Is it cheaper to live in a 5th wheel?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Is it cheaper to live in a 5th wheel? We will try to shed light on the pros and cons of buying a 5th wheel trailer compared to buying a property, focusing exclusively on economic and financial considerations. 

Is it cheaper to live in a 5th wheel or a house?

For most people, yes, it is cheaper to live in a 5th wheel trailer than in a traditional house. We say most people because each one of us is different and we have different priorities and lifestyles. While saving money by living in a 5th wheel trailer is possible, it will all depend on what choices you make!

To be able to give you a general idea of the monthly costs for living in a 5h wheel vs living in a traditional house, we leave you the table below.  

Expense type 

Cost of living in a 5th wheel trailer/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. 

Living in a 5th wheel trailer vs a house: Cost-effective tips and comparisons 

Living in a 5th wheel trailer, a crazy idea for some, a dream to be realized according to others. Beyond the social and moral considerations, to which ample space will be dedicated in this blog, the main doubts to be addressed remain above all of an economic nature. 

In addition to having a strong determination and an iron personal motivation, it is therefore necessary to be well aware of the real economic advantages and disadvantages that such a choice can entail.

The advantages of living in a 5th wheel trailer

The advantages of living in a 5th wheel trailer can be summarized as follows:

  1. Reduction of the purchase cost: For a used, trustworthy and well-equipped fifth-wheel trailer, you can spend from 15 thousand dollars upwards. Nothing to do with the cost of buying a house. If the house is bought with a mortgage, the advantage of buying a 5th wheel trailer is even greater. 

Unless our income is solid (a mirage for many, especially in the precarious era) and, above all, conspicuous, the mortgage will be a real sentence weighing on the family budget (and therefore on our serenity) until its conclusion, which often requires periods of not less than 15-20 years. In addition to the considerable initial fixed costs (notary, taxes), we would like to remind you that the monthly instalment is mainly made up of interest, the percentage of which on the instalment itself will gradually decrease over the years.

  1.  Savings on maintenance. The maintenance costs of a 5th wheel trailer are certainly not modest, but they are still much lower than those that can be required by a private home (especially in the most serious cases, such as a condominium where it is necessary to renovate common parts such as roof, plaster, elevator, etc.).
  1. Taxation and other expenses. The purchase tax for a 5th wheel trailer has nothing to do with the costs involved in the purchase of a property, which includes significant taxes and high notary fees. Furthermore, in the 5th wheel trailer, we do not pay waste tax or other condominium expenses.
  1. Savings on utilities. Here the discussion could lengthen a lot: the expense for utilities in the 5th wheel trailer can vary enormously according to personal needs. Let’s summarize by saying that if you live in warm places  and have good adaptability skills, you can get significant savings on heating, water and electricity costs in the 5th wheel trailer.
  1.  Savings during the holiday periods. No more hotels, guesthouses and so on. You have your own travelling hotel. You can go where you want, whenever you want.

The disadvantages of living in a 5th wheel trailer 

Now let’s see the disadvantages of this choice:

  1. The devaluation of the 5th wheel trailer. It is true that the purchase, management and maintenance of the house entail considerable costs, but there is no doubt that the house, at least in the long term, does not suffer from devaluation. 

Indeed, it is one of the few investments still ‘sure hit’. Despite temporary periods of crisis due to speculative bubbles, such as the current one, our property will always guarantee a certain security in the hypothesis of a future resale. 

This does not apply to the 5th wheel trailer: like any mechanical vehicle, the 5th wheel trailer will devalue year after year. Therefore, from a purely financial point of view, real estate investment remains far more profitable in the long term than buying a motorhome.

However, this is not always true: in the event that the purchase of the property takes place through a mortgage, it will be necessary to evaluate case by case, based on our income, the location and type of the property, the possibility of reselling it or making it income, market and interest rate trends. 

To give an example: buying a property with a variable rate mortgage today might not be a great idea, as rates are expected to increase in the coming years, and therefore more expensive instalments.

  1. Useful life and depreciation costs. The life of a 5th wheel trailer is certainly not comparable to that of a home. If we take into consideration an already dated vehicle, it is necessary to set aside annually, by way of amortization, an amount equal to at least 10% of the amount we paid for the purchase of the 5th wheel trailer. 

This amount will correspond in principle to the annual evaluation of the vehicle. In this way we will be able to resell our 5th wheel trailer in the future to buy back another more recent one, adding to the amount of the sale the money that we have set aside in previous years as a depreciation expense.

Final thoughts

We realize that drawing a comparison between the convenience of buying a house or a 5th wheel trailer is certainly not a trivial matter. There are many factors to consider, subjective and objective, in order to obtain a correct analysis of economic and financial convenience. Some economic expertise is also required to obtain an answer that is faithful to reality.

However, we hope this article has provided you with good food for thought. If you have any questions or comments on the subject, please let us know!

FAQ on Is it cheaper to live in a 5th wheel?

Is it cheaper to live in a trailer park?

For many, living in a trailer park will be much cheaper than living in an apartment or house. Of course, there are several factors to take into account when making such a comparison: number of people living in the trailer, type of RV, plot rental costs, income, and so on. 

Is it cheaper to live in a van?

Is it cheaper to live in a van than in a flat? This answer is very relative, it will depend on the type of vehicle you have, if you are paying for it or it is already paid for, how much you will move it and if it is self-sufficient. 

Can you live year-round in a camper?

Yes, it is possible to live year-round in a camper, but it is forbidden to make it your main residence and live there permanently. And if you are residing at a campsite, it is often difficult when they close in winter with the water and electricity cut off.

Can I live permanently in a mobile home?

Yes, it is possible to live permanently in a mobile home. It has its pros and cons, and it is a decision that one must think about well. The most important thing to consider is where you’re going to place the mobile home.

Other FAQs about Fifth Wheel Trailers  that you may be interested in.

Is it better to tow a fifth wheel with a flatbed or regular bed?

How much does a Scamp 5th wheel cost?

How much of a fifth wheel is over the truck?