Buy or Rent an RV?

Copyright 2007 Brandy Sites

Copyright 2007 Brandy Sites

For our maiden voyage in 2013, we will need a place to live. We are considering whether we want to rent or buy an RV. Here are the pros/cons that we are considering. We will be sure to update our lists as we learn more.



  • No Huge Commitment. A great way to test out life on the road without having to make a huge commitment.
  • Nicer Accommodations. A lot of the rental RVs are nicer than ones we could afford to purchase.
  • Maintenance Reimbursement. The rental company I looked at offers maintenance plans so that you are reimbursed in the event of a breakdown (assuming you are following their rules and are not negligent).
  • Insurance Coverage. Just like renting a car, the rental company may include some supplemental liability insurance in the rental agreement.
  • Expensive. Using Cruise America as a testing point, if we were to rent a Standard RV for 30 days in September 2012, it would cost $5015.53. That is the all inclusive price, which includes rental, mileage, tax, damage deposit, insurance, etc. If we were to go over 3,000 miles, we would be subject to an additional mileage fee (on the flip side, we could be reimbursed if we go below the 3,000 miles).
  • Limited Selection. Again, using Cruise America, it appears that they only rent Class C RVs. If you were looking for a Class A or even a rent-able Travel Trailer, you may have to do a little more research. In fact, we are going to a local RV retailer this afternoon. I am going to inquire about the different types of rental RVs.
  • Traveling with Children. Since I only saw Class C options, that may present a problem when traveling with children. Many Class C RVs do not provide a car seat tether or LATCH system for carseats. Based on a number of forums I have read, the general consensus is that it’s not the safest to travel with carseats in these types of RVs. Many people recommend having one person drive and transport the children in the tow vehicle. For us, that would defeat the purpose of traveling around as a family.

Buying an RV


  • Money Back. For the cost of renting a RV for a month, we could put that money towards a new (or new to us) RV. If we decide that life on the road isn’t for us, we can always sell it and make some of our money back. Or, if we decide that we need a different RV, we can do a trade in to help with the additional cost.
  • Customization. Since the RV would be ours, we could make modifications to it to fit the needs of our family. At this time, I’m not sure what those changes would be, but any time you own something, you are free to modify it.
  • Usage. If we own an RV, we are free to use it whenever we want. Even if we choose to go away for the weekend, we can go and not worry about excessive rental fees.


  • Depreciation. Like cars, RVs depreciate pretty rapidly. One website I read stated that new RVs could depreciate as much as one-third over the first three years. This is especially a consideration when purchasing new vs. used.
  • Insurance and Maintenance Costs. If we own an RV, then we also own the responsibility for all insurance and maintenance costs.
  • Big Commitment. Since we still do not know that the RV life is for us, we risk spending a lot of money if we decide not to pursue it any further. Even though the rental costs are ~$5,000, it’s pretty safe to assume that purchasing an RV is going to be more expensive, no matter what. And with the economy, we may not be able to sell it for enough money to make up the additional cost.

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