Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How Much Does An (our) RV Cost?

Aside from gas, parking costs and the purchase price, how much does it cost to use and maintain an RV? A few years ago our friends George and Suzi told us to count on $2,000 per year for maintenance and repairs. Our costs have been slightly higher but I include everything to do with the motorhome in my "RV Maintenance & Repairs" Quicken account. This includes updating equipment like GPS's. inverters, adding solar panels, kitchen appliances, TV's, satellite receivers, car washes, even flashlight batteries. Everything to do with the RV.

Over ten years I have paid out $28,600 in this category. This is $2,860 per year. We use our RV a lot. We do not fulltime but when we travel, we travel hard. Mexico is hard on RV's once you get off the toll roads and even the toll roads leading down to the Yucatan are just a series of connected potholes. Things are always falling and banging around. We travel on lots of secondary roads down there where topes hide around every corner and the jungle reaches out onto the road to scratch the paint and sweep the roof.

The above costs include the costs of one accident that required a new roof. Insurance paid most of this but our costs were still around $1,000 with the deductible and upgrading the broken solar panel. Last year was a specially expensive year with all the electrical problems we had driving south in November. This pulled the average up a bit. These years occur fairly often when we have to replace tires (+/- $1,500) and four six volt batteries (+/- $400) This occurs every four or five years.

So George and Suzi's $2,000 figure has proven to be pretty accurate for "normal" wear and tear. Costs have gone up since he gave me this advice and we are probably a little harder on our equipment than they are.

Costs I did not include include RV Parks at $35,100 or $3,500 per year and gas at $38,500 or $3,850 per year. Adding everything together to get the full cost comes to $102,200 over the ten years or $10,220 per year. This has provided us with a six month long "vacation" every year, not bad value for for the money. because the last couple of friends who have taken short European Vacations have faced costs of close to $1,000 PER DAY including air fares, hotels and restaurants. I know this is extreme and are admittedly short 2 - 3 week trips but still... There is no more "Europe On $15 Per Day".

The actual cost of the RV is an interesting discussion as well. We were very lucky. We found a three year old but unused Class C in El Paso, Texas for $54,000 in 2008 when the Canadian dollar was at par. Repossessed from a bankrupt dealer, it had 4000 miles on it from the delivery to Texas and the factory stickers were still on the appliances. This has had a huge effect on keeping the value of this investment. I have kept an eye of the current value of this rig over the years and feel confident that I could sell it for around $38 - $40K Canadian now so my ownership cost has been only about $1,500 per year!

This is a drawing one of the guys at work did of me when I retired.


  1. All things considered, $2K/year seems reasonable. And, cost of sleeping in your OWN bed ... priceless.

  2. Thank for the shout Croft.
    That is about right we figure $2,000. a year is pretty cheap living but actually over 12 years we living full-time think we have average about $1.500.00 sill and amazing lifestyle to have the freedom to travel. Some years more and some years less.
    So nice to sleep in your own bed and cook your own meals like Bill said is priceless.

  3. It gets into your blood so many days I miss my many many more miles cheers les

  4. We haven't detailed our expenses quite as diligently as you, but using our trailer only as a comparison, we've spent quite a bit less on yearly maintenance. We've only bought 2 new batteries over the years, 6 tires, a new Awning and a small TV and spent about $1000 on a major service/repair to our Slide since 2008. That totals about $2500 or so. Touch Wood, but our Electronics and Appliances haven't needed major repairs or replacement......yet.
    Our resale value on the trailer is likely only about 30% of the original purchase price though, and of course much of our maintenance and Capital costs are wrapped up in the shiny truck that pulls the trailer.
    Overall, our costs will closely match yours when we include the tow vehicle, but it makes for a fairly cheap extended vacation. By comparison, We likely spent close to 3 years of winter vacation funds to splurge on a 19 day trip to France a few years ago.

    1. It's a tougher comparison when you have a separate tow vehicle. We considered the truck and trailer route but we really have no other use for a truck so it did not make sense for us at the time.

  5. That total should have been '$3500 or so'

  6. I am an rv fanatic. That said, rving in Mexico/U.S. has become more of a hassle over the years. Our last big trip in 2014 made it difficult to find good boondocking spots. We found them but it was a PIA.

    I´m beginning to think that monthly rental destinations may serve a better purpose. Still not convinced. As you said, I like my own stuff but we have found some great VRBO rentals like the one in SMA.

    Our travel trailer has very little to no maintenance. Apart from the solar install and a few minor modifications tires are the only expense every four years. The SUV is 12 years old and still pulling well with little maintenance. No way do we spend $10K a year on travel. That would give us three or four very good month long vacation rentals in far away destinations.