There is no such thing as a one size fits all RV budget. Some people manage to live on $1,000 a month, but many others may need a budget much higher. But there are a few common expenses that every RVer has.
Familiarizing yourself with these common RV expenses will help you decide which RV best fits your needs, and how to budget your money to maximize your RV lifestyle.
Just like your car, your RV needs insurance. On average, RV insurance can range from several hundred dollars a year, to several thousand dollars. Just like car insurance, it depends on the value of your RV, your driving record, and how much coverage you decide to get.
It’s advisable to do your research, to get the best value when it comes to RV insurance. Also, if you have a tow vehicle, or tow a car, you may get a discount by insuring both with the same company.
Gas and Propane
If your RV requires propane to power any appliances, know how much you can get out of a tank and plan accordingly. Propane is usually a minor expense; a 5-gallon tank can cost $15-20, and can last 2-4 weeks, depending on usage. If you are boondocking, and running the refrigerator on propane, or if you run the furnace, your propane will be used up more quickly.
The longer you stay in one spot, the less fuel you will use; sometimes, going monthly at an RV park can be more affordable than driving every few days, looking for “free camping”. If you’re new to RVing, you may drive more than usual, in your excitement to see and do everything on your bucket list. But planning destinations within 100 miles of each other, and traveling slowly, can reduce the monthly gas or diesel expenses.
Most full-sized RVs, and also many large pickup trucks, will only get an average of 8-10 mpg. If you’re on a strict budget, or want to move every few days, a smaller Class B van, may be the answer. Class B motorhomes get much better gas mileage, if you don’t mind living in a very small space.
You should budget for how much gas you think you’ll use, and add a little it. That will compensate for fuel prices going up. Also, calculate for any fuel you will need to run a generator.
Maintenance and Annual Fees
Whether you buy a new or used RV, there will be maintenance expenses and annual fees. Have a general idea of what the cost will be ahead of time. These can vary widely between RV models, and from state to state.
Some common maintenance expenses are oil changes, tires, and appliance break downs. Tires for a motorhome, or even a dually pickup truck, can be very costly, as much as $2,000 or more. An oil change for a Class A motorhome can also cost more than you think.
Annual fees for an RV can include license and registration fees, and roadside assistance. Campground memberships, such as Good Sam, Passport America, Thousand Trails, etc, are also annual fees, but these may save you money in the long run.
There are a lot of costs that go into living in an RV, such as campground fees, food, entertainment, and more.
Your cell phone bill is likely to be higher, when you add it as your main internet provider. Many full-time RVers use Verizon and AT&T, which are more costly than the budget providers.
If you plan on saving money by boondocking, then choose a smaller RV that is appropriate for dry camping. Fitting your rig with solar panels will be a one time expense.
Your food expenses will be similar to your lifestyle now, and of course, you can save money by cooking at home in your RV. And entertainment can be cheap; the beauty of life on the road, and of mother nature, costs nothing!