For many people, the idea of RV ownership is very appealing. Owning an RV seems like a great way to travel, camp, see the country and live like a free spirit on the open road. But there are many pros and cons to owning an RV.
As you might expect, the cost is the biggest con to owning an RV unless you plan to live in it full time or travel extensively. But what about the vast majority of people who just RV for vacation or enjoy camping in general. Is owning an RV a good idea?
I’ll be the first to admit that owning an RV for most people does not make financial sense. But there are many other reasons why owning an RV may be worth it.
So, we have put together a list of pros and cons to help you decide if owning an RV is the right choice for you.
For the purposes of this article, an RV is any type of motorhome, travel trailer, camper or 5th wheel. So, no matter what type of RV you are considering our list of pros and cons applies.
Pros of Owning an RV
1. You Are More Likely to Go Camping
Now I know you don’t need to own an RV to go camping more often. But I do think that if you experience all of the benefits listed here and in the remainder of the pros listed below you will be much more likely to go camping. And going camping more often can be good for you. Check out all of the benefits of camping featured in this chart from The North American Camping Report prepared by KOA.
2. Everything is Packed and Ready To Go!
The only things you will need to pack are your clothes and some food. Other than that everything else you need to go camping is kept in the RV. It’s so nice to have all the camping gear packed in the RV and not have to pack and unpack for every camping trip. This also means you don’t need to find a place in your house, garage, attic, or shed to store all of your camping gear when it’s not in use.
Since everything you need for a camping trip is already on board you can make last-minute decisions about going camping. We love having the ability to be spontaneous and decide last minute if we want to take off and go camping for the weekend. We also like to know we have the option to cancel a trip if the weather is not cooperating. Either way, we win because the RV is ours and we are free to come and go whenever we want.
You can set up your RV with the most important items you want so you are comfortable while camping. We have everything we need in our RV like a memory foam mattress pad, our own sheets, blankets, pillows and towels, and our own kitchen and dining utensils. It’s just more comfortable for us to know we are sleeping in our own home on wheels. We also have accessories, games, bikes, fishing gear, comfy anti-gravity chairs and more stored on board.
5. You Can Live In Your RV Full Time or Travel Extensively
It seems like more and more people each year are opting for the nomadic RV lifestyle and for them, their RV is their home. And many retirees spend months on the road exploring the country or wintering in warmer climates. Being able to travel full time or travel a lot just isn’t feasible if you rent an RV – unless maybe you “rent to own” an RV. By the way, check out our article 11 Smart Reasons to “Rent To Own” an RV if you would like more info on this topic. It’s a great option for people who want RV full time but don’t have the down payment or credit score needed to own one.
6. You Will Travel More
If you own an RV you will most likely travel more too. And traveling is a great way to explore the world around you and expand your horizons! I love this quote below from the Build Abroad article 10 Reasons Why Travel Is Important. The article is about international travel but the lessons apply to local travel, as well.
“On the surface, travel is about seeing new places and giving a bit back at the same time. But underneath it is so much more, opening your horizons to experience completely different cultures, cuisines and landscapes. While photos are proof that you went and saw, it’s the transformation that takes place within that is often the strongest evidence of why travel is important.”
“Some argue that it’s an indulgent expense, spending money to travel that could be spent saving for a home loan or “building for the future”, but travel addicts would debate a strong case against this. It’s not about ticking off the “bucket list” and being able to recount all the countries you’ve visited, but the way travel impacts you as a person, your interactions with others and your humanity towards the rest of the world.”
7. It’s A Fun Lifestyle
For Susan and I, we enjoy the RV Lifestyle every day. We love freedom, meeting other RVers, the sense of community, the passion to explore, trip planning, making camping memories with friends and family and learning all we can about RVing. And we even love the feeling of satisfaction we get when we make a repair to our RV, or overcome some challenge on our journey that many others would consider a Con of owning an RV.
Cons of Owning an RV
1. The Cost!
The number one con to owning an RV is definitely the cost. And there are many other costs involved in owning an RV than just the price of the RV. There is maintenance, storage, insurance, and many other costs as well. Check out our article titled How Much Does A Class C RV Cost where I take a deep dive into all of the costs associated with owning an RV. Although I wrote it about owning a Class C RV it applies to any type of RV or camper you are considering.
2. Your Travel Locations Can Be Limited
What some RVers find is that they tend to travel closer to home when they own an RV. This is especially true if you use your RV for vacations or weekend getaways. For example, if you live on the east coast and you have a week off for vacation then driving 36 hours to Zion National Park in Utah probably isn’t a good option. But for RVers who are full time, retired, semi-retired or remote workers then long-distance travel is not a problem.
If you own an RV you will need regular maintenance to keep your RV in good condition. First of all, you will need to maintain the RV engine and drivetrain by performing oil changes, tire replacements, brake replacements, tune-ups, and dash AC refills. In addition, you also have to maintain the kitchen appliances, water heater, furnace, rooftop AC, and generator (portable or onboard). All of this maintenance can add up to a sizeable amount. And finally, depending on where you live you may need to winterize the RV too.
If you don’t use your RV full time you will need to store your RV somewhere and the cost of a storage facility is expensive. It can run from $100 to $200 for outdoor storage and from $250 to $400 per month for indoor storage. Some folks may be lucky enough to be able to store their RV in their driveway. But, many homeowners associations do not allow RVs to be parked in the driveway or even in the road in front of your home.
5. Unexpected Repairs
This category is different than Maintenance. Unexpected repairs are things that break unexpectedly. For example, an awning tear, a side view mirror breaking off, flat tires, tree branch damage to a roof, leak damage, and all types of other unforeseen damages that can and will occur to an RV.
6. Lack of Mobility at Your Camping Destination
Depending on the type of RV you own you may need a second vehicle to get around once you have set up camp. For example, if you own a Class A RV or a Class C RV you will either have to unhook the hookups everytime you want to travel or have a second vehicle to drive around. We have all seen the Class A’s rolling down the highway towing another car behind them.
7. Essential RV Gear and Accessories
Once you own an RV you will still need to buy many essential accessories. For example, you will need to buy things like toilet chemicals, RV toilet paper, a septic hose, a freshwater hose, leveling blocks, a fire extinguisher, and the list goes on. For a detailed list check out our article called 21 Must-Have RV Accessories for a New Camper or Travel Trailer where we list everything you will need to outfit your RV.
1. Should I Buy an RV?
Owning an RV certainly has its advantages and disadvantages and you should read our article called Full Time RV Costs to Consider for details. But if you think you will use your RV for more than 30 days a year it is worth considering purchasing one. But you also should be sure you would enjoy most of the Pros listed above. Many of the benefits of owning an RV are not financial, but intangible and personal in nature.
2. Should I rent an RV?
If you think you will use an RV less than 30 days a year then renting is definitely the better choice. Renting an RV has never been easier thanks to companies like Outdoorsy that link private RV owners with potential renters. All types of RVs are for rent so you can easily find the type of RV you are looking for. It’s also a great idea to rent an RV before you purchase one to see if you like it or not.
Have you purchased an RV, camper or motorhome and have some helpful advice you would like to share? Please leave a comment below.
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