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Having a cabin or RV as your vacation home may seem dreamy. Especially if you have a stressful job and need some time to relax or run away from reality. However, choosing which one you should buy is a bit hard since they almost have the same features and serve the same purpose. Having both an RV and a family cabin, I will give you the inside scoop.  Should you buy an RV or a cabin? Here’s how to decide.

In general, a cabin is better if you like solid sticks and bricks, prefer to stay in one place, and want to have your family memories rooted in a specific location. On the other hand, if you travel regularly and you love exploring different places, buying an RV is better. The entry price for a used RV is also considerably less than a cabin.

There is also an option that I found to be popular on the east coast to use an RV as a cabin.

As someone who owns an RV and has a family that owns a small cabin, I’d say that they’re both worth buying. Although, choosing which one you should buy still depends on your situation and on what kind of traveler you are.

Not to worry, I’ll help you decide whether a cabin or an RV suits you.

Is It Better to Invest in an RV or a Cabin?

In general, a cabin on land that you own is a better long-term investment. An RV, however, will depreciate, just like your car. However, an RV may be a good investment if you plan to save money by travelling in an RV or want to use it as a rental to make money

No questions, we all know that purchasing land and putting up a cabin on it is a long-term investment as its value goes up over time. Plus, you can rent out your cabin on sites like Airbnb or VRBO when you are not using it.

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Cabin in the Colorado Mountains perfect for a family gathering

While for an RV, it can be used for business by getting your rig rented out.

Most RVers, like me, are doing it for extra income. It even helped me make some extra cash for traveling. (If you’d like to know how I did it, you can check this article).

Whichever you decide to put your money on, it could create a return on investment. 

What Do You Need to Consider When You Buy a Cabin and an RV?

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As I mentioned earlier when choosing between a cabin and an RV, you have to understand which suits you best. Just because RV works for me, it doesn’t mean it will work for you too.

That’s why there are factors that you have to consider to make a better decision.

Consider Your Budget

The upfront cost of an RV may be less than a cabin on the land. However, RVs range in price widely, you can buy a used travel trailer for $10,000 or find a new Class A motorhome at $100k.

But …RVs have never-ending expenses and if you want to own one, you need to make sure that you always have extra money for its regular maintenance and repair. Plus, there are some gadgets and accessories that you also need to buy and use for your rig.

Also, you need to take into account the tow vehicle if you are looking at a travel trailer or fifth wheel. Trust me this gets expensive when your current vehicle is undersized and you need to buy a new truck.

Although cabins also need maintenance, it’s not going to cost you as much as maintaining an RV. Sometimes, simple cleaning and checking the drainage and roof is already enough.

You’re Not into Road Trips

If you’re one of those people who loves going on a vacation but is not a fan of road trips, then a cabin is going to be perfect for you. When you buy a cabin, you will be able to choose your preferred location.

So if you don’t want long trips, you can buy one that is just a few hours away from your home. 

Of course, you can also choose the nearest location to travel with an RV. However, it’s going to lose its purpose to bring you anywhere and as far as you want. Therefore, if you’re someone who enjoys road trips and being from one place to another then you better buy an RV.

You Hate Unwanted Visitors

If you buy an RV, you’ll have the freedom to go anywhere with whoever you want. You can stay relatively low-key and not have family dropping by. Its also generally taboo to ask to borrow someones RV (for many reasons like insurance)

With a cabin, once people know where it is, they can go there whenever they want. Even without notifying you. 

Some family and friends will feel comfortable asking you to be able to use it for their vacation. MY family is very open about sharing and having gatherings, but not everyone will enjoy this.

You Already Have a Tow Vehicle

If you already have a tow vehicle and you like the idea of exploring different places, choose an RV and buy a trailer. It could save you a lot of money than buying land with a cabin on it. 

In addition, trailers are less expensive and have less to maintain, unlike a motorhome.

You Don’t Have Space to Store Your RV

If you’re not going full-time in RVing, you will need a place to store your rig when it’s not in use. If you don’t have space, there are storage facilities that will allow you to keep your rig with them. However, it is not free.

You have to pay for storage and it ranges from $30 to $400 a month depending on what kind of storage you’d like to use.

Find out which RVs you can store in your own garage at home. We have a complete guide and examples of RVs that fit in a standard garage.

When Is the Best time to Buy a Cabin and an RV?

2 class b motorhome parked in a camp ground with a picnic table
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Generally, it’s best to buy a cabin and an RV during the fall and winter seasons. It is the time of the year when fewer people would buy them. Unless you are buying a ski cabin of course. Hence, you will get better offers and discounts.

However, now that most of us are in the middle of the pandemic, you’re perhaps thinking that anytime this year is the best time to buy a cabin and an RV. Because, why not? If you buy a cabin and an RV, you won’t have to be with other people or go to places where you have to practice social distancing and other health and safety protocols, right? 

Well, I hate to tell you this, but you’re wrong. This year isn’t the best time to buy both. 

Since everyone has that mindset, there will be a high demand for cabins and RVs. As you know, the higher the demand is, the lower the supply. Therefore, you are less likely to get a discount and more likely to buy them at a higher price. 

Of course, it shouldn’t stop you to experience what the campers are experiencing during this time and I’m not saying that you have to go to hotels for now. You can still take advantage of renting a cabin or an RV and that’s what I’m going to talk about next.

Consider Renting an RV or Cabin

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Whenever you make a huge decision like buying an RV or cabin, you should try renting one first.

Our family cabin is actually in a location that my Dad went to as a kid. He tent camped and took us tent camping there. We are strongly tied to the place. We rented a cabin for 2 years in a row. Finally, he decided to buy his own cabin there.

Similarly, I rented a motorhome in Canada when I was unsure about owning an RV. I fell in love with the RV style of travel and have owned a few different types.

When you rent a cabin and an RV, you will be able to have a strong decision since you’ll get to experience both.

Other than that, if you know that you’ll only do it once in a while like, yearly then, it would be better to rent rather than buying one since you won’t use them that often.

To rent an RV, I suggest you try RVezy or Outdoorsy you can also read these for more details:

Important Related Questions

Can You Live in an RV as a Cabin?

Many people set up an RV in a specific location and use it as a cabin. Campgrounds, especially on the east coast of the US, have specific contracts to rent a seasonal site for long-term use. Campers can return to the same location year after year.

Many campers are doing it as it’s more cost-effective since you have to skip the building part. Meaning, you will no longer need to spend on any materials or contractors to build your cabin.

The only drawback is, you may be uncomfortable living in it on cold wet days. You will have to use so much propane. The camper may get condensate and water damage. However, you can also try adding an area where you can put a wood stove. It helps.

Can I buy land and live in an RV?

You can buy land and live in an RV as long as it is allowed by the county and local governments. This is more of a challenge in locations that have very cold winters.

It may only be allowed in some cities and countries. Most large cities have laws that won’t allow you to do it and if you can, there are rules and codes that you have to strictly follow. Such as Building code, electrical code, residence sharing, and your property should have septic tanks and access to the City sewage. 

What States Allow You to Live in an RV on Your Property?

Florida, Texas, South Dakota, and Colorado are the states where you are allowed to live in an RV on your property.

Although it doesn’t give you many zoning laws, it has no income tax.

A collage of a cabin and a travel trailer
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Buy an RV or a Cabin? Here’s how to Decide!

Final Thoughts in Buying a Cabin Vs RV

To sum things up, both a cabin and an RV are good investments whether it’s financial-related or not. They can both return the money you’ve spent to purchase them and give you something to treasure forever. You just have to take into consideration which one will suit you best.

After all, whatever you decide to choose, the purpose is to spend time and make memories with your loved ones. Just know whether you picture yourself experiencing it in a cabin or an RV.

To better improve your comparison, check out these resources:

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    Shauna Kocman founder Family Travel Fever
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    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    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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