Should I Buy or Rent an RV?

Are you debating whether to buy or rent an RV? Here’s what you need to consider.

Do you think you’ll love the RV lifestyle and want to try it out?

Before running out and purchasing an RV or committing to renting only, read my list of pros for both. 

Whether you want to be a weekend RV warrior, snowbird, or full-timer, the following info should help you decide if you want to buy or rent an RV.

Renting an RV is a less risky investment than purchasing one but does not quite feel like home. But making a large purchase is daunting if you’re not completely sold on the idea. Especially since new motorhomes can range from over $100,000 to millions of dollars.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of each.

Rented Class C motorhome at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Benefits of renting an RV

Let’s kick off the list of different benefits of buying or renting an RV with renting.

If you are curious about what an RV lifestyle is like, renting might be for you!

Renting: Discover what you want (or don’t want) in an RV

Sometimes, the decision to buy or rent an RV is a progression. Many people rent first to better inform their purchase.

If you have never owned or rented an RV, you may not know what you want in one. You also may not know what you don’t want in an RV. For instance, if you visit cold, rainy areas, you might want a larger indoor space to stay dry during storms. Or, you might camp in warmer areas and love to utilize the outdoor living space. Are you a football fan who would use an outdoor TV for game days?

Trying out different features is a great way to compile a list of RV must-haves for a future purchase. Trying out different RV floor plans can also help you decide what really works (or doesn’t) for you and your family.

Do you like to cook? Which RVs have a kitchen in a great spot for you? Or, are you planning on working remotely when on the road? Different RVs have areas that work well as a workspace while others don’t. Trying out different layouts lets you try out the spaces that may or may not work for you. 

Motorhomes at Mount Rushmore National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Renting: Learn how RVs work

Renting an RV allows you to understand how they work. Not only can you drive it to see how it handles but you can learn how to operate all of its features.

RVs do take a little getting used to. Being able to learn how different parts operate such as the dining room slide-out or draining the grey and black water tanks lets you experiment before leaping to purchase an RV.

Renting: It’s cheaper (sometimes)

Depending on how much you intend to use your RV, renting one can be cheaper in the long run. You do not have the hefty upfront cost of purchasing the RV nor do you have to pay monthly insurance or maintenance fees

It can also save you emotional currency as well. Many people purchase an RV to find out that it does not meet their needs so they end up selling it at a loss or living unhappily with it. By renting one, you can try RVing without the commitment and save yourself heartache if you decide it is not for you.

Of course, there is a tipping point where buying would be more affordable. So, you’ll need to do some math based on how often you plan to use it.

Motorhomes (and a truck camper) in Jasper National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Renting: No RV maintenance

Another great benefit of renting an RV is that you are not responsible for its maintenance!

The average cost of maintenance is about $1,000-$2,000 per year depending on the type, size, and age of your rig. So, when it comes to buying or renting an RV you’ll want to factor in maintenance costs. 

Renting: No commitment

Renting an RV is is relatively low commitment. You can choose to rent for just a few days and then give it back. Aside from fuel and stocking it with food and supplies, you don’t have to worry about RV expenses. You do not have to fix broken parts or keep up other maintenance.

The time and monetary commitments are far less than if you own it. 

Truck camper in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Benefits of buying an RV

We know deciding whether you should buy or rent an RV can be difficult. So, let’s take a look at the pros of buying now.

Purchasing an RV to own can also be a very rewarding experience.

Buying: It’s all yours

One great thing about owning your RV is that it’s all yours! You can store your items such as clothing, books, dishes, and favorite travel movies or games, just to name a few.

When you return home from a camping trip, you don’t have to clean out all your possessions. You can also decorate the RV to your liking so that it feels like your home away from home. 

Class A motorhome at Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buying: You can travel whenever you want

Do you feel like getting out of town this weekend? When owning an RV, you can pick up and travel whenever you want. Feel like staying an extra day or two? You also don’t have to worry about returning it by a certain date. You don’t have to worry about someone else’s booking schedule.

Buying: You can rent it out

Did you know that you can rent out your RV to make some money when you are not using it? Individuals can rent your RV for a specific amount of time for whatever price you set.

There are websites similar to Airbnb, but for RVs.

You can read How to Make Money Renting your RV if you want to learn more.

Class A motorhome driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buying: Pay less monthly than renting on several occasions

If you intend to make great use of your RV and travel monthly or even live on the road, owning an RV will likely cost less per month to operate.

While there is a large upfront price tag, the monthly cost of owning can often be less expensive. 

Buying: You can take your office with you

More people are working from home than ever before. If you’re one of them, working from the road might be a great lifestyle for you.

You can see different places, all while having your office with you.

Class A motorhome at Monahans Sandhills State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Renting or buying: Conclusion

There are many things to consider when deciding whether to buy or rent an RV.

Renting can help you identify what you are looking for in an RV purchase. Or, it may even help you decide against that lifestyle altogether. Either way, there are pros to renting.

But if you already know that you love the lifestyle and understand your needs as an RV owner, you may want to skip renting and jump right into owning an RV that is suited just right for your tastes.

Sometimes, the decision to buy or rent an RV is a progression. Many people rent first to better inform their purchase.

Worth Pondering…

Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.

―Amelia Earhart