The Unexpected Costs of the RV Lifestyle
With everything changing in the world today, more and more individuals are hitting the road and pursuing recreational vehicle (RV) life. Even inflation has not kept RVers from participating in the lifestyle, albeit making some compromises in terms of travel distance to save on fuel.
Whether you're looking to explore the US during retirement, planning an extended road trip, thinking of practicing a nomadic lifestyle, or just want to learn more about the costs associated with the RV lifestyle, we want to help break down some of the costs of hitting the road.
The expense of RV park reservations can add up, especially if you are only staying a few days. Nightly can be $100+ per night depending on where you stay. For example, a one-night stay during peak season at the Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego, CA, will cost you at least $145 on the weekend—and that's not even for a beachfront spot. Make sure you've budgeted for these expenses before you hit the road.
A way to save money on extended stays would be to join an RV club or using you a member ship card (i.e. Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.) when booking. A full-time RVer at Finance Buzz shared that you could get heavily discounted reservation rates, cheaper insurance, and assistance programs by joining.
Part of the allure of RV life is being more remote and not always connected to technology, but there will be times when you need internet access on the road. Because you're always traveling, you'll need cellular data or a hotspot to get online, especially in remote areas. Most full-time RVers invest in mobile hotspots, upgraded data plans, and signal-boosting devices.
Even if you do stop at a campground with an internet connection, the connection might not always be stable or secure. It's good to have a backup internet and data option, especially in case of emergencies.
The fact that you will have to pay for gas when traveling around the country in an RV shouldn't come as a surprise. What might come as a surprise is how few miles per gallon RVs get. Depending on your rig, you might only get about 10 mpg. That, coupled with increasing gas prices, makes gas a major expense for RVers. In addition, some popular destinations charge a premium for their fuel because they might be the only option in the area. At the time of writing, gas was over $9 a gallon at a gas station near Death Valley, a popular RV spot. Higher gas prices are becoming more common in more isolated areas. While the isolated scenery might be beautiful, the ever-rising numbers on the gas pumps aren't.
RV maintenance and repair can be one of the largest costs of the RV lifestyle. It's challenging to determine how much RV maintenance will cost you while on the road, because it depends on the age of your vehicle, how well it's maintained, where you're going, and how long you'll be on the road. Repairs are often an unexpected expense, but you can plan for them by having an emergency savings fund in case your RV breaks down.
Preventive maintenance should be part of your long-term RVing plans. With the help of the internet, there are many great sources that can help you make a checklist before, during and after every trip. Here are some examples: checking tire pressure, wheel bearings, lug nuts, fuel/ gas supplies, storage tanks, battery levels, surge protectors, etc.
RV life is constantly changing. There are many accessories that you can add to your RV: solar panels, lights, tv, awnings, cameras, air conditioning, internet, backup power, etc. While they will help you be more comfortable exploring the US, they come with additional cost and maintenance. It is important to choose the accessories you need, keep maintenance cost in your plans and stay away from accessories you do not need.
Sustaining the RV Life Amid Inflation
According to the RV industry, the demand for outdoor equipment and RVs has not been affected by the continuous price spikes of gas and other commodities.
Considering the unexpected costs the lifestyle entails, why are people not easing up on hitting the open road?
Here are a few reasons that come to mind:
1. People are taking back control of their lives.
The pandemic took control of our movements and activities for more than two years. With restrictions easing up, people are bent on experiencing life again; celebrating missed occasions; banking up memories.
2. Digital nomads are now more common than ever.
The work-from-anywhere or work-and-travel workforce is on the rise as more companies open their doors to remote work.
In the U.S., the number of digital nomads jumped from 4.8 million to more than 11 million in just three years, with 21% of them living in cars/RVs/vans.
3. RV life is the cheaper alternative.
Like any other inflationary age, people will find ways, alternatives, to satiate their pent up excitement. As such, they now turn to RVs as a more economically viable option for traveling, because it is cheaper than the combined cost of gas/ plane tickets and hotel accommodation.
Meanwhile, for the younger generation, the RV life is a tempting alternative to renting an apartment or getting a mortgage, as more of them invest in the present rather than in a future marred by uncertainty and constant economic turmoil.
There's something magical about hitting the road in a van or RV and not knowing what kinds of adventures you'll have, but with this freedom comes some expenses. Planning for these expenses ahead of time will help save you stress on the road.
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Let us help you navigate your way through this lifestyle and the expenses that come with it. Talk to us today! You can also follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for more industry news, tips, and updates.
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