What is the cost of living in an RV vs a house?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: What is the cost of living in an RV vs a house? We will teach everything there is to know about budgets, managing expenses and expectations!

What is the cost of living in an RV vs a house?

Living in an RV can certainly be cheaper than living in a house or apartment. The cost of living in the United States is more expensive than in 79% of countries in the world, no wonder many choose the RV life! The estimated monthly costs for a single person in the US is $2,611 – and that price can be brought down if you choose to live in a motorhome

Expense type 

Cost of living in an RV/month

Cost of living in a house/month
Diesel$110 $250 (if you have a car) $450 for public transport
Insurance $400 to $500 per year $1,200 per year
Gas $100$72.10
Water$21 for 450L$35.49 
Maintenance $801% and 4% of your home’s value each year 
Repairs $501% and 4% of your home’s value each year 
Improvements $501% and 4% of your home’s value each year 
Parking space $150Most of the time free in front of the house
Tolls$100On average 6 cents per mile/$60 month/$0 if you don’t have a car
Campsite for 10 nights $250No need
Food $400$400
Laundry $40$40
Leisure $50 or more$50 or more

The total/month for two people living in an RV would be $1,461. The total/month for two people living in a house: $2,107 minus the costs for maintenance and home improvement.  This is an average, some need less to live, others much more. 

Costs of living in an RV full-time

Yes, living in an RV comes at a cost, and often much more than what people might expect. For more readability and understanding, I will refer to monthly expenses for two people. Annual expenses will be reduced to the month.

  1. Vehicle purchase price – First, there is the purchase price of the vehicle, from a few thousand dollars for an old converted van to a few tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for the most expensive new motorhomes.

Whether you are buying new or used, you should keep in mind that you will be reselling your vehicle one day or another.

To find out the monthly cost of your vehicle, therefore, subtract the resale price from the purchase price. Then you just have to divide the amount obtained by the number of months that you have kept it.

Take the example of a used motorhome bought at $15,000, and sold for $10,000 two years later. Here is the monthly cost obtained: 15000-10000 / 24 = $208.33 

  1. Rent an RV to try living in it! This is the best way to know if you are ready for long life in an RV. Rent a motorhome for one or two weeks. This is a budget but it may save you from investing more money unnecessarily in a vehicle if it is to resell it a month later.

It is important to test yourself beforehand. Living in a small space can become psychologically difficult. Take this test, believe me. And go with the person (s) who will be living with you. It will help you understand what you are getting yourself into.

  1. Become a minimalist. It’s making sure that you can live on little, or at least a lot less, than what you have today. Fewer clothes, fewer pairs of shoes, gadgets etc. Could you live in a space as small as a motorhome without most of your personal items? It is not easy.

Becoming a minimalist is a process, a journey. Take the time to sort out what you own. Haven’t used an item for over a month? You will probably never use it again. So put aside what isn’t essential and sell it. It’s a long process, it’s not easy to let go of all that is unnecessary. But it does a lot of good!

  1. Have a good reason to live in a motorhome. This is fundamental. Don’t go on a whim. The risk is to regret this choice quickly. For most full-time RVers, it’s the desire to see new places. Seeing the world is a great reason to choose a motorhome. Meeting new people is another. Either way, you need a reason, and a good one.

It’s a personal choice. If you have a good reason to get started, do it. And don’t let people put you off.

  1. Have the necessary funds. Whether you are a self-employed entrepreneur or your boss allows you to work from home, whether you are retired or have won the lotto, you must finance your project. And as we saw above, RV life costs more than most people imagine. Do your expense calculations well and set aside money accordingly.

If your motorhome breaks down, you may have to pay for a hotel room for one or more nights. Unless you are near an acquaintance who can accommodate you. Whatever happens, have an emergency fund for exceptional situations.

  1. Take the time to research. I cannot stress this enough, especially if you are considering buying a used motorhome. Be more than vigilant, take your time. It would be a shame if after a few days or a week you did not feel well in your new motorhome. 

It would be even more unfortunate if you found yourself breaking down abroad, for example, because you did not detect a defect before buying. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are you going to do in your RV?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you have any knowledge of mechanics?
  • How often will you change your drop-off point?
  • Will it be cold where you will be in winter?
  • How many people are going to be with you?
  • Do you want easy access to city centres?
  • Will you stay in places where you have access to electricity and water?

All of these questions will help you know which type of motorhome is right for you. I suggest you read this article on how to choose the right used RV if you need more advice.

The bottom line

One final note on choosing an RV. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. It often happens that RV operators resell their vehicle to buy smaller ones. It is often advantageous to have a small camper van or even a van, in terms of consumption, parking, driving comfort, etc.

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions on the content. 

FAQ on What is the cost of living in an RV vs a house?

What driving license do I need to drive a motorhome in the United States?

Unless you want to reserve a bus-type “motorhome”, the “B” driving license is enough to drive a motorhome in the United States, apart from the international driving license that is usually necessary to drive more relaxed.

What do I have to bring to travel by RV?

Don’t even think about packing towels, dishes or a blanket for your motorhome trip. Companies often offer a kitchen kit with everything you need to cook and eat for about $ 100.

In addition, they will offer you to rent a coffee maker or toaster for about $ 8 the whole trip. They also offer a personal kit for $ 50, which includes a sleeping bag, pillow, blanket, bath towels and sink.

What are the energy sources of a motorhome?

The most important is gasoline, with which the vehicle moves.

  • Propane gas, with which the kitchen fires, the refrigerator, the heating and the water heater for the shower work.
  • Electric batteries. The motorhomes are equipped with 2 batteries, one for starting the engine and the other auxiliary for the interior light, the water pump and, to a limited extent, the fan and heating.
  • Electric generator. This generator is connected to supply 230v electricity to the microwave, the television, the air conditioning and the electrical outlets while the motorhome is stopped unless we have the vehicle connected to an electrical outlet in our camping space.


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