3 Price Tags Commonly Over-looked in the Cost of RV Living

By: Jaymon Meikle- Financial Advisor

A lot of people are working virtually, their kids are attending school virtually, everything seems to be going virtual. If our world is becoming more and more virtual, why not use this opportunity to travel?

I personally know of three families that have decided to buy an RV and travel during these crazy times, some have even gone so far as to sell their home and live on the road full time.

Whether you are looking to travel for a couple of months or looking to make a lifestyle change and live on the road, there are three important financial considerations to remember considering the cost of RV living.

Cost of staying at RV Parks

One expense that surprises new travelers is how much it can cost to stay in certain RV Parks. Depending on the state it’s located in and the quality of the RV Park, they may charge as little as $20 per night, all the way up to $140 per night. This cost alone can make your travels a lot more expensive than expected.

There are a couple of ways to help mitigate or reduce this cost. One way is to stay longer in each location. RV Parks generally give discounts for staying longer, especially when your stays are 4-6 weeks long. Another way is to use a discount service or join a membership that offers discounts at their select locations. Some of the most popular discount services are:

  • Good Sam Club – Offers discounts at a large amount of RV Parks.
  • KOA – A brand of RV Parks and campgrounds that offers discounts to its members.
  • Thousand Trails –  One of the more expensive options but has bigger discounts which makes it a good one to look at if considering full-timing.

Cost of a Hauling Vehicle

Not only is there the substantial cost of the RV itself, but you may also need a vehicle to haul it. For those who are looking at working virtually or have children attend school remotely, you may need a larger RV will give you that space for a desk or workstation. Larger RV means larger hauling vehicle.

For RVs that are travel trailers, meaning they hook up to a tow-hitch, some can be pulled by a full-size van, truck or SUV. One thing to be careful about pulling a trailer with a truck, like a F-150 or Silverado 1500, is that even though the truck technically has the towing capacity for some larger trailers, they aren’t very heavy and makes driving in windy or hilly conditions very difficult. These vehicles will typically cost around $35,000 for a used one in good condition and can be awfully expensive for a new one.

For RVs that are 5th wheels, meaning the tongue of the trailer connects to a hitch in the bed of a truck – they require trucks by design. Some of these trailers can be pulled by trucks that are “3/4 ton”, which would be an F-250 or Silverado 2500.

The larger 5th wheels require a “1-ton” truck, F-350 or Silverado 3500, and can be heavy enough that the truck would need to be a “dually”, meaning there are two rear tires per side. For these kinds of trucks, there are options for decent used ones for around $40,000 and new ones can easily cost $80,000 or more.

One thing that belongs in the same category for vehicle costs is gas. The cost of gas, or diesel depending on your vehicle, can be exceptionally large because of fuel consumption while towing. The best way to mitigate this cost is the same advice as staying at a RV Park: Stay in locations longer to help spread out the cost of gas. The more you move from place to place, the more it’s going to cost you.

The Cost of Internet Access

A key component to remote work or school is reliable internet access. Many of the RV parks offer WiFi, but as traveling veterans will know, the parks WiFi are typically slow, unreliable, and can be limited in use. It’s on you to provide yourself with a reliable internet connection, but there are several options for how to do that, some of which are:

Cell Phone Hotspot

Depending on your wireless carrier, your phone can act as a “hotspot” which allows devices like laptops use it as a wireless internet connection. This option will be one of the less expensive ones but also the slowest, there is also the chance that your wireless provider will slow down the speed of your connection if you use too much.

MiFi or Jetpack

These devices work like the hotspots on your phone, except that they’re designed solely for internet connection. These are a little pricey to purchase, then there’s the monthly cost of having them on your phone plan, but they are decently reliable. One problem with this option is that if your cell phone provider doesn’t have great coverage in the area you are out of luck.

Those who are dependent on internet access have been known to buy multiple versions of a Jetpack from different providers to ensure connection, but again that can be cost-prohibitive for many of us.

Satellite Internet

This option is by far the most expensive but seems to be used by quite a few full-timers. As long as you have a clear view of the sky you should be able to get a good connection.

A Question Your Family’s Style

There’s much to think about when considering the cost of RV living, either for chunks of time or going all the way and living in one full-time, but that does not mean it should not be done. It’s a question of your family’s personal style and what will make the best living and the best memories for you.

Money is a tool that we can use to help us live our lives, and when used in the right ways, you can do amazing things. Our job as advisors is to help you optimize this tool.

Give us a call today so we can support you in following your financial dreams, whether at home or on the road!

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