Cost of Owning an RV – What to Consider

2017 an image of tiny car with RV and dollars in Hiawatha, Iowa

According to a study by American Express, the average family of 4 spends around $4,580. That’s for one vacation. Buy an RV and you can get a lot of vacations for a fraction of that cost, most likely. But still, owning an RV brings other ongoing expenses you need to consider when you adopt the RV lifestyle.

RV Insurance

Insurance for recreational vehicles can be tricky. You can’t just assume that any damage will be covered by either your auto insurance or home owner’s insurance because of the multi-purpose nature of the product.

For instance, damage that occurs while the RV is being towed may be covered by your auto insurance but what about damage that happens while the RV is parked at a campsite? Which policy will cover hail damage? What if the hail storm occurs while you are towing the RV? Orwhat about liability for injuries that may occur while the RV is in transit but not as a result of an accident? Insurance policies vary and there’s always a lot of small print. You don’t want to make assumptions and then get an unpleasant surprise when you try to file a claim.

Always check with your insurance experts to find out exactly what your policies cover, what additional coverage you may need, what that may cost you and if you might get a better deal byobtaining a specialized insurance policy designed especially for RVs.


The dramatic drop in fuel costs over the last few months makes owning an RV very attractive these days as you can see from this recent story on USA Today. Even so, you need to be prepared to incur additional fuel costs when you travel with an RV just as you would with any other form of travel. It sounds kind of funny but one thing a lot of people don’t consider when thinking about fuel costs is the savings they achieve just by going camping instead of staying home. When you and your family stay in town for the weekend, it’s likely that your multi-vehicle family is driving separate vehicles all over town, running errands, going out to dinner, maybe driving to other entertainment venues. Considering the cost of taking a family of 4 to a movie on a Saturday night, it’s amazing we don’t all spend our weekends around a campfire!


As we mentioned in a previous blog, 3 Tips for Buying Your First Recreational Vehicle, making sure you have somewhere to store your RV is important. The costs of renting a storage unit will depend on the size of your unit, whether you want an enclosed space and whether you’ll be renting this for short term or long term storage. In the Midwest, storage units can run anywhere from $30-40 per month to as high as $150 per month or more.

Campground Fees

The cost of campgrounds for RVs varies by site. Depending on where you go, the costs range from $8 a night for just the basics to as much as $100 per night where you might get such amenities as concrete pads with patios, fire pits, free Wi-Fi and cable, pools, playgrounds, laundry facilities, controlled access gate and resort-like group meeting rooms.

RV Maintenance

An RV is a big investment, sort of like owning a house. Like home ownership, regular maintenance is just a part of the deal. Every year, you’ll want to inspect roof, sealants, wheel bearings, and appliances. Thorough and frequent cleaning will also go a long way towards keeping your unit in good shape but you may want to schedule yearly inspection by your local RV service department just to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

If you do your own RV maintenance, be careful what products you use. General-purpose cleaners you buy at Lowes or Menard aren’t intended for RVs and can cause more damage than good. There are RV-specific products that you should use. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle, deep cleaning packages can also be purchased from your local RV dealer.

At Ketelsen RV we’d love to help you get started on a lifetime of camping adventures. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to take an RV for a test drive, call or stop by today and one of our RV experts will be happy to answer all your questions.

Share Button