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- RVs offer a large amount of flexibility when it comes to vacationing and travel.
- Rentals for small RVs or trailers can start at $100 to $200 per night.
- While the most expensive luxury RVs can run into the hundreds of thousands, many are available for cheaper.
- Consider buying used to reduce purchase costs if you decide to buy.
More than 11 million U.S. households currently own an RV — the highest number ever recorded, according to the RV Industry Association. RVs often pose an affordable solution to air travel — and even car travel — for many families. But their main attraction is you can travel as often as you want without giving up many of the comforts of a home.
But buying an RV is a big expense. You’ll also have to factor in maintenance, storage and other costs — something you don’t have to worry about when renting. That said, renting may not be as cost effective if you intend to hit the road in your rig frequently. Consider all the ins and outs of both options when making a choice.
How much is an RV?
There are many RV varieties, and price can vary greatly within the same type of RV, depending on features and age.
|Type of RV
|Cost to rent
|Cost to buy (new)
|Class A RV
|$250-$300 per night
|Class B RV
|$180-$230 per night
|Class C RV
|$200-$210 per night
|$110-$150 per night
|$110-$130 per night
|$100 per night
The additional costs can quickly add up whether you rent or buy. Buying may be the way to go if you plan to use the RV a lot. If you only want to try an RV one time, look for rental companies that include everything in one price so you don’t have to buy additional equipment. Think about the full cost to determine where you get the most bang for your buck.
If you’re buying, you may want to consider a used RV — this can help cut costs if you can’t afford a new model. You can also apply for an RV loan, but you may need a down payment.
Advantages and disadvantages of buying an RV
Owning an RV means you have the freedom to spontaneously go on a camping trip or make a long haul across the country. It also means you are responsible for taking care of the RV, and that isn’t always glamorous.
An RV makes an outdoor lifestyle more accessible if you want to travel frequently. If you want increased mobility and capacity for adventure, owning an RV is for you.
- Convenient: You can go camping whenever you want and keep it stocked with all of your favorite amenities.
- Customizable: You can customize your RV however you want and bring your own touches of home.
- Simplifies travel: Aside from checking in at your destination, you won’t have to worry about rental contracts when you own your RV.
Owning an RV means you are responsible for all the costs, maintenance and storage, which can add significant expense to your budget. Getting a loan to buy one also means dealing with a new monthly payment in your budget.
- High cost: There’s no getting around it — even small RVs have a hefty price tag. Once you own it, you still have to pay to get all the right gear, maintain it and cover registration costs every year.
- Maintenance: When you own an RV that breaks down or needs repairs, you must handle it. You may need to cancel trips if you can’t get unexpected repairs done in time.
- Storage: Your RV needs to be parked somewhere when you aren’t using it. This can mean an extra monthly cost if you don’t have room to store it where you live.
Advantages and disadvantages of renting an RV
Renting an RV can be a great option if you don’t want the hassle of purchasing one. However, you will miss making your RV feel like home and adding personal touches if you decide to rent.
Renting is good if you don’t have much experience with RVs or don’t want to be stuck maintaining a large vehicle that will only be used once or twice a year.
- All-inclusive rate: When you rent from an RV company, they often include all the supplies you will need while camping, such as kitchen tools. They can also help you set up insurance for your rental.
- Flexibility: If you own your RV, you always have to end up back at home, but when you rent, you may be able to drop it off somewhere different than where you picked it up.
- Low cost: The initial cost of buying an RV is quite high. If you just want to use an RV a few times a year or even try it out just one time, renting is much cheaper.
For frequent travelers, renting an RV will mean sacrificing the ability to customize your ride and ultimately cost more.
- Costs more over time: If you plan to go RV camping often, the rental costs can quickly add up.
- Less personal: When you rent an RV, you can bring personal items along, but you can’t make any major changes to personalize the vehicle.
- More rules: You have to follow the rules of the rental company when renting an RV. You may not be able to take it on certain roads, and the company may only allow you to go a certain number of miles per day.
How to decide between renting and buying an RV
It costs a lot of money to buy an RV, maintain it and store it, but it may be worth it in the long run if you plan to use it multiple times a year. If you want a simpler way to use an RV that doesn’t require you to be responsible for maintenance and upkeep, renting is the better option. Consider what matters most to you to determine whether you want to buy or rent an RV.
The bottom line
The decision of whether to rent or buy an RV boils down to how frequently you want to use it and how much of a custom experience you want. You’ll also need to assess your finances. Ask yourself not only if you can comfortably purchase or finance the RV itself but if you’ll be able to afford the upkeep and additional costs down the line.