It's an experience that's synonymous with American culture; buying an RV and traveling across the country, experiencing the vast hinterlands of the United States while on the open road, exploring while still allowing for the comfort of your customized vehicle. Many people typically associate RV ownership with retirees, or nomadic hippies, those who eschew the comforts of home either because they are in a position to travel after working most of their lives, or because their lifestyle is such that they choose to not be tied down to any one place. But how much does it really cost to enter the world of RV ownership?
First off, let's explore how much the purchase of the actual RV will set you back. If you've ever seen Breaking Bad, you know that there are certainly very cheap RV's that you can buy, but as with everything else, you get what you pay for. A "fifth-wheel" RV, that is, one that that you would tow with a truck will be less expensive than a drive-able one, clocking in anywhere between $45,000 and $65,000, but you will also have to factor in the cost of the truck. A decent diesel-powered RV motor-home will likely cost you around $100,000. You can also opt for a gas-powered RV, which can be about 20% cheaper.There will obviously be cheaper and more expensive rigs that you can purchase as the market allows for a wide variety of needs and budgets, but these numbers are indicative of what you can expect for an average vehicle. While many people do buy their RV's outright, quite a few other will finance them with payments ranging anywhere from 10 to 20 years or longer, a lengthier loan than is allowed for a standard car purchase.
Once you've purchased or financed your RV, you need to find insurance coverage. Many main-stream companies advertise their RV policies, so finding a provider shouldn't prove difficult for you. The insurance costs will vary widely depending on how expensive your RV is, and the deductible of the policy you choose. RV insurance is broken down into classes, which depend on the size of the rig, ranging from Class A to Class C, with Class A being the largest, most all-encompassing motor home. How you plan to use it will also affect your premiums, with people who plan to use it full-time expecting to pay higher premiums compared to those who will use it only for occasional trips. On average, RV insurance will cost anywhere from $1000 to $5000 a year in premiums, but can be significantly more expensive if you purchase a very high-end RV.
So now that you're insured, you can hit the road with zero worries, right? Not quite. Here are some other expenses to keep in mind...you may want to grab a pen and paper. First you have any licensing fees for buying the RV, as well as any state sales taxes. Then it's onto the fun maintenance stuff; tire replacement, oil changes, new air filters, not to mention the repairs on anything that could possibly go wrong inside the RV, since it is quite literally a second home, with bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and all of the accompanying accessories and gadgets. Then you have to consider the fuel costs, with the price of gas averaging near or above $4.00 a gallon. RV's can get anywhere from 6 to 25 miles per gallon, depending on their size, and since most people buy them for the open road, the gas price should be a major consideration. You then need to consider those costs that aren't associated with car ownership; telephone, internet, and television connections, as well as the cost of parking your motor-home for the night in a campground or RV park, which can cost anywhere from as low as $20 a night to hundreds of dollars. As you can see, the costs add up quickly.
Lastly, according to RV.net, the biggest cost of RV ownership is depreciation, which can range anywhere from 15% to 10% in the first and second year of ownership, respectively, to 6% per year for the subsequent years, declining to incrementally to 2% per year at year 12 of ownership. It's safe to say that RV's are a depreciating asset if there ever was one. There is, however, one interesting aspect of RV ownership, assuming you live on the road full time and no longer have any formal residence. You can potentially save some money on your taxes by deciding which state will be your home, perhaps choosing a state with the lowest tax rate as home base, but that didn't come from us. So if you're ready to become an RV owner, make sure that you have all of your financial ducks in a row, budgeting for more than the cost of a new rig. But if you've planned ahead, done the numbers and decided that you're ready for life on the open road, then go for it and take advantage of a proud tradition that is undoubtedly a part of the American dream. MechanicAdvisor.com is one of the largest online mechanic resources in the US. We are the premier website for consumers to research and connect with reputable local mechanics for routine and specialty automotive repair. Our website features instructional videos, articles about maintaining your car, and detailed profiles of over 500,000 mechanics across the country. If you're a shop owner, please claim your shop page for free here