Touring the country in a motor home or RV is a great way to see the nation. An RV lets you take all the comforts of home with you when you travel, including your pets. As long as you have permission from the landowner, you can park your RV anywhere you like, whether that's close to tourist attractions or as far from other people as you can get. These conveniences don't come without costs, however. Motor homes are anything but fuel efficient and make for a cumbersome trip when you want to make a quick run to the grocery store or local ice cream parlor. Before shopping for a new motor home, make sure you understand both the pros and the cons of RV living.
Depending on the size and features you want, a brand new motor home will cost you between $40,000 and $100,000. You can, of course, spend more if you absolutely must live in the lap of luxury. You can also spend less by buying used. Like cars, motor homes depreciate over time and are often available used for much less. If you're in a bit of sticker shock, remember that an RV is something that you own. This means you can sell it later and recoup at least some of your investment. You can't do that with a hotel room. If you're shopping in the $100,000 range, however, consider that you could buy a vacation condominium for that amount. The condo won't travel with you, but it may appreciate over time. The RV won't.
It's generally much less expensive to hook up to an RV site for the night than to get a hotel, but campground fees do vary. You'll have to pay more if you want electric, water and sewer hookups. Of course, the cost of the campsite doesn't matter until you get there, and you'll need a healthy gas budget to do that. Most motor homes get only about 7 to 12 miles to the gallon. Planning on driving all the way across America and back? Set aside $10,000 for gas. That's not a typo. Like your car, your RV will need periodic maintenance and repairs. Depending on the rules of your homeowners' association and the size of your property, you may also have to pay for a place to store your RV during the winter months. You'll likely save money with an RV if you take a lot of short vacations close to home or plan to live in the unit. For long trips, however, the RV is more about convenience and comfort than frugality.
The size of your motor home will impact its cost, but it will also affect the home's maneuverability. Class A motor homes are the largest you can get and measure 21 to 45 feet in length. While the Class A offers the most storage and living space, it's also quite a lot of vehicle, especially if you'll have occasion to drive it through cramped city streets. Built like a van or panel truck, Class B homes drive like a large SUV and measure only 16 to 21 feet in length. This makes them big on maneuverability but small on living space. A compromise between the two is the Class C, which measures 20 to 32 feet.
Given the large size of an RV, it's not easy to just pop out for some milk or a bag of burgers in anything other than a Class B. In this way, the size of your motor home becomes both a pro and a con, depending on whether you're enjoying or driving your living space. To make sightseeing around town more convenient, many RV enthusiasts tow their car behind their motor home and use it for short jaunts. This adds to the length of your motor home, reduces its gas mileage and decreases its maneuverability. It also adds the expense of a trailer.
If you think mints on your pillow and towels folded into animal shapes are what make a vacation great, a motor home probably isn't for you. Unlike a hotel, your motor home won't come with maid service. You'll have to make the bed, do the dishes and clean the toilet yourself while on your trip. On the upside, however, no one else will have access to your motor home or personal belongings. No one will bother you if you want to take an afternoon nap, even if you forget to put out your do not disturb sign. You can add any personal touches you like to your RV and make it truly feel like home. You can also crawl into bed at night knowing your sheets weren't washed in a detergent to which you are allergic or treated with harsh sanitizing chemicals. There won't be any need to worry about bedbugs either.
One undeniable benefit of a motor home is the flexibility it offers. You have the freedom to do what you like in your RV without following someone else's rules. Depending where you've parked, you can leave when you want rather than being at the mercy of a hotel checkout time. You can also bring your pet along in your RV rather than leaving him in the kennel or in the care of a friend. A motor home lets you travel when and how you want and to wherever you want to go. For some, that freedom outweighs any of the drawbacks that can come with RV ownership.
Michelle earned her accounting degree summa cum laude and has extensive experience in business management and accounting. Entrepreneurship is in her blood, and her work focuses on helping small businesses successfully compete in a big market. Michelle also knows the value of a dollar and enjoys helping readers understand how best to maximize their money and enjoy a healthy financial life. Her work appears Chron's small business site. She has also worked on small business blogs for a national insurance chain.