Living and traveling in an RV is a fun and enjoyable experience. People choose this lifestyle for varying reasons: some people are usually looking for peace and freedom, while others seek an opportunity for outdoor adventure. Whatever the reason may be, it is a great way to take a breather from daily workday tedium while relaxing in the great outdoors communing with nature. However, the main question on most peoples’ minds in regards to RV Park Living is the affordability factor. Unfortunately, there is no standard or easy answer to that question. The answer is very personal and varies to different people depending on their lifestyle preferences and personal income.
Besides having an outstanding and memorable experience, full-time RV living can save you plenty of money. Living in an RV is not free but it can be affordable. It provides one with a lot of flexibility in the expenses incurred because there are very many available options, which depend on the budget and how you travel. You can stay in free boondocking land, State parks, or even RV only parks.
Over the years, most people are beginning to discover the financial advantage of living in an RV park. For many people, RV park living is a much cheaper alternative to traditional rental houses because the expenses are significantly lower than living a sedentary life.
In this article, we are going to highlight some of the expenses and costs incurred for life in an RV park. With this information, you will be able to make a realistic budget for your RV adventures. It is, however, necessary to note that RV living is deeply personal and everyone has their priorities, way of life and different definitions of what is or not necessary for living in an RV park. Anticipating the budget for this lifestyle can be quite difficult. Fortunately, below we have compiled some of the standard expenses you can expect while living in an RV park.
The Motor Home Costs
The biggest cost incurred for RV park living is the Rig. Rigs are very expensive to obtain, especially when buying new ones. While only paid once at the very beginning, it still requires many resources, especially for maintenance. This is why most people prefer to buy used ones, which retail from $10,000 to $12,000.
Good and reliable RVs are quite expensive to purchase. Their prices range from $20 for the lower-end travel models to $200-600 for the more classy motorhomes. Because of this huge range in the price tag, it can be difficult to approximate just how much money you will need to purchase one.
RV experts recommend buying used RVs to save on money spent. You could consider buying a 4-6-year-old RV and end up spending only half of its original price. This will help you save some much-needed money to spend on other expenses such as getting a reliable rig. Another great alternative that can help you save more money is RV park living is by financing your rig. Sometimes you may lack the full amount to pay upfront for an RV but you can finance for it from $400-$600 a month for a rig. This all depends on the model of the RV and the stipulated terms and conditions.
After getting an RV, the next major expense you should consider is the fuel, which is also another big expense for RV park living. Unlike the rig, the cost of the gas is recurring and is the easiest expense to control.
It is also however difficult to approximate the cost that would be incurred by gas while living in an RV park. It depends on the gas prices at a specific period as well as how much you intend to travel around. Since gas is not that expensive, you can expect to spend roughly between $300- 400 per month, depending on how much miles you cover as you drive to and from the RV park.
If you intend to live in an RV park for a while, you should have propane on top of the cant-do-without list. The propane is what allows campers to generate some warmth from the furnace during cold seasons, cook, and heat water for showers. Many RV campers may use it as sparingly as possible since there are better alternatives for its usage such as cooking meals outside by the grill, donning ample clothing during cold seasons and using the provided camp showers when possible
Nevertheless, it is important to have propane tanks installed in your RV. Purchasing and filling up propane on the RV is easy. Many RV parks are equipped with on-site fill stations for propane while others have the option of directly contacting contract companies to fill up the tanks for them. The average cost of propane in many states is $18 for a refill and $22 for the exchange of a 10lb tank.
Groceries and Food
Just like with the other costs, the costs incurred on food are also unique to every individual. We all have different and unique dietary needs and preferences. While some may only afford to get cheap and affordable meals, others may opt to consume fast foods or full-course meals on a daily bases from on-site restaurants offered by the RV parks.
Despite your routine, the grocery expenses are likely to be the same as those incurred while staying at home. They can only change when an individual decides to save up money on food consumed or increase their general food intake. To get some perspective on how much you can spend on food, a family of two can comfortably spend an average of $400 in a month, if they shop for fresh food products at least once a week.
It is also a good idea to add about $300 to your monthly food budget whenever you can. This is because RV living involves traveling to new and exotic locations and one may be curious to sample the local delicacies. The extra amount will allow you to have some wiggle room in your grocery budget.
Many RV parks provide their visitors with some cheap but decent enough washing and drying machines found on-site. These coin-operated laundry machines can cost about $1.75 for washing and $1.25 drying per load. The washers and dryers in RV parks are cheaper and better alternatives to those found in local Laundromats.
It may not be on top of the absolutely “must-have” list of things you need while living in an RV park; however, it is a necessary expense to include in the budget. The type of gear you need depends on the kind of activities that you may want to indulge in at a campground to keep yourself busy. They may include bikes, hiking gear, cameras, fishing gear, hammocks, propane fire pits, and much more. Once you have decided on activities to indulge in, you can visit your local store to find out just how much they cost and include them in your budget as well.
Many campgrounds in the US offer campsites with full electric hookups and dump stations. Therefore, if you plan to live in an RV park with an electric hookup, you have to include electricity charges (per Kwh) in the budget. While living in an RV park you may need to use the standard grid electricity for interior and exterior lighting, computers, television, heater, and even a coffee pot. You have to pay a standard fee together with the accommodation fee. You can, however, reduce the electric expenses by switching all light bulbs to LED or simply getting a low voltage coffee pot.
Dumpsite expenses are also important to consider for the budget. Most people, who indulge in dry camping, typically have to dump their tanks after every seven to eight days. Some RV parks may provide free dumping options but most RV parks can charge an average of $10 to use one. Another alternative would be to use gas or travel stations, which are cheaper and sometimes free.
Phone and Internet Access
In our fast and interconnected times, Phones and Internet services are a requirement for many. Even though many people opt to go RV camping as a means of escape, having a phone with good internet connectivity is a no brainer. Sometimes you may need to keep in touch with your loved ones; you may run into an emergency or even require directions to an attraction. Ergo, it is important to have a functional phone preferably with internet connectivity.
While many RV parks may provide public wireless parks, they sometimes pose security threats, are very unreliable, and they tend to be very slow and overburdened. This is why you should have your phone and internet plan. The cost incurred depends on the type of phone you use and the internet subscriptions you use.
You can opt for an individual plan such as Verizon’s Above Unlimited option, which offers 75GB of data, 4G LTE connection, and unlimited texts and talk time at $60 per month. Another alternative would be the shared plan where you would spend approximately $70 for eight GB, 4G LTE and unlimited calls and texts for a month.
The Cost of a Campsite, Lodging, and Rent
While some State park campsites can accommodate boondocking- camping on free spots without hookups, many RV parks require one to pay some fee for accommodation. You make this payment to have access to, clean water, ample parking, security, and electricity, as well as exposure to a community of like-minded individuals. This is why it is important to include the campsite rent into your RV Park living budget as well.
The fees for overnight and long-term RV campsites are varying as well. Typical RV parks charge approximately $30-40 for private parks and $20 for the public RV parks. Beachfront campsite options are significantly more expensive as they charge approximately $100 for a single night stay.
If you are looking for some peace and privacy while camping in your RV, consider choosing private RV camps, which can cost you approximately $1200 per month. Though more expensive than the others, they offer more privacy, better facilities, and services. The public parks are significantly cheaper at $600 per month, but they fail to guarantee great service delivery.
You can also spend less on the campsite fees if you join membership programs like Good Sam or Passport America. They offer great discounts on camping adventures. Passport America is a good example of membership programs that provide great benefits to its members. In February 2019, the membership offered a 50% discount to various campgrounds in the state for a yearly fee of $44 and a 10% discount on fuel for a yearly fee of $29. These memberships help you save a lot of money in the end.
Just like with any other automobile, when you put in some miles on your RV, you need to have regular maintenance to extend its shelf life. Creating a budget for maintenance will save you the inconvenience of having to deal with a broken-down RV during your travels. Over time you will inevitably have to experience engine failure, tire busts, or a shattered brake pad on your travels. The basic maintenance practices that you need to do regularly include refilling the propane tanks or changing the RVs oil. General-purpose RV maintenance should cost approximately $100 per month
In addition to that, the RV can get into accidents, which may force you to incur more expenses to get it back and running. Some emergencies can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars so having some headroom in your budget is very necessary.
By opting to live in an RV park, the RV ultimately becomes your home. Therefore, you must ensure your RV fully insured. However, it can be quite costly to insure an RV while traveling. You can end up spending from $500- $2000 per year, depending on the model of the vehicle and the insurance package that you choose.
For campers who travel with a motorhome, they only need to get insurance for it alone. However, for those who own RVs that require towing behind another vehicle, you have to make sure that you get an insurance package that covers both of them- which is essentially paying double.
Be sure to carry out some research on the different insurance providers to find out exactly what package you need before deciding on one. It is also a good idea to have Road Assistance services to help compliment your insurance cover. About $80 per year, they are great at assisting road motorists who may be stranded. Even if they cannot get to you on time, they pay for whoever may come to your rescue, regardless of where you are in the country.
Health Insurance is necessary for individuals looking to take up RV camp living. It can incur a huge cost on the RV Park living budget. It is one of the biggest expenses in the United States. It is unfortunately difficult to give an exact estimate of the cost incurred for health insurance because it depends on the number of RV occupants as well as the insurance package itself. Five years back, 2015 to be exact, the average American could spend almost $10000 on health insurance, but financial analysts expect this number to rise to $14000 by the year 2023.
Just like living at home, when living in an RV park, you have to ensure that you budget for recreational expenses. Whether it is visiting an amphitheater to check out the latest movies, paying for admission at a museum, purchasing a temporary fishing license, or retting a boat, you have to include such expenses in your budget. The amount of money used depends on the kind of activities you intend to indulge in while living in an RV park. So, make a list beforehand to select activities that do not strain your budget in the end.
So, after looking at the major expenses that someone can incur while living in an RV park you will find that two people could approximately spend $4700 per month for a comfortable stay. This number may be affordable for some people but it can be exorbitant to some people. Luckily, you can tweak some ways to reduce your expenses. As mentioned above, you can forgo buying a rig and instead finance it for only $600. You can also save up on insurance by opting for a cheaper package as well as reduce the amount of money spent on recreational amenities. Remember, every individual is different, so you have to plan your budget to fit your desired needs and wants. For a start, you can use the above information to set a baseline for your budget.