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I Want To Buy An RV In The US And Ship It To Australia And Then New Zealand!

by Graeme
(New Zealand)

I live in new Zealand and reach retiring age in about 12 months. I am living alone and my retirement plan. (subject to change) is to buy a RV in America and tour the states, ship it to Australia, tour there and then ship it to new Zealand where it will be my permanent home.

My reason for buying in USA is that they are purpose built and appear to have a much better floor plan, with slide-outs, separate toilet etc. They have more "bells and Whistles", (extras I need if i am going to live in it.) And the prices appear to be more realistic. The larger ones in NZ are converted buses and have usually seen service in Japan.

I know this is a pretty optimistic plan and I may be dreaming, but first a couple of questions.

Is it legal to tow a smaller vehicle behind you (for side trips on minor roads). Or would a 5th wheeler be better.

Do the some states have different rules and regulations concerning R V ing?

There are so many things to find out, I hope this site is the right one to be on. There are things like power supply, cost of shipping, conversion (or not) to left hand drive. etc, etc.

At least I have made a start, I have also subscribed to your newsletter and bookmarked this site.

Any comments or help would be much appreciated.

ANSWER Hi Graeme, let's see if I can shed some light on some of your questions. I will start with easier ones first.

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You can tow another vehicle behind a Class A, B or C RV. Here in the states these tow behind vehicles have nicknames such as "Dinghies", "Toweds" or "Toads". The advantage of having a tow behind vehicle is that once you set up camp you can use that vehicle for sightseeing, etc. without having to breakdown camp.

How the vehicle is towed depends greatly on the type of vehicle being towed. Some cars or trucks can be towed 4 wheels down, some require that the front wheels be on a tow dolly and others may require being on a full auto trailer.

Now as far as different laws that affect RVing in different states in the US. Some states do have different rules and regulations pertaining to RVs but to be honest as long as you obey speed limits and road signs you will be OK. Our family has traveled throughout the US in our RV and never had a problem.

What type of RV should you buy? You should buy the type of RV that works with your particular lifestyle. Each RV type has advantages and disadvantages. You need to evaluate those Pros and Cons and make the decision base on your needs. Please take a look at our site's What Type Of RV Is Right For You Section, it describes each type of RV and also gives you the Pros and Cons of each type of RV.

I realize that your ultimate goal is to buy an RV here in the US. Before you buy an RV, I would suggest that you rent some of the different types of RVs that are available through one of the many US companies that specialize in RV Rentals.

Renting an RV gives you the opportunity to try these types of RVs before you buy one. The rental will answer a lot of your questions about how suitable each type will be for you. Take a look at our Rent An RV Section, to get
a better understanding of the advantages of renting an RV before buying one.

Now we get into the more complicated question of buying an RV in the US and shipping it to Australia and then to its final home in New Zealand. There are logistic companies that will arrange for shipping a motorhome or trailer to Australia or New Zealand from the US. The cost will depend greatly on the size and weight of the RV. What you need to realize is that it will not be cheap. Then you plan on shipping it to New Zealand from Australia, so that is an additional cost.

Let's say that you buy a Class A motorhome from the US and you finally end up in New Zealand and you want to convert it from a left hand drive vehicle. The whole front end of the RV has to be replaced. The whole front driver's compartment has to be rearranged. Just replacing the molded dashboard would be a nightmare. The dashboard in the driver's compartment is molded by the RV manufacturer. In order switch from left to right you may have to hire a fabricator to make a special mold to make the change.

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I would advise you to rethink your plan on shipping the RV from the US. The reason you want to buy an RV in the US is because they have better floor-plans, slideouts and are more reasonably priced. That may be true but, it appears that with shipping and modifications that the price difference will evaporate and you will end up paying far more in the long run.

Needless to say warranty and other repair work would be an issue, parts availability will also be an issue.

Here is what I would suggest. If you are planning to stay in the US for only a couple of months, then stick to an RV rental. If you are planning stay longer than that, I would suggest that you rent for the first month and once you figure out which type of RV you like, search for a reasonably priced used RV in that category and use it for the remainder of your trip.

Once you are ready to start your Australian adventures, find an RV dealer or private party that is willing to buy the RV from you. You could also find an RV Dealer that is willing to sell the RV for you for a fee. Sure you will lose some money in the process, but you will have used the RV to travel around the US and you will not be paying any cost to ship it or modify it, so you should come out ahead in the long run.

I know that you do not like the choices of RVs in New Zealand, but in searching the internet for new RVs in Australia, I found a lot of Class A motorhomes and 5th wheel trailers with the slideouts and amenities that you would be looking for. I also found some RVs that are manufactured for Australia by US RV manufacturers such as Winnebago, etc.

Buy the new RV in Australia and ship it home to New Zealand. I believe you will end up better off by using this plan.

I hope that I was able to answer most of your questions. If any of our website visitors would like to add their opinion they can do so by clicking on the Click Here To Post Comments Link at the bottom of this page.

I wish you the best of luck on your future adventures and Happy RVing

RVing Al

Comments for I Want To Buy An RV In The US And Ship It To Australia And Then New Zealand!

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American RV export to the uk.
by: Anonymous

Thats a grand plan, and i too was having thoughts about buying an american rv..a marathon..and have it imported to the Uk..but..there are many of the same problems..the power of the equipment ( voltage ) tvs..satellites etc..but could leave them in america, and add our own systems..of course the wireing has to be changed as well as we are 220/240 volts..and similar in europe..there could possibly be an agent in the uk who would handle the export, and the type approval for the mechanics of the bus, brakes, lights etc.. so it sounds as if shipping to Australia has similar problems..and of course maintenance and spares, plus if something needs replacing under warranty..how would that work ?

Shipping RV from the USA to Australia
by: Anonymous

Great plan!! I am not into too much technicalities but one thing I understood reading this page is it would be difficult for you to modify your RV at certain places/regions. If possible, try to buy an RV in Australia. But then your choice matters the most, if you have, made up your mind in buying one in the USA and shipping it to Australia then do thorough homework before considering any shipping company. International shipping requires that the vehicle should be insured. Also the shipping company you will consider should be a registered firm. Don't fall for cheap quotes, but try to look for shipping companies providing maximum facilities. Shipping companies like Uship, http://www.wewilltransportit.com are some good examples.

Rv for Down under
by: Anonymous

I live in Canada, own a 35 foot mid level fifth wheel and a 2006 HD2500 GMC diesle truck. I was born in NZ and lived in Australia for 18 years.

I would not import an Rv into Australia or NZ for these reasons.

Most Rv Parks Down under do not have adequate dump stations for Black (dunny) or grey water. When they do have a dump station it is not set up properly for a US RV, North American wiring is not acceptable in NZ or Aus. as well as the voltage of appliances being different, and technically, you would have to remove the propane furnace fron your RV, as they are not permitted in RV's there.

Converting a vehicle from LH drive to RH drive is very expensive.

There are Rv's available down under, and although they are not the larger size or have the features of the North American RV's, they are adequate and work. We rented a Toyota High Ace a couple of years ago in NZ. While it was way smaller and way more basic than what we are accustomed to, it worked. I would rent again but a bigger unit. Was trying to be cheap, and it was a bit too small.

USA -Australia-New Zealand
by: Geoff-Ohio

Awesome trip you have planned there guy.

Sounds about the same as I want to do. If I were you I would buy a travel trailer. A fifth wheel or tow behind would be your best bet. You should deck it out with the best/most solar panels and batteries, water purification so you can be off grid for an extended period of time.

The travel trailer I want to buy is the Trailmanor 2720SL. Its very light, 2500#. hard sided folding trailer insulated with thick foam to to bottom, has living room, kitchen with sink,stove,oven, a/c,shower, going to take the toilet out and replace with a composting one which saves from having to dump at a dump station, I will be removing the three way refrigerator and replacing it with a deep freezer chest converted to a refrigerator- it will be converted to 12 volts, and will only draw 100 watts a day unlike a domestic refrigerator which uses 2000 watts a day. Two or more high output solar panels plus a bank of the best batteries.

Since the Trailmanor folds down it only uses one extra gallon of fuel per 100 miles of towing. This is a good 4 season trailer.You might want to check them out. The 2720sl is 20 feet closed and 27 feet long when opened up. They sell smaller and larger Trailmanors.

I will be using a 4 door VW Jetta with a high output 6 cylinder manual to tow the trailer.

Maybe we will run into each other someday. Oh, check craigslist and ebay for good prices on used rv's.

Email me if you need any help or have any questions. caretakerman@gmail.com


Have you heard about these?
by: Anne Onymous

Safari Condo Alto. It's a travel trailer, but it is VERY stylish and VERY 21st Century:

Admittedly, they're made in Canada (and you haven't mentioned that you want to go there) but I think they're now available in the United States also. Mind you, Canada would be pretty nice to tour around, don't you think?

If you get something like this, you don't have the extra expense of converting a left hand drive vehicle to right hand drive.

Sounds like you're planning a superb retirement. I particularly like your plan to live in your mobile home (your 'safari condo'?) back in New Zealand.

All the very best.

(Sydney, Australia)

Importing a travel trailer from USA to Australia
by: Chris

Im a single guy wanting to travel Australia in comfort and the 25 foot caravan I want with slide out side is my dream design for long term living on the road.
My plan would be to travel to California for a 2 week holiday pick a caravan(travel trailer) from a dealer or private sale, modify whats needed to satify the Australian government then ship it back to Port Kembla NSW.

Is this idea to be put in the too hard basket or can someone please help me find a way

5th wheeler/GMC Truck
by: hans

Nice article.I have a2009 30 ft 5th wheeler for sale here in the US,it was made for the AU market and also a 2009 GMC 4 door Diesel Truck that goes with it.Both are for sale for $48 000 US dollars.
My contact is my pilsener@yahoo.com
Thanks Hans

Buy and sell separately in each location
by: Anonymous

My husband and I bought an awesome 26ft motorhome in the US for only $6000 and sold it a year later for $5000 (we could have got more but we wanted a quick sale - it sold in 6 hours). We probably spent $1000 on it in repairs/maintenance over the time. It had ALL mod cons.

I would strongly suggest buying and selling in each location you wish to travel in. It will cost you less than importing etc

Other things
by: Anonymous

Also remember any mains powered equipment (fridges, A/C, battery charger) will be the wrong voltage for back in AU/NZ. TV, Video even DVD may have issues with local content. Satellite, GPS and CB may not be suitable. Electrical hook up will be wrong.

You may need to look at engine emissions rules, lights etc to get rego and pay a chunk of tax, import duty etc (unless you own it for 12 months before returning. Also consider the fuel might be different (eg hi sulfur Diesel) Its one thing to get a car over but the rules on a larger vehicle could be all over the place. Also think about where you would get a windscreen if it broke?
Oh and Insurance - I found that imports in Australia if not on the insurance list of known vehicle could be a bit of a problem.

If you really want to bring one back the 5th wheeler would be an idea as you can sell the tow vehicle and buy another which the controls on the right side. However the door to the 5th wheeler may now be on the road side - Unless you can find a 5th wheeler with doors on both side. The slides might also be on the wrong side to be convenient here. You could end up with these annoyances full time when back in NZ.

There are also companies doing custom build RV and I have been looking at buying one that's close enough and making the few alterations.

I think Australia has some funny tow rules so you might want to check them out. If you are single / couple the small RV's don't really need tow vehicles unless you are going to be doing bush bashing - and there there is another type of RV to consider!

Another idea is to look at relocation rentals. Sure its not a leisurely drive but you get time to play with the RV for next to nothing.

by: Anonymous

Thanks, Alan, for your prompt and interesting reply. It has given me a lot to think about, maybe a fifth wheeler would be best but i will look at sites with 2nd hand rv,s as suggested.
I would have replied sooner but have had major problems with viruses and am at present using a spare hard-drive to try and clean the main one without losing everything. Thanks, once again.

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