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Is it cheaper to rent or buy an RV? When it comes to RVs, there are a ton of questions to consider before jumping in and buying one. What type of RV do I need? What size RV suits my families needs? How much towing capacity do I have with my tow vehicle? The list goes on and on. In this article we are going to break down the numbers of RV ownership vs. the cost of RV rentals. You might be surprised at the results.
When Kellie and I bought our Kodiak we were full of excitement at the thought of a newer RV. We had a set budget and let me tell you, when Kellie has set a budget, we DO NOT break it. I wrote an article on things to look out for at the dealerships as far as hidden costs, tricks they use, etc. If you would like, you can check it out here.
Did you know that the average RV owner only uses their RV less than 30 days per year? I am sure we fall into that group. The fact is we all try to take the rig out as often as we can, it just doesn’t seem to work out the way we want. So, let’s take a closer look at the numbers of owning an RV to answer the question, “Is it cheaper to rent or buy an RV?”.
Cost Of Ownership
A few of the major costs of owning an RV are insurance, finance charges/interest, depreciation, and maintenance.
RV insurance costs will have certain variables naturally. The age and value of the RV are big factors. Let’s take our travel trailer for example. We use one the “Bundle and Save” plans and we are paying roughly $250 per year. That doesn’t seem like a lot but it only the tip of the iceberg.
Besides the cost of the RV, another major cost of ownership is interest and finance charges. Let’s take a Travel Trailer that had a price tag of $25,000. Now let’s say we financed it for 10 years at 6% interest. After adding in sales tax,( 6.25% in Texas ) your monthly payment would be $277.55. If you made only your minimum payment for the duration of the loan, you would have spent $34,868.65 on that RV. You can use an RV loan calculator to plug in your specific numbers.
If you don’t have an area on your property to park your rig, you could be spending a lot of money on storage fees. The average cost for indoor, unheated storage for you RV will run between $50 and $125 per month. Over a year it can really add up. Of course, every need is different and prices vary depending on your rig.
The cost of annual RV maintenance again will vary from year to year depending on your RV and what needs to be addressed. For instance, you will not need to replace the tires every year. However, when it’s time to do so, be prepared. We all have had tires replaced on our vehicles. RV tires are no different, cost wise.
On average we spend anywhere from $300 – $500 for annual maintenance. Again, it all depends on what issues need to be addressed.
Did you know that your RV depreciates an average of 20% as soon as you leave the lot? I knew it would depreciate like a car but I had no idea how much. I’m not saying that buying a new RV is a mistake, not every decision we make needs to be about the money. Family memories are more valuable in my opinion.
Did you get the extended warranty with your last RV purchase? Would you consider getting one with your next RV purchase? We broke down and bought the extended warranty when we bought our Kodiak. Of course it was slightly used and we both wanted a little piece of mind knowing certain things were covered. We paid somewhere around $1500 for the warranty. A month or two later, we needed to have the A/C replaced and a few other minor repairs. For us, the cost was well worth it. If the fridge goes out, the warranty will pay for itself.
RV Rental Costs
Now that we have touched on a few of the costs of RV ownership, let’s take a look at the cost of renting an RV.
We said earlier that the average RV owner uses their rig less than 30 days per year. Let’s break that down to 15 weekends per year. According to the RV rental site RV Share, the average daily cost of a travel trailer is between $50 to $250. That breaks down to $1500 to $7500 per year.
The only other costs to you will be food, gas, and firewood. So, what do you think? Is it cheaper to rent or buy an RV?
Benefits Of Renting An RV
As with owning an RV, renting an RV can have several benefits as well. The main benefit is the total costs of ownership savings. As a renter you will only need to pay for the time you are actually using the RV. You also get to try out several different types and styles each time you want to take a trip to find out what the best fit for you and your family are.
If you are looking to buy an RV, renting is a great way to find out what you like and what you don’t like. As for Kellie and I, we have learned from trial and error. For example, we now we will never use an outdoor TV. We don’t even have one inside right now. If we ever take the plunge to a more permanent RV lifestyle, I know we will want one inside.
How Do I Rent An RV?
There are several online rental companies that offer peer-to-peer rentals. One of the biggest is RV Share. They offer thousands of RVs for rent right in your own neighborhood. They have a huge database that allows you to search by location, type, and features you might want. I have seen these websites referred to as the Air BNB of RVs. ( I had no idea what Air BNB was, I had to look it up ).
If you need your rental delivered, some RV owners are willing to deliver and set-up at an additional cost. You can read more on my post How To Rent An RV.
In conclusion I think it’s safe to say that renting an RV is cheaper than buying an RV. As RV owners, we are glad that we bought ours. It may be cheaper to rent, but we don’t have buyers remorse for ours. We love it and we love taking it out as often as we can. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.
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