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We receive tons of questions every day from our subscribers asking what they need to know before purchasing an RV. Turns out there are just as many reasons not to buy an RV as there are to buy one.
Purchasing an RV is a big decision to make that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As many great reasons as there are to buy an RV, there are reasons not to buy an RV.
Our intention is not to turn you off of the idea of purchasing an RV. Instead, we would like to make sure that you are informed of the possible downsides of such a purchase. If you are going to purchase an RV, you should be aware of all the pros and cons.
After all, you are making a significant financial commitment when you purchase an RV, so you should do your research before anything else. As long as you know what you are doing and you are making an informed decision when you make your purchase, we will feel like we have done our job.
Some of these reasons may align with you while others may not. Consider these possible reasons not to buy an RV, weigh them with the reasons you want to buy, and proceed confidently.
1. RVs Can Be Incredibly Expensive!
We mentioned it briefly above, but the first reason not to buy an RV is the price. RVs can be incredibly expensive.
Even the cheapest two-person trailers will rarely cost less than $20,000. If you are purchasing a full-size travel trailer, there is a good chance you will be committing to a purchase of over $50,000. There are even many fifth wheels now that cost upwards of $100,000.
Motorhomes can go well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars exceding the price of many people’s houses!
So, if you do not have a completely secure financial situation, then you might not be ready to purchase an RV. Even if you have a secure financial situation, you might not be prepared to dish out the down payment on a $150,000 vehicle.
If you are only planning on traveling with your spouse, or on weekends, how big of an RV do you really need? Do you need a new RV or will a used one work?
So, it may be a good idea to start with a used or smaller RV before upgrading to a new fancy RV.
2. RVs Use Tons of Gas
Once you have purchased your RV, you might think you are in the clear when it comes to significant financial commitments. However, you are just getting started at this point. Once you start driving around in your RV, you will quickly realize that RVs use a lot of gas.
Everyone knows gas is expensive enough when you are driving around in a regular car. Unfortunately, RVs are not known for their gas mileage. The most fuel-efficient RVs get 18 to 25 miles per gallon. That is not the worst, but that is worse than most cars, and keep in mind that it does not get better than that.
There is a better chance that you will get an RV with an average fuel efficiency of 8 to 12 miles per gallon. There is even a chance that you could get an RV that has fuel efficiency as low as seven miles per gallon.
So, you will be spending a lot of money on gas on your road trips. That is especially true if you are planning cross-country trips. So, when you are making your budget, you need to include expenses other than the RV purchase price.
3. RVs Go Down in Value – Not Up!
Have you ever heard the phrase, “A car loses value the second you drive it off of the lot?” While the exact numbers may vary, the principle is true when you purchase a vehicle. As soon as you purchase it, it decreases in value.
You could resell it 10 minutes later, and you would not make it back close to what you bought it for. There is no vehicle, RV, or otherwise, that is an excellent financial investment.
The only exceptions we know of are Airstreams and fiberglass RVs. These types of RVs do tend to hold their value. But their value still goes down over the long run.
You may purchase it out of necessity or for your enjoyment, but you should not buy it with the impression that you can recoup your investment. If taking a loss on a vehicle is an issue for you, this will be high on your reasons not to buy an RV.
Vehicles are not like houses that increase in value over time, allowing you to resell them at a profit years later. Instead, they go down in value over time.
Old cars are valued less than new ones, so you cannot expect to resell your RV for a profit. So, if you are purchasing an RV, you need to be comfortable with the fact that you will not be making much of your money back.
4. RVs Can Be Hard to Drive!
Another reason not to buy an RV is that they are challenging to drive. Susan still has not driven our Class A motorhome. While you do not need a specific license to drive most of them, RVs are more difficult to drive than your average vehicle.
This is because they are larger and more unwieldy than most vehicles. You need to drive slower, take your turns carefully, and be aware of your surroundings. Many people purchase RVs without thinking about what it is like driving one.
Then when they get behind the wheel, they start to get scared. It is important to be prepared to drive such a large vehicle, and if you are not, you are not ready to purchase an RV.
Towing can be stressful and comes with huge responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more exciting than heading out on an RV road trip but travel days can be exhausting.
5. RVs Are Not Meant for Small Town or City Driving
A mistake some people make when they purchase their RV is that they can drive it around like they would a car. RVs are not meant for city or even small-town driving.
Cities have roads that are too tight for RVs to navigate, so you will probably not even be able to get it to where you live if you live in a large metropolitan area like New York City. However, they are also not meant for small-town driving.
While you can drive down roads in small towns using an RV as your primary vehicle isn’t ideal. There aren’t many parking spots available for vehicles as large as RVs and this can be frustrating.
Additionally, small towns will sometimes have low bridges that will make it impossible for you to drive your RV. Finally, you do not want to use your RV for everyday driving when it gets such poor gas mileage.
If your plan is to explore cities and small towns, be prepared to do some walking or use other means of transportation. Navigating a large motorhome or towing a trailer downtown isn’t fun.
6. RV Campgrounds Are Expensive!
So, you have purchased your RV, paid for the gas, and arrived at the campground. All there is left to do is pay for your campsite. Unfortunately, if you were hoping for some financial relief, this is not where you will get it.
Although there are cheap campgrounds out there, more often than not, they are expensive. While you will sometimes be able to choose cheaper options, they will not always be available.
Sometimes when you are on a trip, you will need to settle for an expensive option. So, that is something else you will need to factor into your budget. Even reasonably priced sites can add up over time if you travel a lot.
7. RVs Require Constant Maintenance – and It Is Expensive!
Constant maintenance issues is probably our number one reason not to buy an RV. You need to make sure that everything in your RV is functioning correctly.
It is easy for things to break down when you spend a lot of time on the road. Even if nothing breaks down, RVs still require more maintenance than an average vehicle. Maintenance is constant, and the price adds up. So, you need to be prepared for that.
Doing your own maintenance can save you some cash; however, only if you are willing and able to do so. At some point, there will inevitably be a repair that requires the pros and the pros aren’t cheap. In our experience, mobile RV techs are getting $150 an hour to repair your rig.
8. Storing Your RV Can Be Expensive
Ideally, you will store your RV on your property. Unfortunately, most people do not have enough space to keep an RV on their property. In most cases, you cannot park your RV on the road outside your house or apartment when it is not in use.
As a result, you will need to rent out a storage unit to store your RV. Since RVs are large, you will need to rent one of the larger, more expensive spots.
Our storage spot at Extra Space Storage cost us $268 a month! And that was for a spot that did not have cover.
Paying for an RV when you are using and enjoying it is easy. Paying to not use it isn’t so easy. Among the reasons not to buy an RV, paying to store it comes up a lot.
9. There Is No Maid Service in an RV!
An RV is like a second home, and for some people, it is their primary home. As a result, you need to take care of it like you would a house. You need to keep things clean, or you will be living in a mess. Another reason not to buy an RV is that there is no maid service in an RV.
Most of you probably do not pay a maid to clean your house, but it will be a change of pace to clean things yourself if you do. So, while you might want to spend all your time on the road exploring, you will need to spend some time cleaning your mobile living area.
10. RV Insurance Costs
Another reason not to buy an RV is that you will need to pay for insurance. Like with a car, it is important to get insurance for your RV. Fortunately, there are some car insurance companies that will provide you will provide insurance for your RV.
However, you will need to contact your insurance provider to figure out what their policy is. Additionally, you might want to get Roadside Emergency Coverage in case you break down on the side of the road.
We have also found that insurance for full-time RVers is expensive. And if you intend to rent out your RV when you aren’t using it, guess what – you need a different coverage for that, and it isn’t cheap either.
11. You Have to Buy Lots of RV Gear and Accessories
If you are looking for reasons not to buy an RV, you do not need to look any further than the expenses that come from the extra gear and accessories you need to get. When you purchase your RV, it will come with some furniture, but it will not have everything you need.
Mike and Susan have spent thousands of dollars on gear and accessories for both of their RVs!
You will need to purchase things for outdoor activities, and you will need to get supplies for your RV maintenance. As a result, you may need to spend hundreds of dollars on gear and accessories before you even start your first trip.
12. All the Cool Places Require a Long Drive!
Okay, this might not be true for everyone, and what you think is cool will vary from person to person. However, most people do not live near large national parks and some of the country’s most popular camping destinations.
Therefore, you will need to prepare yourself for an extended road trip and long drive. This might be appealing to some of you, but not everyone likes driving all day. This can be especially problematic if you have kids.
You and your spouse might be able to handle 12 hours of driving, but your kids probably will not be as patient. You will need to be ready for these things and consider them among the reasons not to buy an RV.
13. RVing in Bad Weather is No Fun!
Unfortunately, when you are planning an RV trip, you need to plan around the weather. Not only will bad weather make it impossible to do some of your planned activities when you get to your campground, but it will make it difficult to get to the campground in the first place.
This is especially true if you are traveling in the winter. Driving on snowy roads is dangerous enough when you are driving in a regular vehicle. However, if you are driving a large, unwieldy RV, it is even more hazardous.
So, you need to drive slower and be more cautious when you are driving an RV in rain, wind, ice, and snow. If you are not comfortable with driving in these conditions, that might be a reason not to buy an RV.
14. The RV Sewer Hose!
The good thing about the RV sewer hose is that it is one of the least expensive purchases you will be making. The downside is that it can be disgusting to use.
You may have heard horror stories about what the dump station looks like after a few uses, but it can be truly horrifying.
It will not be a fun job, and it is incredibly stinky. So, you need to be prepared to get this job done before you plan any RV trips. There are tons of great reasons to go RVing but there are reasons not to buy an RV, and for some, it’s the dirty side of RVing.
15. New RVs Can Be of Poor Quality
Unfortunately, RVs do not have the same production quality as cars and other vehicles. Cars are built along robotic assembly lines, whereas RVs are largely built by hand along manual assembly lines.
There is a lot more room for error when a human makes something than if a robot does it. As a result, many new RVs can be of poor quality when they are first constructed.
When people purchase new RVs, they sometimes need to spend years in the shop, getting things repaired before they can use them regularly. So, if you are looking for a reason not to buy an RV, this is a pretty big one.
16. RV Setup and Breakdown Is Work and Takes Time
When you arrive and leave your campground, you will need to set up and break down your RV. You might think that this is something you can get done in a few minutes, but there are several things you need to do both in the setup and breakdown.
When you are setting up your RV, you will need to do several things to make sure that you are ready for your stay at the campground. The first thing you will want to do is use leveling blocks to give your jacks a solid foundation.
You will also need to open slides if your RV has them. Then you need to connect to the park’s electric hookups. Additionally, you need to make sure that you turn on the city water to flush out any rust in the lines.
Then hook it up to the inline filter or city water connections. Once this is done, you can fill the water heater and turn on the air conditioner or furnace, depending on the time of year you are traveling. You will also want to set up the sewer and your TVs before you start any activities.
When your trip is over, you will need to do this all over again.
It all takes time and becomes annoying, however, it’s part of RVing. Is it worth it for a weekend of camping? To me it sure is, but it could be one of the reasons not to buy an RV for some.
17. RV Travel Planning Takes Time and Effort
If you are busy outside of your vacations, a reason not to buy an RV is that RV travel planning takes a lot of time. Planning any trip takes some time and energy, but it takes even more for an RV trip. That is because you will probably be going to several locations.
These days you need to reserve campsites many months in advance of your arrival. Additionally, RVs cannot drive down every road, and you will need to plan your route to accommodate that.
This can take a while because it is not always obvious which roads are not accessible to RVs. So, you will need to spend some extra time planning that out before you can start your trip. And don’t forget the toll roads you will need to plan for those as well.
We have been using RV Trip Wizard for 5 years now and it is a huge help with trip planning. We can see campground reviews from within the app, and it will plan an RV safe RV for us to follow using all of the info about our rig. It does save us time but we still spend numerous hours planning our trip destinations.
by the way of you want to purchase RV Trip Wizard use discount code RVBlogger25 to save 25%.
18. RVs Can Feel Very Small Inside
Even if you travel as a couple like Susan and I, RVs can feel very small inside. We still get stir crazy every now and again. And there is limited personal space while you are on an RV vacation.
This may be okay for some people, but it is not something that everyone is okay with. If you are not prepared to spend all your time with your travel companions, then you might not enjoy an RV vacation. That is a perfectly valid reason not to buy an RV.
If it is not for you, then you can always spend your money on a different vacation that better suits your interests.
19. Campground Neighbors Can Be Annoying
Everyone is different and has different things that annoy them. One thing you will need to deal with at your campground is your neighbors. Sometimes you will have neighbors that never talk to you. However, if you go RVing enough, you will encounter chatty neighbors.
While some of you might enjoy making new friends, there are many of you who would prefer to be in your own space. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to avoid campground neighbors because you will be spending most of your time outside.
So, if you want privacy on your vacation, you might have a reason not to buy an RV. Of course, there are boondocking and less popular campgrounds but a huge part of RVing is interacting with other RVers.
20. You May Not Use Your RV Enough
Before you decide to buy or not to buy an RV, you need to determine how often you are going to use it. A mistake many people make is purchasing an RV and only using it once or twice a year.
If that happens, it will be sitting around collecting dust after you made a significant financial investment in it.
Alternatively, if you only want to travel a few times a year, you can rent an RV when you want to go on the road. This will cost you much less if you are traveling infrequently.
21. RV Parks Often Have Poor Cable, Cell, and Wi-Fi Service
This is a big reason not to buy an RV for some people. RV parks often have poor cable, cell, and Wi-Fi service. For some people, this might not be a big deal at all. In fact, there are many people who go camping to disconnect from technology.
However, there are many people who do not want that kind of digital isolation. It might even be detrimental because you might need your phone to answer work emails or to do other important things. If that is the case, you might not want to go on many RV vacations.
There are ways to get a great internet signal but this costs money too. Our favorite internet sources are StarLink and T-Mobile Home. We have used these sources for over a year and in our opinion they appear to be your best options.
22. You’ll Spend Money On Upgrades
It’s your home now, so, of course, you have to make it your own. RVs larger than teardrops typically come with all of the furniture you need. However, it’s completely sterile. It looks like an RV that should be sitting on a lot somewhere, waiting for someone to buy it.
It should look like that but once it’s yours, you have to make it your own. That’s an added expense that most new RV owners don’t consider. You can minimize this somewhat by using things you already have in the house for interior decor.
And then there are RV system upgrades. For example, we upgraded our suspension and we added solar to our RV which cost thousands of dollars.
23. Healthcare Can Be A Pain When Traveling
“Out-of-network” or “in-network” is an unfortunate thing we have to deal with when it comes to medical coverage. You can go anywhere for treatment but if your follow-up is “in-network” and the closest “in” is six states away, you have a problem that can only be solved with a lot of extra money.
Even retired RVers with Medicare have to deal with the ins and outs of health on the road, depending on what plan you’re on. For seniors especially and anyone with health concerns, this must be considered in your reasons not to buy an RV.
Before any trips out of state, it’s important to consider health care and treatment.
24. Crowds Are Everywhere
Unless you plan on heading to Alaska, the likeliness of finding year-round parks free of overwhelming crowds will be slimmer by the year. According to the National Park Service Reports, 2021 was a record year for park visitations.
Wherever you go, be prepared to deal with crowds. Not only does that get old from the standpoint of walking around and sightseeing, but it also gets old maneuvering a motorhome through crowded parking lots or dealing with crowded campgrounds.
25. It Gets Lonely Sometimes
Sure, you may not think that spending every day with your significant other in an RV will get lonely but you might be surprised. For the introverts out there, this might not be so bad. However, for those of us who thrive on family, social structures, and get-togethers, it can get lonely.
For us, missing our kids and grandkids is one of the most difficult aspects of RV living. We are on the road 9 months a year and we miss precious time with our families. And it is not easy missing everyone all the time.
Yes, you’ll meet new people on the way but unless you’re setting up camp semi-permanently, you’ll leave your new friends behind at some point.
As time goes on, your friends and family from pre-RV life will get used to you no longer being around. Invitations to get-togethers may fizzle and eventually go out if you’re away every weekend.
Final Thoughts: Reasons Not To Buy An RV
As you can see, there are many reasons not to buy an RV. However, that does not mean that it is a bad idea to purchase one. Although it is expensive and requires a lot of work to maintain and own one, plenty of people have purchased RVs without regret.
You can do the same thing, but it is important to understand the potential downsides. You must balance the reasons not to buy an RV with reasons to buy. Maybe your decision to buy hasn’t changed but maybe the type or price of RV you will buy has.
By sharing some of our concerns over the years, we hope you will be better prepared for life on the road.