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The rental option

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Post by steamdrivenandy Thu Mar 04, 2021 10:37 pm

Having sold our van last June, just in time, as I see from the MOT history that in November it failed it's test due to a broken front coil spring, we downsized and moved house in August and have just emerged, blinking into the light from sorting out the boxes etc. Mrs SDA has had no income from her choral directing for 12 months now, though she's had to pay her tax for 2019/20. She may restart some singing activities around the middle of the year but it will be tentative, with no earning potential. A couple of singing short breaks are booked for June and September and we wait to see if they actually happen.

If they do happen we need a van for me to drive her to the Lake District and spend the days she's working wandering the lakes with our bearded collie. However it seems a forlorn hope that a relevant van will become available as dealer shelves are bare and nobody is selling.

So I thought I'd look at renting for the possible dates we might need. There are all sorts of relatively local outfits, some using other peoples vans in their downtime, others using relatively new vans that they, or their finance company own. Most were already well booked up. So in the end I looked at Swift Group's Swift Go hire operation, A/S apparently not having any such hire business in their portfolio. Swift Go operate from three bases, Heathrow, Edinburgh and Stockport (they call it Manchester). The Stockport site is about an hour from home by train and taxi/legs, so is a possibility. For a fairly well equipped Select 122 PVC or a similarly equipped low profile Escape 612 coachbuilt they generally want £175 a day with a minimum hire of 5 days in early season and seven days in high season. So a couple of weeks cost around £2,500, which sounds like a lot of money, but depreciation alone will cost at least that much on a middle aged van over a year. For that you don't have to haggle to buy/sell, store, clean or service the thing. It's cleaned and prepared for you. Of course you lose the option of just buzzing off for the odd weekend, but in reality that rarely happened due to Mrs SDA's singing commitments.

Overall hiring would cost us about £6,000 a year for 4 weeks away, including fuel and site charges. Buying and running a 2007 to 2012 Symbol would cost about £6,500 per year taking into account depreciation, sites fees, servicing, fuel etc. So not a lot in it and no concerns about looking after the van during downtime whilst acknowledging the reduction in flexibility. 

Of course all the Symbol calculations are predicated on actually being able to source a van, which seems a vain hope at present.
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Post by bolero boy Fri Mar 05, 2021 9:10 am

As time goes on, rentals will rise with inflation/demand etc and depreciation on an owned van will reduce...
If you're only restricting yourself to one particular model of van then finding on might be tricky...could anything else fill the brief?
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Post by steamdrivenandy Fri Mar 05, 2021 9:43 am

bolero boy wrote:As time goes on, rentals will rise with inflation/demand etc and depreciation on an owned van will reduce...
If you're only restricting yourself to one particular model of van then finding on might be tricky...could anything else fill the brief?
I acknowledge that depreciation does sort of reduce, but I average my figures over a nominal 3 year period. Generally you can count on losing a dealer's £5k margin plus around £1,000 a year. Over 3 years that's £8,000, or £2,700 per year. Of course you could say that it's £6,000 the first year and £1,000 for the latter two. And, of course you could use 4 or 5, or whatever number of years you want to calculate it. I mean over 4 years the depreciation becomes £9,000, or £2,250 for an average year and over 5 years it becomes £2,000 a year. But, realistically not many vans are kept that long.    

As to alternatives it needs to be short and able to be used as a daily driver if the Mrs has the car. I can't justify having the cost of two cars AND a van for the odd occasion when our transport needs require two vehicles. We've owned a 6m Adria Compact in the past and that really is too big for daily type use and whilst our 5m and 5.2m Transit based PVC's were fine for daily use they were a bit narrow and short for holidays. So a 5.4m long van that's a bit wider and isn't so rust prone as a Transit, with a washroom that can be showered in at a pinch seems sensible. Then factor in that I need a bed that's at least 6ft 2ins long (Mrs SDA needs a foot less), that we need floorspace for our bearded collie to sleep at night and we'd rather have a van without a step in the floor, along with cab aircon to keep us and the beardie cool whilst travelling and the choice seems to be a 2007 to 2012 Symbol with cab air, there aren't really any alternatives.
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Post by Loopian Fri Mar 05, 2021 9:48 am

I’ve found renting a bit frustrating because by the time l’ve got the van sorted to suit us it’s time to to take it back.  Every time l’ve left with a rental l need stop and repack all the basics cutlery, crockery, saucepans, oven etc you get the picture.   I’m sure some of the above is down to my personality and experience would help but some of the rental companies really could do a lot better prep.  The up side is that normally they are new vans, you can try different types and set off from different locations.
Good luck.
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Post by breakaleg Fri Mar 05, 2021 10:51 am

Another difference in the cost of owning and Hiring is after four weeks you get to keep the van and sell it on.
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Post by bolero boy Fri Mar 05, 2021 10:56 am

The other variable is how many days a year would you use a van...
In a normal year, we are away in the van for about 30 weeks (24 weeks in Europe and about 6 in the uk...that's 210 day..
At £175 a day that's £36,750 a year!
We also like having the van on the drive so we can have one of those UK trips at the drop of a hat, can't be doing with booking sites, let alone a van....but, as earlier, good luck.
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Post by steamdrivenandy Fri Mar 05, 2021 11:28 am

I acknowledged that rental doesn't allow those short notice ad hoc trips, but as I said, in reality we rarely do those because of other commitments. 

Our 'nights away' spreadsheet shows that over 15 years we've averaged 35 nights away, with most years being exactly 35. We also know that if we booked cottages/hotels etc we'd probably only book about 28 nights at most and that would probably hold true for a rented van. I suspect that van rental would come in at £4,000 to £5,000 and cottage rental about the same.

The upsides of renting are no storage, no servicing, no cleaning, no MoT, a newish van every time, the potential to try many different types and layouts, no temptation to keep on spending on bits and pieces for the van, no insurance/VED to get involved with, no buying or selling hassle, no premium to use an automatic.
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Post by bolero boy Fri Mar 05, 2021 1:35 pm

I can see it doesn't really work for ad hoc trips, nor does it work for those who tour more extensively...the cost is just too high.
Re all the upsides you mention...no MOT for first 3 yrs, local 'man' does service at a really good rate, I am happy to spend a bit from time to time on the van, but most of my 'extras' were included in my negotiated deal....which was a real pleasure and certainly not hassle.
This is the second same brand van from the same dealer, fantastic deal on first one and when we changed to this one four years ago, the cost to change (again with a raft of accessories) was considerably less than half the annual rental would be for our typical year away..so depreciation hasn't been an issue..
Perhaps I'm lucky to have a great dealer, local engineer and a van we love stored at home and ready to go....
I can see that, for some (especially newbies trying things out) renting might be useful but it's just not something that could ever appeal to us...far too many disadvantages compared to how we currently operate.
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Post by steamdrivenandy Fri Mar 05, 2021 2:05 pm

Oh I'm certainly not suggesting that renting is for everybody, but for trial purposes, one off runs, a couple of breaks a year, even emergency use, or as in our case when there's really nothing relevant available to buy then it does have appeal and won't break the bank.
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Post by Tinwheeler Fri Mar 05, 2021 2:21 pm

Trying it in the present circumstances will give you a feel for the quality and state of repair of the hire vehicles, SDA, and will also let you know the availability - as in can you get one at short notice or do you need to book 10 months ahead.

I'd say give it a try and see what you think. You can always buy again later if it proves to be the better option.
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Post by matchlessman Mon Mar 08, 2021 7:58 am

Doing this would save me a fortune. Despite the best intentions we do not get away anything like as often as we'd like. Then again having to book a rental ahead would reduce trips away even more. Then it would be b&bs  or hotels.  

It certainly isn't a cheap option, but we do enjoy the freedom. Also very useful in present circumstances,  as we can go out walking for the day with all the toilet coffee etc facilities available. 

One of the issues with renting for us would be erosion of the capital to buy another. Too many other things to spend money on, then we'd be starting with an old van needing everything doing as we did 25 years ago.

I'll stick with our van which is everything we need and just run it for as many years as possible. 

We are all different with very different needs from a van.
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Post by groundhog Mon Mar 08, 2021 8:52 am

I can see the attraction in the rental route under the right circumstances, no storage issues, insurance, cleaning and maintaining etc.
A couple of years ago we sold our yacht on the same basis, it was costing £6000 a year to berth it plus all the hassle and the previous year was used a handful of times. I can rent for way less.

Wouldn't be for us renting a van but for others if it feels right go for it! wave
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Post by IanH Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:34 am

A like minded friend of mine has a policy.....

Always rent, never buy........

1 Boats
2 Aircraft




3 Women!!!!!!!!! hugegrins hugegrins hugegrins
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Post by gassygassy Mon Mar 08, 2021 10:03 am

If you bide your time and keep looking you can find something that doesn't cost much to own. I bought a one year old AutoSleeper, used it for a year and sold it to the first viewer for £400 less than I paid to a dealer for it. Another one I bought for £4500 I gave to my daughter and son in law. They didn't get on with motorhoming and sold it to a dealer for £6500. The dealer then sold it for £12,995.
Another pvc I bought brand new for £38,850 and traded a year later. That owner kept it for a year and traded it. The trader was advertising it at £41,995 at over two year old and over £3000 more than it was when new.
I appreciate your calculations, but owning a motorhome doesn't actually have to cost you anything.
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Post by anders4 Mon Mar 08, 2021 10:27 am

In my opinion owning and renting each have their advantages and disadvantages but it's really up to the person and their situation which is best for them. I have had my 2008 Nuevo ES for 8 years now so it doesn't really owe me anything and I prefer it to renting but that is my preference.  Some people like to change their van every few years but my motto is 'if it's not broken, don't fix it'. SDA hope you manage to find a hire van and enjoy your trips.
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Post by steamdrivenandy Mon Mar 08, 2021 11:29 am

I've owned two PVC's and an Adria coachbuilt.

The first PVC was brand new and part exchanged for the brand new Adria after two years. It cost me £35k and I got £25k allowance for the PVC, though the Adria was also discounted (end of season). So I paid a balance of £10k, effectively £5k per year of ownership.

After two years with the Adria we fancied swapping to a caravan and I took the Adria to a well established local dealership. They offered me £25k and mumbled they could see it on their forecourt at £30k. I therefore advertised it at £30k and it sold at that price. So the Adria cost £2.5k per year in depreciation.

Neither of those vans cost much in servicing and repairs because they were brand new.

The second PVC was 10 years old when I bought it for £18k from a dealer. Over the next three years I spent around £4,000 in repairs to keep it on the road. I sold it last June for £15k. So effectively it cost £7,000 over 3 years, or £2,300 a year.

My conclusion is that, leaving aside special conditions aside, like the sellers market that exists at present, it is likely that ownership of a motorhome will cost, in depreciation and repairs, about £5,000 per year for a newish van bought and sold via the trade and this will gradually reduce down to about £2,000 per year on a decade old van bought and sold privately.

There will be variation in this dependant on whether you have the luck to buy at well under market value and sell at well over and to some degree the latter depends on availability of competitive vans and the desperation of potential buyers. With all things being equal a private sale should be at a lower value than a dealership price as the dealer has liabilities under CRA that don't encumber a private seller. However sometimes a private seller can exploit a lack of available product to get a dealership price.
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Post by steamdrivenandy Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:29 pm

However the cost of ownership isn't the problem that's got me focussed on hiring, apart from the fact that current prices are highly inflated due to exceptional demand.

I'm focussed on a 2007 to 2012MY Symbol, the one with the raised GRP roof and flat level floor and it must have cab aircon. 

If you look on Autotrader there are 51 Symbols advertised for sale, but 18 of those are Symbol Pluses. So 'real' Symbols 33.

Then if you filter those 33, you find 17 of the ads are for new ones, leaving 16.

11 of those 16 are 2005 or earlier and therefore not relevant to my search, leaving 5.

4 of those 5 are post 2012. In fact they are two 2019 and two 2020's, leaving just on within my parameters for model year. I've spoken to the dealer involved and they've confirmed the van has no aircon. Sigh.

So it's back to hiring.
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Post by gassygassy Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:03 pm

Well we can't say you haven't done your research SDA. smile! How have you got on with rental research?
I would quite fancy renting a Wingamm just to see how it is to live with. They are very well built on a one piece fibreglass body. They have three 'disadvantages': A high price, (that's because a fibreglass body is bound to be expensive), the one and only dealer in the UK is in Scotland - maybe that is where one wants to go anyway and if so it's no disadvantage - and their interior decor is not to everyone's taste. The dealer does rent them if you are interested.
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Post by steamdrivenandy Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:18 pm

That's interesting GG.

Wingamm have had a fairly chequered history in the UK. No normal dealerships seem to want to take on the franchise. For a couple of years a chap near us in Alsager tried to get something going alongside his small business selling used imported Eriba Touring caravans. I did have a look over his demo van and thought it very nice but the interior upholstery colours were horrific.

Then I remember a line up of three at a show somewhere and I think a guy in Kent somewhere was selling them at that time and I did notice something about a Scottish dealer recently.

As you say, the prices are very high and, of course the hab door is on the wrong side for us. Having owned an Adria with an offside door I'm not that keen to repeat the experience, though if you venture into Europe it would work well.
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Post by gassygassy Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:24 pm

Personally I find the offside hab door perfectly OK. The one and only time it is a disadvantage is if you want to get out when parked in a stream of traffic. Even then it is no worse than getting out of the driver's door. If it is on a panel van of course the sliding door doesn't open out on to an oncoming bicycle.
I recall fancying one of the Wingamms but most of them didn't suit me. They have some dazzling interiors, and we gave up on high-up beds some years ago. I think they had a rear bed model, I can't be sure.
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Post by Teme.clifton Mon Mar 08, 2021 8:22 pm

shrugg  I can hardly believe what I have read.  Rent a van  !!  True Motorhomers join me please !!     The whole reason for having all your "stuff" packed and ready to go 365 D of Y,  at the drop of a hat >> or sat nav. in  your  "pride and joy" home on wheels,is pride -  its IS all YOURS.     You have something worthwhile as a toy to play with and enjoy.    We started in a Bedford C. L 3 speed " Dormobile," Italy, Yugoslavia,  no limits.  That still applies. except COVID prevents me leaving just when I "feel like a drive ".   Brian K.
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Post by steamdrivenandy Mon Mar 08, 2021 8:50 pm

Having a Mrs who is a choral director does rather dampen the get up and went type event. Monday was Nantwich choir, Tuesday was the ladies small choir in the village, Wednesday WI choir, Thursday the big community choir, Friday church choir, leaving Saturday, if there wasn't an actual performance to stage and perform and Sunday morning church service. It's been rather strange having her home most evenings since this time last year.

When we had two dogs then I'd get sent away with the boy when Miss Pippin came into season, but alas our boy Breaksea Jumpin' Jack Flash passed away last July, so no more boys trips out. I did get a trip down to Taunton for lunch on the West Somerset Railway to view progress in the restoration of 6024 King Edward 1, better known as Spud 1, in the engine shed at Minehead, but those were really the only ad hoc events. 

So, as I said, whilst I enjoyed fettling and cossetting our vans, bringing the last one back to as new condition after ten years of relative neglect, as there are no vans to buy, rental provides an opportunity without commitment.
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Post by gassygassy Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:29 pm

Aha! I have a cunning plan for you SDA. Somehow you get the songbird to take up duties on a peripatetic basis. That means she has to go where the work is, preferably in scenic rural locations. Not only that but it must take a good week of training a choir to sing a new song, surely? Then unfortunately you have to take the camper because you can't afford  / don't want to stay in hotels.
See, and my cunning plan didn't even involve Baldrick's Turnip.  celebrate1
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Post by steamdrivenandy Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:58 pm

That's the way it's been working over recent years GG. She's done a lot of work with HF  [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] We've had breaks with them at their country houses in the Yorkshire Dales, Lake District, Peak District, Sussex, Church Stretton, Brecon and Dolgellau and others were due last year, but were binned. I take her to the house, with all her gear and then stay close by in the van with the dogs and be ready to pick her up and take her home after the 3 or 4 day holiday. Sometimes she had two or three holidays that dovetailed one after the other which meant a longer break and sometimes we extended the break after I'd collected her. It worked very well, but the trouble is I can't find a van to do it in this year, unless I rent one.
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Post by steamdrivenandy Mon Mar 08, 2021 10:18 pm

Talking of HF holidays I had a brilliant time with them on a holiday back in summer 2016. I stayed at their Abingworth Hall country house near Storrington. The food was first class with a packed lunch provided plus breakfast and evening meal. We were a small group led by an ex-BBC garden journalist. We visited Sheffield Park and Borde Hill one day, followed by Munstead Wood (Gertrude Jekylls house) and Nymans the next and the climax was the last day when we spent a full day at the Chelsea Flower Show. Transport was by mini coach and all entry fees were included in the holiday price. It was a garden lovers extravaganza and several ticks on my bucket list.
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