rvupgradestore.com Composet Products Fridge Defend
RV Life Magazine RV Park Reviews RV Trip Wizard

Author Topic: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)  (Read 7881 times)

AnneV

  • ---
  • Posts: 8
    • VEHQ Blog
As posted in my intro post (about a year ago), we're considering taking a long RV road trip in North America. This has been sort of fantasy-level until now, but recent life events are forcing us to become a bit more concrete.

So, the option we're looking into right now is this -
Fly into the US in the summer of 2021, buy an RV and travel around the country. We're going to alternate between the US and Canada because our entry visa will likely be limited to six months at a time.

For how long? Who knows. We're thinking a year but if we like it a lot, we may go on for longer. In that case, we'll spend part of the year at home (Israel) and then spend several months every year traveling in North America in our own RV.

Some background on who we are: A family of four with a lot of travel experience in North America but zero experience with RV's. We've road tripped for a total of a year and a half (over several trips), in 45 states (including Alaska!). In 2021, there's a good chance our eldest will only spend the first couple of months traveling with us, then leaving us to start his MA in computers science (probably in an American university). That would mean it will be just three of us - parents aged around 50 and 17-year-old teenager (but a super nice one! Honest!)

What I'm trying to do at this point is assess the actual cost. We're thinking a 5th wheel + truck and then staying in each spot for several weeks, exploring places in-depth and just relaxing.

So far, we're thinking -
5th Wheel that would hold 4 people in comfort - $50K
Pickup truck - $50K
We assume buying 2nd hand and losing about 10% of their value in one year, so selling for 10% less - makes sense?
Additional gear for the RV (generator, inverter, etc) - $2000

Insurance on the truck and 5th wheel - $1500 a year (too much? too little?)
Licensing of the vehicle and similar fees while buying - $1000 a year
Maintenance cost for RV and truck - $1500 a year?

We plan on combining campgrounds with boondocking (including over at friends). Assuming a third of the nights will be in campgrounds and two-thirds boondocking. Does $40 a night on average for campgrounds sound ok?

Fuel costs - assuming we only move the 5th wheel once a month or so and drive 4-5 hours at a time. We will use the truck, let's say for an hour a day on average. Also, once a year, a big move, like going up to Alaska and back. $9000 a year for gas makes sense? Are we underestimating or overestimating?

I know there are other things such as food, health insurance etc. but I think we have a good grasp of associated costs for those. It's the RV/truck ownership costs that I'm struggling with.

Thanks!


SeilerBird

  • ---
  • Posts: 14121
  • Good things are illegal immoral or over 1000 watts
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2019, 03:44:22 PM »
I full timed for ten years and I could never answer your question. Way too many variables. But my take home at the time was $1500 a month and I visited all 48 states and 46 National Parks. I never used credit and had no problem going every where. Basically you can full time as cheaply or as richly as you want.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2018 shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/s2JcpKVxX3Ez3c8j9
My portfolio:
https://goo.gl/photos/Cx4SaYhGfYFShSty7
My Grand Canyon shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Nc1AT8tQp25wJwfm1

jackiemac

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 4105
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2019, 07:25:07 PM »
Hi, some States have varying costs. 

You may have sales tax to pay at first registration it depends on the State.

We register in Nevada and our truck and trailer have just cost us $1043. This is our 4th year so no sales tax. Smog check was $42.

Our insurance for 6 months was $1981

New tyres for the trailer were just under $600 and our truck tyres will be around $1,000 when we replace those.

We have regular oil changes around $100 every 8k (varies) miles and services (price varies) on the truck and tyre rotation is about $30.

Some food for thought...
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 07:28:08 PM by jackiemac »
Jackie n Steve - Happy Scottish Travellers

2017 Heartland Sundance 288rls
2016 Dodge Ram 2500 6.4L Hemi

Travelling in the US till Nov 2019

John Stephens

  • ---
  • Posts: 746
  • Vacations begin when you leave the driveway
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2019, 10:57:24 PM »
I think your estimates are quite low regarding costs and recouping of ownership costs. You will suffer a lot more than 10% depreciation the first year of ownership. It will be more like 30-35% for both your truck and RV as soon as you drive them off the lot. I think you should figure an average campground cost of more like $50-55 per night after adding all the taxes into the final price. a lot of states have very high resort/hotel taxes added to the cost and that includes campgrounds. You also did not mention any possibility of repair costs. There is virtually no RV made that will be repair free for an entire year and many owners of new RV's will tell you they had their RV in the shop more the first year than out.

I am presently on a three month cross country trip and have estimated my total cost without repairs will be in the vicinity of $13,500. That may vary as much as $1,000 depending on what gas prices do between now and the time we are back home. I have been on the road for 10 days and have already had $1,300 in coach repairs to add to that figure. If you're going to be out for an entire year, multiply that by four and then add in all your purchase price expenses and insurance. Im guessing you'll see more like a total of $160,000 in costs and only $65,000 in return after sale, giving you a net cost of around $95,000.

Good luck with your endeavor.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

Isaac-1

  • ---
  • Posts: 2349
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2019, 12:41:38 AM »
Part of the problem giving a reasonable estimate is that regional costs for so many of these things vary considerably.  Insurance, registration cost, and sales tax cost is highly variable from state to state.  Registration cost for the truck and 5th wheel may be anywhere from $50 per year to upwards of $2,0000 per year, sales / use tax paid at time of purchase / registration may run from about 3%-9%, and insurance again is all over the place, I am currently paying about $600 per year on a 18 year old 28 ft class A motorhome, I know people in other states that pay under $500, and some others that pay over $1,100 for similar RV's.  Campground prices are again all over the place depending on region, and level of amenities, where I live in the south central US $35-$40 per night for full hookups is fairly typical at most non luxury, non lake-front commercial RV parks, with discounts for weekly and monthly rates, typically weekly rates are pay for 6 nights get 7th night free, maybe a bit less ($35 per night / $180 per week is common).   These sorts of RV parks typically have full hookups, a laundry room and shower rooms on site, are in reasonably good repair, and may offer some sort of community building, perhaps even a swimming pool.  A couple of weeks ago my wife and I stayed at an RV park with generally the same level of amenities in the more tourist popular Texas Hill country (about 375 miles from home), where the rates were $54 per night or $345 per week, and in other parts of the country rates of double this are not uncommon.

Then of course there are public campgrounds, state parks, and the like, which can range from free for boondock camping, on up, personally I have seen as little as $10 per night with a 14 day maximum stay at local city / county park campgrounds for water and electric hookup, with dump station available.  Similar often lake front sites at COE, or State Park campgrounds may run between $22-40 per night, though if one searches around there are often sites that can be found for less, popular tourist destinations, national parks, etc. may be higher.

p.s. as to depreciation, it depends on hard to predict items, the rv is likely to depreciate much more than the truck, though things out of your control like fuel cost can greatly effect the depreication, I bought a then 9 year old diesel powered crew cab Ford F250 with 175,000 miles on it in the summer of 2009 when diesel prices were getting close to $5 per gallon for $6,500, today that same truck now almost 20 years old has a trade in value of $4,500-$5,500 and a private party sales price of $8,500 according to KBB, of course today's national average price for diesel is $2.75.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 12:52:51 AM by Isaac-1 »
2002 Safari Trek 2830

AnneV

  • ---
  • Posts: 8
    • VEHQ Blog
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2019, 01:45:13 AM »
Thank you so much for these detailed and helpful replies, everyone. Yes, I fully appreciate that this is a spectrum and not a fixed number. I have the same reservations when people ask me how much a trip to the US costs (they do all the time, as I have a blog in Hebrew about traveling in the US).

I think your estimates are quite low regarding costs and recouping of ownership costs. You will suffer a lot more than 10% depreciation the first year of ownership. It will be more like 30-35% for both your truck and RV as soon as you drive them off the lot.

I thought that the initial 30-25% depreciation factor was for new RV's (or vehicles for that matter)? Part of it simply being down to the fact that the RV is no longer new and will from that point onwards be "a used" RV. That's one reason why I was thinking about avoiding buying new. I can't see how an RV would keep depreciating at that rate for very long - it would cost almost nothing after four years?

Insurance, registration cost, and sales tax cost is highly variable from state to state.  Registration cost for the truck and 5th wheel may be anywhere from $50 per year to upwards of $2,0000 per year, sales / use tax paid at time of purchase / registration may run from about 3%-9%, and insurance again is all over the place.

Wow, that really is all over the place. I know that different states also have different registration requirements, including testing the vehicle every year for emissions in some places.

Coming from abroad, we can choose where to purchase and register the truck (I don't think the RV itself needs to be registered? Or am I wrong here?). I was thinking Montana because it's one of our favorite states and has no sales tax. As far as I can see they're also easy with registration procedures. Any pros/cons to that?

Jackie, that's a much higher cost for insurance than I had factored in, so thanks. I'll adjust our spreadsheet accordingly. Overall, we tend to be very cautious and prefer to overestimate expenses and be surprised later on. You can always find something to do with the extra cash ;) We do plan on a good thick cushion either way. Not about to embark before we're sure we can do this even if the expenses end up being 20%-30% higher than what we think. Of course, we still want to get a realistic gauge for what it might be.

Again, thanks very much, everyone. I will be going over these replies again with DH later today and will dig in and do more research on these.


Gary RV_Wizard

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 68337
  • RVer Emeritus
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2019, 08:14:30 AM »
Yes, the 35% is depreciation from the new MSRP. Since many people buying new do so at a discount well under MSRP, that number is a fiction anyway. Typical annual RV depreciation is more like 6%.  Trucks are probably similar, but you can check that by looking at the NADA Car Pricing Guide. Unlike it's RV counterpart, NADA for cars is highly accurate. However, it's sometimes hard or time-consuming to get full retail value when re-selling an RV. You may end up pricing it low just to get it sold.  No dealer is going to pay retail for it, and consignment sales outlets get a 10% commission on top of a relatively low selling price. I'd assume at least a 20% loss on the RV. Used pick-up trucks, though, are always in demand and you may not lose much at all on that.

If you only move the RV once a month,  you aren't going to see much of the USA. Yes, there are regions where you could spend 3-4 weeks touring around in the truck, but driving 4 hours once a month isn't going to get you to a much different region.  I'd figure on moving every 1-2 weeks and traveling for 1-3 days each time.  But you've already traveled in the USA and have an idea of the distances, so maybe you have already thought that through.

Other than the extremes of variability, I don't think your cost estimates are that far off.  Basing in Montana should let you avoid some of the higher tax and tag (registration) fees.  However, insurance is probably much higher, especially since you won't have the US driving and financial track record the insurers love so much. They are going to default to their highest rates. 
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 08:28:10 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
Gary
--------------
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Bobtop46

  • ---
  • Posts: 615
    • Work Camper
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2019, 09:05:44 AM »
https://www.rv-dreams.com/

This couple posts monthly and yearly costs for full timing in an RV for over 10 years.

View their cost, avg them and use the ones that apply to you. Disregard the ones that don't apply to you.

Up until recently they had a 5th wheel, truck, and an extra vehicle.  Recently they downsized to a MH and toad.  So maybe don't use the costs for the last year or so.
2007 Coachman Aurora 36FWS
2017 Equinox
2006 Mini Cooper S

John Stephens

  • ---
  • Posts: 746
  • Vacations begin when you leave the driveway
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2019, 09:11:43 AM »
My apology for misunderstanding. I thought your original post said you were buying a new truck and 5er. Sorry.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

AnneV

  • ---
  • Posts: 8
    • VEHQ Blog
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2019, 04:53:08 AM »
Thanks for the additional info, Gary and Bob! (And hi, Gary, good to see you here too! It's Anne from VEHQ). This has been very helpful and we're still researching.

JackL

  • ---
  • Posts: 877
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2019, 07:55:18 AM »
I can't help you on your RV and truck cost, but for what it is worth:
My wife and I did a sixth month trip from NC to Alaska and back.
We went 15,000 miles and the cost for everything was $15,000 . It was the trip of a life time and worth every penny

Jack L
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 03:03:17 PM by JackL »

John Stephens

  • ---
  • Posts: 746
  • Vacations begin when you leave the driveway
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2019, 09:57:46 AM »
I can't help you on your RV and truck cost, but for what it is worth:
My wife and I did a sixth month trip from NC to Alaska and back.
We went 15,000 miles and the cost for everything was $15,000 . It was the trip of a life time and wort every penny

Jack L

Please share how you lived and traveled for six months on $15,000. Dry camping every night driving a truck and camper getting 20 mpg? Including cost of repairs to the coach thus far, my wife and I will spend that much in three months, and we are dry camping as much as possible, traveling from SW Florida to British Columbia.

Most people I have spoken to regarding full timing say they usually will spend about $50,000 - $60,000 per year between costs of living, places to stay, travel and repair costs and unexpected medical costs and supplies. I budgeted $13,500 for our three month trip and have already encountered $1,450 worth of repairs to the coach, not counting a $500 insurance deductible for an accident we had the first week.

I'm curious how you did it so I can rearrange our budget.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

Isaac-1

  • ---
  • Posts: 2349
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2019, 10:08:29 AM »
I agree, I am at about 15,000 total miles on my current coach, which I bought in 2016, and at close to $1 per mile on just cost of ownership and maintenance, and repair, not counting actual travel cost.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

Ernie n Tara

  • ---
  • Posts: 3849
  • Life is Good - Together
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2019, 11:49:15 AM »
My experience is also around $60-70,000 per year but that is mostly staying in RV parks (mid to high end) and includes maintenance and repairs.

Ernie
Ernie 'n Tara

2011 Winn Journey 34y
2012 Jeep Rubicon - Dozer (orange - kinda)
2006 Jeep Wrangler

camperAL

  • ---
  • Posts: 1294
  • Back Into RV'ing
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2019, 10:40:42 AM »
Greetings,

Interesting subject, I think sometimes when full timing a host of other expenses might be added into the cost. I tend to figure only what the cost of the RV, fuel, campground, maintenance and insurance + plates are for my RV'n. I don't factor in eating, medical or my car. I don't full time but can project what the cost would be if I did.

I spent less than I thought I would on an RV so that cost is estimated at $10.00 per day (based on ten to twelve years and selling). It was suppose to be double. One should always be able to sell their unit if they retire from the life style and that lowers the overall cost. My costs for traveling 3 to 5 months a year are around the $8,000 range average. I usually stay in campgrounds but have dry camped as well. I cover between 4,000 to 8,000 miles. A projected cost for full timing would be $24,000. I might add extra repair cost and maintenance cost if I were on the road more.

We tend to stay in average CG and try to keep the cost around $25 per day for those. A resort would cost more. Traveling more miles would cost more. Cost for a newer RV would have doubled or tripled our cost per day of ownership. In the end, it just depends on the individuals, what they want, or what they are use to, what you have to spend, and what all you want to see and do. If you are enjoying life and RV'n then your doing things right.
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

Lou Schneider

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 9546
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2019, 12:35:04 PM »
I full timed for ten years and I could never answer your question. Way too many variables. But my take home at the time was $1500 a month and I visited all 48 states and 46 National Parks. I never used credit and had no problem going every where. Basically you can full time as cheaply or as richly as you want.

I agree with Tom, but you have to take the timeframe and inflation into account when people say they did it for $XX dollars back in the day.

Inflation has halved the value of the dollar over the last 30 years.   $1500 in 1990 is equivalent to $2016 in 2000 and $3040 today.

https://www.calculator.net/inflation-calculator.html
« Last Edit: August 18, 2019, 12:47:36 PM by Lou Schneider »

jackiemac

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 4105
Re: Estimating the costs for a year of RV'ing in the US (And Canada)
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2019, 03:45:49 PM »
Another thing which may impact costs if you are coming from the UK is the eexchange rate.
Jackie n Steve - Happy Scottish Travellers

2017 Heartland Sundance 288rls
2016 Dodge Ram 2500 6.4L Hemi

Travelling in the US till Nov 2019