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How To Save Money By Living In An RV

Living in an RV can save you money, but it also comes with its own set of costs and considerations. As full-time RV dwellers since 2015, we’ve learned a thing or two about the costs of RV life vs. a traditional dwelling.

Here are some factors to consider when evaluating if living in an RV would be more cost-effective for you.

2 Years on the Road Finances, How Much Does it Cost to Fulltime RV | MONDAYS WITH THE MORTONS S3E5

How Much Does It Cost to Live in an RV? 

Living in an RV can cost as much or as little as you want it to—no two people (or families) RV alike. Just like with regular, stationary living, RVers all have different lifestyle preferences. 

Many RVers love to stay at luxury RV resorts with all the amenities: heated pools, private patios, private casitas, and more. Others are fine boondocking out in the desert with no hookups, no amenities, and no neighbors for miles and miles. 

If you travel slowly, you don’t spend as much money on gas. It’s just another living expense like rent or utilities. 

There’s no set answer to how much it costs to live in an RV, but here are some examples from full-time RVers: 

As you can see, it’s definitely possible to live a comfortable RV lifestyle at around $2,000-$3,000 per month. However, if you can’t control your budget, RVing can easily cost just as much as traditional living.

full time rver looking off into distance with rv in background
Full-time RVers often boondocking out in the desert during the winter months

Full-Time Stationary RV Living Vs. Mobile RV Living

Full-time stationary RV living is living full-time in an RV in one place or one general location, like a long-term RV park. Those who choose to live in stationary RVs need to remain in the same place for work, school, or other commitments. 

In this case, long-term RV parks provide a great low-cost solution for living in an RV to save money. If these parks are not available, there’s always the option to go from park-to-park within the same area, although it may not be cost-effective.

Full-Time RV Living and Traveling

But rather than taking up a somewhat permanent station at an RV park, you could also live in your RV while traveling full-time. Believe it or not, this can save just as much money (if not more) as living stationary at a long-term RV park. 

How can that be when traveling is expensive? Well, any full-time traveling RVer will tell you it doesn’t have to be! 

The only significant living costs for many full-time traveling RVers are gas and the occasional campground fees. It’s possible to camp for free in many areas of the United States, making this a pretty low-cost way to see the country. 

fifth wheel at RV park
Fifth wheel staying at an RV park

How to Save Money by Living In an RV

There are many ways to save money while living in an RV. We’ve listed our top tips here. 

Be Smart About Your RV Purchase

Some RVs can cost the same as small houses. But beyond the initial investment, RVs often depreciate faster than cars. Additionally, RVs require regular maintenance, and repair costs can be high. The maintenance includes the vehicle’s mechanical components and the living quarters.

The costs of RV ownership can mount up and surprise many first-time RV owners. RV loans are also often less favorable than home loans, and RV warranties may not cover everything.

Be sure to do your research on full-time RVs and the best options that won’t start your RV journey with more financial challenges.

Join Discount Camping Memberships

First of all, join discount camping memberships! There are so many to choose from, and all of them will save you a bunch of money. 

  • Boondockers Welcome is a camping membership where you can camp for free with participating hosts nationwide who offer their property to RVers passing through. 
  • Harvest Hosts offers free overnight stays at places like wineries, vineyards, museums, and more. 
  • Thousand Trails is a discount camping club that saves you tons of money on campgrounds throughout the US.
  • Passport America saves you 50% at participating campgrounds and is only $44 per year. This camping membership pays for itself within the first two uses. 

Check out our dedicated post for a full list of our favorite money-saving RV memberships.

Low-Price RV Parks

When you’re booking RV parks and campgrounds, look for the lowest price! State park campgrounds are usually a good place to find low nightly rates.

Pro tip: Book weekly or monthly stays instead of nightly stays for highly-discounted rates.

RV at sunset

Boondocking

Boondocking is perhaps the number one best way to save money while RVing. This camping style is also called dry camping. That’s camping without electric, water, or sewer hookups. 

You can legally camp for free on most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest land all over the United States. Many full-time RVers save money while traveling by taking advantage of this land.

However, you’ll likely want to make a few upgrades to your RV to make boondocking without hookups a more comfortable experience

Solar Panel For RV
Adding a solar system can be a great investment in boondocking comfort if you’ll be living off-grid a lot.

Travel Slowly

Traveling slowly is a great way to save money. Consider the following monetary benefits:

  • Better fuel economy – driving slower will give you better fuel economy.
  • Less fuel expense per month – few miles equals less fuel burned.
  • Fewer repair costs – less wear and tear on your vehicle(s).
  • Longer-term campground discounts – weekly and monthly rates are cheaper per day than nightly rates.
  • Discover more cheap or free things to do – When you stay in one place for longer, you have time to explore it like a local. This is one of the best parts of RV life!

Cook Your Own Meals

While traveling, it is tempting to eat out in every new town. Trust us—we made this mistake at the beginning.

Eating out all the time gets expensive. Like, really expensive! If you’re still looking for an RV, the kitchen is a vital part. Choose a kitchen setup that will make you want to cook meals at home, saving you money in the long run.

cooking in your rv can help save money
Cooking in your RV can help save money

Practice Minimalism

When you’re living in an RV, minimalism is non-negotiable. You can’t buy a lot of stuff because you have nowhere to put it! Practicing simple living by holding off on buying things until you’re sure that you cannot live without them is a surefire way to save money while RVing. 

If you’re sick of “keeping up with the Joneses,” then RVing may be liberating.

Will Living in an RV Really Save You Money? 

If you live thoughtfully, you can absolutely save money while living in an RV, even while traveling. But, if you’re the kind of person who wants to stay at luxury RV parks and spend money on food and experiences, you might find it just as pricey (if not more so) than stationary life. There’s no right or wrong here. Saving money is really up to you and your lifestyle preferences.

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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