- While an RV might seem like a cost-effective living or travel option, there are hidden expenses that might surprise you.
- After living in an RV with my family for the past few months, I’ve realised there are many expenses that you might not expect, such as significantly higher tolls compared to travelling by car.
- If you’re staying at a campsite, you’ll have to pay a lot fee in addition to utilities and electricity.
- If you want to tow a camper, you may need to invest in costly equipment and be ready for higher gas payments.
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While living in an RV could save you money in some areas, there also might be hidden costs you’re not expecting.
I’ve been staying with my family for the past few months in an RV travel trailer, so I know firsthand how expenses for campsites, amenities, and gas can add up.
Here are 12 hidden expenses of owning an RV that might surprise you.
RV insurance is an expense that varies by state, camper, and person.
My family pays around $US100 a month for our camper’s insurance. Factors that contribute to insurance cost include past driving history, type of RV, the age of your camper, and what coverage plan you opt for.
According to The Wandering RV, the states with the lowest RV insurance are North Carolina and Massachusetts, with averages around $US860 to $US1,100 a year. Michigan is one of the most expensive states with an average of almost $US4,500 a year.
If you choose to stay at a campsite, you’ll have to pay a lot rent …
Like insurance, the price of lot rent varies from state to state but also from campsite to campsite. Campsites with overnight hookups average around $US45 a night, but many offer monthly fees for a reduced rate. Rent is usually more expensive during the spring and summer months when campsites are busier, according to Camper Report.
The campsites we’ve stayed in have varied in price, but average out to around $US450 a month.
… as well as a monthly electricity and utilities bill.
Again, utility costs vary from place to place and can depend on the size of your camper. For instance, for our 32-foot travel trailer, our family usually pays around $US100 a month
According to Axle Addict, electricity in Central Florida can run around $US70 per 1,000 kWh while in northwestern Nevada it can run upward of $US124. Larger RVs can run up to $US300 a month.
If you don’t have a washer or dryer in your RV, then trips to the laundromat can add up.
While some RVs come equipped with washers and dryers, others do not. According to National Laundry Equipment, the national average to wash clothes at a laundromat is $US2 per load. Drying clothes costs a similar price. While it may not seem like a lot, dollars start to add up if – like me – you have a large family or have to make multiple trips to the laundromat.
Towing equipment for your camper can be expensive.
Whether you are pulling a travel trailer or fifth wheel camper with your vehicle or towing your vehicle with your motorhome, you’ll need the necessary equipment – and it might be a cost you didn’t anticipate.
An RV can be a gas guzzler.
To fill up an RV motorhome could cost anywhere between $US60 to $US600 depending on the size of the fuel tank, according to Rollick. If you have a travel trailer or fifth wheel, you may still spend a lot on gas: For instance, a truck may get 15 miles to the gallon but only eight when towing, leading to a more expensive trip the further you go.
When we took our camper across the country, we wound up spending over $US1,000 by the time we made it home – cheaper than buying flights for my family but still a significant cost.
Especially in the Northeast, toll roads can set you back a small fortune.
When travelling through the Northeast with our camper, my family was struck with terror whenever we approached a toll booth. It felt like we were stopped every five minutes.
In New York, the toll price for the standard vehicle to pass through the Lincoln Tunnel is $US16. If you’re towing a camper or your motorhome is pulling your vehicle, it could cost as much as $US88, according to Port Authority NJ. (The price would be slightly cheaper if you purchased the toll’s electronic E-ZPass.) In Texas, the Sam Houston Ship Channel Bridge costs between $US1.50 to $US2.00 for a two-axle vehicle while a four-axle vehicle costs $US5.25.
RVs use propane gas for refrigerators, stoves, and hot water, and tanks need to be refilled regularly.
At Camping World, a refillable 30-pound propane tank costs between $US80 and $US100. According to RV blogger, to refill your propane tank at a refilling station costs between $US2.50 to $US4.00 a gallon.
How often you refill your tank depends on your usage and how often you cook or take showers, but my family usually refills the propane tanks once a month.
Maintenance and repairs for your RV can be costly, too.
Maintenance costs depend on the wear and tear of your RV. According to Mobile Homes Parts Store, several people who lived in RVs said they spent between $US500 and $US1,000 a year on maintenance costs. Some RVers spent several thousand dollars a year.
You will need to furnish the camper with specialty accessories.
Almost all campers come furnished with beds and sofas, but you’ll have to spend extra money if you want to make your RV feel like a home away from home. For instance, RV bedsheets run for about $US45 on Amazon. On Camping World, a cookware set for your kitchen runs about $US150.
To protect their RVs from dirt and damage, some people choose to cover them in a protective sheet.
A cover for a travel trailer runs between $US250 to $US450 on RV Covers. Meanwhile, a cover for a fifth wheel camper runs from $US510 to $US570.
If you’re not staying in the RV, you’ll have to pay to store it.
Like most things regarding RV costs, it depends on the motorhome’s size and location. According to Storage.com, to store an RV in an unheated indoor garage costs $US50 to $US125 a month. Outdoor storage can cost between $US30 to $US100. To protect it during winter, a heated storage garage can cost anywhere between $US100 to $US450.
- Read more:
- I drove across the country in an RV and gained an appreciation for America’s diverse landscapes. Here are 15 of the most beautiful places I saw.
- I’m staying in an RV with 6 members of my family during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how we’re making it work.
- 11 of the greatest things about living in an RV camper
- 14 struggles of living in an RV that no one tells you about