What You Might Know About RVs: It’s a great, inexpensive way to travel, or even an affordable alternative to living full time.
What You May Not Know: The RV cost can pile up, and even dwarf the cost of traditional car and hotel travel or living in a house with sticks and bricks.
It details the main costs associated with the RV lifestyle and gives tips on how to reduce these costs.
As someone who has traveled extensively in RVs and even lived in a trailer, I know exactly how much RVing can put a strain on your budget. Here’s what I learned:
The vehicle itself
The first thing you need to drive an RV is an RV. And depending on how you get it, that first purchase can be very expensive.
Beginners rent rather than buy, but if you fall in love with the lifestyle you should know that even modest RVs cost tens of thousands of dollars. Super luxurious ones cost over $ 1 million. (Yes, seriously.)
Caravans are usually cheaper than coaches and offer a comparable level of quality, from the entry-level model to the top. Note, however, that you will need a vehicle to lug the rig around.
However, let’s get back to the rental option. Expect nightly rates of $ 250 or more that can easily outperform a hotel room at modest prices. Additional fees for mileage and insurance can add to your bottom line.
Consider peer-to-peer RV marketplaces like RVshare or Outdoorsy, where you can rent a rig directly from its private owner, which often means lower rental rates. (Think of it as RV Airbnb.)
You may also be able to find super-affordable rentals through RV Moving Deals, where you act as a rental company’s courier and deliver RVs to destinations where they are in demand. In return, you can use the rig for a theft. Be aware, however, that there is limited ability to personalize your itinerary. You need to stick to the company’s route and schedule.
When it comes to buying, browse around – and consider whether you want to shop gently. Motorhome stands for leisure vehicleFinally, although the loan you are taking out looks more like a mortgage than car finance, you are unlikely to be building equity. You don’t wanna go also old because maintenance becomes a problem, but something three to five years old could save you a fair part of the change.
The appeal of RVs is simple: you can take anything with you for the trip, including the kitchen sink.
But all of these accommodations and extras are weighty, which means that all but the smallest RVs are pretty serious gas hogs. Case in point: The largest Class A motorhomes only reach 4 to 6 miles per gallon.
If you’re looking to save on the pump, consider vacationing closer to home or limiting yourself to a single destination. Not only do you spend less money on gas, but you also spend less time driving.
Cost of accommodation at the campsite
A lot of people think you can load up in an RV, hit the road, and just pull aside when you’re ready to get some sleep.
However, in most cases this is not the case. While some rest stops and large box parking lots allow overnight parking for RVs, many don’t. Do you really want to spend your vacation in the sleep of the headlights around the clock?
The most convenient campsites where you can hook up electricity, water and sewer connections can cost a pretty penny, especially in highly sought-after destinations. Malibu Beach may be an extreme example, but in high season it costs around $ 100 a night for a basic website and up to $ 230 for a premium location. (Remember, this is in addition to your rental price. And fuel.)
However, you can find resort-style accommodations for $ 35 to $ 50 a night, often with discounts for veterans, military personnel, or those staying for a week or more. There are also a variety of camping discount clubs that can help you get cheaper camping accommodation.
You should also check out state parks, which often have hookup RV sites at prices much lower than privately owned campsites (although they may not have a cell signal).
Finally there are Places to camp for free (or super cheap) but even in an RV you’ll kind of rough it up. On land managed by BLM and in certain other wilderness areas, you can practice “scattered” camping, also known as “boondocking” or “dry camping” – basically camping with no hookups.
However, you need to check in advance that the nice looking place to park is okay and not privately owned. There is not always suitable signage. If you accidentally end up in someone else’s backyard, you may be asked to move or even have a ticket. Some great resources for finding spots are Campendium and FreeCampsites.net.
Maintenance and storage
When buying an RV, be prepared for the costs associated with maintenance – and, if you can’t park it on your own property, storage. In Portland, Oregon, I pay $ 75 a month to keep my trailer on an uncovered lot. More desirable is that secure storage costs almost $ 200.
Added to this are the maintenance costs for both the vehicle and the household system of a mobile home, which must be serviced regularly. It can be time consuming to do it yourself, but even a small visit to the repair shop can mean a big bill.
It’s best if you already have your eye on a place to keep it – and the initiative to learn some DIY mechanics. There is a YouTube tutorial for most of the basics of RV repair and maintenance.
Overall, the great thing about RVs is that the spend can easily be adjusted to fit almost any budget. You may just need to rethink which RV to drive, where to go and how to stay there.
Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool, and other outlets. Learn more at www.jamiecattanach.com.