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Reasons to try before you buy. Why renting an RV is a good idea

Motorhome owners commonly tell stories of how they started with a pop-up, moved to a fifth wheel within six months and are now driving a 34-foot Class A after only a few years. Whether you are brand new to RVing or a full-timer looking to make a change, starting with an RV rental so you can try it before you buy it might be the best way to go.

First-time RV owners propelling growth of the industry

RV industry statistics released in June 2021 indicate that “first-time owners” are propelling the growth of the industry. Many of these people have never even stepped foot in an RV. They are not your yesteryear’s typical retiree looking to become a full-timer. These are families and millennials jumping into the RV life feet first, propelled by the media hype of RVing being the safest and best way to travel.

Is owning an RV right for me?

Before running out and buying an RV with the equivalent payment as a home, sit down and run the numbers and see if RV ownership is for you right now, or maybe renting a few times, or even a few years, really is the best avenue to go. This rings true if you are looking to upgrade your current RV or switch from a towable to a motorized RV or vice-versa. Renting is significantly less than the purchase of an RV and the entertainment and excitement factors are the same. The most important thing to consider is how often you will use the RV (realistically), which will then determine your expected costs versus your budget.

How often will you use the RV?

Much like when buying a boat, prospective RV owners imagine their weekends filled with RVing adventures and summer vacations on the road. With today’s busy lifestyles, unless you are planning on living in the RV, it is necessary to take a realistic look at how often you will be using it. According to RVIA statistics, the typical RV owner spends 3-4 weeks annually RVing.

For many people, it makes more sense to stick to renting RVs until they are truly ready to utilize the RV the way it is meant to be used. That means, if you do not plan to regularly use your RV, do not waste your time and money. Whether it is motorized or towable, RVs are like automobiles: The more they sit without use, the more money they cost you.

What are the associated costs with owning an RV?

For comparison’s sake, and knowing the average RV buyer is changing, let’s look at the associated costs with buying a new Class C gas motorhome versus renting. Of course, pricing varies across the country depending on the type, new or used, and a lot of other factors. While you will have to do your own research, this will give you an idea of what to consider.

Owning vs. Renting Comparison – 30′ Class C Gas Motorhome

OWNING RENTING
New RV Purchase Price $100,000* $3,200/weekly $9,000/monthly
Depreciation $20,000 Rent a new model every year
Storage $2,400/yr. N.A.
Maintenance $1,000/yr. N.A.
Insurance $1,200/yr. Included
Roadside Service $100/yr. Included
Cleaning Self Included
Tires $2,000 every 5-7 years N.A.

*RV purchase price does not include sales or financing.

The example above is simply a guide for illustration purposes. To put it in a nutshell, when buying new, depreciation is 20 percent as soon as you drive off the lot. Then there are the costs of storage, maintenance, roadside service and, most important for your safety, quality RV tires.

With these figures, you would be able to rent the same 30’ Class C bunkhouse for three weeks out of the year or more. Furthermore, you could try out different models for a week at a time to make sure the purchase you are making is the right one. This makes even more sense these days as RV inventory increases.

Do you really know what you want and need?

Common phrases among RV owners include, “You never end up with what you started with,” and, “I wish I rented first.” RV rental offers an economical way to test drive and try out different models or try a towable versus a motorized RV. It is a way to see what options you really need and what you can live without, before taking out a second mortgage. Renting an RV is significantly less than the purchase of one and the entertainment and excitement factors are the same.

With a rental, those who have never been RVing in their own RV before (as opposed to RVing with friends or relatives) will discover if the RV lifestyle is truly right for them. RVing seems glamorous on TV: Book a campground, pack your stuff and off you go. What many do not realize is that there is work and every-day maintenance involved with just about every aspect of RVing. All of these items must be taken care of before and during your bucket-list adventure. Renting gives you a chance to perform the sewage evacuation and see how long it takes to get from place-to-place and set up at camp.

##RVT1016

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Gregg
22 days ago

When we decided to move on from backpacking and car camping with a tent we rented several different types of RVs.

Through this we found that we liked TTs best as we wanted to be able to leave camp to explore more and didn’t want a toad. We then rented several different types of TTs after doing lots of research and found that some didn’t live up to the hype and others had shortcomings we wouldn’t have known about without a test run.

We finally rented an earlier version of one DW thought was amazing and I was lukewarm to… DW was right, it exceeded even her expectations! All that was then left to do was find the best deal/dealer combination with the confidence that we were getting exactly what we wanted and that it would work for us. Much less stress, plus we didn’t waste time and money on something that we’d be dissatisfied with and feel like we needed to keep looking for something better. We’re very happy with our process and our TT!

Irv
23 days ago

We rented for a 10 day trip before buying a trailer. Luckily, we were able to rent an earlier model of a trailer we were considering. We learned:

  • The wife and I could get along in a 20′ trailer and enjoy the trip
  • Our truck was capable of pulling the trailer on 6% grades
  • What features were and weren’t important to us.
Chuck
23 days ago

Counterpoint: renting would have been 1/8 cost of buying my trailer.

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