Although RV camping is fun, owning an RV is not for everyone. Some people just prefer tent camping to sleeping in an RV. Others don’t want to spend the money to own an RV because it’s expensive. Based on years of experience, here are our best reasons why you should not buy an RV.
Buying an RV can be very expensive and you will have a lot of maintenance. Beyond the cost though, you should not buy an RV if you do not like the lifestyle. RVing involves planning, cooking and cleaning, excellent driving skills, and extra work. Plus, you may enjoy traveling on an airplane and staying in hotels or tent camping.
However, read along and find out what to do instead of buying an RV. There are many opportunities other than buying to find out if you want to own an RV (without actually buying one). Then, if you still decide to buy an RV we can show you how to make money by renting it to others as we do.
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2021 May Not be a Good Year to Buy an RV
I’m throwing this right out there. Yes, RVing is the perfect way to travel during a pandemic. You can be completely self-contained and still see new sites. This is exactly what lead to the huge increase in demand for RVs in 2020. The RV industry is supposed to grow more than 20% more in 2021 (source).
Generally, high demand and low supply means high prices. I’m neither an economist or epidemiologist, but my hunch is that there will be excess supply in another year as the pandemic subsides and people go back to flying.
This point will need to be weighed carefully with the amount of traveling you plan to do and ways to reduce the cost of owning an RV. (More on this later so keep reading)
You are a Bad Driver
There is no denying it, driving an RV can be difficult and takes practice. You need good depth perception, especially when backing up. In addition, a travel trailer is different than backing up a car because the trailer goes the opposite way.
You can cause major damage to your rig if you are not great at driving. Adding the extra length and weight to a vehicle can make it extremely dangerous if you are in an accident.
I have to admit, with our 35-foot travel trailer, I don’t drive and I would probably not own such a large RV if I had to drive it by myself. I have rented a camper van to take the kids camping by myself, which is much easier to drive.
You Love Tent Camping
Some families prefer to sleep in a tent under the sky. I can agree that sleeping inside an RV is not the same as the tent.
I love sleeping in the fresh air under the stars and being able to hear the night sounds. If you would rather be in a tent don’t buy an RV for camping. However, you might like to try a pop-up camper which is more like sleeping outside but with your own bathroom and kitchen.
A great way to try out a small pop-up is to rent one from RVShare or Outdoorsy. You can find family-friendly hybrid camper and pop-ups. Plus, with our link, you get $50 off your first rental at Outdoorsy.
You Despise House or Car Maintenance
Its true motorhomes and travel trailers take a lot of maintenance. Frequently, different parts break and need to be replaced, especially if you use it a lot. There is normal maintenance that needs to be done every camping trip such as filling/emptying water tanks, checking the tires, cleaning the inside, and emptying and flushing the sewage.
Whether you have a motorhome or towing a camper with a truck and it will also need additional maintenance like oil changes
If you have a hard time remembering to change your oil or hate dealing with plumbing problems in the house, you will not like the maintenance on an RV
Buying an RV Could Drain your Savings
Hidden surprise costs can become very expensive. An RV requires regular maintenance and upkeep. In addition, things break frequently. We have gone through more tires than I want to admit.
Plus, driving is expensive. Not to mention all the new gadgets you will want to buy for your rig.
In all owning an RV is expensive. If you will need to spend all of your savings to purchase your rig, you will not be able to afford the extra costs.
Why Own an RV When You can Rent?
If you want to do an occasional camping trip, renting a rig can be a much better idea. Renting an RV can be less expensive and easier than owning and maintaining one.
Plus, you could even try our different models and layouts renting from owners on RV share or Outdoorsy. We rent out our travel trailer and people love the layout of our bunkhouse. You can get a discount on your first rental with our $50 off Outdoorsy
Read our article here about 9 fool-proof ways to rent a Cheap RV
You Will Want to Change RV Style and Size
Frequently, people decide they want a bigger RV than they originally purchased. Maybe your family size has grown or you use it for longer trips than you anticipated.
On the other hand, you might buy a motorhome that’s too big and decide you want something smaller. Trading down is actually very difficult at a dealership. They just won’t make any money so they really don’t want to help you out.
Renting an RV similar to the one you want to buy will help you decide on the size and features you like. You can try out a Class A, campervan, pop-up, or toy hauler by renting on Outdoorsy.
Pro tip: Read Which RV Type Should I Choose?
RV’s are a Bad Financial Investment
Motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels all depreciate over time. Like a car, a new RV will lose value just driving it off the lot. Many owners find themselves upside down on an RV loan.
The RV dealer will try to convince you that your new motorhome is an investment like your house. Houses appreciate over time but RVs depreciate. If you are looking for a good investment find somewhere your money will actually grow slowly over time.
However, if you choose to use your RV as a business it can actually make you money. Many owners, like us, rent out their rigs and pay for them off in a couple of years. Our first year, we made over $5,000 on a travel trailer we only paid $16,000 for.
Pro Tip: Get a FREE RV. You can read more about which platform to choose in our Showdown RVShare vs Outdoorsy for Making the Most Money on Your RV.
Expect to Buy a lot of RV Accessories
After buying an RV you will first figure out some additional things that are necessary to your comfort. You will need a generator that can run the power, an extra battery, chocks, weight distribution hitch, and more. Then, like a second home, you will need to furnish your rig. You need kitchen supplies, linens, cleaning supplies and on and on.
After all of that you will still find so many cool gadgets to make life on the road easier. Just plan to spend a small fortune on accsssories.
Read our article on the accessories that you need for you new RV.
RVs are Inefficient on Gas
Although a motorhome can be a big people mover, it is also a gas guzzler. Whether you are driving a coach or towing a travel trailer, you will fill your tank many times. Motorhomes have a terrible fuel economy and your tow vehicle will see a 20% – 50% reduction in fuel economy.
Whether you are worried about the environment or the cost of gas, you will use a lot of it. Driving a small car on a road trip is much more efficient than an RV.
Buying Mistakes Can be Very Expensive
Buying the wrong RV or getting a used one with damage can be very expensive to fix or replace. You need to make sure you ask lots of questions and inspect the vehicle for damage. Some of the worst damage is often unnoticed, like structural damage, dry rot and water damage.
Structural damage was problem for us in our flipping RV story here.
RV Storage Can be a Challenge
When you are not on a family trip you will need to store your RV. Many people, like me, don’t have room at their house to store an RV. You will be faced with finding a storage facility.
Most are outside gravel lots where damage can happen to your RV. Storage fees can range from $30 to $100 a month for outdoor storage and heated RV storage for the winter can cost up to $400 a month.
Planning a Road Trip is More Complicated
When you get an RV you will be excited to get out on the road with your family and have a great time. Oh there are so many things to see and do! All of this in an huge vehicle all take planning.
You have to take into consideration where to stop, if you can drive on certain roads and what campgrounds to stay at. The logistics of moving everyone become more complicated. Small children and car seats add another level of complications.
Make sure to read our Tips for Your First RV trip with Kids
You Would Rather Fly
Once you own an RV you will be taking longer and longer road trips. Many families find that they love driving cross county in a motorhome on their vacation time.
Road trips are not everyone though. If you would rather fly to your destination and rent a car, buying an RV probably doesn’t make much sense for you.
There is Still Cooking and Cleaning
Some people like to go on vacation to get a break from cooking and cleaning. That’s the beauty of a hotel. Someone else even makes the bed for you. In an RV, you will still be cooking and cleaning everyday. Although, since the space is small, the cleaning goes much faster.
Why You Should Not Buy and RV and What to do Instead
Deciding to buy an RV is a big decision to make. Make sure you think about exactly what you want in an RV and what you want to do with your camper. Renting an RV will help you decide if RVing is right for you.
If you rent from the sharing economy, you can even try out different rigs. You can find campervans, motorhomes, fifth wheels, travel trailers, and so many more options. I suggest you check RV Share and Outdoorsy for family-friendly campers near you.
You still want to buy an RV?
You can Make Money on it by renting it out. Many people can pay off an RV in 3 years by renting it out. We made $5,000 our first summer renting a trailer we only paid $16,000 for. We have it listed on both RVShare and Outdoorsy.
After renting, you may find that you love traveling in an RV or even want to live in a motorhome. We actually rented a motorhome in Canada and loved it. We now travel long distances and use our travel trailer as a hotel on wheels. You won’t know if you love the RV lifestyle or not.
This is part of our series on family RV travel. Here are more resources just for you:
- 9 Fool-Proof Ways to Rent a Cheap RV
- 15 Need to Know Tips for RVing with Young Kids
- Amazing RV Destination: Moab
Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever. We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug! We travel with kids and extended family. I take the kids by myself sometimes because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.
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