How Much Does it Cost To Live in an RV? Pros and Cons
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been some significant increases in the sales and use of RVs. Whether you’ve recently caught on to the RVing trend or you’ve been curious for a while, understanding the pros and cons of living in an RV can help you decide if you want to move forward with RV living.
Read on to learn more about the costs of living in an RV and whether it’s right for you.
The Costs of Living in an RV
Living in an RV can cost anywhere from $1,500 a month to $2,300 a month or more — assuming expenses for two adults — depending on a variety of factors, like where you park at night, the repairs you need, how connected you want to be to the internet and what kinds of activities you end up paying for. And that’s not including a monthly payment for buying the RV, which can vary widely depending on your down payment, credit score and what kind of RV you buy.
Some expenses that you’ll need to consider while living in an RV include:
- Gas and propane
- Campground fees
- RV maintenance
Gas and Propane
Gas and propane are often one of the biggest expenses for full-time RVers. There are many factors that can affect how much you’ll spend on gas and propane, including your RV’s fuel economy, how often and how far you drive, weather and fluctuating prices.
The price of campground fees will depend on your personal preferences for the kinds of places you want to stay. More expensive RV parks may vary between $50 and $70 per night, whereas national or state park campgrounds range between $25 and $40 per night. RVers can also choose to camp on public land for free.
RV repairs can add up, so it is always advisable to stay on top of regular maintenance, such as oil changes and brakes and tire upkeep. You may want to keep an emergency fund on hand to help cover unexpected repairs.
Your insurance expenses will vary depending on your individual needs. You’ll need to insure your RV and other vehicles, but some insurance companies won’t provide coverage for full-time RV living. You may also need to buy health insurance if you don’t already have it through your employer.
You should also consider paying for phone and internet connections. Verizon and AT&T have large networks, and signing up with the smaller companies that use their towers can help save you some money. You can include a hotspot in your phone plan to connect other devices using your phone. However, you might also want to purchase a separate mobile hotspot device, which is especially helpful for people who work as they travel.
Lastly, when you’re on the road, chances are you’ll want to pay for some sightseeing or tourist activities. Entertainment costs are likely to fluctuate based on your preferences, but it’s also easy to reduce as needed.
Financing Your RV Purchase
RV prices can vary drastically. A small travel trailer can start as low as $10,000, whereas a luxury motorhome can be more than $500,000. Many people will need to consider seeking financing if they want to buy an RV, unless they have a large sum of money saved up to pay for it upfront.
With that being said, you can’t use a regular car loan to buy an RV. You’ll generally need to get either a personal loan or an RV loan from a lender or dealership. Personal loans may be an easy option, but getting an RV-specific loan will ensure that you’re being intentional with the funds. You’ll likely need good to excellent credit to be approved for these types of financing and reduce your down payment and interest rates.
However, some dealerships may be able to provide financing for individuals with less-than-stellar credit.
Pros and Cons of Living in an RV
Living in an RV can be an excellent experience for the right person. Here are some benefits and drawbacks to RV life.
- You have the freedom to travel wherever you want, whenever you want — as long as you can reach it on wheels.
- You get to travel in your home and avoid the hassles of packing and having to find accommodations.
- You have the opportunity to minimize your spending and live a cheaper lifestyle.
- You may feel more at peace because of the opportunities for minimalism, spending quality time with your travel partners and being closer to nature.
- You get to explore new places, learn about different cultures and have unique experiences.
- You have to adjust to living in a smaller space with less storage room.
- Weather, especially storms, can have a bigger effect on you than if you were living in a physical home.
- You may find travel days stressful due to factors like packing up camp, planning routes and accounting for traffic.
- You might have a hard time sticking to a routine.
- Internet access may be tricky, which is especially stressful for people who work while they travel.
- You need to find somewhere to park your RV every night.
Rules and Tips for Living in an RV
There aren’t many hard-and-fast rules for living in an RV. The most important RV rules you’ll have to consider involve where you park your RV for the night. You should also be aware that there are laws regarding whether you can live in an RV on your own land.
Here are some tips for living in an RV that can be used to plan for your travels and save money:
- Embrace minimalism. Only take the essentials and cut down on things like extra kitchen accessories, clothes you don’t wear, toys and other unnecessary items.
- Simplify your groceries. Learn how much you can store in your fridge and limit impulse buys. You may also want to invest in a slow cooker for easy meal prep.
- Try renting before you buy. Renting for the short term will give you an idea of whether the RV life is right for you before you put a lot of money into buying an RV.
Should You Live in an RV?
Living in an RV can be both exciting and overwhelming. Making the decision to pack up your life and hit the road is huge, and the RV lifestyle isn’t right for everyone. If you want to get a better idea of whether you’ll like living in an RV, make your own list of pros and cons based on the research you’ve done. What sounds like fun, and what doesn’t? Are there obstacles you’ll need solutions for? Could you make RV living work for you?
Answering these questions can help you decide whether you want to live in an RV and begin making a plan to do so.
- Can you permanently live in an RV?
- You can live permanently in an RV. You'll want to consider all the costs, benefits and drawbacks before you make the choice to move your life into an RV, but it's definitely possible.
- You will need a permanent address somewhere, though – for things like your driver's license, vehicle registration and bank accounts.
- Is living in an RV a good idea?
- Whether living in an RV is a good idea or not is something only you can decide for yourself. If you're the type to embrace a minimalist lifestyle and enjoy seeing new places, and things like being on the road a lot and having to find parking every night don't bother you, you might find it worth it.
- If you're not sure, consider renting an RV for a while to try it out before you buy your own.
- Is it financially smart to live in an RV?
- Living in an RV can be a great money-saver if you keep track of your spending and don't splurge on expensive tourist attractions too often.
- However, it's important to note that while a house is an investment that gains value over time, an RV is the opposite – the longer you have it, the less it's worth.
Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.
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- Cruise America. "Cruise America."
- Money Crashers. 2022. "Living in an RV Full Time – Average Costs vs. Savings Breakdown."
- Nomads in Nature. 2022. "Cost of Living in an RV Full Time [2022 Update]."
- RV Industry Association. 2021. "2021: The Year of the RV."