and have less headroom than a motorhome.

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DISCLAIMER: I am going to use the word ‘generally’ a lot. GENERALLY, a campervan is smaller and lighter than a motorhome. Now, I KNOW somewhere there will be a 6m campervan which is wider or heavier or taller than a 6m motorhome… but in order to explain why a motorhome and campervan are different, I’m going to need to make some common generalisations.

So, basically, the difference between a motorhome and a campervan is if the manufacturers have taken the original van design, and put a new body/ frame onto it, it’s a motorhome. If it’s the standard van with a modified interior, it’s a campervan.

Or a motorvan… but let’s not complicate things!

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Is a motorhome or campervan best?

I’m sorry to say, but there’s no right answer here. It’s going to come down to what’s best for you, what’s best for your family, what’s best for your budget, what’s best for your storage limitations- all of these things are going to affect your choice.

I honestly believe that there is no one ‘best’.

What works for us probably won’t work for you. That’s why it’s SO important to understand your ‘why’ when you’re buying a motorhome– it really will affect what you should look for.

motorhome buying toolkit
motorhome buying toolkit

Want to get ALL our best buying tips, tricks and ways to save money?

Grab our Complete Motorhome or Camper Buying Guide for beginners.

It contains everything you need to go step-by-step through the buying process, including tricks for saving money, what to look for when you buy, what to do when you collect and much more. Check it out now.

And don’t forget to grab your FREE buying checklist here 

Motorhomes vs campervans

Most people choose a motorhome over a campervan for space, storage and comfort.

That was certainly the case for us- when we started off our motorhome lif, our teenage daughter travelled with us. Plus, we wanted to work from the road and we knew that we wanted to take our motorbikes and all the associated gear that they need.

We also knew we wanted spent quite a lot of time on the road, so we needed lots of storage space AND to be comfortable- we didn’t want to feel on top of each other. We also wanted two fixed beds and a separate dinette area.

And so, for those reasons, a campervan was too small for us- and so we dismissed them.

When we downsized last year, we VERY nearly bought a campervan. I have always wanted one- I love how flexible they are. However, we still need to extra space and storage and payload, so we’re not ready for one quite yet!

Pros of a Motorhome vs Campervan

Some of the reasons people choose motorhomes over campervans include:

  • Extra seat belts/ beds needed
  • Extra space, especially for fixed beds/ bunk beds/ dinette
  • Bigger payload
  • Bigger bathroom (especially if you want a separate shower
  • Better kitchen, with more facilities
  • More headroom
  • No need to crawl (to get to awkward storage areas
  • Better living space- especially if in the van a lot and if the weather is bad.

Cons of motorhomes vs Campervans

Here are some of the biggest downsides to motorhomes over campervans:

  • Cost (motorhomes are generally much more expensive
  • Usually wider (harder on narrow roads)
  • Can’t park in a normal parking bay
  • Often longer and higher- harder to park
  • Motorhome insurance can be more (so can other costs)
  • May not be able to park at home
  • Could need an additional driving test if you get a large motorhome
  • Less flexibility

Reasons to buy a Campervan over a motorhome

Ok, so why do people choose a campervan instead of a motorhome?

The biggest reason that came up in our Facebook group when I asked this question was ‘flexibility’.

Many people wanted to use the campervan as a second vehicle, instead of needing another car.

It’s also easier for:

  • wild camping (more stealth, especially in cities)
  • parking, especially in areas with height barriers
  • cheaper running costs (GENERALLY!)- inc mpg and insurance
  • cheaper ferry/ tunnel costs

Cons of a campervan vs motorhome

Some of the cons of campervan vs motorhome include:

  • Less living space- if you are a couple or a family, you might feel a bit cramped and on top of each other as there’s less space to spread out (especially in bad weather)
  • Smaller payload – this can be scarily small on a campervan!
  • Smaller bathroom/ kitchen
  • Not enough beds/ seatbelts
  • Not enough storage

So those are a lot of the pros and cons between a motorhome and campervan. I hope that helped you think about the kind of things that you want to do with your van, what you’re going to use it for and which kind of vehicle might be better for you

Video of Motorhome vs Campervan

Prefer to watch?

No problem- here’s a video discussing the pros and cons and sharing some points made by members of the Wandering Bird Facebook Group (join that by signing up to our email list below)

Next steps

If you’d like some more help figuring out what vehicle to get (and how to buy the RIGHT one for you), grab a copy of our Complete Beginners guide to Motorhome Buying here– a course of videos, downloadable eBook and worksheets to help you make the BEST decision for YOU!

motorhome buying toolkit
motorhome buying toolkit

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One Comment

  1. We have gone somewhere in the middle and bought a panel van motorhome/campervan based on a Peugeot boxer. As a more mature couple in our 60s we needed a bit more room,comfort and a van that would go down our drive which was not wide enough for a coachbuilt. We have fixed bunks for the grandkids and a make up double mid section.
    We previously had a Mazda Bongo and a little Toyota Hiace camper. They were great, but as we got older we struggled with the size and lack of comfort.

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