rental RV in wooded campground

Is Buying an RV a Waste of Your Hard-Earned Money?

RVs are flying off the lot faster than they can be replaced. With pandemic concerns still ongoing, people have been turning to RVing as a safer way to travel this summer. Everyone wants to be outside and make up for lost time. It’s even gotten to the point where multiple national parks are having to turn people away.

With the increased demand and limited supply, prices are through the roof for new and used RVs. So does it really make sense to buy or is it better to rent an RV? Let’s consider ongoing costs associated with RVing.

RV Loan Payments Vs. Cost to Rent an RV

If you don’t own your RV outright, the monthly payment will impact the cost of RVing. RV loan payments can vary widely depending on multiple factors. The original cost of the rig, length of the loan term, and how much you put down are all factors. On the low end, you’re looking at at least a few hundred dollars a month for many RVs.

Joel and I initially financed our Class A RV for 5 years at $1069 a month. Keep in mind, we didn’t have a mortgage because we are full-timers. So that made it easier to swing such a large payment. But at the very end of 2020, we were able to pay it off early and become totally debt-free. Wahoo! 

We understand most people will have an RV payment, though. So, you’ll need to factor this into the cost of RVing. If you are just going for a short road trip and don’t plan to RV all the time, renting might be a better way to lower expenses. 

If you rent an RV through a company like Outdoorsy or RVShare, it will cost between $50-$275 per night. That is a huge price range since the type and size of the RV you rent can make a big difference. 

Even though it may sound expensive to rent an RV, it might be more affordable in the long run. If you are going to live in an RV, you’ll definitely want to buy something. But if you are a weekend warrior or summer break adventurer, renting is probably the way to go. 

Let’s say your RV cost ~$30,000 and you have a payment of ~$400 a month for 7 years. We’ll assume a typical RV that costs this much to purchase would cost around $100 a night to rent. That means you would need to camp at least 48 nights every single year to justify the cost of the loan as compared to renting.

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You can calculate your exact RV payment using this calculator. But wait, there’s more.

Repairs and Maintenance

Another cost for RV owners, especially if you live in your rig full time is repairs and maintenance. This is another way you can save money when you rent an RV. You aren’t responsible for the repairs! 

The average RV owner spends $117.52 per month on maintenance. For Joel and me, we have seen fluctuations in our repair costs. We usually go a few months without any repairs, maintenance, or upgrade costs followed by a month with a bigger price tag. It is wise to save up for these big-ticket items because trust me, they will come up eventually. 

When we added the steering stabilizer, for example, we spent several hundred dollars. Same for replacing our water heater. If you are a handy person, you can save a lot of money on labor costs. This will bring your overall price tag down.

Joel does all our maintenance and repairs but not everyone is comfortable or capable of doing that. That’s ok!  Hire a professional if you need to. It is better safe than sorry in the RV world!

There are also insurance and registration costs to consider which drive your overall cost of ownership up even higher. In case you missed it, don’t forget to check out the scoop on RV gas prices and campground costs.

  • Do you own your RV or do you rent? Why?

  • What was the most expensive RV repair you ever had?

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Kathryn Mancewicz

Kathryn Mancewicz is an RV expert who has been a full time RVer since 2019. She has bylines for her RV related content on major publications including MSN, MSN Canada, and AOL. She has also been featured on Yahoo and quoted on KOA. Kathryn is also a regular RV content writer for Cheapism.