Buying An RV: Everything You Need To Know

RV Buyers Guide - Travel Trailer on Florida coast with ocean and palm tree

Buying an RV is a big decision and not one that you should go into unprepared.

In this post, we’re going to help guide you through the entire RV buying process. We’re going to show you what you can expect when visiting a dealer, what extra ownership expenses to expect, different floor plan options and more.

Knowing what type of RV you’re looking for, which brand you prefer, what type of layout you want and what you can tow will help you make the right decision when the time comes.

When you’re done, you should be completely confident and ready to make your RV purchase.

RV Buyer’s Guide Index

So You Want To Buy an RV

Airstream Travel Trailer RV

There are many reasons people buy RVs. For some, it could be that they want to get out into nature but you’re not interested in sleeping in a tent (although we do love tents here!). For others it’s about spending time with family, yet others it’s about traveling across the country.

The first step in buying an RV is knowing your Why.

Once you know why you want to buy an RV, you’ll be better prepared to make the right decision when the purchase time comes.

Some typical reasons people buy RVs are:

  • They want to vacation more with friends and family.
  • They want to travel the country with flexibility (hotel free).
  • They want to explore new places and experience nature.
  • They want to be able to travel with their pets.
  • They want to bring the comforts of home with them on their travels.
  • They like privacy during their travels.
  • They like to get out and meet new people and want to be part of a community.
  • They get a tax write off (you can claim it as a second home).
  • You can cook your own food on your travels.
  • You can save money when vacationing (more on this later).
  • You get to create new memories that last a lifetime.

These are just a few of the reasons, maybe yours is completely unique to you.

For me, its about creating memories. I love spending time with my wife and kids in the different state and national parks. Each park offers a completely unique experience and a new memory.

What is your why?

The Different Types of RVs

The first thing you’ll notice when you start doing some research on RVs is that there are actually quite a few different types of RVs to choose from. Knowing which type you’re looking for is the first step in your buying process.

Motorhomes

Motorhomes are drivable RVs. They are vehicles that have living quarters attached directly to them that offer sleeping areas, kitchens, bathrooms, dinettes, couches and more.

Motorhomes are perfect for people who want their camper and vehicle combined into one. They are great for driving in comfort across long distances, easy to park and set up for overnight stays.

Motorhomes are also the most expensive type of RVs because they include both the living quarters and the vehicle/engine combined into one.

Motorhomes are broken down into three categories, Class A, Class B and Class C.

Class A Motorhomes

Buying A Class A Motorhome

Class A motorhomes are the largest and typically most luxurious (and expensive) type of motorhomes.

They are usually built on a bus or semi frame and most resemble a bus.

Class A’s often have multiple slide outs (sections of the RV that slide out to make the interior wider), sleep 2-8 people, have large kitchens and 1-2 bathrooms.

They also get the worst gas mileage, you can typically expect between 8-10 mpg and they are the hardest to drive and maneuver.

Class A motorhomes can be up to 45′ long, are able to tow an extra vehicle and don’t require a special license to operate.

Class B Motorhomes

Buying A Class B Camper Van

Class B motorhomes are the smallest of the motorhome family and are basically oversized vans that include a sleeping space, running water, an AC unit or heater, a fridge and occasionally a toilet.

Class B motorhomes are also referred to as Camper Vans.

Camper Vans are perfect for 1-2 people who travel a lot, do lots of activities outside of the van and just need the basic necessities in the evenings for sleeping and eating.

Class B campers are the easiest to drive, park, get the best gas milage and are the cheapest to purchase and insure for motorhomes.

Class C Motorhomes

Buying A Class C RV Motorhome

Class C motorhomes are the hybrid between class A and class B and feature a bed over the driving area of the cabin.

Class C’s are typically built on a truck or van chassis and are built more for families or large group than class A motorhomes.

These motorhomes typically sleep 4-8 people comfortably, get better gas milage than class A’s, but do not include as many high end luxuries as a class A motorhome.

Class C motorhomes will include sleeping areas, kitchen, bathroom, AC and heat units, tables and couches that convert into beds and an overhead compartment over the cab that is typically another bed.

Travel Trailers

Buying A Travel Trailer RV

Travel trailers are large living spaces built on a trailer frame. They will include sleeping areas for 2-8, a bathroom, kitchen, AC and heat, lots of storage, refrigerators and more amenities.

Travel trailers are significantly cheaper than motorhomes for the fact that they include no engine and must be towed.

A travel trailer can be small and basic or large and include nearly any luxury imaginable. They can have no slide outs or include 3 large slide outs giving you an incredible amount of interior space.

The size of travel trailer that you can tow depends on your vehicle, we discuss this in more detail in the towing section of this article.

Pop Up Campers

Buying A Pop Up Camper

Pop up campers are really a hybrid between a tent and a travel trailer, are the cheapest camper you can buy and also the easiest to tow and store.

Pop up campers fold down into a small area and are expanded to their full size when you are ready to use them.

Pop up campers typically have two full or queen size beds, a small refrigerator, heater and small kitchen sink with cabinets. If you choose them, a pop up can also include a slide out third bed, a small bathroom and an AC unit

The side walls of a pop up camper are made of canvas, so these campers will feel the most like sleeping in a tent.

The main reasons people opt to buy a pop up is typically the cost, they can be towed with nearly any vehicle with towing capabilities, and they can easily be stored in a driveway or back yard.

Want to know even more about Pop Ups? Check out our post Everything You Need To Know About Pop Up Campers.

Hybrid Travel Trailers

Jayco X23B Hybrid Camper (This is what my family uses!)

The hybrid travel trailer is a hybrid between a hard sided travel trailer and a pop up camper.

A hybrid camper is basically a hard sided travel trailer with queen size beds that slide out of the front and back like a pop up camper.

This feature allows the hybrid to be cheaper, shorter and lighter than a similar travel trailer. Since the beds slide into the camper during travel and out at your destination, these campers can be 10′ shorter than a travel trailer that sleeps the same number of people. This also makes them much lighter and easier to tow.

The only canvas on a hybrid is around the slide out beds, thus making it feel far more like a travel trailer than a pop up camper.

Note: This is the option that our family has chosen to go with. We can comfortably sleep all our kids in our Jaco X23B Hybrid from Hilltop Trailers.

Jayco X23B Hybrid Camper Floorplan
The layout of our Jayco X23B. The beds slide out the ends to save space.

Micro Campers

The Jayco Hummingbird

Micro campers are a sub category of travel trailers. They are campers usually built on a 4×8 trailer frame or smaller and the amenities included vary from camper to camper.

Typically a micro camper will comfortably sleep 1-2 people and no more. They are meant for solo travels or couples at most.

Most will include a bed, refrigerator, heater and electric hookups. Some may include an AC unit and a kitchen.

A frame campers and teardrop campers would all fit into this category and all be considered micro campers

Happier Camper is a leading micro camper maker that produces retro looking tiny campers.

Jayco has even gotten into making micro campers with their Hummingbird camper that is 13′ long, sleeps two and weighs 1,500 pounds. This neat camper has an AC unit and a kitchen on the exterior of the camper.

The kitchen is located on the back of the trailer to save space in the Jayco Hummingbird.

Truck Bed Campers

Buck A Truck Camper

Truck campers, also known as slide-ins and cab-overs, are less common than travel trailers but still quite popular in certain areas of the country.

A truck camper is a camper that can be easily mounted onto a vehicle and easily removed. The share most of the same amenities as a travel trailer and include a sleeping area, kitchen, AC, stoves, furnace and even bathrooms. Today’s modern truck campers even will feature slide outs to increase the interior space.

Truck campers are usually perfect for 1-2 people who plan on doing lots of travel and have the appropriate pick up truck to handle the weight of this camper.

5th Wheel Campers

Buying A 5th Wheel Camper

5th Wheel Campers are often the biggest and most luxurious of all the campers (along with Class A Motorhomes).

This is due mainly to the fact of how 5th wheel campers are towed. They have a gooseneck at the front of the camper that comes over the truck bed (the tow vehicle) and attaches to the truck in the center of the bed.

This is a better system for towing large loads versus a ball hitch on the rear of the vehicle and allows more weight to be towed, thus making 5th wheel campers some of the biggest available.

The gooseneck also allows for additional finished interior space.

The downside to 5th wheel campers is that the tow vehicle must be a heavy duty truck, which also means that 5th wheel campers are typically designed for 2 people with a couple of extra guest beds at most.

5th wheel campers are perfect for couples traveling the country or looking for some fun weekend getaway camping in luxury.

Buying New vs Buying Used

Vintage Shasta Camper

Buying new and buying used both present their own lists of pros and cons. While buying new might be the right option for one camper, buying used might be the perfect solution for another.

Buying New Pros and Cons

Pros of Buying A New RV

  • You receive a full factory warranty.
  • You can take tax deductions on the interior paid on your loan.
  • You have hundreds of options for different floor plans.
  • A reputable dealer will spend hours prepping and inspecting the RV including the electrical systems, water systems, AC, gas and cosmetics.

Cons of Buying A New RV

  • Buying a new RV can be expensive.
  • You will incur the most depreciation.
  • Being new, you may be the one to find defects in the build when you first go camping.

Buying Used Pros and Cons

Pros of Buying a Used RV

  • Buying a used RV is cheaper than buying a new RV.
  • Used RVs have a much slower rate of depreciation.
  • The RV is already field tested.

Cons of Buying a Used RV

  • Used RVs are more prone to breakdowns, especially as they get older.
  • There is no factory warranty available.
  • You will have a limited selection for floor plans.

Choosing The Perfect RV

Class B Motorhome in front of Mountains

Choosing the perfect RV for you, is all about knowing yourself, what type of camping you like to do and what makes you happy, or as Maria Condo would say “Does it bring you joy?”.

The easies way to know what you’re looking for is to start asking yourself some questions and giving honest answers.

Read the questions below and writer down your answers, this will be useful information to bring along with you when you’re making your RV purchase.

Why Are You Buying An RV?

My Kids in our First Camper (years ago!)
  • You want to go camping with your family / kids.
    • Travel trailers and pop up campers tend to be the perfect choice for families that want to get away for a weekend of camping. Motorhomes are vastly more expensive and not worth the investment for the weekend camping warrior.
  • You want to solo travel the country.
    • For solo traveling, a Class B motorhome (camper van) or a micro camper would be the perfect options. A micro camper is going to be vastly cheaper and allows you to detach your vehicle for day trips.
  • You want to get into nature and experience roughing it.
    • Pop up campers are perfect for people who don’t want anything too fancy and still want to feel like they are camping in nature. The soft canvas sides make camping in a pop up feel much more like tent camping. And if you really want to “rough it”, then maybe winter camping, canoe camping, backpacking or hammock camping might be more up your ally!
  • You want to travel with your spouse / loved one.
    • For cross country traveling, you have lots of options, a Class A or B motorhome could be perfect depending on your budget. If you have a large truck, then a 5th wheel camper might be what you’re looking for.
  • You want a full time vacation home.
    • If you’re looking for something that you can park on your property and use as a vacation home, then a destination camper or large travel trailer would be a perfect choice for you. These can be driven to your site and parked as long as you wish.
  • You want to live in your RV full time.
    • Contrary to what you may see online (especially Pinterest), living in your RV full time is not recommended or supported by any major RV manufacturers and can actually void your warranties. RVs are made as temporary living quarters and are not designed to be a full time living space.

Once you have answered these questions, you should be able to narrow down the type of RV you’re looking to purchase to 1-2 different types.

At this point it comes down to a few remaining factors and budget.

RV Floor Plans: Finding The Floor Plan To Fit Your RV Needs

RV manufacturers used to allow purchasers to customize their RVs for a price. This however created inefficiencies and actually drove the cost of all RVs up.

In order to reduce costs, RV manufacturers these days all have a set of standard floor plans and amenities that they offer new buyers.

The good news though is that there are plenty of different floor plans to choose from and the ones offered are the most popular floor plans.

Some of the most popular floor plan options are having master bedrooms, separate sleeping areas for kids, a second bathroom and larger kitchens.

Class A Motorhome Luxury Floor Plan

Jayco Embark 39T2 Class A Motorhome Floor Plan
The Jayco Embark 39T2 Class A Motorhome

The Jayco Embark is a high end Class A motorhome with a price tag to match. You can see in this floor plan some of the options of the more luxurious RVS.

The Embark has a large master bathroom with a washer/dryer, toilet, sink and shower and a second half bath. It also includes a residential size fridge, walk around king size bed, two mounted TVs and two different couches that can double as beds.

5th Wheel Luxury Floorplan with Large Master Bed & Bath

Jayco 5th Wheel Camper RV
The Jayco Pinnacle SSWS 5th Wheel Camper

Another luxury RV is the Jayco Pinnacle SSWS 5th wheel camper. While being much cheaper than the Jayco Embark (no motor so it’s cheaper), this camper features one of the most open and luxurious floor plans available.

This camper is not meant for large families and would be perfect for a traveling couple.

It features a large master bedroom, theatre seating, a huge open kitchen and a full size bathtub.

Typical Travel Trailer Floor Plan

Jayco Jay Feather Travel Trailer RV
Jay Feather 27RL Travel Trailer

For a more modest budget, the Jayco Jay Feather 27RL is a travel trailer with yet another open floor plan.

This Jay Feather sleeps 6 and has a bathroom that separates the queen size master bed from the rest of the camper. This is a floor plan that many parents can enjoy. With a dinette and sofa that turn into beds, you can have some space between the kids and the parents.

Large Family Travel Trailer Floor Plan

Jayco Jay Feather 29QB Travel Trailer RV
Jayco Jay Feather 29QB

If you’ve got a large family like I do (we have 7 kids), then you’ll want a camper that has the ability to comfortably sleep everyone that will be camping with you.

The Jayco 29QB has two sets of bunk bed in the rear, a dinette that can turn into a bed, a couch that folds into a bed and a queen bed in the front of the camper.

Many travel trailers are set up to be family friendly and will often have a queen bed, folding couch, dinette bed and at least two additional more traditional beds.

Micro Camper Floor Plan

Jayco Micro Camper RV
Jayco Hummingbird 10RK Micro Camper

The Jayco Hummingbird 10RK is a micro camper that is basically an enclosed sleeping area with a few extra features. Literally, when you open the door, you climb into bed. However, the amenities such as a heater, AC unit and tv make for a comfortable sleeping experience.

You’ll also notice that there is a small kitchen area located on the back of this camper.

The slightly longer Hummingbird models will include a bathroom, small kitchen and dinette if you’re looking for a bit more space.

Pop Up Camper Floor Plan

Jay Sport Pop Up Camper RV
Jay Sport 12UD Pop Up Camper

Pop up campers are perfect for smaller families who need a lightweight RV that can be easily towed and easily stored.

This floor plan is mainly geared towards having a comfortable sleeping area and not much else. The dinette is perfect for having your meals and the small kitchen is perfect for some basic cooking and not much else.

Both dinettes fold into beds (one bigger than the other) and the camper can comfortably sleep 6.

Make sure to check out post Everything You Need To Know About Pop Up Campers.

RV Amenities and How They Affect Your RV

Class A RV Interior

When you purchase an RV you will have the option of adding in nearly any and every amenity you can think of.

Here are some of the most common amenities, why you might want them and what you can expect them to add to your bottom line.

Slide Outs

RV slide outs are sections of the RV that expand (slide) out of the side of the RV to create extra room on the interior of the camper. Typically there is a couch or dinette that slides out.

Slide outs have a huge effect on the interior space of an RV but they can create problems as well. They can have problems with the sliders and they are a common spot for leaking into your RV.

Large Bathrooms (Full Size)

Most RVs will come with at least a small bathroom. This can include just a toilet, sink and a small shower.

However, many people want to have a more comfortable and useful bathroom. This means a larger shower, a tub (even a full-size tub occasionally) and room to maneuver.

Large Kitchens With Lots of Storage

Large RV Kitchen

When my family heads out on our weekend camping trips, we plan on cooking all of our meals. While it is fun to do our cooking outside and over the fire, we still do plenty of meals inside our camper and store all of our food and cooking supplies in the kitchen.

Just as with your permanant home, a large kitchen is a nice luxury but it also can add a lot of cost to your purchase.

Flat Screen TVs

RV Flat Screen TV and Fireplace

I know it sounds a bit crazy that people would want a nice TV in their RV. Aren’t RVs supposed to be about traveling, seeing the country, camping and family time?

Let’s be honest here, even if you are going into a national park with family, everyone needs some down time spent relaxing and a great way to do that is with a nice TV and a good movie.

Many RVs these days will include a TV and some will include more than one (one in the living area and one in a master bedroom).

Outdoor Kitchens & Entertainment Areas

RVs with outdoor kitchens and outdoor entertainment areas are a big deal these days.

When you’re out camping with friends and family, many people don’t want to be stuck inside cooking or they may want to spend the evening outside watching a movie with the glow of a campfire in the background.

Other Popular Amenities

  • On board washer and dryer
  • Electric awnings
  • Automatic steps
  • Bathroom access from the exterior
  • Multiple bedrooms
  • Solar panels
  • Large capacity water heaters
  • Sunroofs
  • Ceiling fans
  • Theatre seating
  • Separate temperature controls for different rooms
  • Electric fireplace

Towing Considerations For Your RV

Towing a Travel Trailer

When you’re making your RV purchase you’ll have to take into consideration what your can currently tow (or if you plan on buying a new vehicle, what it will be able to tow).

While we could write an entire post just about how to tow, safety and such, we’re just going to briefly talk about what types of RVs can be towed with different vehicles in this guide.

Don’t Overload Your Vehicle

It is very important that you stay within the towing limits of your vehicle. An overloaded vehicle is not only hard on your car, truck or suv, but it is dangerous to you and to others on the road.

When you try to tow a trailer that is heavier than your vehicle can handle, you will increase your stopping distance, your vehicle will be more difficult to steer, and you can damage your suspension and drivetrain.

Dry Weight vs GVWR

When you are looking at the weight of a trailer you will see two different weight numbers.

First is the dry weight. This is the weight of the trailer with nothing in it. No camping gear, bedding, food or other things. This is the weight of the trailer empty.

GVWR is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of your camping trailer. This is the maximum weight that the trailer is designed to carry. Once you have put all your gear into your camper, it should not exceed this weight. This is the weight you should consider to match with the towing capacity of you vehicle.

To find your vehicle’s towing capacity, start by checking your owners manual and looking up it’s VIN number.

Different Vehicles and What They Can Tow (typically)

Cars & Small SUVs

Front wheel drive cars and small SUVs, assuming they are equipped to tow, typically have a towing limit of 1,500 pounds.

There are actually a good handful of micro campers that come in under 1,500 pounds dry weight.

The Pica from Timberleaf Trailers weighs 970 lbs. Happier Camper also makes a retro looking ultralight micro camper that comes in at 1,100 lbs dry weight.

Mid Size & Standard SUVs

Most mid-sized SUVs will be able to tow around 3,500 lbs while a standard SUV should be able to tow up to 5,000 lbs.

At the 3,500 capacity, you should be able to tow nearly any micro campers, pop up campers, Aliners and teardrop style campers.

At 5,000 lbs, you would be able to start towing some of the ultra light travel trailers such as the Jayco 17RK Hummingbird, which is a 20 foot trailer that weighs in at 2,980 dry and 3,950 GVWR.

Large SUVs and Small Trucks

Most large SUVs like the Suburban and most smaller trucks should have a towing rating of 6,000 – 8,000 lbs.

With these vehicles you start getting a lot more options for travel trailers but will still need to stay in the shorter trailer range or ultra lights if you want more space.

Trucks

Trucks are going to be able to tow the most as that is what they are designed for. Truck towing is also less confusing and easier to find otu that most other vehicles as this is prominantly displayed and usually known by the buyer upon purchase.

Depending on the type of truck you have, you are going to be able to 9,000 lbs. all the way up to 30,000 lbs.

With the different truck types (1,500’s up to 3,500’s) you can tow all travel trailers, 5th wheel campers, and destination RVs.

Consider Renting Before You Buy

Renting a Travel Trailer RV

If you are still having trouble trying to figure out what RV is going to be right for you, then maybe getting into a few different RVs and taking them out for a trip would be perfect.

If you can’t decide between a motorhome or a travel trailer, spend a weekend this summer renting each one out. Maybe you’ll find that you like detaching your trailer and driving your car around during the day.

If you want to read more about renting an RV, check out our complete guide to renting your first RV here or go straight to Outdoorsy and start looking at available renting now.

RV Financing

Buying an RV

Here’s a few important tips to remember when you are getting your financing in order.

Dealer or Bank Financing

Both banks and dealers have pros and cons to financing through them. In the end, where you get your financing can make a big difference so it is always a good idea to shop around.

If you go to your bank for financing you get the benefit of an already built relationship. You may have other auto loans, home loans, checking and savings with them already. This can mean a little more human touch when getting your RV loan (especially with smaller banks).

If you go through your dealer, they may offer financing through a single bank or have access to lots of different financial institutions. This may allow you to find the best deal possible.

Our recommendation is to get approved through your bank before visiting a dealer. This will give you options while visiting the dealer and remove the pressure of having to use your dealer’s options.

Watch Rates & Your Credit Score

RV financing tends to mimic auto financing in many ways including interest rates. Beyond current rates, your credit score has the biggest impact on your interest rate. Typically a 650 is considered acceptable, while anything above that will likely help you secure a better deal. Remember, even a quarter of a percent could mean the difference of thousands of dollars.

Buying An RV: Making Your RV Purchase

Towing a teardrop camper

Now that you’ve gathered as much information about RVs and what you want out of your RV experience, the last step is to make your RV purchase. But don’t just rush off to the first dealer you see, there’s a bit more to consider.

What Time Of Year Should You Buy

The time of year you choose to buy your RV can have a big impact in different ways.

If you choose to buy your RV during the first part of the year, January through March, you’ll find the best selection of RVs available. This is the time of year where you will find RV & camping shows all over the country and the dealers will be carrying their largest inventory.

Early parts of the year dealers may have sales, but these won’t be there best deals of the year.

If you’re looking for the best deal, these come at the end of the season when dealers are looking to get rid of the last of the previous years inventory.

While you might save the most money at this time of year, you will not have the biggest selection.

Should You Buy At An RV Show?

Travel Trailers at an RV Show

RV shows are great for meeting lots of dealers and seeing different brands all in one place without having to drive all over the city.

Dealers at RV shows will also have their largest selections of the year. But will they have their best pricing?

Dealers will typically have good sales at RV shows, but this won’t be there best pricing of the year.

RV shows are great for selection, seeing lots of RVs, meeting dealers and good fair pricing.

Buying Through A Local Dealer

I am always a big fan of supporting local business whenever possible. I actually got our hyrid Jayco camper at Hilltop Camper and RV here just outside of Minneapolis in Fridley, MN.

I’ve personally met the owners, talked with multiple salesmen, got a tour through their shop, parts store and more. It turns out that they are a third generation dealership that is still family owned and operated.

Many local dealers have stories just like this. I believe it is a great idea to visit as many local dealers as possible to see who you want to work with, physically see the different RVs, and find who will give you the best pricing.

There are lots of benefits to buying with a local dealer but some of my favorites are that many will provide an in depth training session with your new RV to teach you exactly how everything works.

The good dealers will also do a through inspection of every RV before it goes home with a client. This will involve inspecting the electrical systems, water, gas, cosmetics and more.

Questions You Should Ask Your Dealer

  • Does the travel trailer come with a hitch and sway bars?
  • Do they do setup on the RV before it goes out the doors?
  • Do they provide RV training sessions on new purchases?
  • Do they offer in house financing or have financial partners?
  • Ask for a list of everything that is included in the pricing of the RV and what is excluded.

Should You Buy Parts & Accessories Through Your Dealer?

Many dealers have a parts store / section where they sell all kinds of parts and accessories for their motorhomes, travel trailers, 5th wheels and other RVs.

Typically these prices are fair, but the main reason you would want to purchase through them is convenience. It is really handy to be able to purchase your fresh water hose, filter and sewage line right when you buy your RV and at the very place you just bought it.

It is true that you can probably find most of these items even cheaper on Amazon though, and I am a big fan of saving money and buying on Amazon, so I won’t discourage anyone from this route.

Balancing Depreciation and Value

RVs can literally depreciate 20-30% the minute you drive them off the lot. Nobody wants to be stuck into a loan against their will, so making sure you don’t end up upside down in your loan is always important.

One way to avoid going upside down on your RV loan is to purchase a used RV. Statistically, RVs are at their best value at year 5.

At year 5, RVs have already seen their highest years of depreciation, have little wear and tear and most of the mechanical issues that occur with new RVs have been discovered and addressed.

RV Accessories That You Should Consider Buying Right Away

RV Sewage Hose

When you buy your RV, you’re going to want to invest in a few accessories right away. Here is a list of the basics that you’ll want for your first camping trip.

Typical RV Buying Expenses To Consider

5th Wheel Camper in Arizona desert at sunset with cactus.

As with any other large purchase like a car or home, there are going to be extra expenses involved in owning an RV. Below I’ve listed just a few of the. most common expenses that most RV owners can expect.

RV Insurance

As with any other vehicle or big purchase, you will need to have it insured. While RV insurance can vary vastly, since an RV can cost $10,000 – $250,000 it is typically a lot less expensive than car insurance for the simple fact that they are driven and used far less.

According to Bank Rate, RV insurance can cost as low as $65 – $25,000 annually.

Storage Costs

If you don’t have the ability to store your RV on your own property, then you are going to have to pay someone else to store it for you. From my experience, $50 a month tends to be an average storage rate.

Hitch / Sway Bars / Brake Controller

If you’re pulling a large travel trailer you will likely want to invest in some equipment to pull it properly. A proper heavy duty hitch for your vehicle is a must. Sway bars will help the RV from swaying back and forth on the road while towing. Finally, a brake controller will operate the electric brakes that are equipped on your trailer. These costs can easily add up.

Camping Fees

Camping fees are all going to depend on where you are staying and what amenities you want in your campsite.

If you want electric, that will cost extra. If you want running water, that may cost extra. If you want a sewage hookup, that will cost extra as well.

Campsites can cost anywhere from $25 – $100 a night.

You can also find free camping sites if you look for them though. We’ve got a huge guide to Free Camping in the US that you can check out.

Maintenance Costs

If we know anything about predicting maintenance costs, it’s that you cannot predict maintenance costs. What is a good idea though is budgeting into your monthly costs for maintenance.

Renting Out Your RV For Income

If you want to turn your RV purchase into a better financial decision, you could consider renting out your RV to help cover the costs of ownership (or even turn it profitable).

Renting out RVs has become a very popular way for RV owners to make some side money when their RV is not in use.

An average week long rental for a Class A or Class C motorhome can be $1,000 – $2,500 while travel trailers can rent for $500 – $2,000 a week.

There are even peer to peer rental websites that connect the renting and the buyer while providing protection to both. As an example, Outdoorsy offers 1 Million in insurance coverage to RV owners renting out their RV on their site. They also do a DMV check on every driver, offer roadside assistance and have the most RVs and renters online.

Check out Outdoorsy here to rent out your RV.

Other Resources To Check Out

Buying A Class B RV - RV at campsite in the woods.

Hopefully you’ve found this RV Buyer’s Guide helpful. If so, i’d love to get some feedback! Also, lease us a comment about what you’d like to see covered here.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for all the work you do for this site! My daughter loves camping, and you have helped me out with a lot of basic info. She has autism, so I am always trying to juggle ease and safety with an authentic camping experience. Living in Colorado, I do have a few options, but I have thought about branching out further to visit Yellowstone and the Dakotas. Your info on renting an RV was really helpful, so thank you again!

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