Cost of Upgrading RV Travel Experiences

We really enjoyed our old pop-up camper when the kids were small. We'd like to do some RV travel now but have been deterred by the apparently high cost of buying and maintaining an RV. It looks to be far cheaper to stay in motels. Here's my analysis:

New Class C RV - $80,000; 7% sales tax - $5,600; license plates (including personal property tax) - approx. $1,000 per year; Insurance approx. $1,000 per year. Depreciation at least $6,000 per year for 5 years. Loss of use of the money ($87,000 at 8% = $7,000 per year). Maintenance and storage are on top of that. Fuel and campground costs seem inconsequential compared to the listed costs of ownership.

We're now thinking of a lightweight travel trailer; I'd be interested to see what others think of that option. We want to travel around the country, but have no desire now to go somewhere and sit for a season.

I'd like to know how experienced RVers react to this. Is my analysis close to correct?


It's hard to tell if your numbers are on the mark or not. It depends on where you buy and register the RV. I bought mine in NC and sales tax was around 3%. I would suggest buying used - you'll avoid the high cost of depreciation those first few years. Registration in SD cost me around $100/year for car and RV together. There was no personal property tax or inspection required there.

I'd sure like to know where you're getting 8% interest/year on your savings!

It's like the tagline on those credit card ads - "the cost of freedom - priceless." Do some more checking around - I don't think it has to be as bad as your scenario indicates.


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Jan 02, 2013
Investment questions
by: John C

Susan - don't interpret my use of 8% as "interest" in the sense of Federally insured savings accounts returning 8% interest. It's been my experience an 8% return is achievable with investments.

My wife ended up in charge of her elderly Mom's finances. With the help of a fee-only financial advisor (one who is paid for the advice but doesn't sell investment products or insurance), we invested her money in conservative no-load, low-cost investments. Those have returned more than 8%. Check out

However, it sounds like you had more fun and saw more with Mehitabel. . . . . John

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