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Is RV Living Cheaper Than a House?

Published on May 8th, 2024 by Lucinda Belden

I once wrote this article comparing full-time RV living to owning your own home. It was written in late 2021 and published a few times after that. Read that article and you can see I go into detail about whether or not RV living is cheaper than a house. I included tips, comparison charts, and ways to control expenses. All that detail was from my own experiences from renting homes to owning homes for over 45+ years and only a couple of years RVing. Here’s more detail on how it’s working out for me.

Spoiler alert! I still believe it is living in an RV is cheaper.  And we have been doing that for five years now. Living in an RV is cheaper than renting or owning a house.

In response to that article, one reader said you can’t RV forever. Although we are only in year five, many others have RV’d for twenty and thirty years, plus some. And many have retired in their RV in an RV co-op or campground. So, I must disagree with that reader.

RVing forever may not be for everyone. But it is clearly for some die-hard explorers who are not investing in a retirement home.

Another reader pointed out that a lot was missing on all sides of the equations. I do have to agree that trying to represent ‘real life’ in numbers pales in comparison to actually living the life. In year five of RVing full-time our expenses continue to be less than they were in a brick and mortar. Expenses are also less than what they were when we first started full-time RVing. We have refined our lifestyle. Now we know better where to be, when, and with what RV equipment. We also know how to repair and substitute for the best results on our budget. 

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What RVers say about RV living vs. regular house living

I’m happy to say that RV living has also made us better stewards of the earth. Controlling your use, being careful of chemicals you use. All these experiences not only help you take care of your RV but also the environment.

I would love to hear back from RVers who have been living in their RVs full-time on what they consider the cost-savings to be. Comment below, please!

Is living in an RV cheaper than renting or owning a home?

Only one reader touched on the truth and meaning of the entire question To me, the real benefit of full-timing versus living in a brick-and-mortar is the view from your window. You get to explore. See new places. For us, we even get to see family more often because they are spread out across the U.S. The distance and travel expenses trying to go to these places and maintain a stationary home would be cost-prohibitive in most cases. The memories and activities we have been able to be a part of with family and friends, there is no measure. 

I would place value on this aspect of living in an RV rather than in a house at any time.

For the readers who mentioned the loss of equity or depreciation: that depends on what you want to put your dollars towards. 

My husband and I are still working. We are still investing in retirement if our future home means something other than RVing, should physical issues overtake us. And We are investing in experiences, adventures, and memories. We are not investing in a brick-and-mortar, and that is OK. Our RV can be our retirement home if that’s what we want it to become.

None of us knows what the future holds. Even a brick-and-mortar can burn to the ground.

"Is full time RVing much cheaper than apartment living?" iRV2 Discussion Forums
“Is full time RVing much cheaper than apartment living?” iRV2 Discussion Forums

When wondering if living in an RV is cheaper than house, many readers only focus on RV depreciation. What are the downsides to living in an RV full-time? There is no doubt it is a cost loss as far as financial investments go – a cost loss of dollars. There is not the resale value of an auto and not that of a brick-and-mortar. 

Does the amount you save while you full-time RV balance out the amount you would get back out of your stationary home? 

How much money can you save by living in an RV full-time?

That all depends on you. How long you RV. And how much your current home costs you in expenses. Think about the cost of new furnishings, plumbing, property taxes, HOA fees. Don’t forget shingle repairs, heating & A/C systems, termites, lawn care, pest control, tree care. And what about all the home tools, extra garage or storage space, and curb appeal to spend money on? What about non-budget items, like inescapable neighbor issues? Or spending your time maintaining a home versus exploring the world?

The expenses of living in a house are usually things you don’t have to worry about in an RV.

See more opportunities to live cheaply in an RV.

But I do understand. Not everyone is prepared, willing, or able to exchange their stationary home for a full-time RV lifestyle. And Not everyone can plan and achieve alternate retirement options. But based on my experience, if you want to full-time and you set your objectives to do it, you can make it happen. 

In the end, no one can tell me to live in an RV and no one can tell you to live in a house because one is cheaper than the other.

Is living in an RV cheaper than living in a house? Yes, I still say that financially an RV is cheaper.

I have more flexibility to control monthly costs and expenses. 
I can choose where we stay for free or lower-cost rates.
I can stay a month for lower costs and find RV campgrounds that include electricity
I can boondock in mild climates where I don’t need as much heat or cooling.

 Yes, most things about RV living are cheaper. 

Is it better to buy a house or an RV? Is it better to live in an RV full-time or in a tiny home?

It all boils down to what your goals in life are. We live on a third of the income we needed in a stationary home. As our RV depreciates, our lives are enriched and our retirement grows. No matter where we are, we decide where we will put down roots. We get to explore which is where we put as our priority investment.

This is why I think living in an RV full-time will always win over any other option.

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