Is Living in an RV Cheaper Than Renting a Home or Apartment?

Many Americans are taking advantage of work flexibility and changing to van life. As of March 2021, 11.2 million U.S. households owned RVs, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. That’s up 26% since 2011. But is living in an RV cheaper than renting?

It depends on several factors, but in general, yes living in an RV can be cheaper than renting an apartment or house. Of course, there are exceptions, but generally, the lower cost of living in an RV can make it more affordable than renting.

So, let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in an RV vs. Renting an apartment to see which one is more affordable.

Cost Of Living In An RV

Several factors contribute to the cost of living in an RV, by comparison, it generally costs much less on a day-to-day basis. Utility bills and other expenses shrink or disappear for the most part. The average cost of RV life ranges from $1,500 to $5,000 per month, but many people keep their expenses as low as $1,000 or less per month.

However, the average cost of a home in the United States by mid-2021 was $374,900, over 16% higher than a year before. In addition, the average mortgage payment people have each month is 29.5% of the US median income, which was $67,521 in 2020. On average, homeowners pay $20,000 per year on their mortgages.

The average cost of living in an RV depending on various situations, let take a llok at some of the cost associated with RV living:

Financing the RV 

Not everyone can pay cash for their RV and the type of RV you choose will significantly impact your overall cost. On average a small pop-up camper may cost around $10,000-$20,000, while a large motorhome can easily cost $10,000-$300,00. 

You will also need to have a vehicle to tow if you choose a travel trailer, which will be another expense that could run you another $500.00 per month, unless you already have one. 

Gas

Gas is a very big factor in the monthly cost of full-time RVing. The cost for gas is around $3.50 per gallon. Of course, the more you travel, the more you will pay for gas, and where you are located will determine the price.

Campsite fees 

The average campground fees can run $300 a month to thousands of dollars. Places that have a lot of amenities are going to be more expensive. You are going to pay more on a nightly basis rather than a monthly rate. You also need to consider whether electricity is included in that monthly cost.

Vehicle insurance 

The monthly RV cost is going to be different for each person depending on where they are located and what is being insured. You are likely going to have to budget around $3,000 per year for all your vehicles, truck and trailer, or motorhome and tow car.

RELATED: How to Get Some of the Best Car Insurance Rates

Other costs 

Other costs you will likely incur during your RV adventures include:

  • Laundry – Average about $4.00 to wash and dry a load
  • A mail service –average  $100 per year plus postage
  • Pets – Food, medications, vet care, miscellaneous toys, leashes, etc.
  • RV wash – $50 on average. If  RV parks do not allow you to wash your rig on their property. Others will allow a wash service to come to you, which is around $150, depending on the services you receive.

RV Vs Renting Apartment: Average Cost Comparison

ExpensesRenting Cost   RV Living Cost
Sewer Tank Dump$15Free to max $8
Food$450$300
Water$35Included in housing
Electricity$120Included in housing
Trash Collection$18Free to max $15
Insurance$100$60
Gas And Propane$80$50
Fuel$75$150
Laundry $50$50
Monthly housing$1295$500 and $1200
Internet$50Free to $50
Home and RV Insurance $100$60

Pros and Cons: RV Living VS Renting a House

Living in an RV costs less on an ongoing basis than homeownership. Some of the pros of living in an RV, whether you travel or remain stationary, include:

Freedom And Flexibility

One of the biggest appeals of RV living is that it offers great freedom and flexibility. You can pick up and move whenever you want, and you’re not tied to any place. This can be a great way to see different parts of the country (or even the world) and experience new things.

Lower Cost Of Living

RV living can be very affordable, especially if you downsize your belongings and travel to cheaper areas. Gas and camping fees can add up, but they’re often offset by the fact that you don’t have to pay rent or a mortgage.

Great for Nature Lovers

If you love being outdoors, RV living can be a great way to connect with nature. You can camp in some of the most beautiful places in the country (or the world), and you don’t have to worry about being too far from civilization if you need it.

Cons:

Limited Space

Living in a RVs can feel cramped and small, especially if you’re used to living in a traditional house or apartment. Getting used to living in such close quarters can take some time. And if you have a family, it can be even more challenging to make everyone feel comfortable.

Maintenance Costs

The maintenance and repair can be expensive. It’s important to factor this into your budget when considering full-time RV living.

Inconveniences

RV living can be inconvenient at times. For example, you may have to deal with bad weather, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, and limited amenities such as a shops and restaurants

Loneliness Can Set

RV living can be isolating, especially if you’re used to being around people all the time. If you’re not careful, you can feel lonely and cut off from the rest of the world.

These are just some of the pros and cons of full-time RV living. But if you’re looking for a lifestyle that offers freedom, flexibility, and a close connection to nature, RV living could be the perfect choice for you.

The Bottom Line

Living in an RV can be cheaper than renting, but it depends on a number of factors. For example, if you own your RV and don’t have to make any loan payments, your costs will be lower than if you’re renting an apartment. But if you’re paying for gas and maintenance on your RV, your prices could be higher. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your situation.

Some people feel more comfortable renting because they have the flexibility to move if their job or lifestyle changes. Others prefer owning their own home to build equity and have a place to call their own. There are pros and cons to both choices, and it’s important to weigh all of them before making a decision.

If you want to spend less money while enjoying natural beauty, then RV life is the best for you. But if you want more space for your family and have enough budget, then you should consider renting an apartment.