The Unexpected Costs of the RV Lifestyle
With everything changing in the world today, more and more individuals are hitting the road and pursuing recreational vehicle (RV) life. Whether you're looking to explore the US during retirement, are planning an extended road trip, or just want to learn more about the costs associated with the RV lifestyle, we want to help break down the costs of hitting the road full-time.
RV Park Reservations
The expense of RV park reservations can add up, especially if you are only staying a few days. A full-time RVer at Finance Buzz shared that you could save money by joining an RV club. You'll get heavily discounted monthly park reservation rates by joining, but if you're planning on just passing through, it may be worth just paying for your stay out of pocket.1
Nightly can be $100+ per night depending on where you stay. For example, a one-night stay during peak season at the Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego, CA, will cost you at least $145 on the weekend—and that's not even for a beachfront spot.2 Make sure you've budgeted for these expenses before you hit the road.
Part of the allure of RV life is being more remote and not always connected to technology, but there will be times when you need internet access on the road. Because you're always traveling, you'll need cellular data or a hotspot to get online, especially in remote areas. Most full-time RVers invest in mobile hotspots, upgraded data plans, and signal-boosting devices.
Even if you do stop at a campground with an internet connection, the connection might not always be stable. It's good to have a backup internet and data option, especially in case of emergencies.
The fact that you will have to pay for gas when traveling around the country in an RV shouldn't come as a surprise. What might come as a surprise is how few miles per gallon RVs get. Depending on your rig, you might only get about 10 mpg. That, coupled with increasing gas prices, makes gas a major expense for RVers. In addition, some popular destinations charge a premium for their fuel because they might be the only option in the area. At the time of writing, gas was over $9 a gallon at a gas station near Death Valley, a popular RV spot. Higher gas prices are becoming more common in more isolated areas.3 While the isolated scenery might be beautiful, the ever-rising numbers on the gas board aren't.
RV maintenance and repair can be one of the largest costs of the RV lifestyle. It's challenging to determine how much RV maintenance will cost you while on the road, because it depends on the age of your vehicle, how well it's maintained, where you're going, and how long you'll be on the road. Repairs are often an unexpected expense, but you can plan for them by having an emergency savings fund in case your RV breaks down.
There's something magical about hitting the road in a van or RV and not knowing what kinds of adventures you'll have, but with this freedom comes some expenses. Planning for these expenses ahead of time will help save you stress on the road.
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