I want to own a camper. You know that you secretly dream of it too: loading up the kids, visiting obscure places and singing campfire songs at the local KOA campground. This also might be your future “man cave” (or “lady lounge”). Or do you dream of it to keep the mother-in-law in when she visits?
Is it always practical? No. Do I still want it even if I know all of the downsides? Yes.
1) Brand new! Payments as low as $92!
How many of you have driven by a place that sells brand new RVs that says that the payments will only be $92 on a $24,000 camper, or $199 on a $60,000 camper? It is true that interest rates are low, but what that really means is that you are going to pay for this camper as long as you pay for a typical mortgage: 30 years.
Do you think that you will still like this RV or camper in 30 years? Or do you think it will be the eyesore of your neighborhood? Think of the campers that you have seen that are 30 years old…they are not very pretty.
2) Avoid the “underwater” RV
Also at this rate, you may be “underwater” after about ten-twelve years. This means that you will owe more money to the bank than the RV is worth.
It is more realistic to have a loan for as long as you think that you will own the RV – which is around ten to twelve years. That may increase your payment significantly. But if that ten-year payment is too much for you – honestly that means that you cannot afford it.
3) Storage facilities
My friends found a place that would house their RV for $99 a month – and this was one of the cheaper places. So don’t forget to add on that expense as if it was part of your payment – if you cannot keep it at home.
Just like you provide maintenance on your car, you will need to do maintenance on your RV. One of the most important thing to do is to “winterize it” especially if you live in colder states. Winterizing it means having a specialist do things to help protect it like making sure the pipes are empty.
Chapter 1. Buy used
Do you want to save thousands of dollars? Just like you may purchase a used car, used RVs can be just as smart. You may even find some that have been barely used.
Chapter 2. Start small
Try with a smaller camper first. Those are easier to maintain and they keep their value. I have a friend who has one small 30-year old camper in her driveway. Even though she has no intention of selling it, in the last two years two people have come to her door to see if she wants to sell it.
Chapter 3. Renting
You would think that it would be efficient to rent. I have found that not to be the case. A few years ago I wanted to rent a 20 foot RV — $2000 for the week! Ouch! Maybe see if you can rent one from your friend instead. To sweeten the deal offer to do all of the cleaning, disposal, etc. yourself.
Chapter 4. RV driving vs. flying
The average gas mileage that my best friend gets when she tows her 24” camper in her truck is 8 – 12 miles per gallon. Not much. But if you do the math it is a lot cheaper to take the family in an RV or camper on a trip less than 750 miles than it is to fly (as long as your kids don’t fight the whole way). You may even see fascinating things along the way. Plus, no need for a rental car once you get there!
I have some wonderful memories in the vacation trailer when I was young. I want my kids to have the same experiences. I want to visit the world. I want to travel all through the United States. I will do it someday in my RV….someday.