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Renting an RV is a great way to go about your traveling. Owning an RV though is even better. That certainly doesn’t come without its fair share of surprises along the way though. Even if you’ve only gone the rental route thus far, chances are you’ve probably encountered some of these too or will if you choose to buy. RV travel is fairly simple and very accessible. There’s just a lot to know, which can get to be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here though. We understand it can be having been there ourselves at one time so here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about RV ownership as it’s not something to take lightly.

RVS AREN’T CHEAP: A lot of people look at RVing as a more cost effective way to travel. Many others who are looking to go the full time route view RVing as a great way to minimize expenses. While there’s definitely some truth to all of that, there’s still always going to be one major cost, and that’s buying the RV itself. Sometimes this could end up costing you more than your traditional house. The purchase price is just the beginning too. RVing may allow you to avoid expensive airfare and hotels. You’ll still be responsible for gas to get to your destination as well as RV park and campground fees. Then there’s also setting aside funds for regularly scheduled maintenance as well as inevitable, unexpected repairs. There are still plenty of ways to make RVing a cost effective travel lifestyle whether full time or not. It’s just important to know there are some expenses you just can’t avoid, and you’ll need to be prepared for them.

USED RVS CAN BE BETTER: An RV can be a lot like your regular vehicle in the sense it depreciates in value. That’s even steeper if you purchase a new one. It’s not uncommon to immediately lose between 10% and 20% of the purchase price. If you’re operating on a budget, this can make going the used route even more attractive. Here’s the secret though. Used campers can be better beyond just the financial component. Assuming you’re looking at well maintained used RVs, you can get added value from the previous owner’s customizations and repairs. A downside to buying used though is you’ll usually be foregoing the factory warranty and other buying perks. At the same time though, you could make up it in saved depreciation costs.

SHOP AROUND: It’s imperative to give any RV you’re considering a thorough evaluation before signing anything. We’d suggest going as far as to get a trusted mechanic to come with you to check it out prior to making a final decision. Not only are you less likely to miss anything, but there’s tremendous peace of mind with having a trained professional looking at it too.

MANY RV TYPES: RVs come in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and sizes. As a result, there’s quite the range on price levels too. Shopping for an RV is going to be a lot more challenging if you don’t have at least some idea of the basic difference going into the process.

Class A models are the big, bus shaped RVs you might associate with celebrities. They can reach up to 45 feet in length and often feature multiple slide outs, top end appliances, full sized kitchens, and a wide variety of sleeping surfaces for eight or more passengers. You can also find smaller, more modest Class A models that still carry the convenience of being self propelled and well built. Either way, keep in mind these take a gas quickly though. It’ll depend on the model, but you may be looking at as little as six to eight miles per gallon.

Then Class B RVs are on the small end. What they lack in space though are oftentimes made up for in flexibility. The price can range quite a bit too.

Class C models offer many of the same amenities and conveniences as the Class A and generally at a smaller price point. They’re built into standard truck chassis, which makes them relatively simple to operate. Their iconic over cockpit attic space can be used for storage, sleeping, or an entertainment system. They tend to be less luxuriously decked than Class A RVs and are more commonly available in smaller sizes. That means you might get more like 10 to 14 miles per gallon instead while still being able to provide beds for the whole family.

Fifth wheels and travel trailers are towable RVs offering unique benefits and challenges. On the one hand, it’s nice to have a vehicle without having to tow one behind an RV. On the other hand though, since the RV is so heavy, you’ll likely need a full sized truck or SUV, which can make certain types of driving more of a challenge. Not to mention the added cost, which won’t be cheap. One good thing about travel trailers is they’re a lot more affordable than RVs since you’re not actually purchasing an engine. If you don’t already have a towing vehicle, you’ll likely save enough on your RV purchase to be able to afford one. Since you don’t have to devote space to a cockpit, travel trailers boast some of the largest and most well laid out living floor plans. Some with multiple slide outs offer as much as 500 square feet of living space. Just keep in mind setting up camp won’t be as easy as pulling over and putting the vehicle in park.

REGULAR RV MAINTENANCE: The regular maintenance that comes with owning an RV can be expensive and time consuming. It has all the same regular maintenance as a normal vehicle plus extras for what’s inside too. RVs are also prone to water leaks, which can be bad enough to take it off the road for good. You’ll notice a variety of other things that can go wrong too from the slide outs to the engine. If you don’t do your due diligence, you might find yourself paying a lot. Fortunately, setting a regular preventative maintenance schedule with a trustworthy mechanic can help you circumvent a lot of age related issues. You just have to do the proper research.

RV ACCESSORY COSTS CAN ADD UP: You can easily cut deep into your RV budget by buying small RV accessories. Not every piece will make your life easier though. If you get too much, you’ll quickly find your RV turning from a cozy living space into a crowded one. We encourage you to largely stick to essentials. You’ll have a much better overall experience.

RENTING OUT YOUR RV: There’s another option though if you really don’t want to store your RV, and that’s renting it out to other RVers. Not only will you save the money you would’ve spent on the storage facility, but you’ll likely make enough profit to offset some other costs. Many even share their rental earnings over time are enough to pay for the RV itself.

RVING CHANGES YOUR TRAVEL LIFESTYLE: Rookie RVers aren’t necessarily new travelers. Even if you’ve done your homework, it’s hard to understand the level of comfort and flexibility offered by even a modest RV until you’ve experienced it. RV travel offers all the convenience and flexibility that draws people to the open road along with the comfort of your very own private space. When you travel by RV, you never have to worry about airfare or a hotel.

HELPFUL RV COMMUNITY: You’ll find when you’re RVing, the people around you are like family. It’s a close knit group that loves spending time together and helping others. This extends well beyond the actual trip itself. RV campers have created blogs, forums, and tutorials all aimed at helping each other.

PLENTY OF WAYS TO SAVE MONEY: While some aspects of RVing aren’t cheap, there are still ways to save money. For example, there are a number of discount camping clubs that get you exclusive perks and savings. You can also save by customizing your trip through boondocking instead of relying on resorts, parks, and campgrounds. Not only are wilderness campsites not as costly, but they’re often quieter and prettier than developed campgrounds.

DIFFERENT RV CAMPING STYLES: You may already have a specific idea of RV travel, which is completely fine. One of the most appealing aspects of RV travel is how versatile and diverse it can be. You can live in luxury at an exclusive RV park or completely unplug in a remote boondocking campsite. Keep in mind though that different types of camping can mean varying levels of expenses. Amenity filled resorts in high demand travel destinations could charge beyond $100 per night whereas boondocking is typically free. It’s definitely worth finding a balance to diversify travel experiences and for your bank account.

RV STORAGE: Unless you’re going to be RVing full time, your RV will likely need to be put in storage when you aren’t camping. You may think it can just stay at your house. Whether you have the room or not, depending on where you live, it might not be as simple as parking your RV in the driveway. Some residential areas won’t allow it even if you have the space. This can be an expensive logistical problem to solve. Fortunately, there are some RV storage solutions.

One option is renting space in a storage facility. Of course, just like the rent or mortgage you pay for a home, housing your RV isn’t free. Depending on the location and its features, you could pay as little as $50 per month or as much as $450.

No matter which route you go, it’s essential your RV is covered while in storage with a high quality, waterproof RV cover. Having your RV stored in an indoor, temperature controlled facility may protect it from water, ultraviolet radiation, and debris damage. The exterior is still vulnerable to dust, dirt, and age related damage though. Covered RV storage is much more expensive than a regular parking lot, but it’s unquestionably the way to go.

Depending on how long your RV isn’t used, you could walk into unpleasant odors, an insect infestation, mold, or worse if you don’t take the time to make the correct storage preparations. It fortunately doesn’t take much effort to get ahead of this though. Just be sure to give your RV a thorough cleaning both inside and outside. Check for signs of water damage, and give your RV’s seams and seals a thorough examination. Extend their lifetime by giving spraying them with seal conditioner and protectant especially if your RV has a slide out. You’ll also want to ensure it’s well ventilated and even more so if you opt for a tarp RV cover. Lack of air flow can cause humidity to build up, which causes mold and damages sensitive mechanical equipment.