If there is one dream that most of us have when we’re considering buying a motorhome for the first time, it is the idea of riding off into the sunset on a journey of your dreams. Going where you want, when you want and, perhaps most importantly, for as long as you like. But what are the best motorhomes for full-time living?

Over the past few years, the option of using your motorhome as your permanent home has become a reality for more and more people. After all, with more caravan parks open all year and with modern heating systems in motorhomes, you can probably brave even the worst UK winters. And, if it really gets too cold, the shores of Mediterranean Spain are only a ferry crossing and a day’s drive away. There is already a community of motorcaravanners who head out there every year.

What model should you choose if this is what you want to do?

Well, we are assuming that it will be just the two of you (there are parents who take their children out of school to travel for months at a time, but we won’t focus on that here).

You almost certainly want a fixed bed, for one thing. Pulling settees together at the end of the evening may be fine for a couple of weeks or so, but it may start to gall if you have to do it every night of the year. You might also find that the slatted frame doesn’t survive such repeated use.

It would no doubt be wise to have as much storage space as possible. After all, you will need to make room for items that you wouldn’t take with you on a short break but will have to take now. Official documents, medicines and work items spring particularly to mind.

The issue of space is a bit more interesting. You obviously want more space to move around if this is going to be your only home for months on end. But, at the same time, if you are going to do a lot of travelling, you might possibly want to go for a relatively short vehicle that won’t take up so much expensive space on ferries or in car parks.

Taking all that into account, here’s our list of ten motorhomes we think you should consider.

Carthago Liner-for-two I 53

  • Price £122,250
  • Berths 2
  • Belts 2
  • MTPLM 4800kg
  • Base vehicle Fiat Ducato
  • Length 7.83m

Could there be a better name for a motorhome designed for full-time living? You have two comfy beds that drop down over the cab. With these in the down position the cab is completely obscured so you could almost forget you are in a movable vehicle.

Moving back from here, there is a washroom spread across the centre of the ‘van that could well be larger and more sophisticated than whatever you have at home, complete with two different kinds of showers and (as an optional extra), a SOG unit on the loo to keep smells away.

Then, beyond a well-equipped kitchen comes this motorhome’s real pièce de resistance: a C-shaped lounge that’s large enough for a party of eight or more if you want, but also adaptable enough to act as somewhere the two of you can lie back and watch the TV, which slides out from behind a cupboard. There’s even a reclining seat specifically for this purpose.

Alongside plenty of useful storage inside, the Liner-for-two comes with a huge garage at the rear.

Yes, it’s a lot of money. But it’s possibly cheaper than that villa you were thinking of buying on the Côte d’Azur. And you can take it with you.

BUY IF… You have all the money in the world

PROS: Super washroom; ultra-snazzy lounge

CONS: The price!

Read our 2019 Carthago Liner-for-two review.

Pilote 696D Essentiel

  • Price £56,075
  • Berths 2
  • Belts 4
  • MTPLM 3500kg
  • Base vehicle Fiat Ducato
  • Length 6.99m

If you are going to be in the motorhome for a while, you probably want a decent-sized washroom.The 696D, a new model for 2020 from Pilote, certainly has that. It’s positioned at the rear of the vehicle, has enough space for you to wash and dress in, and comes with a huge amount of clothes storage space that sits over an equally capacious garage.

The main living area includes a large lounge with settees that face each other and are long enough to extend beyond the table if you need to stretch your legs. In any case, the table also folds down to create more room.

The kitchen between these two areas is plenty big enough to keep you sane, too.

If you are wondering about the bed: no, you don’t have to make it by bringing the settees together – although this arrangement is available as an optional extra. The standard bed, however, drops down from the ceiling, and is huge. All you need to do at the end of the day is flick the switch.

BUY IF… It really is just going to be the two of you in here, seeking ultimate comfort

PROS: Huge washroom; space-saving bed

CONS: Even the UK edition does not include a microwave in the kitchen

Read our 2020 Pilote P696D Essentiel review.

Bürstner Lyseo TD 744 Harmony Line

  • Price £68,995
  • Berths 2
  • Belts 4
  • MTPLM 4250kg
  • Base vehicle Fiat Ducato
  • Length 7.49m

Bürstner designed the 744 layout, now available in the double-floor TD range with the Harmony Line upgraded spec, specifically to make you feel as if you are in a three-room apartment. And it kind of works. There is a conventional front dinette, behind which sits a perfectly adequate kitchen and washroom. But then, behind that is something really unusual: a comfy rear lounge complete with L-shaped seating, a large window to look out of, a pull-out coffee table and a wall that is just crying out for a television. At night you simply drop the roof of this lounge area down to reveal a huge double bed.

There is also lots of storage in here – not just a large wardrobe but more overhead lockers, underseat storage areas and special cabinets than you would probably know what to do with.

BUY IF… You really like the feeling of moving from one room to another.

PROS: Really roomy rear lounge

CONS: Washroom is a bit compromised

Read our 2017 Bürstner Lyseo TD 744 review.

Adria Matrix 520 ST Axess

  • Price £56,885
  • Berths 4
  • Belts 4
  • MTPLM 3500kg
  • Base vehicle Fiat Ducato
  • Length 5.96m

If you are going to be using your motorhome full-time, eventually you are going to want a fairly decent kitchen, with plenty of storage and workspace. Fortunately the 520 ST has that in droves in the large L-shaped kitchen that takes up the rear offside corner of the motorhome. Rather handily, this has direct access via a hatch to the garage behind, so you can haul in your bulky provisions and kitchen appliances that you might not need all the time without having to go outside or even having to disrupt everyone else in the motorhome.

A drop-down bed comes down over the front dinette so, if it is the two of you, going to bed is just a question of getting up from the sofa, twisting the key and letting the electric motor do the rest.

In all this, there is even space for a fairly large loo on the rear nearside, away from the door, and any awning you might want to put up.

BUY IF… You can’t imagine going away without a fully functioning kitchen

PROS: Huge bed and kitchen

CONS: Garage is not the largest in this selection and you only get a fold-down washbasin

Read our 2020 Adria Matrix 520 ST Axess review

Swift Edge 494

  • Price £49,805
  • Berths 4
  • Belts 4
  • MTPLM 3500kg
  • Base vehicle Fiat Ducato
  • Length 7.32m

The Edge range is new for 2020 and is aimed very much at the budget-end of the market. Even so, we think it has everything you should need for full-time living.

Unusually for a motorhome, it has a transverse bed at the rear, with plenty of space to move around in and create a little den of your own.

There’s plenty of space in the front lounge, too, and we think even if there is just the two of you, you could still make use of the overcab bed as an extra storage space – or as a place to have guests to stay where they wouldn’t take up any of your own living space.

The central kitchen and washroom are all you could need for a long stay, too.

All this for less than £50,000.

BUY IF…. You are budget-conscious and want to invite people to stay

PROS: Wonderful end bedroom

CONS: Overcabs are not the most economical on the road

Read our 2020 Swift Edge 494 review.

Chausson 520

  • Price £49,910
  • Berths 4
  • Belts 4
  • MTPLM 3500kg
  • Base vehicle Fiat Ducato
  • Length 5.99m

French brand Chausson led the way in designing motorhomes with luxurious end washrooms that make ideal full-time ‘vans as a result.

This year, while other manufacturers have caught up, Chausson has gone one extra in offering this layout in a model that is less than 6m long – and so should be much easier for taking on ferries or fitting into a parking space. Nor does the 520 necessarily compromise on much. You still get a rear storage area of sorts – admittedly not a full garage like other Chausson motorhomes that share this layout, but still a compartment accessible from the rear panel that has enough room for you to store your important, but not always used, household items.

Along with the huge washroom, once you raise the drop-down bed in the morning, there is a very comfortable front lounge with parallel settees either side of a fold-down table.

BUY IF… You are worried about driving anything too big

PROS: Large washing and dressing room; still some ‘garage’ space

CONS: Probably not a vehicle to go for as a full-time ‘van if you have never used a motorhome before

Read our 2020 Chausson 520 review

Dethleffs Pulse 7051 DBM

  • Price £60,990
  • Berths 4
  • Belts 4
  • MTPLM 3500kg
  • Base vehicle Fiat Ducato
  • Length 7.41m

The Pulse range was introduced in 2019 as a companion to Dethleffs’ best-selling Trend range, but perhaps appealing to a slightly younger, more modern audience. Which, of course, is you.

Erwin Hymer Group subsidiary Dethleffs has invested some resources, including a sophisticated lighting system that makes the interior feel that much more homely.

This model includes a large and comfy rear island bed that you can lower or raise to make extra room in the garage beneath. You have to do this manually but that is possibly no bad thing if you are planning to visit remote places, as it is one less electric thing to go wrong.

The comfy front lounge includes a few nifty storage solutions, too, and the kitchen has a high spec for a continental ‘van.

BUY IF… You appreciate really modern German engineering

PROS: Flexible and comfortable bed

CONS: Shower tray is compromised by the wheel arch

Read our 2019 Dethleffs Pulse 7051 DBM GT review.

Elddis Autoquest CV60

  • Price £42,099
  • Berths 2
  • Belts 2
  • MTPLM 3500kg
  • Base vehicle Peugeot Boxer
  • Length 5.99m

A full-time ‘van that’s a van conversion? Well, why not, when the ‘van in question is as cleverly designed as this, which is also available as a Compass Avantgarde CV60 (effectively the same ‘van, with a different upholstery finish)? No wonder it was our Motorhome of the Year 2020.

The French bed that’s in the offside rear corner can be pushed back to become a comfy daybed, which also provides a perfect spot for watching television or the world go by. And yet you still effectively get a second lounge because there is a table up front beside the swivelled cab seats that is handily close to the kitchen and has its own storage areas and lighting. Okay, there’s no garage, but the area under that bed is easily large enough to hold, for example, a driveaway awning.

BUY IF... You fancy lazy days of lounging, but still want a relatively nimble mover

PROS: Clever bed that also becomes a daybed

CONS: No garage space

Read our 2020 Elddis Autoquest CV60 review.

WildAx Elara

  • Price £69,675
  • Berths 2
  • Belts 2
  • MTPLM 3500kg
  • Base vehicle Mercedes Sprinter
  • Length 5.93m

Here’s another van conversion that is worth a look at as a full-time ‘van – and not just because it is based on the Mercedes Sprinter, which regularly tops van reliability polls.

Unusually for a van conversion, the Elara includes an island bed in the rear. It’s a huge one too – bigger than you would find in most A-classes – and very comfy, with a decent amount of storage around it. The space underneath, easily accessible from the doors at the back, is probably as large as the garages you get in some coachbuilt ‘vans. You can also go for an alternative option with two single beds that are just as long.

There is a comfy L-shaped sofa up front, too, and a pedestal table that is perfectly sited for swivelled cab seats. You probably couldn’t entertain in here, but that might not be what you want to do anyway.

BUY IF… You want the luxury of a huge bed – and the three-pointed star

PROS: Huge comfy bed and comfy lounge (for a van conversion)

CONS: Not much room for anyone else

Read our 2019 WildAx Elara review.

Volkswagen Grand California 680

  • Price £71,295
  • Berths 2
  • Belts 4
  • MTPLM 3880kg
  • Base vehicle VW Crafter
  • Length 6.84m

Unless you are a Buddhist monk, the Transport-based California range would probably never work as a full-time ‘van. It is just too basic. But the Grand California 680, the larger of the two Californias, based instead on a Crafter, might just do.

It comes with two very large single beds at the rear, a decent washroom and extensive kitchen in the middle, with a peninsula fridge, and a comfy front dinette.

There is plenty of storage space under the beds in the rear. But the overhead lockers might prove more controversial: you will either love the engineering or think it takes up too much space.

Californias have been known to hold their value very well, so if you plan to sell your ‘van in the end, this is definitely one to consider.

BUY IF… You have half an eye on resale values when your stint at full-time ‘van living is over

PROS: Well-known brand with good resale values

CONS: Pricey for what it is

Read our 2020 Volkswagen Grand California 680 review.

You can find more motorhome reviews in our Motorhome Buying Guides – check out Best A-class motorhomes and Best motorhomes for families


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