Skip to Content

How To Manage The Hidden Costs of RV Ownership

Sharing is caring!

If you are looking for RV camping resources on what it’s really like to own an RV, then this post is a great place to start. The true RV cost of ownership can sometimes be hidden. In this post, I want to uncover all the true costs of ownership so you can make a truly informed decision about purchasing an RV camper for your family.

The dream of RV ownership has become very popular in the past ten years, especially with the increased ability to work from anywhere. Many families are interested in getting in on the RV ownership lifestyle. But, what are the true costs of such a lifestyle?

rv cost of ownership
Hidden Costs of RV Ownership

When buying an RV, most people look at the price to purchase, but not at other hidden RV ownership costs.

Here are some of the hidden RV cost of ownership and tips on how you can manage them.

How Much Does It Cost To Own An RV?

It’s important to consider all the additional maintenance costs that will be associated with the RV so as not to be surprised.

Owning an RV can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be extremely expensive so we want you to be prepared for both the regular maintenance costs as well as the “surprises” that will inevitably turn up.

Maintenance and Service Costs

Your RV camper will require maintenance items to be serviced and occasionally replaced. All of the following items need to be regularly inspected and kept in excellent working order to avoid accidents or extensive repair costs.

To minimize spending too much on these repairs, always make sure that your RV is well-serviced. A well-serviced vehicle will be reliable. 

Hidden Costs of Owning an RV

In addition to the maintenance and service costs, don’t forget to factor in these other RV ownership costs.

rv maintenance costs
Hidden Costs of RV Ownership

Insurance Costs

You must have insurance for your RV before you hit the road. These costs can vary greatly depending on several factors. If you have a large rig, expect to pay more annually as insurance costs.

To manage this, try bundling the insurance with your house and motor vehicle. You will pay less than what you would usually pay if you took individual insurance on each asset. 

Fuel Costs

Large rigs burn through a lot of fuel. If you plan a long trip, you need to factor in fuel as a hidden cost of RV ownership.

The price goes higher if you are driving on rough, mountainous terrain. To save on gas, avoid fueling in petrol stations along the highway.

They tend to mark up their prices. You can also use cards that offer you a discount whenever you fuel.

Download an application such as Gas Buddy that gives you insights into the petrol stations along your route and the fuel prices charged. You might save some money in the long run.

Supplies and Utilities

People who spend a lot of time on the road in their RV are accustomed to living a nomadic lifestyle. They know how to get deals on food and utilities they need in their vehicle.

If you are a beginner camper, you may not know how to shop right to save money on utilities, especially if you are in a foreign state. Buy all the utilities you need locally, in malls you understand.

Try finding coupons and sale discounts to reduce the amount of money you will pay for these items. 

At the campground, expect to pay for other utilities.

These are clean water, electricity, heating, sewer dump, and bathroom. The cost will vary depending on your camping ground.

Tow Vehicle

If you are not buying a class A or B RV, you may have to buy a tow vehicle. Tow vehicles are expensive. You need a rugged vehicle that can tow your rig effectively. 

Loan Repayments 

To avoid paying excessive interest charges each month, take your time to shop for a favorable bank or financing option. 

If possible, buy an excellent second-hand RV, which will automatically exempt you from paying these high-interest rates. If you want to buy a new rig, shop around for better financing terms.

Improving your credit score can enhance your credibility, allowing you to pay lower interest fees.

RV Ownership Costs: Travel Charges

Beyond maintenance and regular monthly costs, these other factors need to be considered as costs to RV ownership as well.

Campground Charges

RV campgrounds charge a fee for their campsites. Be sure to budget travel expenses and campsite charges when factoring in your RV ownership costs.

To save money, buy an annual pass that allows you to park in multiple locations without paying extra charges.

For instance, some National Park Passes can save you almost 50% of what you would have paid if you booked each campsite individually. [See NPS for details]

Toll Charges

You will need to pay a toll on several roads in the US. In some cases, toll roads are unavoidable. You have to deal with it. If there is a way you can avoid a toll road safely, do so. 

Do your math to figure out if it will be worth circumnavigating the toll road to save some little money. It is advisable to avoid using backcountry roads you are not familiar with for safety purposes.

RV Camping Accessories

When you buy your RV, you will quickly discover, as my husband puts it, “The purchase price is just the entry ticket cost”.

In other words, what you pay for the RV is just the cost to becoming an owner, the real expenses begin after you start using the camper.

Things like outdoor camping gear, portable solid waste containers, towing hitches, batteries, etc. etc. start to add up.

You will want to check out these RV camping must-haves to see what type of RV accessories are involved in becoming a new RV owner.

Not to mention other things you may want to spruce up and customize your new outdoor toy. Here are a few guides we put together to help you out.

RV Cost of Ownership: Storage Costs

What happens when you are not on the road in your RV?

Where do you park it? Proper storage of your RV can be a headache, especially if you own a large rig and have limited parking space. 

You will be paying a fortune to keep your RV parked as it awaits the next adventure. 

hidden costs of owning an rv
Hidden Costs of RV Ownership

You may wish to consider a company like Outdoorsy or RV Share to rent out your RV to people seeking to go on a trip during this period.

Renting your RV is a great way to solve the storage problem and put some money in your pocket.

Download Your FREE RV Kitchen Checklist

FREE RV kitchen Camping Checklist
FREE RV Kitchen Packing List

More RV Camping Resources


If you are considering RV ownership, but just aren’t sure if you should take the plunge, I encourage you to also check out these two posts:

And to make your RV trips more fun, try out some of these fun road trip games that the kids will especially enjoy.

Don’t Miss These Web Stories!

Sharing is caring!