NOTE*** The content on this page may contain affiliate links, we may make a commission. And, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. More information: disclosure page.
If you find yourself asking “Should I buy an RV or not?” you’re on the right track. It’s a big decision, and owning an RV is not for everyone. While RV camping can be fun, there’s a lot to consider before investing in one. If you’re looking for undeniable reasons why not to buy an RV, you’ve come to the right place.
So…should I buy an RV or not?
An RV can be a very expensive investment and requires a lot of maintenance. RVing involves lots of planning, cooking, cleaning, and excellent driving skills. Do not buy an RV if you do not like the lifestyle.
You will get some idea of the pros and cons of RVs in this article. And you may decide to do something different ~like buy a cabin instead of an RV. (If you make it to the bottom, one of the comments has a pretty compelling reason to buy an RV)
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 I do.
Pro Tip: If you are on the fence about buying an RV, I suggest you rent one first. I rented a motorhome and loved it. It’s hard to really understand what RV camping will be like until you are out there doing it! We suggest you try the peer-to-peer network Outdoorsy for family-friendly campers near you. Plus, by renting from an owner you will get plenty of insider tips. Reserve quickly for this season because demand is crazy this year – I suggest you reserve on Outdoorsy
Update: Popular RV travel sites such as RVshare are predicting 2023 to be another record year for leisure travel in America. If you’re considering renting an RV for your next trip you may want to book sooner than later on RVShare.
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. It may come as a surprise, however, that longer trailers are typically easier to back up than shorter trailers.
You can cause major damage to your vehicle and/or RV if you are not great at driving or familiar with towing trailers. Adding the extra length and weight to a vehicle can make it extremely dangerous if you are in an accident.
Bad weather conditions are also amplified when you’re driving or towing an RV. High winds and wet roads can quickly lead to disastrous consequences if you’re not a skilled driver.
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. Instead, 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 a 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. Instead, consider trying a pop-up camper. This is more like sleeping outside but with the added luxury of your own bathroom and kitchen.
A great way to try out a small pop-up is to rent one.
You can find family-friendly hybrid campers and pop-ups. Plus, with our link, you get $50 off your first rental at Outdoorsy.
Check prices on Foldable and Pop-up campers on Outdoorsy: See Deals on Pop-Ups
You Despise House or Car Maintenance
Motorhomes and travel trailers take a lot of maintenance. Different parts frequently break and need to be replaced, especially if you use them a lot. Routine maintenance needs to be done before every 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 are towing a camper with a truck or SUV, you’ll need to consider additional maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations.
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.
New to RVing – here is what you need! Must-Have Supplies for your New Camper That You May Have Never Thought Of
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.
Read our article here about 9 fool-proof ways to rent a Cheap RV
You May 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. In this case, you may have better luck selling your RV on your own.
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
RVs are a Bad Financial Investment
RVs like motorhomes and travel trailers depreciate as much as 10-15% per year. Like a car, a new RV will lose value just by 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 RV is a good investment like your house. Don’t be fooled. 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 them off in a couple of years. Our first year, I 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 for your comfort. You will need a generator that can run the power, an extra battery, chocks, a 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 accessories.
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 a problem for us in our flipping RV story here.
If you plan on using your existing vehicle to tow your RV, you also need to make sure that it is capable of pulling the RV at it’s Gross Vehicle Weight – including a full water tank, groceries, and other supplies. If your vehicle is not up to the challenge this can be a very expensive and unfortunate mistake.
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! However, accomplishing all of this in a huge vehicle takes much 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. If you have pets, you’ll need to consider where you’ll be able to stop and let them out as well.
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 across the country in a motorhome on their vacation time.
Road trips are not for 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 every day. Since the space is small, the cleaning does go much faster. Adversely, you’ll want to consider how big your family is and how much food you’ll need to buy, store, cook, and clean up after.
2023 May Not be a Good Year to Buy an RV
I’m throwing this right out there. Yes, RVing was the perfect way to travel during the pandemic. You can be completely self-contained and still see new sites. This is exactly what leads to the huge increase in demand for RVs in the last few years. The RV industry grew more than 20% in 2021 (source).
Generally, high demand and low supply mean high prices. I’m neither an economist nor an 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)
Update: As noted above, popular RV travel sites such as RVshare are predicting 2023 to be yet another record year for leisure travel in America with 61% of vacation planners expecting to use RVs.
Why You Should Not Buy an RV and What to do Instead
Deciding whether or not to buy an RV is a big decision. Make sure you think about exactly what you want in an RV and what you want to do with your camper. Renting first will help you decide if buying an RV 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 Outdoorsy for family-friendly campers near you.
RV Rental Information
RV Destinations You Will Love
- Places to Camp in Fall
- RV Destinations in October
- Incredible RV Destinations in November
- Places to Camp for Thanksgiving
- Places to Ring in the New Year
- Magical Places to Camp this Christmas
- RV Destinations for December
- Places to Camp in February
- Places to Camp this Spring
- RV Destinations for Spring Break
You still want to buy an RV? Try Making Money with it!
You can make money on your RV by renting it out. Many people can pay off an RV in 3 years simply by doing this. We made $5,000 our first summer renting a trailer we only paid $16,000 for.
See my Review: RVShare vs Outdoorsy
Owners on Outdoorsy are earning up to $50,000 a year! Find out how much you could make on Outdoorsy this year!
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 until you try it out.
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! I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.
Sign up for our email list for my best travel tips plus get the family travel planner free.