Is RV living cheaper?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Is RV living cheaper? We will estimate the costs of living in an RV for two people and discuss important aspects (besides the costs) of living in an RV. 

Is RV living cheaper?

RV living can be cheaper than renting an apartment or mortgaging a traditional house.  Many people dream of living year-round in a motorhome or converted van, and all ask themselves the same question: How much does it cost per month?

It will be, however, impossible to give a precise answer to this question, because from one person to another, the costs and the needs are really different. The difference will also be made if the motorhome is purchased new, on credit, or if it is already several years old, but also if it concerns a family, a couple or a single person.

In the table below we tried to estimate the costs of RV living for a couple:

Type of expense Amount per month
Diesel2.5 gal/60 miles, 1.10 $/gallon, 620 miles: $110
RV insurance$400 to $500 per year 
Gas/propane tank $100
120 gal water$21
RV basic maintenance $80
Repairs$50
Parking space$150
Tolls$100
10 nights at a campsite$250
Food$400
Laundry$50
Leisure$50
TOTAL per month two people $ 1,461

Note: This is an average, some need less to live, others much more. Don’t forget to add the monthly cost of your camper van to get a more realistic total.

Why is living in an RV cheaper

Below we discuss several reasons (tbr cost savings) why living in an RV may be cheaper than renting an apartment or a house. 

  1. Reduction of the purchase cost: For a used, trustworthy and well-equipped RV, 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 an RV 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 an RV 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 an RV 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 RV, 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 RV 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 RV.
  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.

Living in an RV: Aspects you can’t ignore

Living in an RV is very different from living in a traditional house or apartment, but although it may seem contradictory, in many respects, it is very similar. You will still have to do shopping, cook, wash clothes, clean the house, pay your taxes, be responsible for your medical appointments, attend to emergencies, make arrangements and / or some type of maintenance of your caravan, motorhome, motor home, etc.

Being in continuous movement, some of these tasks will take longer and will be much more difficult and complex to perform. Not to mention if your children are studying or you are in a stage of life where you still have to work to earn an income and cover your daily needs. (As is our case)

Living in an RV full time is nothing like being on vacation. Even if your house has wheels and gives you the opportunity to travel, you must bear in mind that this lifestyle is not the best strategy to relax or unwind. Your responsibilities and / or daily tasks will accompany you and even if it is hard to believe it, they will be much more amplified.

Travelling all the time can be very stressful and exhausting. This lifestyle is wonderful, but you can’t ignore that on a physical and emotional level it can be very stressful and exhausting. If you are a person who tends to postpone decisions, if it is difficult for you to organize and plan your day, we cannot help but tell you that the nomadic life will turn you on your head.

Finding your own rhythm (and that of your family) is essential. The secret lies in learning to relax and move forward without getting frustrated or feeling like you’re missing everything … and that takes time.

You may not be able to get to know the area you are in as you would have liked, you may have to visit large cities in one day, or go to the beach that is a few blocks away, just once a week. Don’t feel guilty about not being able to make the most of what each place has to offer! Think that with thousands of limitations, you are still living an incredible and unforgettable adventure that no one can take away from you.

You are going to make mistakes that may cost you. From managing your finances, the destinations you choose and the season of the year you visit them, taking care of your diet, managing stress, the time you are on the go vs. the one you are parked in, the use and maintenance of your RV, etc. These are just a few examples of areas where you can go wrong, and a lot. Don’t worry … take it easy.

With every mistake, something new is learned. With the passing of the months and some laps, your experience will expand and soon you will be better positioned and even help those who are starting and / or dream of living something like this.

Conclusions

Full time living in an RV is definitely not for everyone. But nothing and nobody stops you from trying this lifestyle! Now that you know what are the costs associated with RV living, the pros and the cons, you are able to make a decision.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments or questions about the content. 

FAQ on Is RV living cheaper?

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 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 is possible, it will all depend on what choices you make!

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.

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 cost 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. 

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