The dream of life on the road in an RV has become more and more appealing to people of all ages in the last few years. Unfortunately, the cost of RV living can make the dream of hitting the road in an RV tricky to achieve. In this blog post, we will examine how your bank account is preventing you from hitting the road and how to overcome the costs of owning an RV.
Problem 1: The High Cost of Purchasing an RV
The average cost of an RV varies depending on many factors. You will pay more for larger campers, more amenities, and of course, when buying new versus used. According to the RV Wholesale Superstore, a new travel trailer will cost between $8,000 and $23,000, and a Class C motorhome will start at $60,000. If you are interested in a Fifth Wheel, Camper Report says to expect to pay between $25,000 to $100,000. And if you are ready for a Class A motorhome, Camper Report predicts that it will run you between $50,000 to well over $200,000.
The used RV market offers a wide array of options, ranging from vintage pop-ups to slightly used RVs used a season or two and traded in for a different unit. However, depending on how well the previous owner maintained the RV, you may have excessive maintenance and repair costs.
If you are new to the RV lifestyle, you may find that you do not use the RV as much as you anticipated. No matter your budget, if you do not use your RV, it is not a good value, no matter the price.
Solution 1: RV Sharing
RV sharing is an excellent solution to avoid the high cost of purchasing an RV of your own. We previously blogged about RV sharing in the post, “Is RV Sharing a Good Deal for Dog Owners.” In that post, we highlighted some of the benefits of RV sharing, including the fact that you can try before buying. You can also try different sizes and models until you find the right fit for your personal RV needs.
If your goal is to live in your RV full-time, RV sharing is not a good fit. However, if you have limited vacation and only want to hit the road a few weeks each year, RV sharing could be a perfect solution. Renting an RV through an RV share site lets you avoid the high cost of purchasing an RV of your own. Popular RV sharing sites include Outdoorsy and RV Share.
Problem 2: The High Cost of Maintaining an RV
RV Maintenance costs can also hinder your ability to hit the road in your own camper. RVs typically require a lot of maintenance. Common maintenance on your RV includes:
- Cleaning your air conditioner.
- Lubricating your slide-outs.
- Checking and maintaining all the seals on your RV.
- Servicing your heating/cooling system.
- Inspecting your tires and propane tanks.
These are only a handful of the monthly, seasonal, and annual maintenance tasks you can expect to do as an RV owner.
As an RV owner, you also need to consider unexpected expenses when something breaks or reaches the end of its useful life. Common RV Problems include repairs to the generator, waste system, leveling system, roof, slide outs, and more. If you own a motorcoach like a Class A or Class C RV, you have the problems associated with car ownership along with some of the common problems of homeownership all in one.
Solution 2: Roadside Assistance and Extended Service Plans
Several popular companies offer roadside assistance and extended service plans for RVs. A roadside assistance plan typically covers tire and wheel damage, towing, battery service, and more. An extended service plan is a monthly plan that covers the cost of repairing the various mechanical systems in your RV should they malfunction. The extended service plan is appealing to RV owners who do not want the risk of large repair bills. These RV owners find it easier to budget the monthly payment of the plan than an unexpected repair.
Good Sam is one popular company that offers both Roadside Assistance and Extended Service Plans. There are other options, and RV owners are encouraged to do plenty of research to ensure they are getting the right coverage with a reliable provider.
Problem 3: The Cost of Campgrounds and RV Parks
In addition to the cost of the RV and maintenance, you must pay for a camping site. The average cost of a campsite is around $50 depending on where you go. If you spend months at a time in your RV, that can add up quickly.
Solution 3: Joining a Discount Club or Program
RVers can boondock for free on portions of public land. This is known as dispersed camping and will likely require some research to find sites where you can park your RV. According to the Bureau of Land Management website, “Camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities is referred to as dispersed camping. Most of the remainder of public lands are open to dispersed camping, as long as it does not conflict with other authorized uses or in areas posted ‘closed to camping,’ or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources.”
Harvest Hosts grants their members the ability to stay at unique boondocking sites, including farms, vineyards, museums, and more. The annual membership is $99, and you are allowed one night at each host site. If you don’t mind boondocking and moving to a new site each day, this can be an affordable option. Boondockers Welcome is another membership site for RV owners who are interested in alternative RV sites.
Various discount campsite programs participate with more traditional campgrounds that offer water, electricity, and other amenities. Some of these include Passport America, Good Sam, and The Happy Camper Club.
Problem 4: The High Cost of Gasoline for your RV
Regardless of whether you are towing a trailer or driving a motorcoach, RVs are known for using a lot of fuel. Unless you plan on parking your camper on the same site permanently, fuel cost is unavoidable. However, there are some ways you can save on fuel costs.
Solution 4: Fuel Discount Programs and Driving Tips for Reducing Fuel Costs
The way you drive affects fuel consumption, whether driving a car, truck, or an RV. According to Southeast Financial, you will improve your gas mileage by using your cruise control, turning off your engine if idling for more than a few minutes, traveling as light as possible, and staying under or at 60 miles per hour.
You can also benefit from fuel discounts and rewards programs. The FMCA fuel discount program provides savings at a network of gas stations around the country. Pilot Travel Centers also offer an RV Plus program, with which you can save on propane, dumping, and both gasoline and diesel fuel. And finally, you can earn points with programs at gas station chains like Loves, Speedway, Exxon, and any gas station with a rewards program.