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Should You Buy Or Rent An RV?

August 17, 2020

Having an RV opens up a new world of possibility. Suddenly, your holidays aren’t just a place to be, but a journey to be taken. If you don’t own a RV, you may be wondering whether it makes more sense to rent or purchase one outright. Considering renting or buying an RV can be an overwhelming experience, but luckily, we’ve done the research for you. Here is our list of pros and cons of renting vs buying to help you decide which is right for you.


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Advantages Of Renting

If you’re curious about the RV lifestyle, renting allows you to get a feel for life on the road without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, if you take holidays fairly infrequently, it might make financial sense to rent when you want to take an RV vacation.

Test The Waters: Renting allows you to see if the RV lifestyle is for you. Imagine spending $120,000 on a brand new motorhome only to discover that you hate trying to park a vehicle of that size or you find it tiresome to manage your water and electricity everywhere you go. Renting an RV is a simple way to get a feel for the RV lifestyle and to familiarize yourself with different aspects such as driving and setting up your RV and camping in general.

Save Money: If you’re only planning to use an RV once or twice annually, renting an RV makes better financial sense compared to purchasing one. According to CruiseAmerica.com – one of the country’s largest RV rental firms, a large motorhome can be rented for 5 days for as little as $787.50. You could rent an RV annually for 50 years for less than it would cost to purchase your own.

Test-drive Different Models: Between towable RVs, RVs that you drive yourself, pop-up RVs, truck campers, and classes A, B, and C vehicles, it makes sense to test drive a few different models to get a feel of what is right for your needs. Some points to consider may include the most important features to you, the type of camping you’ll be doing, and how much room you need.

Class A RVs are are gigantic bus-like vehicles most often called motorhomes.
102544Class B RVs are are oversized vans popular among “van-lifers”.
Class C RVs are built with truck chassis and have similar amenities as motorhomes, but much more compact.

No Maintenance Required: Rental companies keep their rentals maintained to an extremely high standard and are unlikely to break down when you’re out on the road. But if a mechanical failure happens, the rental company will organize to get the RV fixed. In most cases, they will cover the cost of repairs as well.

You Don’t Need To Prep The RV For Storage: Only the most dedicated RV during winter. For most, the changing season means a long preparation process to get your RV ready for winter storage. This can include deep cleaning, draining water tanks, washing the exterior, covering vents, and taking measures to insect-proof the RV. Renting an RV means that none of this is a concern for you. You’ll be free to enjoy your holiday without cleaning up afterward.

Disadvantages Of Renting

Of course, renting an RV may not be ideal for everyone. So, before you rent your first RV, here are some disadvantages of renting worth considering:

Organizing A New RV Rental For Every Vacation: Having to organize a new rental, and possibly dealing with a different company when you want to go on vacation is a headache that some people would rather avoid. You also have to make sure you’re up to date with the rental companies’ rules and procedures and read the fine print on a lengthy contract. When you own your RV, you don’t have anybody else to answer to.

Shared Sleeping Quarters And Bathroom: For most people, this isn’t an issue. But, considering the current COVID-19 pandemic, using a bathroom and sleeping in a bed that many have used before you can be rather unsettling. If you enjoy having your own space and being responsible for cleaning it, buying is a better option.

Rental Rules And Regulations: When you rent an RV, you will have to sign (possibly) numerous contracts that are written in legal jargon in a font size you can barely read. These are designed to protect the rental company against major financial loss in the event of an accident or irresponsible use. Run afoul of these rules and you could take a pretty hefty financial hit, even if you aren’t at fault. Of course, if you own your own RV, you are solely responsible for repairs. But, if you’re comfortable performing small repairs and maintenance jobs yourself, then buying may be ideal for you.

Advantages Of Buying

Buying an RV can be a liberating experience, similar to when you bought your first car. Suddenly, you are not limited to living wherever your house is, and the entire country opens up to you. Buying an RV is not a small commitment, but these are the reasons why buying an RV could be a better option than renting:

You Can Modify It However You Want: As new camping technology comes onto the market, it’s not uncommon for RV owners to upgrade or modify their mobile homes for a smarter, more luxurious camping experience. Some RV manufacturers are starting to incorporate voice recognition and touchscreen technology. If you’re interested in installing a more comfortable mattress or improving your internet Wi-Fi capability, owning a RV allows you to modify it however you please.

It’s There Whenever You Want To Hit The Road: Owning your RV means it’s ready for you when you want to use it. You don’t have to call the rental company months ahead of time, choose which RV you want, make sure it’s available for the dates you need, or deal with picking it up and dropping it off by certain dates and times.

For Regular Travelers, Buying Makes Financial Sense: We’ve already discussed how it can be cheaper to rent an RV than to buy one. However, buying an RV is an investment and when you sell it, you should be able to recoup at least half its value. If you’re on a budget, but are interested in buying an RV, a second-hand RV could be an option. You can save tens of thousands of dollars by purchasing an ex-rental RV that has been refurbished.

You Can Rent Out Your RV For Some Extra Income: Instead of going through the effort of cleaning and preparing your RV for storage when you’re not using it, some RV owners prefer to rent it out to earn some extra money. Handing the keys over to a stranger can be mildly nerve-wracking, but renting through a third party website such as Airbnb gives RV owners a level of protection.   

Everything Is Packed: Rental RV’s usually don’t come with bedding and toiletries, doormats, extension cords, or cooking and kitchen equipment. With your own RV, you will have your camping supplies stored in your RV, ready to use.

Disadvantages Of Buying

Before you get out your checkbook or credit card, there are a few considerations to explore:

It’s A Big Investment: Brand new RV’s are not cheap, and some companies even cater to the ridiculously wealthy with luxury models costing over $1,000,000. But even if you’re buying a more modest example, you can expect to spend between $30,000 – $50,000, and that’s before you add in licensing, insurance, and the cost of camping equipment.

You’re Responsible For Maintenance: A lot can go wrong with RVs, but even in the perfect world, an RV owner will find themselves shelling out a few hundred dollars every year for maintenance. Your RV will have its own electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems, and sooner or later, these will require repair.

Storing Your RV When Not In Use: Even compact RVs aren’t that small, so you’ll need to consider where you’re going to store your RV when it’s not in use. Ideally, you’ll want to store your RV somewhere secure. You should also invest in a breathable cover to protect the exterior and discourage animals from camping in it in your place.