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Should You Invest In An RV Or Van in 2022?
If you’ve been debating if RV or van life is right for you, here’s what you need to know to make your decision.
Have you ever fantasized about what it would be like to live as a nomad for a while? Or are you looking for ways to add convenience and affordability to your traveling? For people who have retired or those looking to take a sabbatical from their normal lives for a while, investing in an RV or van as a way to explore the country is a popular idea. Taking a road trip in an RV may also be a more affordable option for traveling than flying and staying in hotels with a large group or big family. Ultimately, having what’s essentially a mobile car and your own personal hotel at your disposal allows you to go with the flow and travel to some of America’s most beautiful destinations at a moment’s notice. Many people have even decided to join the minimalist-centric tiny home movement, where their house is essentially a glorified RV.
If you’ll use and enjoy your RV or van, it’s likely a worthy investment. But depending on which style and features are important to you, buying your new RV could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000. Therefore, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of adopting the RV or Van lifestyle before you shell out the cash.
What are the pros and cons of the RV and van lifestyles?
The biggest pro associated with RV and van life is the freedom and affordability. You can go anywhere you want whenever you feel the urge. It’s typically a cheaper way to travel because you won’t need to pay for airfare or hotels. If you’re working remotely and need a change of scenery, you can set up your office almost anywhere in the country. And if you decide to join the tiny home community and make your RV your residence, you also will be free of financial burdens like mortgages and normal household utilities.
In addition to having the freedom to travel at your leisure, you also will be living a more minimalist lifestyle where you prioritize nature and experiences. You’ll get to see how differently people live throughout the country, make new friends, and visit beautiful national parks during non-crowded off-seasons. There is always something new and wonderful to explore.
In addition, you never have to deal with annoying neighbors. If you don’t get along with someone, you can simply travel to another destination. You won’t be stuck battling it out in a neighborhood feud. You just don’t need to deal with that negativity in your life.
Lastly, if you own a home in addition to an RV, it’s like having an additional guest house for when friends or relatives come to stay. If there isn’t enough room inside the house for everybody, simply fire up the RV and let your guests enjoy the comfort and privacy. They’ll probably have their own bathroom and shower in the RV, which means fewer traffic jams sharing the bathrooms inside the house. It’s a perfect idea for when relatives come to town for family events or holidays.
Even with a large RV, you still won’t have a ton of space. This might not be a huge issue if you are only using your RV or van for traveling. But if you are living in your RV or van full-time, you will have to contend with a small amount of storage space. You’ll need to be prepared for any kind of weather, so everything you need from the sunshine to the snow will also be sharing your limited storage space with your personal belongings. If you are sharing the RV or van with another person, you’ll also need to be sure you can get along living together in tight quarters and be prepared to get creative when you need to find ways to take time for yourself.
The bigger your van or RV gets, the more cumbersome it is to drive. Although a bigger size brings more amenities, it also makes navigation harder. As you spend more time behind the wheel, you’ll get used to driving a larger vehicle. But be aware that it may be stressful to drive your RV, especially at first. If you have a larger RV, you will also have to deal with the stress of figuring out where you can park and which destinations you can safely reach.
Even with a working ac and heater, climate control can be difficult. Whatever the temperature is outside will probably be similar to what the temperature is inside the van or RV. Because of the tiny space and poor ventilation, you’ll also have to watch out for mold and mildew that can easily pop up in these conditions.
If you eventually decide you want to sell your RV or van, you likely won’t have a problem finding interested buyers since so many people rely on these vehicles to live and travel. However, don’t expect to make back what you paid for it. Like all vehicles, RVs and vans depreciate in value with time and use. For example, the average RV loses 30% of its value after just three years of use.
Should you choose an RV or a van?
Many people opt to live or travel in RVs or vans because of the freedom they provide and overall affordability. Once you’ve decided you want to invest in an RV or van, you will have to decide which vehicle is right for you. Due to modern technology, style, and features, vans and RVs often cost the same amount to purchase despite the fact vans are typically about half the size of an RV. Therefore, you’ll need to decide if van life or RV life is right for you based on the lifestyle you are craving. That said, here are some things to consider when choosing between a van or RV:
Driving Style: Since vans are smaller than RVs, driving them will probably feel more familiar and comfortable. Vans also typically get better gas mileage. But while the length of RVs makes them trickier to navigate, it’s certainly not impossible. They also typically have more amenities, including a kitchen and bathroom, meaning you won’t have to spend money on anything except gas while you’re traveling. In a van, you’d need to stop to buy food and for bathroom breaks. Therefore, the extra money you would spend on gas for an RV likely evens out because you don’t need to shell out cash on other things.
Your destination: Consider where you and your spouse or family want to travel. Because vans are smaller, they are able to travel places RVs cannot go. Depending on where you want to go, this may or may not matter to you.
Parking: It is possible to find free overnight parking for both RVs and vans, usually at places like truck stops or campgrounds. However, you may want to consider the ease of parking and what fees may be in place for the specific locations you want to visit. Since vans don’t usually have bathroom wastewater to dump as RVs do, vans sometimes have more and cheaper options available to them for parking.
Amenities: It’s simply a fact that RVs are simply going to have more amenities than a van. It’s like having a miniature home available for you no matter where you are in the world. After a long day of hiking or exploring, it’s nice to be able to come back to the RV and relax with no extra effort or hassle. When using a van, you’ll likely have to rely on public amenities at campgrounds, such as public bathrooms and showers. You ultimately have to decide how much you care about having easy access to a little extra space and a lot more amenities.
Insurance: Before purchasing a new van or RV, make sure to get quotes from insurance companies so you can make sure you’re comfortable with what your monthly payments and premiums would be. That said, insurance is usually cheaper for an RV than a van. This is because most vans still have to get standard auto insurance that often won’t cover any conversions that have been done to make the vehicle more travel-friendly or comfortable. Meanwhile, RVs are cheaper to insure because they are not daily usage type vehicles.
Maintenance: Since RVs are bigger and have more amenities, their maintenance will require more time and money. That said, new RVs typically come with a warranty that guarantees they will be free of any issues for a certain period of time.
Your Party Size: Consider how many people will be traveling or living in the RV or van with you. Does your party size warrant the extra space in an RV, or can everyone be comfortable in a van?
You can rent before you buy.
Ultimately, you will have to decide if RV or van life will make you happy enough that the pros outweigh the cons. While this lifestyle isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, you will have some amazing experiences and see some beautiful sights. You’ll probably also experience a lot of personal growth and make memories the general public will not. But thankfully, you don’t have to decide if you want to buy your own RV or van just by conducting research online or guessing. You can try out the lifestyle for yourself.
Many companies rent vans and RVs for people to use on trips. We recommend renting a few different vans and RVs over time so you can get a feel for the lifestyle and figure out what amenities are important to you. By trying out different styles and features, you’ll get a clear picture of what your RV or van should look like when and if you decide to purchase one of your own.