Good questions, TandS!
Patience, research, and a plan are key, IMO.
Don’t deviate from your good judgement and your personal preference plan.
First — New or Used?
Next — price range.
Third — a list of features that you want and will not settle for less on.
Fourth — if going new, stay with the smaller Mom n’ Pop dealers. If going used, bookmark your 11 or 12 closest states on Craigslist — check it every morning and every evening. You will get a feel for what you want.
Dealing with RV dealers is still the “Wild West”. There are no regulations, no laws as to pricing, MSRP stickers, option pricing, markups, finance matters, etc..
If going used, find a good, local independent RV shop that will take care of any issues that you are not comfortable handling yourself.
Amazon & eBay are excellent sources for accessories and add-ons.
Might take a day or a year to find exactly what you want — but your work will pay off.
Best of luck & don’t get overwhelmed — it is fun when you have a plan.
When we were looking for a “Fun-Finder type” travel trailer. I determined the floor plan we wanted, plus dual axles, aluminum framing, lightweight, and a few other things.
The few new RV dealers we went to told me that it would be impossible to find a smaller unit with these features easily. There were not many made like that, they said. I just replied, that’s OK, we don’t need many — just one.
Patience and not “settling” paid off with a great unit we found three states over on Craigslist — took 8 months.
Best Always, Fred