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19 Expert RVers Weigh In On Fulltime RV Finances INTERVIEWS

To RV, or not to RV? That is the question.

Well, one of the questions. Actually, the main question is, How much does it cost? 

It’s no secret that the RV lifestyle is growing in popularity. Between 2010 and 2014, as the economy began to recover from the 2008 crisis, the RV industry grew by a whopping 115%. From Millennials to Baby Boomers, people all over the US are saying YES to a life of adventure. But for those who haven’t taken the plunge yet, one question often remains: How much money will I need to become (and stay) a fulltime RVer?

While there’s no simple answer to that question, there are different answers for different lifestyles and goals. If anything, the range of answers means RV beginners need to start their adventure with a plan. Things like RV size and type, amount of travel vs. parking, and intention to telecommute will all influence a new RVer’s budget. A new RVer needs to determine these things ahead of time.

This article isn’t personal financial advice, but it does show you how a wide range of RV experts handle the financial aspect of their lifestyle. We’re grateful to all the experts who responded—especially considering the fact that we asked for personal financial information. We really appreciate the sincerity, transparency, and humility of everyone who took part in this survey. Thanks, guys!

We’ve numbered these responses to make the article easy to read, but please take note—these experts aren’t listed in any kind of order. Each one comes from a different background, and each one is living a different life. We hope that by surveying all of their responses, you’ll be able to craft your own RV adventure on solid financial footing.

Remember–Mobile Home Parts Store sells all the RV parts and accessories you’ll need to support this wonderful lifestyle.

CONTENTS:


Source: 19 RV Experts Talk RV Finances – Infographic.

Now let’s hear from the experts.

These folks come from all walks of life, and each one has a unique RVing lifestyle. You’ll find a wide range of tastes, styles, and budgets here. We hope you can use the experience of these experts to plan an RV lifestyle that fits your personality. And, of course–a BIG shout-out to all the experts who participated. Thank you!

1. Roger – CasaRodante


How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

If they are new to RVing and unsure if the lifestyle fits, they should go cheap but functional. I have Airstreamed all my life, but our first trailer was a 24’ Nomad that cost $3000. We learned a LOT in that trailer. Lots of what to do, and even more of what NOT to do. We had repairs and enhancements to do. We sold it 1 year later, but that was due to my parents giving us their Airstream.

How much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

I think it depends upon their other income(s). Many younger people we have met and follow on blogs are still working, albeit from the road. This would require little savings as you are not without income. We will live on a retirement that I have accumulated over years of working. It will turn out to be about 2/3 of our normal salary.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

Not including the payment on the rig (for which the interest is deductible), I would guess that we are spending about $500/$1000 annually. But our trailer is still relatively new (2012).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Roger grew up traveling in Airstreams. He has passed that legacy on to his family, and he blogs about his experiences at his website.

2. Marianne – Frugal RV Travel


How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

Search for a good used model that will hold its value, and spend no more than you can afford to pay cash for. There’s a learning curve with RVing and a good chance you will want to change to a different RV in the next few years.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

Our RV maintenance costs average $500.00 per year. But remember, it’s not on the road full time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marianne travels the country with her partner, Randy. What began as a one-time adventure in 2000 has become a sustainable lifestyle. Marianne blogs about their travels at her website.

3. Jim – Chaos Leaves Town


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

It varies, of course, but these expenses average $15,127 per year over 12 years. Add that to the other RV’ing expenses, and it ends up at $19,407 per year.

I did earn money here and there on the road over the years… didn’t really try too hard, but that came to average around $3500/year.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

As much as possible. They’ll adjust somehow. It’s said that you should buy your last RV first.

If your readers are in the 25-35 age range, they will be looking at having to work on the road (most likely) and it’s doubtful they’ll have much equity in a home. So, I’ll make some assumptions and throw some thoughts out there.

1) They have income and some savings, or they would not be considering the full timing lifestyle. Or maybe just got an inheritance of a few thousand $$. In other words, they have, or soon will have, enough money to buy an RV. A good rule of thumb would be that any RV they might consider buying should cost no more than 1/10th the value of the home they bought. Depending on their cash on hand, the type and size of RV will be determined by their needs and wants. Here are some things to consider: Full timing – Top 10 Questions

2) They are both skilled at something or can take advantage of Workamping opportunities, and a good handyman or woman can easily find free places to park their RV if they will work for the park. Some places even pay a small stipend along with providing a free camping spot. I’ve worked both as a handyman and as office staff in order to save hundreds per month in spot rental fees. And I got to enjoy some beautiful areas. Lake Tahoe is one such spot where I worked for the Forest Service 4 days a week for a free RV spot.

3) They are willing to think small and used for their first RV. This is so they can keep a large reserve of cash for unexpected expenses… RVs can (and do) break more often than a house or a car… because it’s a house moving down the road like a car! Most houses just sit in one place. A RV is subjected to the same potholes as a car, but with 5 times the weight.

4) They’re willing to stay in one place for a few weeks to a few months in order to reduce their travel expenses.

5) They’re happy to stay in less glamorous RV parks. These can be very economical but may not have all the amenities or have an attractive golf course next door.

6) They’re willing to live frugally. This can NOT be stressed enough. At the ages of 25-35, full timing can either be a joy or a chore. They’ll be surrounded by old people, in perhaps less than stellar conditions, in a cramped hovel that’s difficult to either keep cool in summer or warm in winter. But… they can move with the weather. And frugal living helps them afford to do that.

7) They’re willing to listen to others that do, or don’t enjoy the lifestyle. Here’s one blogger that opposes full timing and he has an interesting take on the whole idea…Living Stingy. And here’s a compilation of numerous younger RVers living the Lifestyle.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

Will they be traveling a lot, or will they settle in an area for extended stays? Can they work from their RV on the road? Do they have skills (like nursing) that are in demand everywhere and can lead to temp jobs? Have they investigated (and plan on taking advantage of) volunteer opportunities with RV parks, state or federal volunteer positions available that provide free RV space? Will they be taking jobs at commercial businesses on public lands? Will they be selling a home with equity?

All these questions factor in. I’d say if they can buy the RV outright, if they’re knowledgeable and handy so they can fix or direct the repair of most things on an RV after some study, they could make it with $30,000 in the bank. That would give them close to 2 years to learn the ropes of the road. If they’re frugal. No eating out. No $100 concert tickets. No spurious or unessential purchases. No staying in expensive RV parks. Not too much travel. And assuming they work part time while on the road for either cash or a free RV spot whenever possible.

Full disclosure: When I went full timing in ‘04, I had the proceeds from the sale of my house & belongings, so I bought my RV outright, but also had over $100K in the bank plus a retirement fund to fall back on. I volunteered for a free space or earned money for fun, not because I had to. I also am healthy and had NO health insurance for nearly 8 years. Paid cash when necessary. I know how to be cautious. I eventually signed up at the VA as I’m a veteran.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

Some years are worse than others, but it averages $1791/year, which includes optional equipment, maintenance (tires, oil changes, batteries, etc.). Also includes roadside service insurance payments, vehicle insurance, registration, specialized and optional RV expenses (club memberships), paint & body work, and the expense of two major breakdowns over the years. This was for a ‘94 36 foot, Class A, diesel, RV.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim@HiTek is a retired full-time RVer. He runs a fantastic travel blog over at Chaos Leaves Town.

4. Dawg – J. Dawg Journeys


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

When I travel on a 6-8 week roadtrip with two people, my expenses average about $100/day. That includes food, fuel, and lodging. I drive a lot (20,000 miles/ yr), so my expenses are high. When I stay at an RV park in FL for the winter, my expenses are lower because I have little to any fuel expenses. Lots of RVers spend less than I do because they drive fewer miles and often do free camping on Federal land. Also, some don’t include food expenses because those expenses would be the same if they didn’t do RV travel.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

What someone should spend on an RV is dependent on their needs, travel lifestyle, and budget. There is no definite answer. Each person’s needs and financial situation is different.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

Well, that depends on how long they want to full time. Let’s say the RV travel costs are $2,000 per month. That’s on top of whatever other costs they have (Insurance, repairs, clothing, cell phone, etc.). Then a person needs an income to support that level of spending for as long as they’ll be full-timing. If they want to try it for a couple of years, don’t want to work while traveling, and have no other source of income, then my guess is a couple needs around $100,000 saved up to live off.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

For my RV (motorhome) and travel schedule, my RV vehicle maintenance costs average $1,700 per year. That doesn’t include insurance and excise / personal property tax for the RV.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dawg worked in technology at a Fortune 500 company for over 30 years. Once he had saved up enough money, he quit the job and hit the road.

5. Al Wiener – Everything About RVing


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

Currently we are not full-timing it, but we are on the road for up to 6 months straight. For those extended periods, monthly expenses can vary depending on what campground or resort we are staying in. Campground prices vary widely. If you are staying in one area long-term, your best bet is to pay a monthly rate for your campsite. That will give you a deep discount, but in most cases you will be responsible for the monthly electricity (and sometimes water usage) for your campsite. Depending on the area you are staying in, monthly rates could be as low as $300.00 a month plus electricity. In more popular areas, the cost could exceed $600.00.

In our case, depending on how often we eat out, how often we have to refuel our motorhome, perform required maintenance on the RV, insurance, etc. our monthly costs have been as low as $1000.00 and as high as $2100.00.

The bottom line is that the most expensive part of full-time RVing can be fuel costs—especially if you do a lot of traveling on a monthly basis.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

First and foremost, not all RVs are ideal for full-timing. The most common types of RVs that full-timers use are Class A motorhomes (which can be powered by gas or diesel fuel), Class C Motorhomes, Fifth Wheel Trailers (including Toy-Haulers), and lastly, Travel Trailers. Truck Campers, Class B motorhomes, and Tent Trailers are not traditionally good choices for full-timers.

How much you spend depends greatly on the type of RV you choose that matches your particular lifestyle and whether you buy it new or used.

See Al’s stats broken down in the infographic at the top of this page.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

The fact that they already own an RV is a plus. If they are currently renting an apartment or a house, that is an even bigger plus. The minute they stop paying their monthly rental payments and start full-timing, they will immediately start saving money.

The key to maintaining a comfortable full-time RVing lifestyle is how they plan to earn money on the road. If they have an online business, then they are in luck, as it is very easy to run an online business from your RV. I easily run our website while traveling for several months in our RV. In some cases, I am sitting by a pool with my laptop and an adult beverage, writing articles and answering Rving questions and uploading them Everything-About-RVing.com.

If the couple wants to supplement their income while on the road, there are plenty of part-time and full-time workcamping job opportunities available. Depending on the workcamping job they choose, it could include a small salary with free space rentals. In fact, there are seasonal jobs at amusement parks such as Adventureland Resort in Altoona Iowa that offer jobs exclusively designed for workcampers. These jobs provide a free hook up campsite that includes electric, water, and sewer and an $8.50 per hour wage. There is no contract or time commitment required.

The bottom line is if you are currently doing OK financially living in an apartment or a house, you will do better financially the minute you start living and working out of an RV.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

On our current Class A motorhome, we spend an average of about $600.00 per year on maintenance, but that is because I do a lot of the routine maintenance and repairs myself. Annual maintenance on an RV varies by type. A Class A or C motorhome will cost more annually than a Fifth Wheel or Travel Trailer, because they have engines to maintain. But even with the trailers, you have to include the maintenance cost of your tow vehicle.

An older RV is going to cost more to maintain than a newer RV. If you are like me and good at do-it-yourself repairs and maintenance, you will save even more money.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alan Wiener is the Owner/ Editor of www.Everything-About-RVing.com and has over 40 years of Rving experience under his belt.

6. Emily Fagan – Road Less Traveled


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

Our living expenses for our six months of summer travel in 2014 came to $2,090 per month. But that’s a meaningless number until we uncover where it came from… (source: http://roadslesstraveled.us/rv-budget/)

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

An RV is a luxury item that depreciates rapidly, so I advise young people to get as cheap and small a unit as possible. A used popup tent trailer is wonderful because it fits in the garage and doesn’t need much storage space. Any kind of light 11’ to 12’ trailer is a great way to start. Going used at first is preferable, but if they are well off, buying new is always much nicer. I recently wrote an article about learning the RVing lifestyle with a small RV: http://roadslesstraveled.us/learn-the-rving-lifestyle-with-a-cheap-small-rv/

Starting by tent camping is also extremely helpful, because it requires very little up front investment. The advantage is that it gets you in the outdoors and gives you a chance to meet lots of RV owners at the campgrounds where you can talk to them and get answers to the many questions you have as a newbie. Plus, if you are nice and friendly, you might get invited in to see their unit and talk about its pros and cons.

I have a link explaining our view of what to look for in a full-time RV at this link: http://roadslesstraveled.us/going-full-time-rving-how-to-transition-which-rv-is-best/

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

Full-timing can be done in many different ways, and whether or not a young couple needs a big nest egg depends entirely on how much money they can earn on the road. Someone with a mobile, high paying profession, like contract nursing, doesn’t need a big nest egg. Someone that will be relying on work camping at campgrounds and RV parks may want more in the bank to handle emergencies that will require more money than their salary can provide.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

This item is hard to predict, but now that we have owned our truck and trailer all these years, we can provide an average of what we’ve spent so far on maintenance and repairs since we started full-timing. From 2007 until 2014, we had very few repairs on our rig, so our total repair bill plus maintenance bill each month was a modest $106 / month ($1,272 / year).

This figure is an average of all our truck and trailer maintenance costs from 2007 to 2014 rather than being just the expenses we incurred over our six months of summer travels in 2014. We did not use the trailer when we lived on our sailboat, although we did use our truck when our boat was in San Diego and Ensenada at the beginning and end of our cruise, and all that is factored into this average.

By 2015, our trailer was 8 years old, and signs of wear were beginning to show. Unfortunately, when it rains, it pours, and we had four major unexpected repairs that totaled $6,782. The repairs included a trailer axle replacement, an RV refrigerator replacement, extensive plumbing repairs including a fresh water tank replacement, and a complete suspension replacement underneath the trailer.

Fortunately, we did not have to pay for these repairs out of pocket because we had purchased a four year RV warranty contract through Wholesale Warranties.  This four year contract cost $1,904, but it meant that other than paying a $100 deductible for each of the four repairs, we did not have to shell out any money at the RV repair shops.

So, over the 8 year lifespan of the trailer (2007 to 2015), the cost of the RV warranty contract plus deductible costs for the repairs totaled $2,304, or $288 / year or $24 / month. Coupling the warranty repair average with the general maintenance and repair cost average, the total figure for this averaged across our years of owning our trailer would be $106 + $24 = $130 / month ($1,560 / year).

We explain RV extended warranties, how they work and what to look for when buying one as well as each of our 2015 RV repairs in detail starting at this link: http://roadslesstraveled.us/what-is-an-rv-warranty-do-you-need-one/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emily Fagan and her husband Mark are full-time travelers. They have been voyaging by land and sea in an RV and a sailboat since May, 2007.

7. Marie – Ardent Camper


How much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

Unexpected repairs WILL have to happen, so it’s best to have at least several thousand saved up for emergencies–and even more if you’re not mechanically-inclined.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marie is a digital marketer and grant writer. She and Josh are passionate advocates of telecommuting and the RV lifestyle. They blog about their experiences on their website.

8. Dan – Mali Mish


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

Our monthly expenses vary depending on where we are and what we are doing. We can go a couple of weeks at a time with the only expenses being groceries and water if we are boondocking and not moving. In that case, we can get by with probably 50 bucks a day or less. Otherwise, we can easily double or triple that budget depending on gas prices and where we are. So maybe on the average, we are spending about 100 a day. Bottom line: $1,500-$3,000 a month.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

When it comes to a young couple’s RV, it depends on what their financial situation is and how handy they are at dealing with breakdowns. So much of the RV will determine how you will live on the road. But I’d say generically, 10-15k should get you a very reliable set up, including a tow vehicle if you are going the trailer route.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

I always tell people that unless they have a reliable way to make money from the road, have at least 6 months’ worth of savings. That way you can at least enjoy an extended trip if you never find a way to make money. At some point, it will either be a lifestyle change if you can find a sustainable income stream, or it will just be an adventure before going back to a life with a normal job.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

RV maintenance depends on how handy you are and what kind of rig you have. I do all of my regular maintenance on the Airstream, so I usually only have to budget for maintenance parts and not labor. That’s only a couple hundred dollars a year. Since we have a tow vehicle, maintenance of that will also be lumped in I guess. I’m not really a person who has done strict budgeting, but I think a couple thousand bucks a year to put away as an emergency fund is a good idea.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan and Marlene work and travel the country in their 2007 Airstream International 25FB Ocean Breeze. Their Airstream is nicknamed “Mali Mish,” which is Croatian for “little mouse.”

9. David and Brenda Bott – Outside Our Bubble


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

Monthly expenses? Depends on where we are and what we care to be doing as it all comes does to location, location, location. It also comes down to what type of place you want to say. Resort? State park? So it will, and does even for us, greatly very.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

That surely depends on SO much not even counting the type of RV they may like.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

Save before they go full time? Who’s to say? It is not a cut and dry answer as it comes down to how they live and what they spend, etc. (Like do they plan to work on the road?)

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

Yearly maintenance? Depends again on a lot. Type of engine, type of RV, manufacturer recommended intervals etc.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David and Brenda have been happily married for 20 years. They have been traveling since 2008. In 2013, they started RVing full time, and they haven’t looked back.

10. Mark Polk – RV Education 101


How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

I think it’s important for any couple to purchase an RV that fits comfortably in their monthly budget. You need to consider the monthly RV payment, insurance, fuel, maintenance, repairs, general upkeep, campground fees—and still have money left for other day-to-day expenses and discretionary spending. In most situations your first RV won’t be your last RV, so it is practical to find an affordable RV that won’t break the bank, as the old saying goes.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

I don’t know if a particular dollar amount works here, but the more you have on hand, the better. I think a couple needs to have a solid plan that will generate a steady monthly income while traveling and living in the RV. It would be wise to have money saved and set aside in the event of an injury or illness that could prevent you from working for a period of time. If I had to put a dollar figure on it, I would probably say a minimum of six months of income/expenses is a good place to start.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

Annual maintenance costs will vary depending on the type of RV, age, mileage, driving conditions, and other variables. If you are towing a trailer, the maintenance costs for the RV could be less, but you need to maintain the tow vehicle, too. A used motorhome might require more maintenance expense than a new motorhome would, simply due to age. And the more mileage you put on the tow vehicle and/or RV, the more frequently the routine maintenance expenses add up. You also need to consider things on the RV or tow vehicle that wear out over time, like tires, brakes, windshield wipers, and the additional expenses for emissions testing, inspections, license plate renewal fees, and taxes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark is the founder and owner of RV Education 101, a NC-based company that sells educational videos, DVDs and E-books on how to use RV’s.  

11. Steve – The More We Explore


How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

This depends entirely on their financial situation. In my opinion, you should spend no more than 80% of your savings on an RV. Also, I don’t believe anyone should finance an RV.

This is pretty personal, and it depends entirely on your financial situation. In our opinion, some people shouldn’t spend more than $5k, and others can afford whatever they want. We have a lot of friends who finance everything: TV, couch, vehicles, etc. We are not a fan of this mentality. We realize you can write off your interest as a second mortgage for your RV, but we don’t finance anything, including our RV. We’ve never had a car loan, and we have always paid cash for our vehicles (including our tow rig and our Airstream).

Sure, it means you may have to wait a little while ‘till you can afford it, but it’ll be worth it. We all want to be on the road ASAP, and there’s a certain excitement to throwing caution to the wind and going for it, but we always recommend being financially prepared first. There’s no need to add financial stress to your RV experience. Buy what you can afford, or save ‘till you can afford what you want.

We’re Millenials, so we can relate to the desire to have new and shiny stuff we can’t afford. A lot of Millenials these days want instant gratification: we want what our parents have without realizing it took them 30-40 years to get there. Who wouldn’t want a big $200-300k diesel pusher? As a young, first time RVer, with less disposable income than most retirees, buy used! RVs depreciate faster than just about any other purchase. Buying used can save you a huge amount of money. Most people use their RV about 4 weekends out of the year, so “used” models are almost new. You can save $10k-50k buying a year or two used. Plus, used RVs usually have all the bugs worked out. New RVs have more issues than used ones. Don’t be surprised for your brand new RV to spend 3-4 months in the shop the first year, getting all the bugs worked out from the warranty. If you buy an RV that’s a year or two or 10 old, the bugs will already have been fixed under warranty.

The $300k rig can come one day, but give it time.

$3000-8000 can get you an extremely nice, used trailer that’ll serve you well for years to come. Plus, you never know what type of RV you’re going to want in 5 years, so save that money once you decide what you really want.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

This depends as well, but I think it’d be good if people had $20-30k in the bank before embarking. That reflects my personal views of finance.

However, this is extremely personal. We are of the mentality of having a solid savings account before heading off. Stuff is going to come up: you’ll need new tires, or a new transmission, or you’ll decide you want a huge battery bank with solar and a monster inverter. You’ll want some money socked away to handle these issues as they arrive. A lot of young RVers are living paycheck to paycheck, and they have a tough time making their savings account grow. While that can be fun and exciting (and it certainly works for some people), we recommend having a solid amount of money in savings first. We didn’t feel comfortable leaving until we had $20k+ in our savings. What if you’re unemployed for a few months? What if something big goes out? We think it’s better to be prepared. There’s no one dollar amount that’s going to be ideal for everyone, but we think it’d be smart to have 6-12 months of living expenses in your savings account before heading off.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve and Tess, from The More We Explore, love the outdoors, exploring, living simply, and have a YouTube video series of their journey as they prepare to live in their Airstream Full-time.  

12. Chuck Woodbury – Founder & Editor, RVTravel.com


Costs vary tremendously depending upon the lifestyle one wants to live. A fulltimer who wants to boondock can live on $1,000 a month. Someone who wants to stay in nice RV parks and play pickleball may need $5,000 or $6,000 a month, plus the cost of a nicer, more expensive, perhaps roomier RV.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

$10,000 or $100,000 or $200,000? Depends their needs, what they want to do with it.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

Yearly maintenance costs? Are they going to drive 2,000 miles or 20,000? Are they handy and can do most routine maintenance themselves? That’s different from someone who needs an RV tech at $100 an hour to do everything.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chuck Woodbury founded Out West, a travel newspaper, in the 1990s. As his media brand transitioned to the digital world, he became one of the first bloggers. He has been featured in major media outlets. He started RVTravel.com with a $30 investment. The rest is history!

13. The Ramblin’ River Cat


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

I’m a Thousand Trails zone pass member. I pay $35/mo +$3/night. En route to TT Parks I generally use my 50% discount with Passport America to keep it under $20/night. On average, I pay close to $200/month lodging, utilities included. My average trip costs me $60 in gas. Averaging around 3 moves per month puts me at a little less than $400 per month in travel/lodging.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I’m single, and I prefer small and cozy over large and lavish. When I purchased my 1981 travel trailer for $3500, I thought I’d “upgrade” after 3 years—but I love my home and have been at it for almost 9 years now. It’s really a matter of preference but it is easy to buy a used RV for around $3000…

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

Throw caution to the wind and just DO it. I have had plenty of financial misadventures/disasters, but if you’re not tied down to a job, the RV lifestyle is CHEAPER if you do it right! Start with a TT membership and enjoy $20/week camping for a while, learn how to use other discount clubs on your “out” weeks or even dry camp, learn how to pick up work… The point is: You’ll figure it out and be living your dream life.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

I have an older travel trailer. It has no engine, slideouts, or hydraulics. In talking to others, these are the things that break the most regularly and can cost quite a bit to repair. With a simple setup like mine, I’d guestimate around $50 per month in repairs/maintenance.

Tip: RV repairmen can cost $50-100 per hour. Put an ad on Craigslist for a “handyman with RV experience, $50 per 3 hours” and see how many dozens of responses you get. I have very good luck with this.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Ramblin’ River Cat can be found towing his ‘81 travel trailer with his Dodge van. His favorite places include the Oregon Coast, Northern California, Las Vegas, and Texas Hill Country. 

14. Neal and Kathy – RV Glamping Adventures


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

Now, we’re not full-timers, but here’s how we keep our monthly expenses down when we are on the road: Budget, Book Early and Save $$$! In order to save money to increase our travel, we launched a new budgeting strategy several years ago. We began our plan, believe it or not, by shifting our yearly spending. It all began in the fall of 2008 when we completed our holiday spending several months early… by the end of October! Honestly, this is a terrific idea as you will find that most Black Friday Deals have the same pricing for sales offered in October. Seriously! Putting this away early allows us to begin to save and prepare for the following year’s travel season ahead of time. We then start to save money from November through January to use for RV travel! We are always ahead of the game! We book our vacations early and ask for “Early Bird Specials”/ AAA/ Good Sam Member/ or Military Specials for trips we plan to take starting in March and we plan trips through October.

We find most RV resorts typically only require that you put a small deposit down. We are still able to lock in great prices, keep on budget, and we usually can guarantee a prime site as well. In addition, we are also on several emailing lists for different RV Resorts. You would not believe the offers we get throughout the year, particularly on Black Friday, to book for the following year. As a result, we save hundreds staying at luxurious RV resorts.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

We save so much money and stretch our dollar just by RVing. Not only do we save on the cost of hotels, but we save on not buying plane tickets! We have priced out the cost of driving versus flying to our destinations along with the cost of a hotel, and we save hundreds. Even with the cost of the RV payment over the year, we still make out better every time!

In addition, we get to utilize the mortgage interest off our RV payment as a tax deduction (it’s a second mortgage if you have a bathroom—see IRS laws). Besides the memories we make starting from the moment we drive out of our driveway, we are making our money go further. That means more money for more vacations! In addition you will save even more money making your own meals on your travels. Can you say “Ca-ching!”

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

We try to keep our expenses down as much as possible with the RV. Unfortunately, there are always surprises in life. It is a good idea to make sure you purchase an extended bumper to bumper warranty. We prefer to not have to come up with a huge sum of money to fix an issue with the RV. Let’s face it, you are driving a house on wheels… things break and accidents happen. We have our warranty through Good Sam and have never had a problem with coverage. It’s definitely worth having the peace of mind. As for our other expenses, besides gas and propane, they are just simple upgrades or swap outs for house ware items, etc. We Glamp after all!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Neal and Kathy (of RV Glamping Adventures) don’t camp; they Glamp. They believe if you want something bad enough in life, you can make it happen.

15. Marisa and Vanessa – The Roamans


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

We wrote about this not too long ago on our blog, where we dove into exact numbers. Everything was broken down into specifics, and totaled around $1100 a month for two people. The entire article can be found here: http://www.theroamansblog.com/blogging-from-the-road/the-monthly-cost-of-full-time-rv-living-january-expenses

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

I would say that depends on what the couple intends to do and what their price point is. We wanted to minimize our expenses, so we purposely sought out something used and less expensive. If you’re looking to be constantly traveling, then a smaller, more gas-efficient RV would suffice. If you want a huge home on wheels that provides all the same comforts of your conventional life, then a Class A would work well. The cool thing about RVs is that they finance like a house, so your payment ends up being much smaller due to the longevity of the loan.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

This depends if you plan to be in constant motion, or you’re looking to live a more stationery RV life. We didn’t have too much saved, but we did plan on picking up odd jobs wherever we went. This allowed for money to be made and experiences to be had. I would say always keep a credit card handy for emergencies, you never know what the road will throw at you.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

We thankfully haven’t incurred any big maintenance costs yet (knock on wood). Our oil changes are around $150, which can include all the basic maintenance with fluids and rotating tires and such. Probably in June, when we’ve had her for a year, we’ll do a big check-up to make sure everything’s running smoothly for another year of travel.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Girl #1 was desk-bound and pressed for time. Girl #2 was writing fashion copy in an office. Marisa and Vanessa quit their jobs, pared down, and bought an RV. Ta-da—the Roamans!

16. Tammy – The Lady is a Tramp


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

My figures for RV parking and fuel are what I budget per month, not necessarily what I spend. When RV parking prices go up, fuel consumption goes down, and vice versa. $1,000 in fuel is four tanks of gas, equating to 3,000 miles. $1,000 per month for RV parking is about $33 per day.

  • – Satellite TV $100
  • – Phone/Data $200
  • – Car Maintenance $40 (based on annual expense)
  • – Car & Rig Insurance $210
  • – Additional Insurance (Sky Med; AAA) $40 (based on annual expense)
  • – RV Memberships (Good Sam, FMCA, RVW, Harvest Host, KOA) $20 (based on annual expense)
  • – Fuel $1,000
  • – RV Parking $1,000
  • – Medical Insurance $600
  • – Pet Food $75
  • – Pet medical care: $100 (based on annual expense)
  • – Food and entertainment: Variable

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

That’s a hard one to answer, because it is just so personal. But $50,000 will get you just about everything in the world you need.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

I personally would not feel comfortable without at least $20,000 in the bank for emergencies, along with a monthly income.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

In one year I will have spent approximately $10,000 on repairs and maintenance. However, it was my first year on the road, and I expect the maintenance cost will go down. Hopefully!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After 20 years as a trial attorney, Tammy stopped practicing law, sold the house, and took to the road in Nellie, her 2008 Newmar Ventana. The rest is history!

17. Kimberly Travaglino – Fulltime Families


What are your monthly expenses as a full-time RVer?

Our family of 6, RVing full-time since 2010, averages $3,000 per month. On months when we are staying still, capitalizing on RV parks’ discounted monthly rates, we spend about $2000. $700 in fixed bills include internet access, insurance (RV, Auto, and Personal), small business operating expenses, food, fuel, incidentals, and entertainment. Months when we are traveling more, our expenses rise to $4,000. This represents increased camping fees (daily and weekly rates are higher than monthly rates), increased fuel expenses, and any time your RV moves, there’s the potential for repair expenses.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

Anyone considering the purchase of their first RV, in my humble opinion, should spend the least amount possible. They should make a cash purchase with an allotment for repairs and upgrades. Start small! You can always work up when you have a greater understanding for how you’ll use your RV and what your RVing needs will be. While it’s fun to shop the newest, largest models, there is a definite learning curve when you launch your RV adventures, so start cheap, start small, and enjoy the journey.

In my book, “How to Hit the Road,” I strongly urge readers to seek a rig set up (truck and trailer / motorhome and towed) that they can afford and own outright. Not having a payment on your equipment (and being debt-free overall), equals true freedom. The less your monthly fixed expense, the greater your total flexibility.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

This obviously depends on whether they’ve already established a location-independent reliable source of income, or if they plan to seek such an opportunity after they have launched their journey. For the former situation, an emergency fund of $10,000 would give them a good cushion and peace of mind, though this is with the caveat that the couple is debt free, including owing their home-on-wheels and vehicles out right. If the couple is considering finding employment opportunities on the road, then in my opinion, their savings should include one year of expenses and an emergency fund.

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

Again, this depends on several factors. What type of RV do you have? The maintenance on a Class A is considerably higher (think tires alone) than on a travel trailer. It also depends on how far and how much you’ll be traveling. For our set up, a new model F350 dually coupled with a 2009 42 Ft Heartland Cyclone, we spend approximately $1,000 per month or $12,000 annually for maintenance and repairs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kimberly Travaglino is the author of the bestseller, “How to Hit the Road: Making Your Family’s Full-Time RV Dreams a Reality.” She and her husband Chris founded Fulltime Families, and she also podcasts at Roadschool Moms. 

18. Carol Ann Quibell – Roaming RV


Many people dream of living in an RV and traveling full time, and for the most part, it’s retirees who are able to live the RV lifestyle. However, there are many young people who are intrigued by the freedom that RVing full time represents. They are hitting the open road as well. One of the first questions prospective full time RVers of all ages ask is – how much will it cost each month?

How much are your monthly expenses as a full time RVer?

Knowing our expenses may not help other RVers. Unfortunately, there isn’t just one easy answer, and without a bit of research, no one can say how much living full time in an RV will cost. It’s the same as when we live in a traditional house—we all have different costs and expenses depending on our income and our lifestyle. It will depend on how much traveling is planned, the type of RV, and what the budget is. We may travel more or less than others, have a smaller RV with less expenses, and boondock more.

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

Once again, the answer may not be what they want to hear. The amount a young couple should spend on their first RV is what they can afford. It’s really as simple as that. Unless they know they can afford and support debt, then they should buy what is affordable, whether it’s a smaller used RV or something new. It’s much easier to upgrade than downgrade, so think about what is actually needed versus what is wanted. We sometimes get caught up thinking we need all those fancy gadgets and toys when it may be possible to get on the road much sooner if we become more realistic with our needs.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

It really doesn’t matter what the age of the RVers are, budgeting is the same – except maybe a younger couple wishing to become full timers may have to plan on working while they travel while a more mature RVer may have a pension. How long do they plan to be full timers – 1 year, 5 years, or forever?

Some of the standard monthly expenses will include fuel, campground fees, propane, vehicle insurance, food, medical, cell phones, internet, prescriptions, memberships, and vehicle/RV maintenance. Many costs will be similar to when living in a traditional home except now the home is on wheels.

It still comes down to how they wish to travel and what plans have been made. Younger couples quite often want to travel more and not want to stay in one location for any length of time but that’s not necessarily true for everyone.

How to budget for the RV Lifestyle:

Knowing how to budget for the RV Lifestyle is done when potential RVers understand why they want to become full timers and what they want to accomplish. It’s a lifestyle choice that should be carefully thought out and may take a great deal of discussion between a couple who are thinking of doing it. They should ask themselves what kind of traveling they plan to do—long distance, a slow ramble, or only move once or twice a year. Do they plan on working to subsidize their savings, or is this a once-in-a-lifetime trip? Be clear and understand the pros and cons. Understand what is required to enable you to make the decision of becoming full time RVers.

The RV lifestyle is a terrific way to live and allows RVers to experience so many different and unique things and meet so many new and interesting people. Being mobile opens doors to so many adventures that make life remarkable. Of course, it’s not for everyone; however, those who choose to live this way wouldn’t change a thing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carol Ann Quibell is a freelance writer, columnist, and Canadian RVer who shares information on the RV Lifestyle with her readers on her blog, Roaming RV. She can be reached at carolann@roamingrv.com.

19. Ching and Jerud – Live Small Ride Free

Photo by Leigh of Aluminarium.

How much are your monthly expenses as a full time RVer?

Our first year on the road, our monthly expenses as a full-time RV couple were approximately $2,157. There are a handful of occasional expenses that we have as individuals that weren’t calculated into this.

That being said, I have to point out several things that affect our monthly expenses:

  • – Our RV living situation is unique because we live in a 100% solar-powered rig. This means that we don’t need to purchase propane and we don’t have a generator.
  • – Our RV park/campground expenses are very minimal because we boondock 99% of the time. For example, we have been boondocking (for free) for the past 159 days straight.
  • – We are debt free.
  • – We have two dogs.
  • – We do all of our own maintenance on the truck and RV.
  • – Our truck runs off of waste vegetable oil when we can get it (when we can get it, it’s for free).

How much should a young couple spend on their first RV?

We recommend spending a small-enough amount that they don’t have to finance it. From what we’ve seen, a lot of full-timers change their rigs (typically downsizing) after the first year on the road, and this is easier if you’re not over-extended on your current rig. It’s very hard to know what you’ll really want until you’ve tried it. We don’t believe in purchasing a new RV (at least not for the first rig). They depreciate so much, and they have more problems than they should for the money spent.

Assuming they already have an RV, how much money should a young couple save up before embarking on their fulltime RV adventure?

This number will depend on whether or not they are hitting the road with a job. We’d recommend six months of RV living costs if you don’t have a job, and three months if you do. A lot of things can go wrong during those few months on the road, and you want to be prepared for it. This sounds obvious, but worth pointing out—don’t spend more than you have!

What are your typical yearly maintenance costs for your RV?

Our first year of repairs and maintenance costs totaled $347. But as I mentioned earlier, we do all of our own work. We also rebuilt our RV, so we fixed a lot of potential future problems before we hit the road.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Ching and Jerud are outdoor enthusiasts who care deeply about the environment. They hit the road to demonstrate that it’s possible to live fulltime in an RV while totally giving up fossil fuels. Their RV is 100% powered by solar panels, and their truck runs on waste vegetable oil.

Wrap Up

As you can see, there’s no one answer to the question, How much does the RV lifestyle cost? However, we hope these interviews have given you food for thought. Maybe you’ve even started planning your mobile lifestyle based on the advice of these experts. Here’s to the open road, and to the next adventure.

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