Living full time in an RV can be an affordable way to travel and live on the road. However, there are ongoing costs associated with RV living that need to be factored in. Choosing to stay at an RV park comes with additional expenses that will impact your budget. Understand what are the costs of living in an RV park, being aware of these various costs is important when deciding if full time RV living is right for you financially.
In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the typical costs associated with staying at an RV park. We’ll look at daily, weekly, and monthly rates, additional fees to be aware of, and ways to reduce your expenses. With an understanding of these RV living costs, you can better plan out a budget for extended travels across the country in your recreational vehicle.
- Base site rates at RV parks average $30-$50 per night, with weekly and monthly rates offering discounts. Overall expect to spend $400-$1200 per month.
- Additional fees for utilities like electric, water/sewer and amenities such as cable/WiFi can add $100-$500 per month.
- RV maintenance and repair costs need to be budgeted for in addition to site fees.
- Joining passport programs, researching seasonal rates, and downsizing your RV can help reduce expenses.
- Understanding all the potential costs involved allows you to accurately budget for full time RV living.
Average Base Rates at RV Parks
The costs of staying at an RV park can widely vary based on the location, amenities offered, time of year, and type of site. When budgeting for life on the road in an RV, you’ll need to research nightly, weekly, and monthly rates at your destination parks. Expect to spend an average of $400-$1200 per month on just the site fees alone.
On top of the base rate for your site, there are usually additional charges for electricity, sewer/water hookups, guests, pets, internet/cable, and more. These extra fees can add $100-$500 to your monthly budget. Maintenance and repair costs for your RV will also be ongoing expenses to factor in.
With some research and strategic planning, there are ways to reduce these RV living costs. Opting for discounts like weekly or monthly rates, camping off the grid, utilizing passport programs, and downsizing the RV can help lower the financial impact. Read on for a full breakdown of the typical costs associated with staying at an RV park full time.
The base site rate at an RV park will be a significant portion of your monthly budget. These rates can vary dramatically based on the park’s location, amenities offered, time of year, and site type. As a baseline, here are the typical costs:
- Nightly rates: The nightly rate at an RV park will usually range from $30-$50 per night on average. Some popular areas and highly amenitized parks can be $60-$100+ per night. Off season and less crowded areas may dip as low as $20 per night. Expect to pay nightly or weekly rates if traveling often.
- Weekly rates: Many RV parks offer weekly rates that provide a 10-30% discount off the base nightly rate. This can help lower costs if planning to stay in one place for a full week. Weekly rates generally range from $175-$300 on average.
- Monthly rates: For long term stays, monthly rates will provide the best value. The monthly rate is generally 20-50% less than the weekly rate at most RV parks. Average monthly rates can range from $400-$1200 depending on location and amenities.
- Site type: The site location and type will also impact the rate. Waterfront and pull-through sites usually cost $5-$20 more per night. Basic back-in sites are typically the lowest cost option.
When establishing an RV living budget, research the average rates in your destination areas online. Factoring in the weekly or monthly discounts will allow you to estimate this major cost accurately.
Additional Fees at RV Parks
On top of the base site rate, most RV parks charge fees for additional services and amenities that should be accounted for in your budget. These extra costs can range from $100-$500 per month on average depending on your needs and the specific park’s offerings.
One of the most common additional fees is for electric service. This allows you to plug in and run your RV’s various appliances and amenities during your stay. Electric fees are typically $3-$10 per night, but can vary based on your actual electric usage at the site. The more appliances and electronics you plan to run, the higher this fee is likely to be.
Nearly all RV sites will require a sewer and water hookup fee. This covers access to the water spigot and sewer dump connection at your individual site. Depending on the park, these fees range from $3-$15 per night. Having full hookups is essential for water supply and draining waste tanks in your RV.
If you want the convenience of cable TV channels and high speed internet, there is usually a separate cable/WiFi fee charged. Most RV parks offer cable and WiFi, but access generally costs extra between $5-$30 per night. As you depend more on internet and streaming entertainment, this added fee becomes more necessary.
Some RV parks also offer public shower facilities for guest use. If you plan to utilize the showers, there is often a charge of $2-$5 per shower or per day for access. For those with smaller RVs without a built-in shower, the public facilities become very important.
If you plan to have visitors come stay with you at your site, there will likely be an extra guest fee imposed. These fees help cover the additional electric, water, sewer, and overall wear and tear caused by more people. Guest fees typically run $3-$10 per night for each visitor.
Finally, bringing pets along also means paying a pet fee at most RV parks. These fees run $1-$15 per night depending on the park rules. Some parks restrict certain dog breeds and sizes when setting pet fees. Make sure any parks you book allow the type of pet you have.
When evaluating potential RV parks, carefully factor in these additional fees and charges to your total estimated cost. They can significantly increase your nightly budget compared to just the base rate. Also be sure to ask about any weekly or monthly discount packages on these amenity fees. Saving money where possible is key for RV living.
RV Maintenance and Repair Costs
In addition to the costs directly associated with staying at an RV park, you’ll need to budget for ongoing maintenance and repairs for your RV itself. Properly maintaining your RV is absolutely essential to avoiding major breakdowns and issues while on the road. Having adequate savings for both preventative maintenance and unexpected repairs is crucial.
For routine maintenance items, you should budget $1000-$3000 per year. This includes expenses like oil changes, lubrication of various components, winterizing and de-winterizing, replacing air, fuel and water filters, checking propane levels, testing smoke and CO detectors, and cleaning the roof. Staying on top of smaller maintenance tasks helps prevent bigger problems down the road.
Replacing and maintaining your RV’s tires is another regular cost. With an RV, you have 4-6 tires that see heavy use and need proper inflation, rotation, balancing, alignment, and eventual replacement. Plan for tire costs of $400-$1000 per year depending on the size of your unit and how much you drive annually. Quality tires are vital for safety.
RV batteries must also be monitored and replaced as needed. For engine starting, house, generator, and auxiliary batteries expect $200-$500 per year for maintenance. Cold weather and frequent cycling will shorten battery lifespan. Checking water levels and connections is essential.
Appliances and systems are where major repair bills come in. Budget $500-$2000 per year for potential issues with refrigerators, air conditioners, generators, heating units, hot water heaters, toilets, electrical systems, and more. Appliances have moving parts that wear out over time. Preventative maintenance helps minimize system failures.
Even with diligent maintenance, unexpected repairs still arise. Set aside a general repair fund of $1000-$5000 per year for surprise issues and breakdowns. This gives you the savings to tackle problems like slide-out failures, leaky roofs, cracked windows and anything else that occurs. You want to avoid using credit cards for emergency repairs whenever possible.
Finally, RV insurance is required to protect your investment, especially if financing the purchase. Expect insurance costs of $1000-$3000 per year depending on your coverage, deductible, and provider. Comprehensive policies with liability, collision, and full replacement are recommended but cost more.
While no one can anticipate every potential repair, budgeting $3000-$6000 per year for RV maintenance provides a realistic buffer for both routine and unexpected issues. Taking the time to properly maintain your RV is well worth it to avoid the financial and emotional headaches of breakdowns far from home.
Ways to Reduce Your RV Park Costs
While the costs of staying at an RV park full time may seem high, there are a number of ways to reduce your expenses and find savings. Taking advantage of these tips will help balance out the unavoidable costs that come with RV living and allow you to stay within your monthly budget targets.
Joining RV membership discount clubs is a great way to lower nightly rates at parks. Programs like Passport America offer 50% off discounts at over 1800 participating RV parks across the US and Canada. For a $44 annual membership fee, you can take advantage of discounted rates that add up quickly. Clubs like Good Sam and AAA also offer 10% discounts on nightly rates.
Planning your RV travel during shoulder seasons when parks are less full can lead to lower rates as well. Staying at RV parks during spring and fall means you’ll avoid peak summer crowds. Seasonal snowbird rates offered in southern states during winter are another opportunity for savings. Avoiding summer vacation times equals less demand and better deals.
To maximize savings, book longer stays to get better weekly and monthly rates when possible. These extended stay discounts are typically 20-50% lower than the base nightly rate. The longer you can stay put at a single park, the more you’ll save on site costs and minimize expenses associated with frequently moving locations.
Larger RV park chains also offer rewards programs that allow you to earn free nights towards future stays. Building up points through repeat visits can help offset some costs when redemptions are available. You can also take advantage of periodic seasonal promotions that offer discounted site rates or amenity credits to save money.
Spending nights camping off-grid on public lands allows you take a break from nightly RV park fees when you need to stretch your budget further. There are many low cost or free dispersed camping options on Bureau of Land Management, National Forest, and other public lands. Boondocking requires being fully self-contained but cuts costs.
Finally, downsizing to a smaller RV like a Class B van, small trailer, or pop-up camper can dramatically lower your maintenance expenses and parking fees. The larger the RV, the higher your insurance, tolls, fuel, and amenity costs. Right-sizing your RV to only what you need helps keep monthly spend in check.
Average RV Living Costs Per Month
To summarize, here is an overview of the average monthly costs for full time RV living with a breakdown:
|RV Park Site Fee
|$400 – $1200 per month
|Additional Park Fees
|$100 – $500 per month
|$200 – $500 per month
|$300 – $1000 per month
|$100 – $250 per month
|Food & Dining Out
|$400 – $1200 per month
|$300 – $800 per month
|$300 – $700 per month
|$200 – $500 per month
|Total Cost Per Month
|$2400 – $5650 per month
This table outlines the typical range for monthly costs associated with living full time in an RV. Actual costs can vary based on personal lifestyle factors. Sticking to a defined budget is recommended when making this transition.
Conclusion of What are the Costs of Living in An RV Park
The costs associated with living full time in an RV can seem expensive but the freedom and ability to travel make it worthwhile for many. Understanding all the costs involved allows you to accurately budget and prepare for this lifestyle change.
The monthly site fees, utility charges, and additional expenses at RV parks will be ongoing budget items to factor in. Properly maintaining your RV is also essential to control repair costs down the road. However, there are ways to reduce expenses through strategic planning and seasonality.
Overall, with thorough research and budgeting, RV living can be an affordable way to travel and live life on the road. There are certainly costs involved with staying at RV parks full time, but the ability to take your home anywhere and live a minimalist lifestyle often outweighs the financial considerations for most.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the typical RV park fees?
The typical RV park fees include:
- Base site rate: $30-$50 per night average
- Weekly site rate: $175-$300 average
- Monthly site rate: $400-$1200 average
- Electric hookup fee: $3-$10 per night
- Water/sewer fee: $3-$15 per night
- Cable/WiFi fee:$5-$30 per night
- Guest fees: $3-$10 per night per guest
- Pet fees: $1-$15 per night for pets
How much should I budget for RV maintenance?
It’s recommended to budget $3000-$6000 per year for RV maintenance costs. This allows for routine maintenance as well as unexpected repairs. Factor around $200-$500 per month.
What discounts are available at RV parks?
Popular discounts at RV parks include:
- Weekly and monthly rates
- Off-season and shoulder season rates
- Reward program discounts
- Passport America 50% off
- Good Sam/AAA discounts
- Military/veteran discounts
Should I buy an RV membership?
RV memberships like Passport America or Good Sam can provide nice discounts at RV parks. If you will frequently stay at member parks, the $40-$50 annual fee is usually worth it. Check that enough parks in your travel area participate before purchasing.
What can I do to reduce RV park costs?
Tips to reduce costs at RV parks include:
- Staying longer to get better monthly rates
- Traveling off-season to get lower rates
- Camping off-grid on public land
- Joining a discount membership program
- Downsizing to a smaller, more efficient RV
- Taking advantage of reward points and promotions
How can I estimate my RV park costs before traveling?
Check RV park websites before traveling to a new area to estimate costs. Look at their rate charts for nightly, weekly, and monthly rates. Also factor about $100-$300 for additional utility fees depending on needs. Calling the park directly can also get you the most accurate quote.
Should I buy or rent an RV?
If traveling full time for an extended period, buying an RV outright or financing it is usually more cost effective than renting long-term. But for short trips, renting an RV just for the travel period can save on maintenance and storage fees when not using it.
How much are typical RV loan payments?
RV loan payments typically range from $300-$700 per month depending on the sales price, down payment, interest rate, and loan term. The average RV loan amount is around $65,000. Shop financing from banks, credit unions, and RV dealers.
Should I pay for year-round RV park site?
Paying for a year-round RV park site can offer savings over short term rates. However, you lose the ability to travel freely and are committed to one location. It can be cost effective if you plan to stay in one general area long term.
Is it cheaper to live in an apartment or RV?
RV living is generally cheaper than renting an apartment if you utilize discounted monthly rates at RV parks and avoid high-end luxury parks. However, you need to own the RV upfront vs. just paying rent each month. Maintenance costs also factor in for RVs.