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5 Things That Affect What People Pay to Own RVs

Updated on August 15, 2016
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I am an avid RV enthusiast who has traveled, lived, workcamped and volunteered nationwide for more than 50 years and am still going strong!

People are always curious about the actual costs of owning recreational vehicles, but the truth is that costs can vary greatly depending on

  • the price of the vehicle you buy,
  • how choose to pay for it,
  • how you maintain it,
  • where and how you choose to live and
  • how you plan to travel.

This is why it's very important to giving a great deal of thought into such issues if you are serious about buying a coach.

Important Things to Things You Need to Think About Before Buying RVs can help you with this issue.

5 Things that affect how much you will have to pay for an RV.
5 Things that affect how much you will have to pay for an RV. | Source

How Much Do RVs Cost?

At the very least, travel unit buyers should plan on spending upwards of $45,000 for a decent previously owned RV and tow vehicle.

New equipment can easily cost four times that price, but when it comes to buying it, the truth is that the sky is the limit.. (Just to give you an idea of how high prices can go, the most expensive motor home in the world right now sells for three million dollars!)

How Much Does It Really Cost to Own an RV? and How Much Can You Afford to Pay for an RV? are articles that will help you gain a better understanding about the costs involved in buying recreational vehicles.

Payment Methods Make a Difference in Total Costs, too.

How you go about paying for your coach can make a great deal of difference in what you end up paying for a motor home, travel trailer or camper as well.

Since most people do not have the ability to pay cash, they have to use the financing services of banks, credit unions or RV dealerships, all of which charge significant fees for their services.

However, even here, the choices you make will determine your overall costs.

For example,

  1. if you purchase a $40,000 coach at 5% and finance it for 15 years with 10% down ($4000), your monthly payment will be $284.69 or

  2. if you finance it for 5 years, you will pay $679.36.

In the first scenario, your RV will cost you a total of $51,244.20. In the second, you will pay $40,761.60.

Therefore it will cost you $10,482.60 more if you choose the extended repayment time, but you will reduce your monthly payment by $394.67.

So, what you end up paying in the long run boils down to your choices, which will be based on what you can afford and/or how much you wish to pay.

Maintenance Matters More Than You May Think

You can generally plan on spending hundreds of dollars yearly to maintenance, repairs and upkeep but much more if you run into serious problems.

For example, we recently made some upgrades and repairs to our own coach that cost us

  • $2500 for tires

  • $1700 to replace our carpets

  • $182 for a new toilet

  • and $120 for a thermostat upgrade.

Sooner or later you will be faced with costs like these, and you cannot ignore them. In many cases, they show up in batches that must be dealt with immediately.

For this reason, you need to make sure that you have enough money available to maintain your coach so that it will hold its value and also function properly.

People who don't take good care of their RVs can face major financial and safety problems, so understanding the potential costs of repairs is extremely important.

Utilities Costs

How much you will pay for water, sewer and electric will only matter if you keep your unit on your own property.

If you live long term in a campground, you will only pay for electric, because water and sewer are included in your normal campsite costs.

If you live temporarily in an RV park, you will pay nothing for your basic utilities.

In the first two situations,

  • The size of your coach,

  • its amenities,

  • its location and/or

  • your lifestyle

will determine how much you pay for electric, but the range goes from $50 to $250 per month.

The type of travel you choose determines your expenses.
The type of travel you choose determines your expenses. | Source

Lifestyle Costs Vary Considerably

There are many lifestyle options available for RV owners, so it's up to you to decide which one will work for you. All are priced according to what they offer, so usually your wallet guides your choices.

Generally speaking, people will either use their coaches for travel or live in them for part or all of the year. Either way, they can choose from options such as these that allow them to

  • stay in expensive campgrounds that have many amenities,

  • camp in less attractive poorly located places with fewer amenities,

  • buy and develop property that is zoned for RV living,

  • trade labor for a free campsite with utilities or

  • take advantage of the many free and low cost spots with or without hookups that are available nationwide

Camping facilities can be as different from one another as night is to day, and the prices for staying in them vary accordingly.

Fortunately, these options give people many choices that can make RV living affordable as well as comfortable.

Below you will find two examples of different types of privately owned RV parks that show you some of their differences in pricing and lifestyle.

A Typical Family Campground

Yearly Campsite Costs At an Average Park

It costs approximately $5,000 to $6,000 plus electric to rent a mid level campsite on an annual basis.

A park like this would be one that is relatively well located and have

  • a club house,

  • laundry room,

  • swimming pool and

  • limited activities,

but may or may not offer much more for residents.

These parks often rent lots for $400 to $600 per month plus electricity to people who only want to use them on a temporary basis.

A Luxury Campground in Las Vegas, NV

The Cost of Luxury Campsites

If you are willing to pay up to twice the cost of a mid level park, you can camp in total luxury with amenities such as:

  • a beautiful, active club house,
  • structured and constant activities,
  • a Jacuzzi or two,
  • beautifully manicured, wide sites with WIFI, Cable, full hookups and 50 -100 amp electric service,
  • security services round the clock
  • and more.

Some of these parks sell, but will not rent, RV lots to people and will only rent them on a limited stay basis for prices that range from $50 to $230 per night.

The one I show in the video above sells lots for $100,000 to $200,000! (and you still have to pay for your utilities and property taxes plus an annual maintenance fee!) but you can rent a spot there for $59 and up nightly.

Travel Expenses

What Will It Cost to Have a Big RV Adventure in the US? gives you an overview of what an average cross country RV vacation might cost, but of course, prices change every year.

If you want more detailed information, the Good Sam Travel Guide is a great resource that can help you get a general idea about what different camping facilities charge nationwide. It is undoubtedly the best travel tool you can use because it is complete, detailed and costs far less than other RV guides you can buy.

I never go on an RV vacation without it.

If you use this guide to do some research, you will see that prices can vary significantly from place to place. The closer camping facilities are to big cities or popular tourist venues, the more they charge.

Furthermore, RVs only get from 8 to 12 miles per gallon, so driving long distances can be very costly.

However, here are a number of ways you can reduce gas and camping expenses, but you have to be willing to plan ahead as well as make a few sacrifices to do so.

2016 Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide (Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory)
2016 Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide (Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory)

Check camping costs before you leave home with this excellent guide book.


The Cost of Owning an RV Depends on You!

If you decide that you want to buy a recreational vehicle, just remember that the costs of doing so go far beyond your initial purchase expenses because you will have to also pay for items such as insurance, storage, certain utilities and taxes.

While there are ways to reduce some of these costs, in the final analysis, you are the one who has to decide whether this lifestyle is one that is affordable for you.

The amount of money will need to own, live and/or travel in a recreational vehicle will clearly depend on the choices you make, so plan carefully.

Good Luck and Happy Trails.

Do you now think you can afford to have the type of full time RV living experience you had imagined?

See results



Submit a Comment

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    TIMETRAVELER2 2 years ago

    firstday: Thanks so much. Once in awhile I'll post an RV article over there just to see if anybody has an interest...apparently you do! I have a ton of RV articles here, so you may want to take a look. It's a great way to travel, that's for sure. Thanks for stopping by.

  • firstday profile image

    R Beggs 2 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

    I can't wait until this is part of my life...welcome to seeing your posts...Thanks for posting this nice to have it pop up without having to leave TSU...This article makes me think of the higher end RV's and you never know. Keep up the good work...I love to see your writing. Thumbs up, interesting, and useful if you ask me. :) I am your friend in TSU @Rebeccabe

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    Michael-Milec Thanks for your kind's always nice to know that people are learning different things from the articles I write!

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    Nadine May Well, the US has many, many RVs and most are owned by every day people like you and me. Thanks for reading.

  • Michael-Milec profile image

    Michael-Milec 3 years ago


    Excellently written , well composed article, pleasure to read your professional style, much have learned from . Though it never be given me any opportunity RV-ing, I have gain an understanding of pleasure/sacrifices of those who have chance and choose to pursue this popular pastime.

    Voted up, useful and interesting.

  • Nadine May profile image

    Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

    Interesting article on a topic I know nothing about. I've seen these RV's on the TV but they were used by wealthy people who used them for their holiday trips. We do not have them in South Africa.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    phdast7 Your brother's choice is a perfect example of how one can use a small RV to enjoy without spending a ton of money. We actually sold an older Airstream we had years ago to someone who did the exact same thing with it! Small world, huh? Are you still itching lol??

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    sallybea: I cannot comment about costs outside of the US, unfortunately, but surely you could afford a small camper van for vacations there. I Traveled in a standard van once all the way from Florida to Canada with my husband and my German Shepherd for three weeks and we had a terrific time. Hope you get to give it a go, and thanks for stopping by.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

    billybuc: This one was tricky to write because I know people want to see actual figures...problem is that the range is so wide depending on the choices people make that showing figures is tough. I do have an article about the real cost of owning an RV that I'm sure you've already read, but other than that, cost issues are wide open! Nice to see you again, my friend.

  • phdast7 profile image

    Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    Excellent and well-balanced presentation as always. You give people encouragement and hope, but also remind them to do their homework first, be realistic, and match their RV plans to their real income. My younger brother bought a very small old RV and it serves as his camping and hunting base.

    It is fairly primitive, but it is just perfect when he and my son go hunting. They can sleep under the stars if they want, but if they need the warmth or safety of their "Hunting Camper" they have it. And it has been a very reasonable financial investment for them. Gtreat Hub! Hope all is well. :) Theresa

  • sallybea profile image

    Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

    Very interesting. I guess I am not alone in wishing I could have a mobile home. I love to travel but owning a RV with petrol and camp sites being so expensive in the UK I very much doubt this would ever be an option for unless one were to travel abroad with a very small campervan. No harm in dreaming though.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Nice job of answering a question I'm sure many are asking. We still haven't totally decided what we will do when the time comes...stay tuned.

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