Newer RVers joined the campfire recently. While still enthused about their RV journey, they were also a bit disillusioned about the true cost of RVing. I’ll let them explain.
A big lie?
Tom began, “Purchasing an RV seemed like a no-brainer. Both Angie and I work remotely. And we love to travel. We bought into the lie that RVing is a cheaper way to live. So, we went looking for an RV.”
“That was a little over a year-and-a-half ago,” Angie continued. “The pandemic was winding down and RV dealers were short on inventory, but we found a new 2021 model that we just loved. It seemed perfect for us.”
Not so perfect
“Our salesman, Chet, seemed knowledgeable,” Tom went on. “Now I realize that he highlighted the glitz and neglected to inform us about more crucial matters.”
The “crucial matters” turned out to be the weight of the RV. While Tom and Angie did own a newer truck, there was no way that their truck could pull the newly purchased (and quite heavy) RV. “Long story short, we had to buy a different truck,” Tom shook his head. “But the spending didn’t end there. Not by a long shot!”
“I’ll admit it,” Tom continued. “We bought a warranty. I thought it was a good idea at the time. Now I’m not so sure. I didn’t realize that not all RV places will honor our warranty. What are the chances that our RV breaks down anywhere near a place that accepts our warranty?”
The couple’s new-to-them truck required a fifth-wheel hitch—an additional expense they overlooked when budgeting. “We were so dumb,” Angie admits. “If we’d done just a little independent research before buying the RV, we could have saved ourselves a lot of money and worry, too!”
At the same time this young couple hit the road, gas prices began to soar. “We blew through our monthly fuel budget in about two weeks,” Tom lamented. “And prices everywhere went up, up, up!”
Additional camping fees
Tom and Angie went on to explain that costs for campground stays increased as time went on. They hadn’t counted on local fees being tacked on to their online reservation cost either. When making a reservation online, these additional costs were not figured into the campground’s overnight rate. “So,” Angie explained, “in some places, we ended up spending more per stay than we’d budgeted for.”
Note: Local municipalities, in an effort to generate more money, often add resort fees, temporary housing fees, etc., which are then added to the campground’s overnight rate.
“We’ve discovered that smaller campgrounds, away from cities, charge less,” Angle said. “The downside is that groceries and fuel in smaller towns often cost more than in metropolitan areas.”
Because both Tom and Angie work from their RV, they require a strong Wi-Fi signal. “Getting the extra Wi-Fi boosting equipment we needed was another thing we failed to budget for,” Angie said with a sigh.
Part-timers chime in
“Well, we aren’t on the road full-time,” Don said. “But even sitting still our RV costs us. We pay almost $2,500 a year just to store our RV. Talk about cost! We’re looking for a different storage option, but they all charge about the same in our area.”
Many folks also mentioned RV maintenance costs, which have also increased along with everything else. “It’s not uncommon for RV service folks near me to charge $175 and more per hour,” Bret added.
Sensing that the conversation had been spiraling downward, a few campers offered some cost-saving suggestions:
- Join Harvest Hosts or other clubs that will enable you to stay for free, aside from the moderate membership fee. Remember that these local farms or wineries hope you’ll support their efforts by purchasing something before you leave.
- Learn to boondock. You may need to buy a few initial items, like a portable waste wagon, solar panels, or a generator, but they may save you money in the long run.
- Don’t live like you’re on vacation. Your RV is your home, so don’t act like a vacationer by eating out, paying to see expensive attractions, etc.
- Consider staying in state parks, city parks, and COE locations. You’ll save money and see great scenery.
- Learn to do RV maintenance and repairs yourself. Check out online RV blogs, YouTube videos, RV owners’ groups, and more.
- Make a budget and stick to it. Revisit and revise it regularly.
Do you think RVing is a less expensive way to live? What helpful money-saving advice would you offer to new RVers? Tell us in the comments below.
Previously in Around the Campfire:
- Having fun reminiscing about things from the past
- RVers share their “RV envy.” Is bigger more desirable?