5 Full-Time RV Living Expenses & Costs To Consider
Buying an RV is a significant investment, and there are a lot of hidden costs that you might not expect. Obviously, you have to deal with the big things like gas, food, and routine maintenance. But there are also a few unexpected RV living expenses that can catch you off-guard if you’re not prepared.
Keeping a large emergency fund can help offset many of these, but you may want to incorporate some new items into your RV budget. Below we have 5 RV living expenses that can add up over time. Many of these are cheap if you only deal with it once or twice, but if you need to pay for them regularly, your budget could take a hit. Let’s explore some of the things you need to watch out for!
1. RV internet
In the modern world, many of us rely on the internet for work, socialization, and staying connected to sources of help. For most people, it’s isn’t viable to go for long stretches without access to the internet. Luckily, there are mobile internet solutions available for RVers.
Some campgrounds and resorts may offer free Wi-Fi and hotspots, but sometimes you need to fend for yourself. If you plan on camping off-grid, this is especially true. However, internet services are not free and many of them can be quite expensive. If you upgrade to high-speed internet, this is even more true. Again, most people need internet in their RVs, so this cost cannot be completely avoided.
Some people may choose to use some of the cellular data from their phone, but this could also incur an additional cost if your plan is limited. Other options include using satellite and Wi-Fi hotspots. These different options come in a range of prices, but you should expect to pay between $75-$250 per month (depending on the plan and carrier you choose).
If you’re not ready for this cost, it can sneak up on you and start to cut into other parts of your budget. Make sure you are aware of the plan you have and the monthly rate you’re paying. If it goes up, you need to be aware of it and adjust accordingly. RV living expenses can fluctuate, so you should have some extra money set aside to combat these changes.
2. Short term campgrounds
When you travel in an RV, you will usually stay at campgrounds, resorts, and RV parks. Of course, you will need to pay to stay at these locations and gain access to their various hookups and amenities.
One of the most unexpected RV expenses comes into play when it comes to determining how long you should stay in one location. Some people are just taking short trips and may only stay for a night or two. Although this may seem cheaper upfront, if you stay short-term at a ton of different campgrounds, the price can build up faster than you imagined.
Short-term rates are often much higher than long-term or monthly rates. If you plan on living in your RV full-time or taking an extended trip, try to stay at a single campground for as long as possible. Monthly rates are quite a bit lower than bouncing around to a bunch of different spots. Plus, if you find a spot you like, there’s no reason to get out of there in a hurry!
You can actually save a fair amount of money by staying put and committing to a single campground/resort for a long period of time. Next time you plan a trip, check out the best places to stay in the area and try to stick with one or two of them.
Laundry is annoying to deal with whether you’re at home or in an RV! In addition to being time-consuming, this chore can also start to make a dent in your wallet. Some RVs come with a washer and dryer installed, but this feature is usually limited to larger and more luxurious models.
Some campgrounds also offer laundry facilities, but it’s not guaranteed that these will be free to use. Many of these are coin-operated and you will usually need to bring your own detergent. In some cases, you may need to rely on public laundromats to clean your clothes during your trip.
Washing a single load of laundry isn’t very expensive. It usually costs between $2-$4 to wash and dry a single load, and just about everybody can manage that. The problem comes when you travel for long stretches of time and need to return over and over again. If you need to wash multiple loads and go a couple of times a week, the cost of laundry will begin to mount.
Although you may be able to reduce the amount you need to wash, this expense cannot be avoided forever. This expense is particularly troublesome for large families that go through a lot of clothes between them all. You may want to keep an eye out for RV parks that offer free laundry services so you can avoid this cost as much as possible.
4. Toll roads
This next RV living expense is applicable to RVers who prefer to travel quite a bit. Some people like to pick a campground or two and stay in that area, while others like to road trip and explore the country. An irritating and expensive thing you’ll run into is toll roads.
Toll roads are inconvenient for everyone, but RV owners have it even worse. If you’re towing a camper behind you or exceed a certain weight limit, you may have to pay extra to drive on a toll road.
To mitigate this cost, you may want to buy an RV TollPass online. You still need to pay for it, but the cost may be lower overall than you would have to pay otherwise. The cost of these passes is about $95, whereas you could end up paying over $100+ without one.
The northeast region of the U.S. has the highest concentration of toll roads, so if you plan to travel in this area, a TollPass might be worthwhile.
You can also save money by planning your travels with RV LIFE Trip Wizard. While planning an RV safe route, you can adjust your settings to avoid toll roads as well as highways, unpaved roads, ferries, and tunnels.
5. RV storage
Finally, you need to consider what happens to your RV when you’re not using it. Even when it’s in storage, it will still cost you money! This is an RV living expense that’s easy to overlook but important to keep in mind. Paying for RV storage will ensure that your vehicle is kept in a secure and temperature-regulated environment. However, it does cost quite a bit.
Most indoor RV storage costs about $100 per month, as opposed to outdoor RV storage, which is closer to $50 per month. You could also take it upon yourself to store the RV in your own yard or garage, but this requires more effort on your part as well as a sacrifice of space.
If you plan to store your RV for several months out of the year, this expense could cut into your budget. Good storage is often worth the cost, but you need to know what you’re signing up for. In some cases, it might be more practical to handle the storage yourself.
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.
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