Article | July 15, 2022

Buying an RV: Financial and Other Considerations

Buy & Borrow, Budget & Save

Smiling man and woman wearing backpacks, and boy and girl all hiking in woods; woman is holding walking stick and a map

From basic campers to luxurious, fully equipped motorhomes, there’s an RV option for every type of traveler. As you start exploring the RV lifestyle, here are some tips and considerations to ensure you’re prepared to get the most from your RV budget.

Costs of RVs Vary Greatly
A wide array of new and used RV options are available and their cost can vary greatly depending on the type of RV you choose. For example, a travel trailer will be far less expensive than a large motorhome. Your desired features list will also greatly impact your costs, whether you want an RV with all the bells and whistles included or a more streamlined option.

Visiting local dealerships can allow you to see a variety of RV options in person and decide which one might fit both your needs and budget. To get a handle on pricing, use the National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA). Their interactive website can serve as a valuable resource as you evaluate prices and narrow down your options.

Bonus perk: Golden 1 partners with a wide network of dealerships across California, making the process easy and convenient. When you find an RV you would like to purchase at one of our dealer partners, you can handle the loan paperwork immediately right on the spot!

Chris Damschroder, Vice President of Consumer Lending at Golden 1 and industry veteran, shares that financing terms can have an impact on the RV’s total cost. With an RV loan, you have the opportunity to extend your loan term longer than a typical vehicle purchase. While you may pay a higher interest rate, a longer loan term can lower monthly payments and leave more room in your budget for discretionary expenses. 

“When you’re buying an RV for the first time, you will want to find a vehicle, loan term, and monthly payment that fits your budget for today and for years to come," Damschroder said. “You’re giving yourself flexibility – and you always have the option of paying your loan off sooner or trading up if you outgrow your initial purchase.”

Additional Costs 
Buying an RV puts you on the road to adventure. However, there are additional costs to consider as you start exploring California’s unique and beautiful scenery, including:

Gas: Gas can be a significant expense associated with owning an RV, especially during a time when gas prices are high across the country. A large Class A motorhome can get 6 to 8 miles per gallon, while towing a smaller travel trailer may allow you to squeeze 12 miles per gallon. Reduce gas costs by taking trips closer to home and enjoying California’s beautiful national and state parks!

Storage: You can store your RV at home or at a storage facility. Storage facilities can range from parking spaces and open lots to fully enclosed indoor units. The average monthly cost for storage is $130, with heated indoor storage running as high as $450.

Maintenance: Maintenance costs for an RV can be complex because they can include the items required to keep the vehicle running – a working engine and brakes, good tires, and more. They can also include costs to keep the interior portions of the RV (kitchen, restroom, etc.) in good condition. 

You can download tracking apps or tools like RV Life Maintenance to document your oil changes, tire rotations, etc. You may also consider a warranty package to make maintenance expenses more predictable, instead of being hit with unanticipated costs if a major item breaks down.

Insurance: If your RV is a drivable vehicle (e.g., a motorhome), insurance will be required. In addition, if you finance the RV, insurance will likely be required whether you drive or tow it. Your personal effects within an RV are typically not insured under your RV policy, so discuss options with your insurance agent if you need additional protection.

Opportunities to Offset RV Ownership Costs
To offset the cost of gas for your RV excursions, consider:

  • Planning shorter trips to new previously unexplored locations

  • Using affordable camping sites (like friends’ properties or certain state/federal lands)

  • Preparing your own meals

(Tip: Need help putting together a budget? Check out our financial education resources.)

You can also offset the cost of RV excursions by renting yours when it’s not in use. Peer-to-peer RV renting sites like Outdoorsy are popular among people who want to try RV-ing without the long-term commitment of a purchase.

When you purchase an RV that fits within your budget, it can create lifelong memories of adventures with the family and loved ones.