What is the Real Cost of Owning an RV?

Have you ever dreamed of taking off on the open road?

Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, you will find everything you would expect from a premier RV Resort at Buckhorn Resort near Kerrville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, you will find everything you would expect from a premier RV Resort at Buckhorn Resort near Kerrville. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’re not alone. Many yearn to drive from coast to coast, visit national and state parks, or tour scenic byways and All-American Roads.

The attraction of recreational vehicle travel is to see the country, visit new places, meet interesting people, and experience the freedom of the open road.

Free again! All it takes is a clean windshield and a full tank of fuel, and you feel a terrible craving to be “on the road again”. Let’s see what’s over the next hill complex. In the words of Willie Nelson, “Goin’ places I have never been; seein’ things that I may never see again.”

For real, there’s the music of this friendly engine pushing you along with the lyrics of the road. The RV is familiar, always familiar. Cozy, like home. Better than home. It is home.

No matter where we go in our RV, that sense of independence is satisfying. We have our own facilities, from comfortable bed to a fridge full of our favorite foods. We set the thermostat the way we like it and go to bed and get up in our usual routine.

Got a dream, a long-held wish of traveling to a special place you hope to see—someday?

Owning a recreational vehicle is not cheap; but, it’s a terrific lifestyle.

Nestled between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Scenic Byway 12 is located in one of the most beautiful places on earth. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Scenic Byway 12 is located in one of the most beautiful places on earth. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But what does it cost to own a recreational vehicle? I’m talking here real cost and not just the initial purchase price of your home on wheels.

No matter which type of RV—travel trailer, fifth-wheel trailer, camper bus, or motorhome—you choose, there are expenses involved that are rarely considered or even contemplated prior to signing on the dotted line.

The main costs of owning an RV are more than what it costs initially to purchase one.

You need to think about the financials that are involved in upkeep and repairs, storage, travel costs, insurance, taxes, campground costs, and most importantly, what it costs to maintain an RV’s value.

The expenses of owning any kind of RV can be staggering—fuel and propane costs, extended warranty plan, insurance, licensing and registration fees, state sales taxes, monthly payments and finance costs, camping fees, utility costs, routine maintenance costs, unexpected maintenance costs, roadside assistance plan, tire repair and replacement, engine and drive train repairs, road hazard expenses, off-season storage, depreciation, food expenses (including eating out), entertainment, entrance and day use fees, club/membership fees, storage fees, communications (cell/smart phones, internet), mail forward services, and the list goes on.

Add them all up and you may find them overwhelming.

If you were to ask a group of RV owners the real cost to own an RV, few would be able to give an accurate answer.

Even if they knew, each response would be different.

One reason is that there are so many hidden expenses involved with RV travel that they are sometimes too complex to compute.

For example, someone who has storage facilities on their own property stores their RV at no cost. Someone who buys a large, expensive unit and must purchase protected storage for it can spend $2500 per year for that service.

A person who can pay cash for his unit spends thousands of dollars less for it than someone who must finance the exact same RV.

Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally at Riverside County Fairgrounds, Indio, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally at Riverside County Fairgrounds, Indio, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Someone who purchases a previously owned unit that has been well maintained will pay less for repairs than a person who makes the mistake of buying one with many mechanical problems.

When people purchase an RV, they tend to forget about the cost of sales tax. For even the least costly unit, sales tax can add hundreds of dollars to the cost. For large diesel pushers, people can pay upwards of $20,000 in sales taxes.

The actual cost of owning a RV is quite high but does not offset the sheer pleasure of going where you want and when you want and sleeping in your own bed and not having to pack and unpack clothes.

And the miles will roll on…

You’ll be amazed at the beauty and the diversity of America.

Worth Pondering…

John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Decide to make the most of each moment.

See you- down the road and enjoy your journey—RV living is the freedom lifestyle.

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